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2014 Star Motorcycles Bolt Review: Can The New Kid on the Block Beat Harley?

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2014 Star Bolt and Bolt R-Spec Review: The Goods
2014 Star Bolt R-Spec Review

The 2014 Star Motorcycles Bolt, in R-Spec form.

Photo © Star Motorcycles
You don’t have to look very hard to see the similarities between Star Motorcycles’ brand new Bolt cruiser and Harley-Davidson’s tried-and-true Sportster… and with its $7,990 starting price, the Japanese bike is a mere nine dollars away from its competitor’s base MSRP, suggesting that Star is serious about beating the competition. But does that make the Bolt a worthwhile alternative to the Motor Company’s iconic offering?

Let’s start with the goods.

Yamaha’s Star Motorcycles division has made good use of their 942cc engine, which has powered their V-Star 950 and 950 Tourer line of bikes for several years now— and for its next trick, the air-cooled mill finds a home in Star’s new Bolt ($7,990) and Bolt R-Spec ($8,290) models, the latter of which adds remote reservoir rear shocks, a suede-like material on the saddle, black mirrors, and green or matte gray paint with a tank graphic.

While Yamaha says they benchmarked Honda’s 750cc range of cruisers, the Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 883 was the clear target here: not only is it almost identically priced, Star made their bike 33 pounds lighter (with a curb weight of 540 pounds), and its 27.2 inch seat height is only one third of an inch taller than the Harley’s. Though Yamaha doesn’t disclose horsepower or torque figures, expect the Bolt’s mill to be fairly comparable to the Hog’s in terms of output. The engine is mated to a 5-speed transmission with straight cut gear dogs, and final drive is offered via a 21mm wide carbon fiber reinforced belt. A 3.2 gallon fuel tank promises roughly 150 miles of range—more or less the same as you’ll get from the Sporty’s 3.3 gallon tank.

Suspension travel from the Bolt’s telescopic fork and twin rear shocks measures 4.7 inches and 2.8 inches respectively—notably more than the Sportster’s 3.6 and 1.6 inch figures... but what’s it like to ride the Bolt? Click “Next”...

Related: Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Review

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