2014 Star Bolt R-Spec Test
Bobbed and black, rather than chopped and chromed, the 2014 Star Bolt is a highly capable addition to the Star roster of leading metric cruisers.
While some my scoff at the Bolt’s 58 cubic-inch motor, the tuning by Yamaha engineers delivers a motorcycle that is difficult to best in a crowded urban environment.
The air-cooled, four-valve, SOHC, 60-degree V-twin Star 950 motor has acquitted itself nicely in the chassis of the V Star 950 Tourer and 950 cruiser. Those are long and low bikes, designed for, respectively, long distance and profiling. The 2014 Star Bolt is about bounding around town, slipping between cars, around potholes, down alleys, and the occasional jaunt into the hinterlands.
Jamming around the town of San Diego, the Star Bolt R-Spec proved itself to be a winning design. With a low seat height, a relatively short wheelbase, and a bar bend inspired by dirt track racing, the chassis of the Bolt is about full control by the rider, and nimble response. Pick your slot in the traffic ahead, and go for it. The Bolt responds exactly as desired, taking you where you want to go.
The motor is also a willing participant. Wisely, it has been retuned for maximum low-end and midrange power. This is exactly what you need when squirting between cars and curbs.
The throttle response is not overwhelming, so while you have plenty of power to place the bike where it needs to be and escape any situation, the Bolt is not fatiguing to ride. Its claimed wet weight of 540 pounds doesn’t hurt matters, of course.
The shocks on the Star Bolt R-Spec are upgraded from the standard issue Bolt. The piggyback reservoir units (Star inexplicably calls them remote reservoir) have a scant 2.8 inches of travel, yet do a nice job with limited movement.
The shocks are certainly firm, but compliant rather than harsh. They don’t g-out in dips and they take the edge off of nasty road hazards, though you certainly do feel whatever you happen to hit. The forks are the same on the standard and R-Spec, and with nearly five inches of travel, you’re good to go. They soak up any and all obstacles cleanly.
With good suspension, light weight, and the center of gravity helpfully low, the 2014 Star Bolt R-Spec handled itself nicely when I shot out to Tecate, which straddles the border between Mexico and the United States. California Highway 94 is a challenging ride, with unpredictable corners that range from hairpins to fifth-gear sweepers, and local traffic that knows the road and puts the pedal to the metal – we’re talking about propane trucks doing 70 mph through the twisties!
In this tough environment, the Star Bolt R-Spec held its own. Its well-damped suspension allows you to lock in solidly to a line and proceed with confidence. Cornering clearance is better than you’d expect from such a low bike, and only in one tight turn did I do some serious peg grinding. Star doesn’t promote the Bolt as a sporty cruiser, but like any legit bobber, it’s ready to throw down when challenged. When keeping up with the fast traffic, the Star Bolt R-Spec is a willing performer.
Shift early, as the power flattens out long before the very soft rev-limiter kicks in. There is no tachometer, and the LCD is bare bones, with your speed displayed in a large, easily read digits, even with my Liberty Sport Trailblazer shades on. Star offers a wide array of aftermarket accessories so you can customize the Bolt for your own use.
Among those accessories are bags and a windshield. It may be a bobber, but this is a bike that will be a great solo weekend tourer (you can add a two-up seat, but you’d be better off with a bike with more motor).
When it comes to styling, the photos speak for themselves. With de rigueur styling cues, such as the cutouts in the exhaust and belt guards, the Star Bolt R-Spec looks the part (even if the bob of the rear fender is faux). There’s a gap between the tall tank and supportive seat, and the mid-mount foot controls are another nod to aggressive riding.
The idea of the 2014 Star Bolt R-Spec was a simple one–take an existing motor and put it in an exciting new chassis. Ideas are one thing and execution is another. Star got the look and handling down perfectly, and went the extra mile to give the motor the boost it needed.
Our advice – buy the 2014 Star Bolt R-Spec ($8,290 in Matte Gray or Camo Green) over the standard model. The R-Spec has a few styling touches to make it look better (especially the Camo Green version), plus the piggyback shocks work great and look awesome. The sub-liter cruiser class is a tough one, and the Bolt is tempered steel against the competition.
2014 Star Bolt R-Spec Specs:
- Type: 58-cubic-inch (942cc) air cooled 4-stroke, V-Twin, SOHC, 4-valve
- Bore x Stroke: 85.0 x 83.0
- Compression Ratio: 9.0:1
- Fuel Delivery: Fuel Injected
- Ignition: TCI (Transistor Controlled Ignition)
- Transmission: 5-speed multiplate wet clutch
- Final Drive: Belt
- Suspension Front: Telescopic fork, 4.7-in travel
- Suspension Rear: Dual remote reservoir shock, 2.8-in travel
- Brakes Front: Wave-type disc, 298mm
- Brakes Rear: Wave-type disc, 298mm
- Tires Front: 100/90-19M/C 57H
- Tires Rear: 150/80-16M/C 71H
- Length: 90.2 in
- Width: 37.2 in
- Height: 44.1 in
- Seat Height: 27.2 in
- Wheelbase: 61.8 in
- Ground Clearance: 5.1 in
- Fuel Capacity: 3.2 gal
- Fuel Economy: TBA
- Wet Weight: 540 lbs.
- Helmet: Bell Pit Boss Pin Stripe
- Eyewear: Liberty Sport Trailblazer
- Jacket and Gloves: Speed and Strength Rage With The Machine
- Jeans: Drayko Drift
- Boots: River Road Guardian Tall
Photos by Riles & Nelson