The 2015 Star Bolt C-Spec is a natural progression for the successful Bolt platform, designed to appeal to the latest generation devotees of café racing style, if not necessarily performance.

Taking a pure cruiser and giving the Bolt the café treatment was a fairly straightforward exercise for the engineers at Star. The ergonomics were tweaked first. The footpegs were moved back six inches, up 1.25 inches and sit about a half-inch wider. Clip-ons replaced the handlebars, and the speedometer was moved to the top of the triple clamp.

With the expectation that Bolt C-Spec riders would be putting some time in the canyons, Star lengthened the suspension (though not the travel) to lift up the chassis. The KYB forks are about a third of an inch longer, with the shocks about a quarter in longer.

The result is a ride height increased by just over an inch and a half, which gives the Bolt C-Spec a lean angle of 37 degrees, compared to 33 degrees for the standard Bolt cruiser. The 12-spoke cast wheels get sportier Michelin Commander II tires for Bolt C-Spec duty, which is in line with the additional cornering clearance.

The seat height is now a hair over 30 inches – a nearly three-inch increase from the Bolt – which is still manageably low. Boots on the forks add to the retro performance-oriented styling, as does the seat cowling for the solo-only C-Spec (a passenger kit is a $208 option).

There are no changes to the slightly oversquare 60-degree V-twin, which has a four-valve SOHC design. Inside, there are forged aluminum pistons sliding through ceramic composite cylinder liners with a single-pin crank for that traditional V-twin feel from the 942cc powerplant.

Starting up the 2015 Bolt C-Spec, you aren’t going be overwhelmed. It has the appliance like startup that doesn’t exactly get the blood stirring. On the upside, you are confident it will fire and the battery doesn’t feel the least bit overmatched.

Compared to the cruiser Bolts, the C-Spec feels completely different. The clip-ons are definitely narrow and fairly far from the seat, requiring that you move your upper body forward. You aren’t leaning over as aggressively as you would on a true sportbike, but the fashion-conscious forward crouch is there.

The footpeg position is certainly comfortable, and more natural for riders familiar with sportbikes. These are not relaxed ergonomics, but they aren’t torturous either, and the clip-ons are still positioned well above the seat.

Once underway, you can settle into the café racing seating position and start to enjoy yourself. The motor has good torque, and pulls away from signals and stop signs smartly. The Bolt C-Spec won’t fool you into thinking it’s a big-inch bike, but with a wet weight of 542 pounds, you realize that its strength is in its agility rather than its raw power.

All the controls work as you would like. The clutch engages smoothly and predictably, while the single front disc bites softly initially, so there is no jerking. Squeeze harder and you get more deceleration, but be prepared to add some rear brake to help out the fairly narrow 19-inch front tire. Shifting is flawless and effortless.

Around town, you can’t help but feel cool. You look a bit menacing, rather than laid back. The positioning of your body encourages a bit more of an aggressive riding style. You want to dart between cars, and the Bolt C-Spec helps you do just that. The 62-inch wheelbase is fairly short and the bike changes direction easily, in part due to the low center of gravity.

Take the 2015 Bolt C-Spec into the canyons and you’ll be reminded of its cruiser heritage, but that won’t stop you from having a good time. The motor spins fairly freely, so you’ll have to keep shifting to avoid the unannounced rev limiter. There’s no tach and the engine is happy to run right into the limiter.

Quickly you’ll adjust to that and focus on the easy handling. The seating position is definitely café racer inspired, though certainly not as extreme. It skews a bit toward comfort – almost inevitable given the Bolt’s cruiser heritage – and that’s not really a bad thing. This is not a performance motorcycle at its heart.

If you’re an aggressive rider, the pegs will grind down soon enough, though much later than they do on the cruiser version of the Bolt. The Michelins do a great job, offering full confidence from peg-to-peg leans, with predictable and friendly turn-in manners.

The retro piggyback rear shocks and standard forks do a fine job when pushing the bike. There’s no wallowing with the short travel, yet the non-adjustable springing and damping will do a reasonable job of swallowing up road imperfections.

Like the café racers of old, the Bolt C-Spec takes some coaxing to do the ton. However, twist the throttle and give it some room and triple digits are yours. The chassis feels good at high speed, and you will feel comfortable tucked in on the 3.2-gallon tank.

After enjoying the original Bolt and Bolt R-Spec, I can’t say I envisioned the C-Spec. Café racers usually evolve from standards. Credit is due to the outside-the-box thinkers at Star who turned a cruiser into a fun and competent café racer.

The 2015 Bolt C-Spec gives budding motorcyclists the chance to participate in the café racer revival, without the many pitfalls of modifying a vintage bike. Of course, Star is happy to have you modify the C-Spec to your heart’s content, as it arrives with a vast array of Star Custom Accessories.

RIDING STYLE:
Helmet: Bell Custom 500 Star
Eyewear: Serengeti Agazzi
Jacket: AeroMoto Sport Air Perforated
Gloves: Roland Sands Design Domino
Jeans: AGV Sport Malibu
Footwear: Joe Rocket Big Bang 2.0

Photography by Brian J. Nelson

2015 Star Bolt C-Spec Specifications
Engine: Air-cooled, SOHC, 4-valve V-twin
Displacement: 942cc / 58 cubic inches
Bore x stroke: 85.0 x 83.0mm
Compression ratio: 9.0:1
Fuel delivery: Fuel injection
Transmission: 5-speed multiplate wet clutch
Final drive: Belt
Suspension
Front: Telescopic fork, 4.7 inches of travel
Rear: Twin shocks, 2.8 inches of travel
Brakes
Front: Wave-type disc, 298mm
Rear: Wave-type disc, 298mm
Tires
Front: Michelin Commander II 100/90-19M/C 57H
Rear: Michelin Commander II 150/80-16M/C 71H
L x W x H: 90.4 x 30.5 x 45.7 inches
Seat height: 30.1 inches
Wheelbase: 61.8 inches
Ground clearance 5.3 inches
Fuel Capacity 3.2 gallons
Estimated fuel economy: 51 mpg
Wet weight: 542 pounds
Colors: Envy Green; Liquid Silver
2015 Star Bolt Spec-C MSRP: $8690