2016 Star Motorcycles Raider
The factory custom-retro cruiser look is hot right now, and nearly every major cruiser manufacturer has a hand in the game. You see a lot of bikes that just hint or suggest at this or that era or subculture, many just presenting a veneer that runs only skin deep.
The 2016 Raider shows Star wasn’t afraid to commit to its chosen look, and far from merely making suggestions, this sled virtually screams old-school chop-job. Built to compete in the domestic market, it certainly has a slew of design features that should appeal to the American crowd, and I expect it to appeal to a slightly younger crowd than the average cruiser. As you know, Star is Yamaha’s Made-in-U.S.A. brand, and this ride is a gambit to capture some of the “showroom custom” market.
Continue reading for my review of the 2016 Star Motorcycles Raider.
2016 Star Motorcycles Raider
Displacement:113 cubic inches
Star went as far as it could to emulate the style of custom, rigid choppers without actually using a Softail-type frame. Long and low, the frame layout and tripletree offset pushes the front wheel out for a 70.9-inch wheelbase, and the gap between the frame and the front cylinder head gives the downtubes something of a stretched look. The upper lines tumble down the instrument panel and fuel tank to the scoop of the saddle at an angle that hints at the old hardtail frame geometry, and the lack of external shocks helps improve that illusion.
Radical-looking fender struts support a bobbed rear fender over a rather drag-tastic, 210 mm rear tire, but I confess I am not feeling the front fender – I think a nice, gaser-style cutdown would be much more appropriate. Although this ride seems to have a little FXST DNA in its overall form, the raked front end sets it further into the custom zone than even the Harley Breakout.
The Raider isn’t a light bike at 734-pounds wet, but it could have been heavier. It starts out with an all-aluminum, double-downtube, double-cradle frame to save some weight right off the bat. The steering head is set at 33-degrees, and the tripletree adds a six-degree offset to that for a combined rake of 39 degrees. This really pushes that front wheel out there, but maintains a reasonable trail of 4.01 inches that should keep the Raider from handling too much like a chopper.
Four-pot calipers bind the front wheel via a pair of 298 mm discs, with a single-piston caliper and 310 mm rear brake disc. I know it may have been tempting to go with a nice, laced front wheel and a single disc so as not to cover it up, but I’m glad to see dual front brakes given the weight of this ride, especially given the absence of any ABS or brake linking.
Front-fork diameter is rather big for this size bike at 46 mm, and it provides 5.1 inches of wheel travel for the 21-inch front wheel. The hidden monoshock in back springs the swingarm on 3.5 inches of travel for the 18-inch rear wheel, but comes with no adjustments at all, not even preload, which is a little disappointing. Maybe next year Star will consider a remote-mount air shock, or something (Wink, nudge.)
When I said Star really committed to the project, I wasn’t kidding. The factory carried its concept all the way to the beating heart of the Raider, and they gave the U.S. crowd what we really want – more inches! At 113 cubic-inches (1,854 cc), this mill is the largest production engine among the big domestic manufacturers. Bigger than the Harley 110, Indian Thunderstroke 111 and Victory Freedom 106/6. It ain’t just about raw displacement either; the engine cranks out an astonishing 123 pound-feet of torque that comes on early and peaks at a low 2,500 rpm. In short, this bike will lay more smoke than a retreating army. The air-cooled V-twin runs with four-valve heads and electronic fuel injection in a twin-bore throttle body for modern performance, but the 48-degree V and external pushrod tubes present an outward appearance that establishes ties to our domestic chopper history.
A five-speed transmixxer, wet clutch and belt drive round out the drivetrain with top gear set up for cruising, and a combined average mileage of 42 mpg. Overall, I’d say the plant choice demonstrates that this is far from being an “all show and no go” ride, and I am definitely digging all that power. No wonder the seat has such a deep scoop.
While the design and performance aspects are out on the fringes, the sticker stays based firmly in the mainstream. At $14,990, the Raider is priced for the first-upgrade market more than the entry-level sector, which is OK because this much brute force will get you in trouble in a hurry if you don’t know what you’re doing. You can get the Raider in Candy Red, or Candy Red if you prefer, and it comes with a limited, one-year warranty.
Radical as the Star Raider is, it wasn’t hard to find a worthy competitor with not only the looks, but also the performance for a head-to-head, and my choice is the 2016 H-D Breakout, if you haven’t guessed already.
Both rides follow a similar geometry, and if you ignore the sweeps and spikes on the Raider you might suspect a common ancestry. Each has its own strengths, the Breakout with the faux-rigid Softail frame, and the Raider with its dramatic rake, which is four degrees greater than the 35-degree rake on the Breakout. It’s all a matter of taste, which makes me wonder if Star went too far with the pointy design aspects. I like it, but others do not; and I hope they didn’t design their way out of the mainstream market.
Harley takes a beating in the engine department with a 103B Twin-Cam that puts out 97.4 pound-feet of grunt at 3,000 rpm, a bit shy of the 123 pound-foot Star motor. You can feel that 25 pound-foot difference in the seat, and so the Raider should appeal to the true, fiery-eyed pegdraggers.
Unsurprisingly, H-D takes another shot when we consider the sticker. OK sure, Harley has its fetching color palette, and offers ABS and a security option (plus some name-power), but you will start out at $18,799 for the Vivid Black, and will break 20k before you “unlock” all the upgrades – a quarter again more than the Raider at $14,990. Bottom line here is; if your interest is brute power over name recognition in a cool-looking package, the Raider is definitely a viable alternative to the H-D route.
“As I delved into this bike, I kept waiting for the veneer to fall away, and the foreign roots to manifest themselves. I am pleased to eat a little crow on that point, because it seems that Star did an excellent job of following the Americana-formula. I like the faux-stretch look, but there is something kind of ugly about how the tank meets that joint. The exhaust would look better straight as well, but there is always the aftermarket for that.”
My wife and fellow writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "This is a nice bike. Awesome torque that is right there so early. Shifting seems a little clunky, but the engagement is smooth. The seat height is just about as high as I can manage while still being comfortable, which is important because it’s a heavy bike or maybe I’m just used to a lower center of gravity. The controls were a bit too far forward for my liking, though."
|Engine:||Air-cooled, OHV, eight valves (four valves/cylinder), 48-degree V-twin|
|Displacement:||113 cubic inches (1,854 cc)|
|Bore and Stroke:||100 x 118 mm|
|Maximum Torque:||123Pound-Feet at 2,500 rpm|
|Fuel Delivery:||Dual 43mm cross bore downdraft throttle body FI|
|Ignition:||TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition|
|Transmission:||Five-speed, multiplate wet clutch|
|Suspension, Front:||46 mm telescopic fork, 5.1-inch travel|
|Suspension, Rear:||Swingarm, 3.5-inch travel|
|Brakes, Front:||Dual 298 mm discs, Four-piston calipers|
|Brake, Rear:||310 mm disc, single-piston caliper|
|Wheel, Front:||Cast, 21M/C x MT3.50|
|Wheel, Rear:||Cast 18M/C x MT7.50|
|Ground Clearance:||5.7 inches|
|Seat Height:||27.4 inches|
|Minimum Turning Radius:||137.8 inches|
|Fuel Capacity:||4.2 Gallons|
|Recommended Fuel:||Premium unleaded|
|Estimated Fuel Consumption:||42 mpg|
|Wet Weight:||734 Pounds|
|Maximum Load:||450 Pounds|
|Warranty:||One Year Limited Factory Warranty|