The Performance Bobber With An Attitude

The Bolt from Yamaha’s Star cruiser line is a cool little bobber-style bike with its high tank, short wheelbase and solo seat. It’s a nice around town bike — lightweight and agile — and naked with real-steel sheet metal, it just begs you to customize it. What could be better? Enter the Bolt’s siblings, the dressier Bolt R-Spec and the café racer Bolt C-Spec. The Spec duo are every bit as snappy and fun to ride as the Bolt, but with some upgrades, both hardware and cosmetic. Powered by the air-cooled 942 cc V-twin engine, the Specs are in the same size slot as the Bolt: not too small that you’ll outgrow it right away and not so big to be overwhelming for new riders. At just a few bills more than the Bolt, they’re worth a look.

Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha Bolt R-Spec and Bolt C-Spec.

  • 2016 - 2018 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec / Bolt C-Spec
  • Year:
    2016- 2018
  • Make:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Displacement:
    942 L
  • Price:
    8399
  • Price:

Design

2016 - 2018 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec / Bolt C-Spec
- image 737781
The Specs are powerful little lightweight urban cruisers with good throttle response, an even powerband and short wheelbase making them nimble in their intended environment.

Cosmetically, the Bolt R-Spec has all the same modern bobber appeal as the Bolt along with a contrast-stitched saddle and accent-striped paint. These little details set the Bolt R-Spec apart from its more pragmatic sibling. The C-Spec — that wasn’t been carried forward for 2017 — is the café-racer style in the stable with its tapered tail fairing, drag-style bars and bellowed fork gaters, though I’d like to see a little bullet fairing to complete the look.

The slim, flat-sided teardrop fuel tank (flangeless, from MY’17) and narrow waist combined with the low seat height — just over 27 inches on the "R" and 30 inches on the "C" — makes it easy to plant your feet on the ground and still have a bend in the knee. LED lighting and digital LCD instrumentation are evidence of the modern technology in this classic-looking bike. The handlebar-mounted multi-function display contains basic gauges and instrumentation, all accessible and switchable using buttons and switches on the switch housings at the grips.

Like its sibling, the Bolt, the Specs are powerful little lightweight urban cruisers with good throttle response, an even powerband and short wheelbase making them nimble in their intended environment. Even in low-speed maneuvers, the Specs are easy to handle so managing them away from redlights or stop signs in city traffic won’t be a wrestling match.

Chassis

2016 - 2018 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec / Bolt C-Spec
- image 737776
Rolling on what Yamaha calls a "handling-focused frame," the Specs enjoy a tight turning radius and agile maneuvering, perfect for around-town treks.

Like the Bolt, the suspension components in the Specs have 41 mm, traditional front forks that provide an ample 4.7-inch wheel travel. Unlike the Bolt, the dual rear shocks have piggyback pressurized-nitrogen gas cylinders, though the 2.8 inches of wheel travel is the same as the Bolt.

With a stressed-engine double-cradle frame, the Specs use 29 degrees of rake, 5.1 inches of trail and a short wheelbase to create what Yamaha calls a "handling-focused frame." Rolling on 19-inch front and 16-inch rear tires and 12-spoke cast wheels, the Specs enjoy a tight turning radius and agile maneuvering, perfect for around-town treks.

Braking on both front and rear happens on 298 mm "wave" discs — the same discs found on some sport bikes — for better heat dissipation and improved brake performance. I can almost forgive the Specs for having only a single front brake.

Suspension / Front: 41 mm Telescopic fork, 4.7-inch travel
Suspension / Rear: Preload adjustable premium dual gas-charged piggyback shocks, 2.8-inch travel
Rake (Caster Angle) : 29.0 degrees
Trail: 5.1 inches
Brakes / Front: Wave-type disc, 298 mm, twin-piston caliper
Brakes / Rear: Wave-type disc, 298 mm, single-piston caliper
Wheel, Front: 12-spoke cast
Wheel, Rear: 12-spoke cast
Tire, Front: Bridgestone® 100/90-19
Tire, Rear: Bridgestone® 150/80-16

Drivetrain

2016 - 2018 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec / Bolt C-Spec
- image 662354

Bolt C-Spec

The 3D maps for fuel injection and ignition timing give the Specs snappy acceleration in low- and mid-ranges.

Using the same engine as the V Star 950, the mill for the Spec duo is the 58-cubic-inch (942 cc) air-cooled, 60-degree V-twin. Liquid cooling is growing on me, but I appreciate the classic look of the air-cooled jugs as well as the affect on the price. For a little cruiser like these, part of its appeal is the low MSRP.

While the torque figure isn’t overwhelming at 59 pound-feet, it comes on early at 3,000 rpm for plenty of grunt in the low range. That isn’t surprising since it is a nearly square engine — 85 mm bore and 83 mm stroke — and square engines usually have gutsy torque. The 3D maps for fuel injection and ignition timing give the Specs snappy acceleration in low- and mid-ranges.

If you’ve ever ridden a bike with a "ham-can" air cleaner, you’ll appreciate the compact air cleaner on the Specs that allows you to keep your legs in tight instead of having a knee in the wind. In keeping with the Bolt look, the engine exhales into the two-into-one exhaust system.

The 21 mm belt makes for a thinner belt guard, slimming down the running gear at the rear end with a narrow driven gear. The five-speed transmission might seem a bit underwhelming; but really, a sixth gear isn’t needed. Either of the Spec duo is an around-town bar hopper or commuter bike, so long treks up the highway is not its forte.

Engine Type: Air-cooled SOHC Four-stroke 60-degree V-twin; Four valves per cylinder
Displacement: 58-cubic-inch (942 cc)
Bore: 85.0 mm
Stroke: 83.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 9.0 to 1
Maximum Torque: 59.3 pound-feet at 3,000 rpm
Fuel Delivery: Fuel Injection
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: Five-speed, multiplate wet clutch

Pricing

2016 - 2018 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec / Bolt C-Spec
- image 737780
MSRP on the R-Spec comes in the same as it was last year.

MSRP on the 2018 Bolt R-Spec is $8,399, which is the same as last year. Choose between Armor Gray or Impact Blue, a bit of a change over gray and red the last two years. In 2016, the C-Spec went for $8,690 and came in a rich-looking Desert Bronze with gold pin striping — very Harley-esque in the richness of the color. Yamaha covers the Specs with a one-year limited factory warranty.

Warranty: One-Year Limited Factory Warranty
Colors:
2016: R-Spec - Rapid Red, Stone Gray, C-Spec - Desert Bronze
2017: Crimson Red, Silver Shadow
2018: Armor Gray, Impact Blue
Price:
2016: R-Spec - $8,390, C-Spec - $8,690
2017, 2018: R-Spec - $8,399

Competitors

2016 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight
- image 646905
Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two
- image 646904
The price reflects Yamaha's no-nonsense approach, coming in almost three grand less than the competitors.

I hemmed and hawed over what to put head-to-head with the Specs. I wanted a sporty little around-towner in the 850-to-1,000 cc range, but I kept coming back to the Forty-Eight and the Seventy-Two from Harley-Davidson. Yeah, the engine is a little bigger than I wanted; but for a comparison, I can make arguments.

Like the Dark Custom look of the Forty-Eight, the Bolt R-Spec has that blacked-out engine and chassis components giving it that "don’t-mess-with-me" vibe. The front tire on the Bolt R-Spec is fatter than the Seventy-Two, but not as fat as the 130-series tire on the Forty-Eight so it has more of the American-cruiser look than the Seventy-Two.

The Bolt R-Spec has the upgraded paint with accents over its sibling the Bolt, and both the Forty-Eight and the Seventy-Two come with choices of metal-flake Hard Candy Custom™ Paint, so they all have a little pizzazz in the color department.

All are air-cooled and fuel injected. The brakes are similar with 300 mm single discs up front on the Harleys and 298 mm discs on the Star — all with twin-piston calipers — but the Bolt R-Spec has a single-piston caliper on the rear as opposed to the Harleys’ dual-piston clamper. The Harley’s have an option for ABS, whereas Yamaha doesn’t offer it on the Bolt R-Spec; but the R-Spec is more of a stripped-down model, just a bit fancier than the Bolt.

The price reflects that no-nonsense approach as well. The Harley’s each come in over $11,000 and the R-Spec plays to economy at $8,399, though the C-Spec gets a little closer at $8,690, though not by much.

He Said

My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, "I’m like Pavlov’s dog whenever I see the Bolt, only instead of drooling I invariably say ’what a cute bike!’ The design is unpretentious, and it mimics familiar design features from America’s biking past without trying too hard to be any particular model. Definitely worth a look if you are in the market for a little bar hopper or basic-commute bike."

She Said

"I do like the Desert Bronze on the C-Spec and I like the café look. I think the Bolts are awesome little bikes, especially for folks looking to venture into the world of two-wheelers. Unintimidating and priced within reach, the Bolt Specs are scrappy rides with enough power and handling to be fun but not get you into too much trouble."

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine Type: Air-cooled SOHC Four-stroke 60-degree V-twin; Four valves per cylinder
Displacement: 58-cubic-inch (942 cc)
Bore: 85.0 mm
Stroke: 83.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 9.0 to 1
Maximum Torque: 59.3 pound-feet at 3,000 rpm
Fuel Delivery: Fuel Injection
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: Five-speed, multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: 21 mm Belt
Chassis:
Suspension / Front: 41 mm Telescopic fork, 4.7-inch travel
Suspension / Rear: Preload adjustable premium dual gas-charged piggyback shocks, 2.8-inch travel
Rake (Caster Angle) : 29.0 degrees
Trail: 5.1 inches
Brakes / Front: Wave-type disc, 298 mm, twin-piston caliper
Brakes / Rear: Wave-type disc, 298 mm, single-piston caliper
Wheel, Front: 12-spoke cast
Wheel, Rear: 12-spoke cast
Tire, Front: Bridgestone® 100/90-19
Tire, Rear: Bridgestone® 150/80-16
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: R-Spec - 90.2 inches, C-Spec - 90.4 inches
Width: R-Spec - 37.2 inches, C-Spec - 30.5 inches
Height: R-Spec - 44.1 inches. C-Spec - 45.7 inches
Seat Height: R-Spec - 27.2 inches, C-Spec - 30.1 inches
Wheelbase: 61.8 inches
Ground Clearance: R-Spec - 5.1 inches, C-Spec - 5.3 inches
Minimum Turning Radius: 129.9 inches
Fuel Capacity: 3.2 gallons
Fuel Economy: 51 mpg
Wet Weight: R-Spec - 540 pounds, C-Spec - 542 pounds
Details:
Warranty: One-Year Limited Factory Warranty
Colors:
2016: R-Spec - Rapid Red, Stone Gray, C-Spec - Desert Bronze
2017: Crimson Red, Silver Shadow
2018: Armor Gray, Impact Blue
Price:
2016: R-Spec - $8,390, C-Spec - $8,690
2017, 2018: R-Spec - $8,399

References

Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight

2016 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight
- image 688141

See our review of the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight.

Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two

Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two
- image 650435

See our review of the Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: yamaha-motorsports.com, harley-davidson.com

Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Motorcycle Finder: