The Raider from the Star cruiser line— now folded back into the Yamaha stable — and its chromed-out sibling, the Raider S, haven’t changed much spec-wise since 2008 (though the “S” didn’t appear for 2016). Red or black was the choice — the 2015 Raider in Liquid Graphite, the 2015 “S” in Crimson Red or the 2016 Raider in Candy Red — choices I like better than the Galaxy Blue offered in 2014. For 2017, we have basic black. With a 39-degree rake, low seat height, a fat rear tire and a tall front tire, it has just enough stretch to give that bad-boy chopper look that gets attention. It takes more than looks to impress buyers, though.
The low 27.4-inch seat height and an almost 71-inch wheelbase give the Raider a long, low profile. The tank-mounted instrumentation includes analog speedometer and fuel gauge, along with twin digital tripmeters, odometer and self-diagnostics. Lighting details include a multi-reflector headlight, an LED taillight, and custom amber LED turn signals behind clear lenses let you “see-and-be-seen” for safety’s sake. The deep-scoop, butt-cradling sculpted seat and pullback handlebars make for a comfortable, easy-cruisin’ rider triangle. Components on the “S,” such as the triple clamps, fork sliders, air box and engine covers, headlight housing and handlebar risers, get a little bling that distinguished it from the base Raider.
Yammi gave the Raider a custom look with a frame designed around the 33-degree steering head, and the triple tree that has a six-degree offset to give the front forks a remarkable-for-a-stock-bike 39-degree total rake. This rake, coupled with the 4.72-inch trail, makes the bike track well on the straights, while still comfortable for highway trips.
Beefy and stiff 46 mm fork tubes take care of the front end, and a hidden monoshock supports the swingarm giving the rear a clean look. The front suspension travel is a comfortable 5.1 inches, but the rear only allows for 3.5 inches, making her a little stiff especially when carrying a passenger or well-laden bags.
Monoblock brake calipers work with the dual-front 298 mm discs and the 310 mm rear disc to provide the necessary braking power to control the 730-pound curb weight plus rider. Speaking of control, the ample contact patches afforded by the big 120/70-21 front wheel and the fat 210/40-18 rear wheel give you plenty of traction where it counts. This 210-series rear tire is the biggest Yammi had installed on a bike up to this year.
The air-cooled, 48-degree V-twin engine in the Raider cuts a distinctly American figure, and on the “S”, it draws the eye with chrome accents and ’jeweled’ cooling fins over black paint. It’s a big engine with a voluminous displacement of 1,854 cc, and we do like us some big engines on this side of the pond.
Four pushrod-actuated valves lets these big lungs breathe while the dual spark plugs handle efficient flame propagation, all being fed by the twin-bore, computer-controlled fuel injection system. Yammi used ceramic-composite plated pistons and pressurized oil jets to aid in carrying off the waste heat that can be the death of air-cooled engines.
The fetching chrome exhaust system helps to boost torque while the integral three-way catalyst and O2 sensor keep emissions under control.
MSRP on the 2017 Raider is $15,199, just a couple of bills up from last year.
Once again, the Star cruiser line displays its grasp of American custom-bike culture in the form of the chopper-esque Raider.Choppers are fairly niche, and aren’t exactly everyone’s cup o’ tea, so for this head-to-head I picked a different custom style that should appeal to the same sort of buyer, the Boulevard M90 from Suzuki .
Though these rides sport widely divergent builds, both delve deeply into the nether regions of homebuilt curb appeal. The Raider forks reach for the extremes with an overall rake of 39-degrees, to my knowledge the greatest rake on any production bike up until this year, and the rest of the machine emulates the old, rigid-style choppers of yesteryear.
A more contemporary, boulevard-bruiser look dominates the aptly named Boulevard M90, and the blackout treatment on the running gear places it squarely in custom-culture territory. The bullet fairing and tail design lends it a “cafe’ racer on steroids” look that adds to the somewhat-sinister nature of the bike. Both are really cool, just a different kind of cool, only you can decide which you prefer, because I am at a loss to pick a favorite on looks alone.
The Boulevard mill displaces a modest 1,462 cc — sufficient, but nothing to write home about — and though both mills come in the V-twin configuration so popular in this market. Yamaha ramps up the pressure with a truly gargantuan, 1,854 cc lump. This was the largest production V-twin in America up to this year, and shows an understanding of what drives our passions. At the risk of sounding indelicate, I certainly feel this engine below the belt. Touche’ Yamaha.
Suzuki regains some juice when we consider the stickers. Yeah, the Raider certainly has its merits, but it also comes with a $15,199 MSRP, a bit of a jump from the $11,199 tag on the Boulevard. For me, the difference in the engines is enough to justify this price hike, ’cause I do like me some big engines, and that puts the Raider over the top in my book.
Buyers up against a limited budget or that aren’t as enthusiastic about owning a bike that can lay more smoke than a retreating army may find the Boulevard to be a good fit, but for the rest of us, it’s time to go “Raider-ing.”
My husband and fellow motorcycle writer, TJ Hinton, says, “Not a bad-looking bike. It closely resembles the oftail Breakout from Harley-Davidson in many ways, but weighs in around $3,000 lighter on the sticker. If you like the looks of a ’chopper’ and you don’t have to get a Harley, then this bike should definitely be on your short list.”
“I like this cruiser. It has just enough rake to be chopper-esque without getting carried away. As I’ve said of other Star cruisers, I like it better than any of Suzuki’s Boulevard lineup. If you want something raked with less intimidation, go for a Stryker with a 1,304 cc engine.”
|Engine Type:||Air-cooled V-twin OHV, 4 valves per cylinder|
|Bore x Stroke:||100.0 x 118.0 mm|
|Compression Ratio:||9.5 to1|
|Fuel Delivery:||Twin-Bore electronic fuel injection; throttle position sensor|
|Ignition:||TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition|
|Transmission:||five-speed, multiplate wet clutch|
|Suspension: / Front||Telescopic fork; 5.1-inch travel|
|Suspension: / Rear||Swingarm; 3.5-inch travel|
|Brakes / Front:||Dual hydraulic disc, 298 mm|
|Brakes / Rear:||Hydraulic disc, 310 mm|
|Tires / Front:||120/70-21M/C 62H|
|Tires / Rear:||210/40-18M/C 73H|
|Seat Height:||27.4 inches|
|Fuel Capacity:||4.2 gallons|
|Fuel Economy:||42 mpg|
|Wet Weight:||730 pounds|
|Warranty:||1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)|
|2015 Raider:||Liquid Graphite|
|2015 Raider S:||Crimson Red|
|2016 Raider:||Candy Red|
|2015, 2016:||$14,990 (2015 Raider S – $15,790|