2016-2018 Yamaha Bolt Review

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As Yamaha’s “Made in the U.S.” cruiser line, Star shows its stuff with the 2018 lineup. The Bolt continues with that classic “bobber” style — high tank and short wheelbase — folks here expect to see in old-school styling. Powered by an air-cooled V-twin engine, but with a plenty of technology on board, the Bolt is a good in-between size — not too small that you’ll outgrow it soon and not so big that it is intimidating for new riders. The bobber-style solo seat, easy cruisin’ rider triangle and naked-bike look make the Bolt a choice little bar hopper or commuter ride.

Design

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“Traditionally, the Bolt has been a powerful little urban aggressor with snappy throttle response and an even powerband.”

Traditionally, the Bolt has been a powerful little urban aggressor with snappy throttle response and an even powerband, and there’s no reason to believe the 2018 is any different. Lightweight for a cruiser, the Bolt is agile and easy to handle even for folks new to two wheels.

The Bolt has a low seat height to begin with — just 27.2 inches. Add that to its slim width and it is easy to find the ground and still have a bend at the knee. Shorties rejoice! The folks at Yamaha say, “We build it. You make it your own,” and they mean it. Stripped-down naked with little-to-no chrome and with real steel fenders, the Bolt lends itself to customization.

If there is any difference between the Deep Blue and Raven Bolts for 2016, it would be the handlebars with a slightly higher rise on the Raven model. For 2017, the Raven color came without the rise and with a slightly different tank graphic to set it off from the previous year.

Chassis

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“Since it’s a small bike, it can get away with a single front brake so the 298 mm discs — one each front and rear — seem to be adequate for the job.”

Yamaha used a stressed-engine, double-cradle frame to keep the bike light and nimble, hallmark attributes for the Bolt. Frame geometry helps set the tone with 29 degrees of rake that gives the bike a short, 61.8-inch wheelbase and agile handling characteristics. Personally, I like the fuel tank design. It’s something of a classic peanut tank, but with coffin tank elements that add to the retro flair Yamaha was going for, and it carries 3.2 gallons of fuel — ample for around town

Suspension components get the traditional treatment with 41 mm, right-side-up front forks that provide a tolerable 4.7 inches of wheel travel. The rear shocks are rather short, and while they don’t enjoy the piggyback gas cylinders like the Bolt R-Spec, they do provide the same 2.8 inches of wheel travel. Wow, and I thought Softails were firm back there.

The 19-inch front and 16-inch rear Bridgestone tires keep things nice and low on their 12-spoke, cast aluminum rims. Since it’s a small bike, it can get away with a single front brake so the 298 mm discs — one each front and rear — seem to be adequate for the job.

Suspension / Front: Telescopic fork, 4.7-inch travel
Suspension / Rear: Dual shocks, 2.8-inch travel
Rake (Caster Angle): 29.0 degrees
Trail: 5.1 inches
Brakes / Front: Wave-type disc, 298 mm
Brakes / Rear: Wave-type disc, 298 mm
Tires / Front: Bridgestone 100/90-19
Tires / Rear: Bridgestone 150/80-16

Drivetrain

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“A compact air cleaner allows you to keep your legs tight to the bike – a feature you’d appreciate after riding a bike with the “ham-can” filter housing.”

An air-cooled, 60-degree V-twin completes the classic American look with a bit of style sure to please the domestic crowd. The 58 cubic-inch (942 cc) engine boasts four-valve heads, fuel injection and a transistorized ignition. Bore and stroke are nearly square at 85 mm and 83 mm, respectively, and the compression ratio is low at 9.0 to 1, so at least you know it won’t beat the stuffing out of itself, yes?

The advanced cylinder design and lightweight, ceramic-composite pistons keep friction low and help dissipate waste heat efficiently. A compact air cleaner allows you to keep your legs tight to the bike – a feature you’d appreciate after riding a bike with the Harley “ham-can” filter housing.

A five-speed transmission and belt make up the final drive, and while I might wish for a sixth gear, the bottom line is: the Bolt makes a great bar-hopper or around-town bike, but not so much on the highway, so that sixth gear probably isn’t all that important.

Engine Type: air-cooled SOHC Four-stroke, 60-degree V-twin; Four valves
Displacement: 58 cubic inches (942 cc)
Bore: 85.0 mm
Stroke: 83.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 9.0 to 1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel Injection
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: Five-speed, multiplate wet clutch

Pricing

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“MSRP carries over from last year; still a decent price for a nice little cruiser.”

The 2018 Bolt is available starting at $7,999 in Raven; same color and price as 2017. Yamaha covers the bike with a one-year limited factory warranty.

Warranty: One-Year Limited Factory Warranty
Colors:
2016: Deep Blue, Raven
2017, 2018: Raven
Price:
2016: $7,990
2017, 2018: $7,999

Competitors

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“Both bikes look like what they are: basic, entry-level transportation that leave plenty of room for personalized touches. ”

When I think about a sporty little bar hopper in the 850-to-1,000 cc range, the Iron 883 from Harley-Davidson comes to mind, and it seems to be the Bolt’s closest rival. Both bikes look like what they are: basic, entry-level transportation that leave plenty of room for personalized touches. The Bolt comes in basic black, while the Harley can be had in a total of four colors, one of which is a Hard Candy color. Honestly though, with so little sheet metal, does the color matter that much?

The engines are similar as well; not much to choose between the two here. While the Evo motor has a 53.9 cubic-inch displacement, the Bolt edges out a win with 58 inches. Yamaha is keeping the figures close to the vest, so I can’t compare the power output with facts. I have a pretty good idea as to which engine is stronger, but it’s purely speculative so I will keep it to myself.

As expected, the Sporty commands the higher price at $8,999 for the “basic” color options, and $9,449 for the Hard Candy, while the Bolt sneaks in just under 8 grand at $7,999.

He Said

My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton says, “My first out-loud comment was ’what a cute little bike!’ It is very Sportster-esque in its proportions, and perfect for zipping around town or striking out on some country roads. A bike like this lends itself to customization too, if you are the kind that likes to really play in the garage.”

She Said

“I don’t know why I didn’t pay attention to the Bolt before. It really is a spiffy little cruiser. Yammi calls it the “urban performance bobber” look. Performance is nice, the throttle is responsive and shifting is smooth and quiet. For around town or short hops up the highway, it’s an awesome little ride. I think this is one of the few times I prefer a color other than black. The Deep Blue available in 2016 gives it a free-spirit look.”

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine Type: air-cooled SOHC Four-stroke, 60-degree V-twin; Four valves
Displacement: 58 cubic inches (942 cc)
Bore: 85.0 mm
Stroke: 83.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 9.0 to 1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel Injection
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: Five-speed, multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt
Chassis:
Suspension / Front: Telescopic fork, 4.7-inch travel
Suspension / Rear: Dual shocks, 2.8-inch travel
Rake (Caster Angle): 29.0 degrees
Trail: 5.1 inches
Brakes / Front: Wave-type disc, 298 mm
Brakes / Rear: Wave-type disc, 298 mm
Tires / Front: Bridgestone 100/90-19
Tires / Rear: Bridgestone 150/80-16
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 90.2 inches
Width: 37.2 inches
Height: 44.1 inches
Seat Height: 27.2 inches
Wheelbase: 61.8 inches
Ground Clearance: 5.1 inches
Fuel Capacity: 3.2 gallons
Fuel Economy: 51 mpg
Wet Weight: 540 pounds
Details:
Warranty: One-Year Limited Factory Warranty
Colors:
2016: Deep Blue, Raven
2017, 2018: Raven
Price:
2016: $7,990
2017, 2018: $7,999

(topspeed.com, https://goo.gl/qJHscR)

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