The introduction of the Yamaha Bolt has blown the doors open for a more economical entry level cruiser but as fun as the model is to ride, Yamaha has a bit of work to do to fine tune the design.
Introduced in 2014, even in plain black or white, the Bolt drew an audience. Visually appealing for its Bobber type style, the Bolt is simple and lean. A low rider, at 27.2” seat height, this bike is especially appealing to the ladies and brings Yamaha into competition with the women’s first ride favourite Sportster line-up from Harley-Davidson.
With it’s vintage styling, the Bolt is easily personalized to suit every rider but stock off the floor it possesses enough individual flare with its low rise t-bars, tear drop shaped 12 litre fuel tank, separate rider and removable passenger seat, LED tail lighting and single bar mounted instrument offering digital display speedometer, odometer, trip meters, fuel, gears and a clock. In the sun, the gauge is a bit difficult to read but Yamaha offers a display visor as an added accessory.
The newest member of the V-Star family, this 942cc, air-cooled v-twin engine produces great low and mid-range torque with maximum torque produced at 3,000 rpm. Weighing in at 545lbs., the bike is easily maneuvered through the bends and twists. It’s compact 61.8” wheelbase contributes to its agility. The added feature of a lean angle sensor that will kill the engine if the bike has tipped over makes you wonder how much fun the test riders had during the research and development stages.
The five-speed transmission is easily flipped through in the city and at highway speed, fifth gear offers consistent cruising while maintaining low rpm. The belt drive system boasts low maintenance and quiet cruising. The exhaust is a two into one system that ‘features a 3-way honeycomb-type catalyzer’ to reduce emissions.
From the rider’s seat, the engine looks off balance. It sits in such a way that it appears to be mounted left of center in the steel tube frame. To make visual matters worse, the 2.3 litre, right side-mounted, air box (marketed as ‘easily accessible’), protrudes enough that a taller rider will have issues with their knees but smaller riders won’t notice the impairment. Yamaha has made its best attempt to masque this intrusion with brushed aluminum highlights to blend in with the overall design.
Chunky foot pegs give the Bolt added vintage appeal and allow for extra wide front brake and clutch levers but unfortunately, they also deliver shin bruising when your feet meet the pavement at intersections.
With its aggressive styling, the details on the Bolt are equally aggressive. Single vintage looking halogen headlight in the front but the LED tail lights remind us that we are in present day. Automatic turn signal cancellation is standard equipment with the Bolt, a not so common feature of most manufacturer models.
Twelve spoke cast aluminum wheels house a tubeless 100/90-19 front tire and a 150/80-16 rear spinning below chopped steel fenders. There is also a front fork mounted steering lock.
Overall, I would say the Yamaha engineers have some further design work to do with this bike but it is an easy to operate, fun compact ride. The appeal is limited to smaller riders as taller riders will face ergonomic issues.
The 2014 Yamaha Bolt is competitively priced at MSRP $8,999.00.