The 2008 Star Raider has more rake, higher handlebars, and a bigger front wheel than its classically-styled cruisers, giving it a more custom-inspired chopper feel.
Since terms like Biker Build-Off, OCC, and West Coast Choppers have crept into the modern vernacular, gone prime time and are emblazoned on t-shirts across the nation, the surge in popularity of custom bikes has not gone unnoticed by Star Motorcycles. In fact, Star wants a piece of that action. That’s why its 2008 Raider has a chopped-out rake, raised handlebars, and a big 21-inch front wheel. Star is eliminating the need for a bunch of spendy aftermarket accessories by pimping the bike out fresh from the factory.
In the attempt to expand its line from classically-styled bikes to a custom chopper-inspired look, Star Motorcycles took the front end of the ’08 Raider and stretched out the rake farther than its other cruiser models. The 40-degree angle achieved on the front fork comes from a 34-degree rake and a 6-degree yoke angle. The yoke angle is a first for Star Motorcycles, and the system is claimed to bring the fork closer to the steering axis, allowing Star to tweak the bike’s steering geometry in an effort to increase the bike’s handling without sacrificing straight-line stability. The rake angle is enough to give the motorcycle a bit of chopper charm without stretching it out so far that it only rides smoothly while upright. Though Star aims to build a bike that looks like a chopper, one of its goals was to ensure that the bike wouldn’t sacrifice performance.
The Raider will smooth out bumps in the road via a chrome telescopic fork with 46mm tubes and 5.1 inches of travel. The fork holds a healthy-sized 21-inch custom 5-spoke wheel with a 120/70 Metzeler ME880 rubber. Star chose to upsize the Raider’s front tire and slim it down chopper-style while veering away from traditional smaller diameter, wider tires on classically-styled bikes. Monoblock calipers will put the squeeze on dual 298mm hydraulic discs and completes the front end package.
While Star looked to chopper styling for its design, performance and handling were still high on its priority list for the Raider.
Out back, Star went taller and wider than on any of its previous cruisers. The rear 210mm Metzeler radial isn’t gargantuan by custom standards, but again Star was looking for a compromise between styling and handling. The chrome 18-inch 5-spoke custom wheel sits in a die cast aluminum swingarm. The rear includes a single shock with 3.5-inches of travel that’s horizontally mounted and tucked away out of sight, reminiscent of H-D’s Softails. The final piece to the rear end puzzle is its ample-sized single 310mm disc that will help bring the 692 lb cruiser comfortably to a stop.
Those brakes will come in handy because the Raider is powered by the biggest engine in Star’s class of cruisers. The air cooled 1854cc 48-degree V-Twin is a carryover from the 2007 Roadliner and is a few cubes up on Honda’s VTX 1800. Star hopes this size advantage translates to sales. During its analysis of market trends, the second-leading reason custom buyers purchased a bike was for its engine size. The Raider’s 113 cubic-inch mill is claimed to reach maximum torque low on the rev range at 2500 rpm and a peak horsepower output at 4500 rpm. The powerplant’s performance benefits from a 3.5 liter airbox hidden in the area behind the fuel tank. The engine is fed by computer-controlled twin-bore electronic fuel injectors with a throttle position sensor. The sensor is developed to get the best fuel-air mixture, working the 113 cubic-inch mill’s four pushrod-activated valves and two spark plugs that ignite each of the cylinders. The cylinders remain the same size as the Roadliner’s, with a 9.48:1 compression ratio squeezed out of the Raider’s 100 x 118mm bore/stroke.
The Raider’s air cooled 1854cc V-Twin is the same mill used in its Roadliner and reaches peak torque at a claimed 2500 rpm.
The powertrain includes a 5-speed transmission with a multiplate wet clutch. It ends with some burly pipes. The 2-1-2 down-swept exhaust features twin catalyzers. It also has what Star calls an Exhaust Ultimate Power Valve that is claimed to boost torque after it reaches max output, in between the 2500-3500 rpm range. On the environmentally-friendly end, there’s an oxygen sensor and three-way catalysts that reduce emissions. It doesn’t state whether it’s up to strict Euro III standards or not, but Star has gone as far as making them EPA-compliant so the Raider can be marketed in all 50 states. With its 1845cc engine and tough-looking chrome dual pipes, I’d love to hear the exhaust note rumbling out of it. How about it Star? Next time you should include a little sound file to click on so that we can hear the results of all your hard work.
In the styling department, the Raider’s pullback handlebars sit on risers above the tank and team with a 27.3-inch seat height so riders grab the grips with arms straight forward. This ties in with Star’s desire to transition the Raider from classic- to chopper- styling. It claims most classic bikes have riders sitting higher in the saddle with their arms reaching down to grab the bars. Star aimed to provide a riding position where the rider sits lower, arms straight, more ‘inside’ the saddle than on top of the bike. Right below the saddle is a finned oil tank, an old-school styling cue similar to the one Harley used on its 2008 Rocker. The engine has its share of custom-machined fin edges as well for functional as well as aesthetic purposes and shares cooling responsibilities with the airbox.
The Raider’s beefy 2-1-2 exhausts are one of the bike’s best features. It comes equipped with an Exhaust Ultimate Power Valve that is supposed to boost torque between 2500-3500 rpm.
The Raider has its share of requisite chrome, from the bitching pipes mentioned earlier to the custom 5-spoke wheels. The flangeless 4.1 gallon fuel tank gets a touch of chrome as well, wide enough to mount the motorcycle’s instrument panel on the back of the tank. This includes the analog speedometer, fuel gauge, twin digital tripmeters, odometer and self-diagnostics. With the Raider’s low “sit-in” riding position along with the tank’s high position on the backbone, the large gauge of the speedo should be easy enough to glance at while in motion.
For those who want even more high-polish chrome, the Raider comes in an “S” version. The package includes chrome triple clamps, fork sliders, air box cover, master cylinders, headlight housing, and handlebar risers. All this bling will take a little more change out of your pocket. The standard Raider runs $13,180 for its Raven Black model and $200 more for the Candy Red version. The Raider S starts at $13,780 in Tommy Blue and bumps up to $13,980 to get one in Candy Red with flames. And even though Star tried to take the need to customize your bike away by tricking it out for you, there’s still more aftermarket goodies available from its accessories and apparel catalog. Custom buyers are always looking for that something extra that expresses their personality and will always remain a fickle lot. Star’s new Raider will provide a solid starting point.
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