The 2010 Star Raider S has custom-quality paint and is dressed up with plenty of shiny chrome accents.
The 2010 Star Raider S is no slouch in the engine department itself. In contrast to the dual overhead cam arrangement of the Suzuki, the Star is equipped with big pushrods that operate four overhead valves per cylinder. Instead of the oversquare arrangement of the M109R, the Raider S has undersquare bore /stroke dimensions of 100 X 118mm (3.94 in. X 4.65 in.) Similar to Suzuki’s proprietary SCEM system, the Star keeps its forged pistons fluidly stroking by using ceramic-composite-plated cylinder heads that are cooled by oil jets. Its 1854cc engine doesn’t quite have the horses of the M109R as it peaks out at 83.80 hp, but it did top the charts in the torque department at 103.44 lb-ft of pop that’s available at only 2500 rpm. The 48-degree V-Twin of the Raider S lacks the initial hit of the M109R but still has plenty of juice throughout the powerband and easily paces with the big Suzuki in our high-speed test runs. It also has a slight edge in the efficiency department with a 36.0 mpg average, but its small capacity 4.1-gallon tank means you’ll be stopping at the gas station earlier because of the limit the fuel cell places on its range.
Overall, engine output is fairly equal, but the Raider’s fueling system is much more spot-on and even. Its twin bore electronic fuel injection monitors the 12-hole fuel injectors with each twist of the throttle courtesy of its throttle position sensor. A transistor-controlled ignition keeps the twin spark plugs in each cylinder firing regularly and the result is a steady stream of power on demand. The Raider S doesn’t have the same heavy hesitation if you back off the throttle that we experienced on the M109R, and its more even spread of usable power didn’t tax our shoulders as much either.
The Raider S has a tank-mounted console with the bare necessities, an analog speedo, twin tripmeters, an odometer and a few lights for self-diagnostics.
The clutch lever on the Raider S requires a tighter squeeze, but the multiplate wet clutch helps the 5-speed transmission pop into gear with less friction. Neutral is easy to find and it never failed to engage into first gear on the initial kick. The carbon fiber-reinforced belt final drive transfers the power to the back wheel smoothly, and the fluid power delivery prevents the belt from lashing, even when the throttle is twisted wide-open.
Despite running a more chopper-esque 33-degree rake angle and a 6-degree yoke angle, the Raider S has a light feel at the bars for a bike that sports almost 40 degrees of total rake. A 30mm-smaller rear tire, slightly more relaxed ergos thanks to higher pullback handlebars, and 39 lbs less on the scale make the Raider S much more neutral handling than the wide-bodied M109R. This is especially noticeable at lower, parking lot speeds and in transitions. You can attack corners with greater aplomb on the Raider S, but both motorcycles exhibit about the same amount of stability mid-turn.
The Raider S has a conventional telescopic fork with 5.1 in. of travel. Despite its heavy rake angle, the fork isn’t garishly overstretched thanks to a high neck angle. The stretch does appear in the wheelbase dimensions, which measure out at a lengthy 70.9 in. The single rear shock is tucked neatly out of sight and connects to a controlled-fill, aluminum swingarm. The suspension on the Raider S provides a pleasant riding experience and has just the right amount of give to smooth out imperfections in the road without feeling spongy. It definitely is a little more compliant than the stock set-up of the M109R, but the Suzuki gets the benefit of the doubt due to its adjustability that we didn’t tap in to.
When it comes time to halt the Raider’s forward progress, dual hydraulic 298mm discs with monoblock calipers up front and a 310mm hydraulic disc on the back are up to the task. The front arrangement has a solid feel at the lever to go along with great braking power. The rear set-up has good bite but will lock up the rear easier creating power slide situations. Together, the brakes modulate excellently and have an abundance of outright power for full-on hard stops. Overall, both power cruisers get stellar marks in the braking department.
The S designation of the Raider means it’s all dressed up with custom-quality paint and plenty of chrome trim, from its triple clamps to its handlebar risers to its engine covers. More chrome is found in the form of tank-length strips that extend from the instrument console, ribbing streaks down the side of the tank, and in angular headlight mounts. The higher neck angle tilts the Raider’ tank at a slight incline and leaves an openness that shows off the beautiful machining of the engine heads. Its big pipes have a slight crook and add to its hot-rodded stance but don’t put out the same bark as the M109R’s.
Instrumentation is about as bare-bones as it gets. A conventional round analog speedo sits in the crest of the chrome tank-mounted console. The tank is angled up so it sits up high and is easily visible. Inside the speedo casing are small lights for high beam, low fuel, turn signals, and a neutral indicator. It also contains a digital clock and a small digital odometer. The small needle of a fuel gauge is tucked into the right hand corner of the speedo. On the left handlebar is a hi/lo beam switch, turn signals, and a button for the horn. The right handlebar houses the starter button and a switch for the driving lights. The stock mirrors are wide where they should be and give riders a great field of view behind them.
The styling of the M109R hasn’t fluctuated much since its inception, giving the Raider the advantage in curb appeal. And while the two power cruisers are fairly evenly matched in power and braking, the Raider is lighter at the bars, its fueling is much more constant and predictable, and its suspension more forgiving. The Star’s bars are higher, seat wider, it has more comfortable, upright ergos, and less wrestling with the bike means you can ride longer, more comfortably. Add in its striking good looks and you’ve got the winner of our power cruiser comparo.