The factory-custom styling of the Stryker blends right in with the rock & roll lifestyle of the press launches’ host city, Austin, Texas.
Fall may signal the end of summer, but it also signals the beginning of press launch season. Woke up at the Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin last week with riding on my mind. Went outside where a row of raked-out cruisers with custom-painted tanks and low-slung saddles awaited. The motorcycle’s back-to-front symmetry leaves a positive initial impression. Low and wide out back, the 2011Star Stryker gradually gets taller as you scan forward, the bars mounted on its raised steering head punching
out rider’s arms almost horizontally before the fork drops off at a heavy 40-degree rake angle. The 21-inch-tall front hoop balances out the 210mm-wide rear tire. We fire them up with the effortless thumb of an electric starter. The 60-degree V-Twin vibrates sedately at idle as dual crankshaft balancers work their vibration-quelling magic. The mill sits ready for a solid twist of the right wrist to activate the flow from its dual 40mm throttle bodies. Heading down Sixth Street, another motojournalist takes the opportunity to be the first to light up the tires. Right in front of Austin PD. Fortunately, the officer was in the middle of writing a ticket and we were able to embark without incident on a 125-mile first ride on the 2011 Stryker through the Texas Hill Country.
Star Motorcycles enters the mid-size custom cruiser foray based on input received from focus groups and Star dealers. The size of the bike and price point were two major areas of contention when contemplating Star’s latest cruiser. The Stryker helps complete the company’s lineup, filling the gap between the brawny 1854cc Raider and the V Star 950. Its design comes from a combination of sources, including custom bike builder and frequent collaborator on
Star projects, Jeff Palhegyi, an outside design company out of California called GKDI and Yamaha’s internal R&D department.
Red lights and morning traffic make getting out of town and above second gear a challenge. We finally push through cage-driving commuters to jump on Highway 1 South. The road is a mess of grooved pavement. The Stryker’s front end feels light as the bike’s weight bias puts only 45% on the front while the rear bears the other 55%. Stuck out at the end of 40-degrees of rake is a lightweight cast aluminum 5-spoke wheel with a single 320mm disc. The 21-inch Bridgestone Exedra tire is maintaining solid contact with the road but the grooved surfaces are transferring a little uneasiness to the bars. As soon as the road smoothes out, so does the quality of the ride.
Once out of town, we’re able to run through some gears and sample what the 1304cc engine has to offer. The nucleus of the powerplant is ripped straight from the V Star 1300. That equates to an 80 cubic-inch V-Twin with twin-barrel fuel
The Stryker’s engine comes straight from the V Star 1300, but has a different airbox, mufflers and mapping.
Star claims it re-designed the dual mufflers of the 2-1-2 arrangement used on the 2011 Stryker.
injection and a single overhead cam design. The Stryker engine differs, though, by its higher cam lift and roller rocker arms. This move is aimed at reducing friction and upping lift ratios in the quest to inject the factory custom with a little more stomp. A larger, three-liter airbox also delineates the Stryker’s mill from the standard V Star 1300, as does its ignition and fuel-injection maps that are dialed-in to maximize the Stryker’s performance.
The engine utilizes forged connecting rods and a single crankpin, common denominators in the quest for lumping V-Twin character. But overall the engine is very well-balanced, vibrations are nominal and only come into play in the upper rpm as the motorcycle approaches redline around 6600 rpm. Ceramic-composite cylinder sleeves keep the piston action smooth as the oversquare engine sports a 100mm bore and a compact 84mm stroke. Operating within each cylinder are four valves, two 36mm intakes and two 32mm exhausts, while fuel is metered out through dual 40mm throttle bodies with 12-hole fuel injector nozzles. The entire operation is cooled courtesy of internally run coolant hoses.
Roll on the throttle and the mild-mannered nature of the mill disappears in a surge of low-end grunt. Acceleration is snappy for a 1300 and the bike overall feels lighter than its claimed 646-pound running-order. Gearing is fairly tall and power delivery is even throughout the powerband. Second gear is especially giving while pushing the speedometer up to the 80 mph range. The five-speed transmission is very compliant with just a tad of notchiness felt when engaging the lower gears, but finding neutral is a hassle-free process. A carbon-reinforced belt reliably transfers power to the rear without lashing.
Our route through the Texas Hill Country continues on Ranch Road 3238 as we pass by the turnout for Hamilton Pool. The fun increases in the rises and falls of the rolling topography. The Stryker is planted as we hit a series of sweepers and 35 mph turns. Star made a smart choice in only going 210mm-wide on the rear. It gives the bike the custom look Star was hoping for without totally sacrificing handling. At times, it’s easy to forget you’re on a bike with 40 degrees of rake.
Besides pushing out the steering head to 34 degrees and adding six more degrees in the trees, the heavy rake angle is disguised somewhat by the short space between the downtubes of the double cradle steel frame and the space
We took the Stryker for a 125-mile run through the Texas Hill Country to gather our first ride impressions.
created by its fresh open-necked design. The revised front end also features a redesigned 41mm fork with new top and bottom triple clamps. The Stryker doesn’t require much push on the bars to get it tilted in at speed, but at slower paces, you become aware of the 40 degrees of rake. Sharp turns require a little extra room to get the 21-inch front hoop pointed in the right direction. It does, after all, sport a generous 68.9-inch wheelbase, but the low center of gravity afforded by the lowest seat height amongst the Star cruisers helps neutralize any ill effects. The Stryker’s riding position is lower than the V Star 1300, leaving rider’s arms up high almost level with the horizon.
When it comes time to scrub off speed, the Stryker relies on big single discs, front and back. The 320mm front provides a lot of surface area for the two-piston calipers to bite into. Overall power and feel at the lever on the front is solid, albeit without a strong initial bite. The rear brake, on the other hand, has plenty of bite and locks up fairly easily. But the 310mm rear rotor, with its hard-working single piston caliper, teams with the big front disc to be my saving grace when I had to jam on the brakes to keep from T-boning another journalist turning unexpectedly in front of me.
Fortunately, the controls are forward-mounted and the brake lever is easily accessed for just such an occasion. It is a tight squeeze on the bike’s left side between the peg and shift lever for riders wearing thick-toed boots, like me, and I hooked my toe under the shifter a few times. The hand controls fall readily into place though, thanks to the swept-back
Star kept the bars of the Stryker clean by utilizing one gauge for everything, but the speedo face is a little busy.
handlebars. A pair of right thumb switches (Select and Reset) are mounted above the starter button that allow you to toggle through the two tripmeters, fuel gauge and clock of the LCD readout. Star squeezed the LCD along with the analog speedo, tach and indicator lights including high beam, turn signal indicator, engine diagnostics and neutral indicator all into one handlebar-mounted gauge. Granted, the bars sport a clean, tidy look, much in the vein of a custom bike, but trying to squeeze everything into one small display makes the cluster a little busy.
Style-wise, at first glance the Stryker is going to draw comparisons to Star’s Raider. With good reason. The fenders are carbon copies and the wheels are identical sizes. Which means there are a variety of accessory wheels readily available for the Stryker. But look closely and the Stryker is its own beast. The shape of its tank is wicked, wide and slim. The height of the steering head is much more pronounced. The open neck-style double cradle steel frame is all-new. The way the seat scoops down low is cool, too. Its stock cast wheels look more custom than factory and it has metal fenders, which may be a trivial fact, but it adds worlds to the Stryker’s fit and finish, especially considering its $11,240 MSRP.
The Stryker’s also got an impressive line of over 60 accessories already available, everything from quick-detach windscreens to passenger backrests to highway
A detachable windscreen, passenger backrest and highway bars are but a few of the 60 accessories already available for the Stryker.
bars. The style of the accessories were developed and engineered at the same time as the bike by the same U.S.-based team that designed the motorcycle. There is even a Raven version straight from the factory to go along with a line of blacked-out accessories Star calls its new Midnight Collection. Initially, the Stryker is being offered in three colors – Raven, MSRP $10,990, while Impact Blue or Reddish Copper will cost a tad more at $11,240. This price point situates the Stryker lower than the 2010 Fury, Honda’s factory custom chopper, which lists at $12,999. In these times, it’s all about saving some Benjamins, which means the Stryker’s $11,000 sticker price will be one of the first things to attract consumer’s attention. Its low-slung saddle, slick tank, clean styling and an obliging engine will help seal the deal for some.