(Top) The C-Spec gets clip-on style handlebars that mount beneath the top clamp. It also uses a longer fork (no change in travel however) to boost ground clearance. (Center) The C-Spec’s ergonomics are more sporty but not to so much to cause discomfort on the road. While ground clearance has been improved the footage feelers touch down at a modest lean angle. It isn’t enough to disrupt the fun however. (Bottom) The back end of the Bolt C-Spec is tidy and highlighted by a simple and effective LED-style taillight.
The Star Bolt is one of the best-selling motorcycles in Yamaha’s line-up. Anxious to capitalize on sales floor momentum it’s introducing a new a cafe racer specification bike with the 2015 Star Bolt C-Spec ($8690). The C-Spec features key chassis tweaks including longer suspension and sportier cafe racer-style ergonomics.
The C-Spec shares the standard Bolt’s powertrain including its playful and effective 942cc air-cooled V-Twin, five-speed transmission and belt final drive. The double-cradle steel frame, 3.2-gallon fuel tank, and fenders are all identical as well, as are the 12-spoke cast aluminum wheels (19-inch front, 16-inch rear) and wave-style, vented brake discs.
Repositioned foot controls are nearly six inches rearward, just over an inch higher, and a half-inch wider, too. They are matched to clip-on style handlebars mounted beneath the top clamp. Lastly, the simple all-digital instrument pod was realigned so it’s easier to read. Together these changes give the C-Spec a more aggressive racing-style stance without making the riding position too demanding, feeling natural and well-proportioned even when you’re not racing from stoplight to stoplight. One complaint is the engine’s airbox is in constant contact with the rider’s right calf which causes some discomfort.
Because a sportier overall feel is what Star was after, the Bolt C-Spec benefits from longer suspension componentry (suspension travel is unchanged at both ends). This raises the ride height of the motorcycle by 1.6 inches allowing for four-degrees of cornering clearance through turns. Commander II tires from Michelin are used in place of the standard Bolt’s Bridgestones — a change Star claims was made to elevate handling feel. At a sporty pace, the footpeg feelers still touchdown early in a corner but it’s not enough to comprise the fun factor.
For the most part, the C-Spec’s suspension glides over bumps and rough pavement delivering a cozy ride. The spring rate and overall damping characteristics are a little soft/fast for fast rides but for all all-around purposes it performs admirably. Stability near triple digit speed could be improved on, as speed wobbles making you feel like a rocker in the ‘60s chasing the ton-up outside the Ace Café on a sketchy but exhilarating romp.
Although it isn’t new, we’re big fans of the character and performance of Star’s smartly designed 60-degree V-Twin. It delivers very useable torque across the rev range plus its throttle response is well calibrated making for a relatively easy bike to master. We also love its throaty exhaust note that sounds more composed than the classic ‘potato-potato’ tone of American Iron. The clutch, gearbox and function of the belt-drive all performed without a hiccup.
- Playful air-cooled V-Twin engine
- Well thought-out ergonomics
- Excellent rear brake
- Front brake lever lacks position adjustment
- Airbox cover can cause leg discomfort on long rides
- Front brake could be more powerful
The C-Spec stops as well as it accelerates. The rear brake functions especially well with lots of power and precious pedal sensation making it friendly to operate. The front brake on the other hand could be a tad more powerful and we wish it offered lever-position adjustment as its fixed setting is a little too far out for riders with smaller hands.
If you’re looking for the advantages of modern performance and the clean fit-and-finish a new Japanese-built motorcycle provides but still want the authentic feel of a classic, Star’s new Bolt C-Spec fits the bill.