I sorry! But, I have to start with the name of this motorcycle. Bolt? Really! That’s the best name Yamaha could come up with? I might name my dog “Bolt”, you know what that shit isn’t happen either. Bolt quit drinking out of the toilet! Bolt quit humping the other dog! Bolt quit tearing up the backyard! Bolt is that one of the wife’s shoes in your mouth? Good doggie, Bolt.
I think I know how this happened. One of dudes or dudettes in a marketing meeting at Yamaha’s think tank in California says “Hey I’ve got to BOLT, I’ve got a yoga class in a few minutes.” The other dudes or dudettes in the meeting looking at each other wide eyed and yell out “Cool! Way Cool! Bolt it is, let’s go surfing.” So they pass it up to Yamaha’s lawyers, where there’s a big sigh of relief. The one lawyer says to the other “I thought they would end up calling it Sportster 2.” The other lawyer responds back” Nope, were cool.”
Okay, enough of the unfounded chit -chat above. First and foremost, the Bolt is a very nice entry level small cruiser motorcycle. It has an air-cooled V-Twin engine. The displacement is just a little south of 1000 cc or around 58 cubic inches. I’m pretty sure Yamaha was also going for the bobber look too. Also, it’s got a slick five speed gearbox. The gearbox is nicely matched with the power curve of the engine.
The V-twin engine is the most important component of any cruiser motorcycle. Yamaha knows that so they bolted one in the Bolt. I’m so funny “bolted one in the Bolt.” The V-twin engine used to power the bolt isn’t brand new either. It’s also being used in the V Star 950 Tourer and the V Star 950 models. The V Star engines are all chromed up and the Bolt’s engine is blacked out. I’m going to guess that most of the other specifications are the same.
The engine has four valves per cylinder with some type of specially designed cylinder head to increase available power. Adjustments to the maps used to control fuel delivery and ignition have been modified to make the engine produce more torque at lower RPMs. Cruiser riders love that torque stuff. There’s also a different style air-box to facilitate keeping the engine fully aspirated.
Of course the engine is fuel injected. No traction control or that other fancy stuff on this baby. The motorcycle weighs in at 540 pounds excluding fluids. This probably would make it easier to handle for someone who is just learning how to ride a motorcycle. The seat height is somewhere around 27 inches which is right in the ballpark for a cruiser motorcycle.
I’m not completely sure, but I think you could get one of these babies out the door for around $9,000.00. Nine grand out-the-door, very nice deal! It appears that is a whole lot stuff that you can purchase to make Bolt to your liking. Yamaha is taking a page of Harley Davidson’s playbook with all of the customizing parts.
The Bolt is Yamaha’s tool to try to take away market share from Harley Davidson. I’m going to guess the main focus is to slow down Harley Davidson’s Sportster 883 production line. This is definitely going to be a tough road to travel. Harley-Davidson has a well-oiled marketing machine and a very loyal customer base buying their products.
But this is a pretty good strategy for Yamaha to use. Use some of the parts that are already in play in their other motorcycles. No sense making everything from scratch that usually costs a lot of money. Make less money on their entry-level vehicles to get the framework for a loyal customer base. Pick up the money on the backend through all the gizmos used to customize the motorcycle. Hopefully Yamaha can get the Bolt users to upgrade to the larger cruisers in Yamaha’s lineup. Either way, I guess it’s a crapshoot.
Riding the Bolt was a pretty good experience except I felt cramped on the motorcycle. I may be used to larger motorcycles. It’s been a long time that I’ve been on a motorcycle under or around 1000 cc. About a year ago I rode Harley-Davidson’s Sportster 883 and I got the same vibe. The Bolt had plenty of power for acceleration during my demo ride. I did a few 0 to 60 miles an hour in my demo videos just to see what the motorcycle would do. During my little drag race sessions the transmission worked like a charm never missed a shift. Also when I came to a stop I had no problems finding neutral.
The wheelbase is approximately 61 inches which was probably a major factor in how stable the motorcycle was at 65 miles an hour. Yamaha is indicating on their spec sheet that the motorcycle gets approximately 51 miles per gallon. This is probably a good asset for the motorcycle because of the current price of fuel. The rear tail light is filled with LEDs and I still have made my mind up whether it belongs on the motorcycle or not. I guess that’s a decision a potential buyer would make.
There was no extensive vibration or heat migration to me during the demo rides. Although, my hands did fall asleep on several occasions due to what I considered abnormal vibration in the handlebars. This problem can be easily rectified with several different approaches. I believe Yamaha spent a lot of time making this motorcycle compact and centering the mass so the engine is right between your legs closer than what I’ve experienced on other motorcycles.
The seat which is stock was definitely not designed to be comfortable for me. So if I owned this motorcycle, the first thing I would throw in the trash would be the seat. Also I would definitely invest in forward controls and possibly higher handlebars. The brakes worked fine with no ABS and only one disk in the front. I felt the speedometer was hard to read because of the smoked lens. I definitely wish the speedometer would have incorporated some type of tachometer.
All in all, I thought this was a quality product for someone who wants an entry-level motorcycle in the cruiser segment. This was definitely not a motorcycle for me, but I really see it making an impact on a younger person who is looking to create a motorcycle of his liking.