Well this is going sound pretty damn weird, but the first time I sat on this motorcycle, I immediately thought about the movie Easy Rider. I also heard the song “Born to be Wild” played by the band Steppenwolf in my head. In stereo no less! To the left of me was the Captain America motorcycle with Peter Fonda smoking a joint and we were cruising through Tennessee. Yep, I know what you’re thinking, coolcycledude didn’t get enough oxygen at birth. Like I said, pretty damn weird!
I can honestly say I’ve never been on a chopper type of a motorcycle, they just never really appealed to me. I know they look really cool, but I think I prefer a more functional motorcycle than a chopper. Don’t get me wrong, some of the choppers I’ve seen built on some of the TV programs in my opinion are works of art. But I never really formed an emotional attachment to them.
Well I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest the 2013 Yamaha Raider SCL is pretty close to any one of those choppers that I’ve seen on TV, but, in my opinion, much more functional. I realize this is a production motorcycle, although limited production. It somehow manages to emit “cool waves.” That’s right “cool waves.” You’re probably thinking right now, “What in the hell are ‘cool waves?'” I guess the best way to describe cool waves is as if the essence of this motorcycle generates some sort of dimensional field that you pass through. Did that help?
The Raider SCL has what I would consider Yamaha’s bulletproof V-twin engine. This baby has 1854cc that work out to about 113 cubic inches. This V-twin engine has what is referred to as under-square cylinder configuration. This means that the bore of the cylinders is less than the distance that the pistons travel up and down the cylinder walls. This gives the engine the capability to produce gobs of torque at low rpm. Just what a cruiser motorcycle needs in its DNA.
The engine has four valves per cylinder to keep it aspirated. The valves are operated by pushrods. No gears or chain here. Gee, I wonder where they got that idea? The compression ratio is somewhere around 9.5 to 1 which is standard business for an air cooled V-twin. The engine is definitely all chromed up; be prepared to do a lot of polishing. I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of chrome, especially chrome engines. Of course the exhaust system is thoroughly chromed and takes up a lot of real estate on the rider’s right side.
The engine is a dry sump with the oil tank conveniently located under the driver’s seat. There must be a couple of counter rotating shafts inside of the motor because I felt very little vibration from engine. Also, I’m sure it also has some sort of isolation mounting system to the frame. Make no mistake, you still have the V-twin engine experience between your legs.
Of course the engine is fuel injected. No fancy mapping or traction control adjustments on the handlebars either to confuse you. What you get is what you get. It’s got a nice five speed gearbox attached to the engine. Gear changes were flawless during my demo ride. The clutch is hydraulically assisted and had a really good feel to it.
The Yamaha Raider SCL is somewhere around 750 pounds with all the fluids, although this is a little bit high when compared to the average cruiser on the market which is somewhere around 650 pounds. The weight isn’t a big deal because the seat height is somewhere around 26 inches from the ground. This gives the majority of the riders an opportunity to put their feet flat on the ground. This was a little bit surprising to me. Yamaha uses a special casting process to produce strong lightweight frames. So I’m going to guess that the bulk of the weight of this motorcycle can be attributed to the very powerful engine.
This motorcycle is definitely designed for cruising with 102 inches of length. Even with this long length, I felt very confident when I cornered the motorcycle and got excellent feedback from the front end. Obviously, don’t think you’re going to be able to push this motorcycle into the turns like you would a sport bike. I’m pretty sure if you purchase a motorcycle like this, you already possess this knowledge.
The front forks provide somewhere around 5 inches of travel and the rear shocks damn close to 3 ½ inches of travel. The suspension was very compliant; didn’t feel soft or extremely stiff. Standard configuration for the brakes: two disks in the front one in the rear. This motorcycle is not equipped with ABS, so you’re on your own when breaking on wet or surfaces with loose material. Just like back in the old days.
The rear tire is a 210 with an 18 inch diameter. The front tire is a 140 with a 21 inch diameter. The custom chromed machined rims frame the tires very nicely. You’ve got your standard belt drive system to transfer the energy from the engine to the rear wheel. Nothing new here! Over the years I’ve become a fan of shaft drive, but I realize that putting a shaft drive on this motorcycle would make it heavier and cause the rear suspension to behave badly.
This motorcycle comes complete with a vibrant dark red paint job. What would appear to be a custom leather seat fits nicely with the fuel tank. The seat was very comfortable right from the get-go. The brake and clutch lines are encased in stainless steel which is a really nice touch. This is a Yamaha motorcycle, so of course the fit and finish is flawless.
Would I own one? No! What I like to have one? Yes! Yes, Please! At this stage of my life I always need to carry my possessions around with me and I guess I’ve become allergic to the wind. So the majority of my current motorcycles have bags and windshields. I really hate to admit this, but I also need my floorboards. How did this happen to me? Am I in the advanced stages of motorcycle ownership? What’s next, a trike? There was a time when I used to say “floorboards are for old people who ride motorcycles.” I guess I got that right.
But, if I were a younger dude or a dudette, I’d be riding around on the Yamaha SCL Raider. This motorcycle is really a cool and very fun motorcycle to ride. I can actually visualize myself 33 years ago with my Who Quadrophenia T-shirt running down the boulevard on this baby. The wind would be blowing through my hair wearing a pair of wayfarer sunglasses without a care in the world. Yep, those were the days. Now I’m floorboard man.