Yamaha calls its cruiser line Star, and in 2008 there were none that burned more brightly than the all-new Raider. In an incredibly competitive field of excellent laid-back, highly styled machines from classic baggers to production choppers, the Raider really stood out. As we said in Cycle World’s Ten Best Bikes issue last August, “It’s pretty easy to build a fat-tired, raked-out custom; the hard part is building one that has the requisite fat-tired raked-out look but that also feels and behaves like a ‘normal’ motorcycle.” But that is exactly what Star did, endowing this long, low machine with a 40-degree fork angle, 210mm rear tire and a 71-inch wheelbase, while also getting it to handle amazingly well. The super-refined-yet-soulful 1854cc V-Twin engine just added to the show.
CONTENDERS: Is there “choppetition”? Yes, and one is from Honda, an early release 2010 called the Fury, sporting a profile similar to the Raider’s but powered by a 1300cc V-Twin. There also is a host of new 1700cc Vulcans from Kawasaki, and don’t forget Yamaha’s own V Star 950 and 950 Tourer, just added to the ‘09 line. Triumph has a 2010 model-year cruiser on the way, as well, in the form of the Thunderbird 1600 parallel-Twin.