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2011-07-26 09:08

WEAPON OF MASS DISTRACTION: The Stryker attracted attention wherever it stopped, including at a Metro Police road block.


In the same way that Toyota uses Lexus as its luxury brand, Yamaha’s Star division is the Tuning Fork's brand for cruisers and custom bikes. The Stryker 1300, the latest addition to the Star stable and one of its more radical designs, brings an individual touch to the cruiser market at a very reasonable R115 000.

Visually, the first thing you notice about the Stryker is its extreme fork rake – at 40 degrees, it beats Honda’s VT1300 by two degrees. To put things into perspective “Captain America”, Peter Fonda’s iconic chopper from the 1969 film 'Easy Rider', boasts only two degrees more rake than the Stryker.

From the fork, your eyes are drawn backwards across the wide and shallow tank to the low seat (at 670mm, the lowest yet on a Star motorcycle) to the wide, low-profile rear tyre. Viewed as a whole the Stryker looks more like a raked-out cruiser than a chopper – it seems more bulky and solid than its Winged H counterpart.


The riding position is typically chopper, though: feet forward and fists “punching the wind”.  Mounted between the handle bars (thankfully not on the tank) is a single pod dominated by an analogue speedo, adorned with the bike’s name in italicised Old English script. Above this is a small multi-function display that contains the odometer, trip meters, fuel gauge and dashboard clock (selectable from the right handlebar).

Press the starter button and the 1304cc V-twin comes alive with a subdued throb. Dual counter-balancing shafts straighten out the worst vibrations, but not so much as to rob the engine of its character. Although quite smooth, the engine leaves you in no doubt of its configuration. And as is expected of a V-twin it has a good deal of torque - 107Nm.

THE PIPES ARE PLAYING: Twin tailpipes emit a surprisingly subdued (for a cruiser) engine note.

In typical Tuning Forks tradition the gearbox is clunky to a fault, but you do get the hang of it after a while. With sufficient practice you can swap cogs smoothly on the move, but forget about it when stationary – first gear engages with all the stealth of a nuclear explosion. The mill’s power is transmitted to the rear wheel by way of a Kevlar-reinforced belt, which means it will be relatively easy to keep the custom-look rear hoop clean.


With a wheel base of 2.53m and a wet weight of 293kg I had expected the Stryker to be unwieldy in traffic, but it is surprisingly nimble. Obviously it is not the kind of bike you would buy for commuting, but you could push it into that role for a day or two if you have to. The combination of a short-travel rear suspension and the unforgiving profile of the 210/40/18 rear tyre makes the ride extremely choppy at low speeds, which limits its everyday use in my opinion.

But cruisers are made for cruising and not lane-splitting, and it is on the open road that the Stryker comes into its own. The long wheelbase and raked fork join forces to make the bike extremely stable at speed, while the seating position allows you to go for miles on end without getting tired. The seating position also means that your body acts as a drag chute at higher speeds, but at the national speed limit this is not an issue. If you do want to go fast, Yamaha offers a quick-fit windscreen, one of more than 60 specially-designed accessories available for the Stryker.

The Stryker ticks all the right boxes on the custom cruiser checklist with its brawny V-twin mill, raked fork, low seat and forward-set footpegs. In a market segment in which image and attitude are as important as performance, if not more, the Stryker delivers in spades. Getting all of that for less than the cost of a 600cc sport bike makes it a big bargain if you’re in a cruisin’ frame of mind.


Inside Wheels24

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