Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Live Life One Mile at a Time!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

At a Glance: 2014 Yamaha Bolt!

The R-Spec Includes Piggy-Back Shock Absorbers!
Photo © Star Motorcycles
Whilst at work this past weekend at Sur 2 Roues I heard the unmistakable sound of a big V-Twin pulling into the school's closed circuit. The rider disembarked and began walking towards us and before long Sophie, a Sur 2 Roues Motorcycle Instructor, greeted the gentleman warmly. Apparently, this was a former student and he had come by specifically to show off his brand new motorcycle that he had just taken possession that Friday from Motos Thibault here in Sherbrooke, Quebec. At a glance you could forgive the unsuspecting eye in thinking that this was a brand new Harley-Davidson Sportster of some variety or another. However, upon closer inspection what I found myself admiring was in fact a brand new 2014 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec!

Before I continue let me just start off by saying that there are dozens of reviews, including by notable editors
The Bolt  boasts 50 Accessories
including Mini-Apes and Brass parts!
Photo © CycleNews.com
like Brian Harley of Motorcycle USA.com already published on this new motorcycle. Yamaha has in fact made several videos comparing it to various other competitors including the H-D 883 and Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom. Thus, consider this a bare bones glance at an otherwise impressive and dare I say sexy motorcycle. Not since my take on the Victory Highball have I found myself this intrigued. Based on traditional garage built Bobber styling Yamaha has jumped on board in an attempt to clearly steal sales from Harley-Davidson Dark Custom Line. Whilst the Bolt is constantly being compared to the H-D 883 largely because of pricing; the base model starts at the same price as the H-D 883 and the R-Spec is in and around $200 more than the H-D 883; and engine size; compared to the H-D 883 the Yamaha Bolt uses a 942 air cooled platform; I personally think the bike is more comparable to the H-D Forty-Eight, at least in styling. 


Photo © advrider.com
The Bolt also reminds me of the Yamaha Virago Midnight Special and is perhaps a return to a machine that was at its root designed for one thing and one thing only - riding. Say what you will but Yamaha makes good on its promise when it comes to quality and the Bolt is no exception. The bike left a lasting impression on me and despite myself I found my way to Motos Thibault this afternoon to see this bike again in person. Sure enough there was a base model Yamaha Bolt sitting in the parking lot begging to be ridden. Brenda, director of sales at Motos Thibault was very friendly and willing to indulge my fantasy as she showed me some of the basic features of the unique speedo that is standard on the Bolt. While the bike may be minimalist in nature Yamaha still manages to sneak in some 21st Century technology such as trip meter, etc... There is no tach on this bike but than I personally could live without it!
A Very Attractive V-Twin Engine!
Photo © Mario R.J. Corbin
I found myself moments later with keys in hand ready to take the bike out for a test ride.
 The difference between the basic model and the R-Spec is subtle at best. The base model comes with standard double adjustable shocks whilst the R-Spec comes with piggyback double adjustable shocks. The base model also comes in bog standard white or black with chrome mirrors and a vinyl seat (including pillion seat and pegs) whilst the R-Spec comes in gun metal grey or dark green (with black fenders) with black mirrors and a faux suede vinyl seat (pillion pad and pegs at an extra cost). Both models come with the same blacked out air cooled engine. The accessories alone for this motorcycle promises to keep me busy during the winter months as I personally would add a variety of goodies including some brass pieces and mini apes! 


Starting them young....
Photo © Mario R.J. Corbin
I found myself giddy at being able to be the first person to ride this brand new motorcycle. Frankly I had forgotten just how good it felt to ride a Yamaha. My previous Yamaha being my beloved Baby - a 1987 Virago 700. The Bolt's engine had plenty of power on tap even when it came to merging on the highway. If nothing else, I had to keep an eye on my speed as reaching speeds excess of 120 kilometers (70-75 Miles per hour) was deceivingly easy. Compared to other motorcycles I have owned such as a 2008 H-D Nightster 1200N and my present bike, a Suzuki Intruder 1400 GLP, I didn't find the 942 cc platform lacking in any way and can confidently say that this bike could hold its own happily with its larger counterparts. The bike ran smoothly and despite being hard mounted to its frame didn't vibrate at all even at higher speeds. The biggest surprise to me was in fact the five speed mated transmission. I have never ridden a bike with such a smooth transmission before. Changing gears sometimes made me wonder if I had actually succeeded merely because the bike barely makes a sound and happily does so with little to no effort. Equally the clutch is light and all together it is a very progressive and impressive package. 

Despite being 540 pounds the bike was nimble and easy to swing in and out of traffic. At six feet tall and 200 pounds I found the bike to be very comfortable. However, there is a forwarding kit in the works from Yamaha and it may be a good investment for taller riders. Ground clearance is 5.1 in making cornering somewhat cumbersome if your the type who likes to throw your bike into twisties. However, be prepared to scrape your pegs! That being said, don't let any one tell you that this bike isn't suited for back roads. In fact, the bike performs as happily on the back twisted roads of the Eastern Townships as it did on the highway. It seems to soak up the scenery as it rumbles along happily. As I pulled into the driveway I could hear my boys scream with glee as they saw the bike glistening in the sun. My wife's expression, on the other hand was one of shock and surprise. She took a double take and seem to lose all colour in her face until I shouted out that it was just a demo ride and not a new purchase! Once relief had taken over she seemed to enjoy the new bike as much as I did!

Jennifer & My "Wishful Purchase"
(albeit not in white...)
Photo © Mario R.J. Corbin
Wave Type Disc 298 mm Front & Back
Photo © Mario R.J. Corbin
My oldest son Checking out the Two into One Exhaust & Ceramic Covers
Photo © Mario R.J. Corbin
The Tailight is reminicient of the old STOP taillights.
The Plastic plate holder is replaceable with a more Bobberesque style set up!
Photo © Mario R.J. Corbin
The fenders are in fact tin, NOT plastic!
Photo © Mario R.J. Corbin
My boys seem to echo the general divide of opinion over this bike. My youngest son loves it and wished I owned it whilst my oldest son states that although he likes it he prefers my present bike. As for myself, admittedly I liked this base model more than I thought I would. I had gone in hoping to see a version of this bike with the mini-apes and forward controls. However, after riding in and around Sherbrooke today I was pleasantly surprised at just how comfortable the bike was in its present state. The seat itself was very comfortable, though admittedly I am the first one to tell anyone who will listen that they should always invest in a new after market seat such as a Corbin seat or Mustang seat. Yamaha does intend on releasing a springer seat for this particular motorcycle later this year.

The Joys of a Good Bike!
video

Overall the bike was a pleasure to ride. I could see myself throwing on some mini apes that would allow me to run the cables through the bars instead of the cost cutting measures most factories take. In this case, although neatly packaged, you do wonder why cable ties are still used when it takes a mere few minutes to do the latter. (If you know what your doing). Also, I think the mirrors would work better on mini apes than they presently do on the standard bars. The exhaust note is quite attractive and for someone who lives in a quieter residential neighbourhood a welcome addition for anyone who isn't keen on pissing their neighbours off as you drive off. As for the appearance of the exhaust... admittedly they are a far cry from the fish tails I presently have on my Suzuki Intruder 1400. It's an easy fix (albeit costly) or in my case, something I can happily live with given the build quality and reliability of Yamaha itself. 

Photo © Jennifer Fawcett
As I arrived back at the dealership I found myself feeling rather miserable about having to give up even this basic demo model. At an estimated range between 41 & 51 mpg this bike would be a great commuter and in my opinion, with a few tweaks, even nice tourer. Haters will say that the latter is impossible because of the 12 litre tank, but inevitably I disagree. Check out Blazing Trails as a simple example of what a 500cc Royal Enfield can do and rethink your notions of bigger is better. What I personally find the most exciting about this bike other than its build quality is its total price after taxes and freight! At $11, 036.45 for the R-Spec model you would be hard pressed to find another motorcycle company that offers something similar that didn't require several changes, such as the saddle for instance. Yamaha has managed to introduce into the market a cheap factory bobber. I can't help but feel that I am getting so much more for my money with the Yamaha Bolt compared to comparative bikes. So many bikes, so little money... makes me wish I had Jay Leno's motorcycle collection. Inevitably, if I was going to buy a bike today this would be it. It fits a budget that is realistic especially given the fact that winter here prevents usage of motorcycles for up to nearly five to six months of the year depending on where you live in Quebec. At under $200 a month finance too it won't break the bank or give my lovely wife reason to make me sleep in the garage! Though, if I owned this bike that's probably exactly where I would be sleeping if only to keep this lovely bike company of course.

54 comments:

  1. Great review. I only wish you could have kept the bike! X

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  2. Wow! Very nicely done. It's always cool to see your posts.

    RK

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  3. Awesome write up! The Bolt is a fabulous motorcycle and one, because I am a (somewhat elderly), scrawny short-arse like I.A. Forum Member and resident Bolt owner Frodo, can see m'self owning at some point ...

    Great pics & vid too ... again good job on the blog!

    PerrydaSavage

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  4. You guys are making me want a BOLT too

    Ninjato

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    Replies
    1. Why not go check one out?
      But I suppose it is like many things.
      I don't want to try it just in case I like it.

      Lechy

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  5. Thoroughly enjoyed your article Mario! Plus....Yamaha rocks!! NEVER had a problem to date.

    Wolf

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  6. that bike look awesome bro!!

    Rolly

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  7. I read a review of it compared to an 883, the new bolt is a good bike but needs a little more refinement in the build other than that its pretty much the "same". Even the price is nearly equal for the two. Not being biased, I like em' all.

    caffinated1

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    Replies
    1. Inevitably I guess it comes down to branding. Although, personally, though I love H-D, the Yamaha Bolt was smoother and more refined in the engine and transmission department. As for finish, I like the materials used on the Bolt a bit more as well. That is just subjective opinions though.

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  8. I like your blog.

    Cuban

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  9. You're too big for it, and it's a Sportster wannabe! Hate COPYCATS!! Even your oldest son looks like he's thinking "dad, just get a Harley!" LOL

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    1. Lets not forget that Harley-Davidson never supported the bobber or chopper scene until the end of the 20th Century in the late 1990's, beginning of the 2000's. They viewed such designs as 'deviant'... grace aux popular culture such designs became immortalized and being a corporation, H-D began changing and embracing the new generations desire to own factory made bobbers and choppers. All this to say that yes, your right, its a blatant attack on Sportster line in an attempt to garner sales away from them. However, Harley-Davidson didn't create the bobber or chopper look, they embraced it. Yamaha is finally following suit, albeit, in my opinion, perhaps too late?

      Yeah, my oldest son wasn't as keen on it as I was. When he's older he can buy what HE likes... lol ;)

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  10. Looks very much like a Sportster!!

    Dianne Day

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  11. I must say, I am impressed. I am a sport bike rider myself, but really like the look and feel of the bike.

    Mark Dickerson

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    Replies
    1. Personally I love the way it feels like your sitting in the bike instead of on top of it. Would happily take this on a road trip.

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  12. I surmise just from what I read on this here forum that the Bolt is made so itty-bitty people can ride a motorsickle too.

    Chief036

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    1. If your over six feet tall I highly recommend the forwarding kit and different saddle. Otherwise, it all comes down to how you like your bikes. Personally, I like mine slim and short.

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    2. Well, ya see, here's where commonsense goes and gets in my way, cause commonsense tells me that if I have to buy a bunch of extras just to make it fit me, then I'm buying the wrong motorsickle in the first place.

      At my size, me puttin around on the Bolt would look like a piss ant carrying a bale of hay down the road.

      But if you're vertically challenged, I figure it's probably a mighty fine ride.

      Chief036

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    3. Hey Chief. I was just sitting on a new Bolt over @ our local dealer about an hour ago. As you know, I'm a short s**t with a 27" inseam. The Bolt fit me pretty good, but I found the seat lacking, in the comfort dept.

      Cuban

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    4. Absolutely agree with you Chief! Hence why I haven't considered most of the Sportsters that H-D is selling presently.

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    5. Ya making me feel bad. I stopped in at my local Yammie shop and they had a few bolts in stock so I checked it out. It fit me pretty good except the handlebars would have to be changed out as it was too much of a reach.

      maxriderdon

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  13. I think Yamaha made a nice Sportster copy! But why not ride the real thing? Blatant ripoff.

    HDconvert

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    Replies
    1. Good point. Having owned a Harley-Nightster I loved that bike and was sad to have to sell it when I moved back to Canada. However, for me, if it was a choice between the 883 Sportster or the Bolt, personally I'd go for the Bolt. The 883 never did much for me despite the blatant similarities between the two.

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  14. What I'm afraid of with the Bolt, is low resale value. There are already dealers discounting it and next year, I suspect, there will be more. It kills trade in value and resale value. It's a good looking bike, but Yamaha could have waited 'til the honeymoon was over before allowing dealers to discount the Bolt.

    mattsunn

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    1. This is probably what puts me off Harley-Davidson most of the time. Back in Ireland I was offered a brand new H-D to buy with option to upgrade within the next 12 months providing I didn't surpass 2000 miles. I opted for a lightly used H-D Nightster instead with, you guessed it, 2010 miles on the clock. The sales guy looked at me as if I was crazy when I said I would be using the bike to commute daily to and from work. Not because the bike wasn't able too, on the contrary, it was a fantastic bike to own and commute with. Rather, the resale value, he told me would be drastically affected if I put too much mileage on the clock.

      Sure enough, when it came time to sell (many many miles later) I lost a bit of money on the resell. Didn't bother me because I actually had fun using the bike so it wasn't even a second thought to me. Any Japanese bike is never going to maintain a high resell value on a continent that favours American brand names more. At least with the Bolt I wouldn't think twice of trying to get as many miles as possible out of the engine whereas the H-D will always niggle at the back of my mind. Speaking of Harley's with high mileage, I cam across this blog a few years ago: Peter & Kay Forwood Trip Around the World on a Harley-Davidson (click on link in right window pane)

      How much do you think they would get for their bike? If I had the chance to do something similar the bike, for me, would be priceless.

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    2. The only time a motorcycle is worth anything to me is when i'm riding it.I've had seven sportsters and 2 VS 800s and enjoyed the hell outa em.I'd take either one those because the Bolt is flat ugly to me.

      wally w

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  15. when buying a new motorcycle it's good to get a full blown nationwide warranty and nobody does that better than harley, no matter where we are in the country if we ever have a problem {and in 69,000 miles I have yet to have one} they will come and pick you up take care of your bike and put you back on the highway and that includes a hotel if you need one while they make repairs...if you want to ride an 883 you can ride the one I have here it's tricked out a bit but it's a honey of a bike and that should sway you to buying a harley instead of an import, and besides the harley will hold it's value over time where as the imports do not.

    Warren Smith

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  16. I am hard core ol' skool and ride nothing but HD!

    Steve Grant

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    1. I agree with you on dealer support, no one does it better, but BMW does a similar thing during the warranty period. The only ink in the ointment is that there aren't BMW dealers in every state, but BMW will get you home/going anyway. The other thing, and I don't know HD's terms, but a repair done by a BMW authorized dealer is warrantied for 2 years parts and labor. If it has to be repair 23 months 29 days down the road for the same thing, the warranty period on that repair resets. Also, if a warranty repair is done with less than 2 years of the original warranty left, the repair is still warrantied for 2 years. HD may do the same thing, I don't know. The only thing I don't like is that the warranty period isn't unlimited miles and BMW doesn't offer factory extended warranties.

      jim lagnese

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    2. the H-D warranty is nationwide and it's unlimited mileage and the extension over the two year factory warranty is only 1,200 and thats on an 18 month payment plan and it is for four years mine currently is until 2017 I will be trying to kill this motor at least twice in that time im getting close right now thank goodness for the "unlimited" mileage portion.

      Warren Smith

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  17. I just buy what's used, cheap, and in good condition. Kinda like what started the Hells Angels into riding Harleys, they bought old, used police and military bikes because they were cheap and could work on them by the side of the road. THAT is really old school in my opinion, buying a bike just because it's a bike that you can ride and work on and is cheap.

    Sadly, no one makes a bike that you only need a rolled-up tool bag to work on. So much for old school these days....

    John Fox

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    1. Yes they do, it's called a Ural. It's real old school...

      jim lagnese

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    2. Don't forget Royal Enfield!! [:)]

      Yeah, the divide between American and Foreign is an old debate. There are some valid points on both ends of the spectrum. I owned a Nightster back in Ireland and loved it. However, finding something even remotely reasonable (in regards to price) for one in my neck of the woods is somewhat of a long shot. I am more likely to fly down to Texas to pick up the bike I want (when it comes to H-D) than I would be to purchase one here in Quebec.

      As for the Yamaha Bolt, its an interesting option for someone looking for cheap affordable transportation. Still, I agree, kinda miss being able to just throw something together from a bin load of parts.

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  18. Hope it's more comfortable than the old hard ass sporter.

    Dean Nikles

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  19. hi Mario,

    loved the review of Yamaha bolt. It is definitely a good bike, and holds an edge over the Iron 883 mechanically, around which it is built.
    However there is also a thing called "character" in motorcycle terms. And a replica will always remain so.

    So I went ahead and bought a Iron 883 this year. And though it has niggles just like the RE (for example gear shifting is loud
    and nowhere as smooth as described in your reviews, and though it cannot even "walk" properly in first gear) but I just love it.

    Though the bike I would be most happy with is surely the Triumph Bonneville /thruxton , but they are not going to be in India before 2014.
    And when I grow older with more bags of gold I'll cap my buying with an Indian Motorcycle with their new Thunderstroke 111.

    The RE is going well too and by no means lags behind the big bikes, except for the newly built Expressways. And it surely feels like a Honda
    after you have driven the Harley.

    And before I close, the photo I enjoyed most is your wife's smile, once she knew, that she will not have another of your "mistress" to cope with :)

    Best wishes to all you guys, and do keep in touch more often.

    B Radhey

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    1. Would love it if you wrote up a small review of both the H-D 883 and the Royal Enfield! Include some pics and you can be a guest blogger on my site!! :)

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  20. Mario:

    I read your “blurb” on the Bolt. You should send a copy to the dealership you went to. They would probably paste it on the windows of the showroom for its sales value. Excellent! The boy is bound to be a biker when he’s of age. :)

    LS

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    Replies
    1. They both have it in their heads to ride with me when they are older.... and lets not forget their baby sister as well!! ;)

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  21. You wrote a very informative and seemingly unbiased review of Yamaha's newest entry into the two wheel world. I saw one for the first time the other day. In blacked out configuration, it was quite and impressive looking machine. I have not heard one yet but from your description, I know I will be impressed. I wish they made it with a larger cc engine though. My opinion ....... I think Yamaha should give you one for your superb reporting. ;~)) ~~~~~~~~ Ding Ding in Phoenix, AZ

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    1. Hi,

      Thanks for the kind words and thoughts! Send them to Yamaha too, maybe they will agree with you and maybe, just maybe send me a Bolt to review over the next year or two (and mine to keep too of course :p)! One can only dream, of course.

      I had wondered about the engine size too but depending on a variety of variables it comes down to personal opinion on that front I think. For me, coupled with the great mpg, it's a no brainer and would likely be more affordable to run than my present bike.

      Again, thanks and hope to hear from you again!

      Delete
  22. Hi Mario, OK U did a really nice article on the "Bolt". I saw one @ the Harley dealer in Plattsburgh this summer. It looked nice, but as others have said a ride does not appeal to every one! I suspect it would be great just riding but not long distance as then I would want it set up with windshield, footrest, bags, etc. Then it changes the bike to something else.

    Weary Soldier

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  23. You really need to ask yourself what is most important to you. Comfort, Expense, Durability.
    I haven't done a lot of research on the Bolt simply because I'm not looking for a bike. But when I was looking I considered all the makes/models within my price range. I looked at HD, Yamaha, Honda, Victory... Ultimately it came down to what I felt most comfortable on. My first bike was a Yamaha 650, my second and current is a Yamaha Stryker. As far as the dependability goes I have never had a problem with mine. My husband has had 3 Yamahas (1100 and 2 Raiders). He is also currently chopping a Virago. Guess you can say we are Yamaha people.
    Do your research on the engine, warrantees and such.
    Pick what you feel most comfortable on and love riding.
    After all it is all about the ride.

    Oh and I love the look of the Bolt. If I had the need for a second bike that would be at the top of my list.

    Desiree

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    Replies
    1. Hi Desiree,

      Thanks so much for the nice reply. We think alike as I have been doing considerable research for the last few years. I had originally thought about the Victory and perhaps one or two H-D models; I even considered the Stryker myself but inevitably I waited for something more "affordable", so to speak. The Bolt seems to fit that category perfectly both in price and styling. Alas, it's been interesting to gauge the opinions on this bike, but inevitably I think your right, it's at the top of my list as well.

      Again, thanks and ride safe. Would love to see pics of your bike btw! :)

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  24. Hi everyone, I'm new to the group but felt the need to chime in. I ride a new Yamaha Bolt R-Spec and absolutely love it! I really, really wanted to drink the kool-aid, and had my heart set on an Iron 883, but after test riding one, and then riding the Bolt, to me there was no comparison for the money. With the price virtually the same, the Bolt has a larger engine, better breaks and IMO better handling. I just could not in good conscience purchase the Harley when I felt the Bolt was more bang for the buck. Everyone I have known who has owned a Harley has had one mechanical issue or another with it...mostly various leaks. I've owned Japanese bikes and cars for the last several years and mechanically you just can't beat them.

    I say if you are looking for this style of bike and are willing to purchase new, and don't care about owning a Harley just to say you own one, then take a test ride on the Bolt.

    Hope to meet up with you all soon.

    Solrider

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    1. Excellent post and I agree! Love my 2014 Bolt!

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  25. The biggest plus is probably the suspension. Some sportsters have less then 2" of travel in the back. How anyone thinks that is a good idea is beyond me.

    Jim

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  26. I have to agree with Solrider when it comes to comparing the 883 to the Bolt. Don't get me wrong, owned and relatively loved the Nightster that I had back in Eire. However, Yamaha really pulled out a show stopper with the Bolt. That being said, however, think I am going to sit on this for the winter and see where I sit next year. In the interim, I will keep plugging away on my newly acquired second hand Yamaha TW200 for camping and what not.

    Thanks to all for the great input. No point rushing into a decision. My problem inevitably is that there are just too many delicious bikes out there for grabs and so little time and money!

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  27. Thats for sure Bug, and nothing wrong with the TW200! Thats a fun little bike, I've often thought about picking one up for the dirt roads. The Bolt will be there next year, and who knows, maybe even better.

    Solrider

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  28. I own a Yamaha Bolt R-Spec (matte gray) with a Memphis Shades Alleycat windshield and Yamaha black saddlebags. For the month this little beast has been with me I've loved it more and more. Not my first bike, probably not my last. No regrets at all! (Although more mods are on the way because I love to tinker and this bike loves to be tinkered with.)

    Great review.

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    1. Cheers! Really looking forward to owning it myself one day! Appreciate the comment! Ride safe and feel free to send pictures of your bike and you!

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  29. One of the best blogs I have found to date on my Bolt, Thank you!

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    1. Thank you for the kind words! Still saving up for one myself!!! :-) Enjoy the bike and share pictures if you ever get the chance! Would love to hear more about the bike and your experience with it!

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