In her New Bike Evaluation in our Jan/Feb issue, our Tricia Szulewski wrote at length about Star’s new Stryker, a 1300cc custom-inspired power cruiser that she claimed filled a “clear void” in the Star lineup. The Stryker is the little brother to the previous model year’s 1800cc Raider; that popular bike’s aggressive posture, edgy graphics, and gutsy power plant have been successfully passed down here, and so far both the industry and the bike-buying public have welcomed the Stryker with open arms. Clearly, Trish’s assessment was spot-on.
RoadBike managed to secure a Stryker for a long-term test bike this summer and we were given free rein by the folks at Star to do with the bike what we would. To that end, we secured a host of Star Genuine Accessories as well as some other cool aftermarket stuff to bolt on. By the time we’re finished with it, it should be a more powerful, more comfortable, touring-ready machine. However, before we broke out the wrenches and started to doll up the Stryker, we wanted to give it a dressing-down, to see if we could elaborate on Trish’s initial appraisal.
RoadBike’s own Matt Kopec and Jon Langston both spent significant quality time on the stocker before our pros took their wrenches to it, and on a warm June afternoon, they sat down over a few cold ones and struck up a conversation about the Stryker.
Jon Langston: This bike’s a lot of fun to ride. It’s really not fair for people to compare it to the Honda VT line. It’s more like the Triumph Thunderbird, really.
Matt Kopec: You know what? It reminds me of that new Harley Blackline. The Harley’s a little bit bigger, but very similar: both are black softtail-style machines, and both have belt drive. But this one is $5,000 less.
MK: Yeah, that’s it. Hey, I like this Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale.
JL: Yeah, it’s good stuff. Yeah, this basic black Stryker starts at $10,990, but if you want the red or blue one with the flame job on the tank, it jumps up to $11,240. I still can’t understand why the Fury starts at $12,900, but I will say one thing: the Hondas offer ABS. I mean, it’s a $1,000 upgrade, but still, it’s not even an option on this bike.
MK: Really? The Blackline offers that. Is it available on the Raider?
JL: Nope. So that’s a consideration.
MK: Yeah, but it’s not a deal breaker; I don’t have ABS on my bike, and I don’t miss it.
JL: I’ve been commuting on the Stryker the last couple of weeks, and one thing I didn’t realize until I reread Trish’s review is that this bike runs just fine on regular gas.
MK: Oh, really? I was putting midrange in it. Eighty-eight octane or higher is recommended for most new bikes, especially V-twins.
JL: Yeah, me too, but it turns out that regular 86 will do just fine. I just filled it up yesterday, and paid $4.39 instead of $4.59 per gallon. Now, with a 4-gallon tank, that’s what, 80 cents? But over a year, that should save you some decent coin. And when we’re paying four bucks a gallon these days, every little bit helps.
MK: True that. You know, this engine’s strong; I think this bike runs really well.
JL: Oh, it’s extremely well tuned. One thing I’m not a huge fan of is the gear ratio, though. On the two-laners that I take to and from the office each day, it seems like it’s always either bogging down, or totally overrevving — there’s no in-between. I just kinda got used to the bogging after awhile. Now, I just stay in low, give it more throttle, and power through.
MK: I don’t know, I thought the gear ratio was fine. But you know what I did notice in turns is that when I hit a bump in the middle of one, I got a little bit of chatter from this bike, it got a little unruly on me. I never felt out of control, or like the bike was getting away from me, but…
JL: There’s always that initial “Oh, s*%@!” moment.
MK: Exactly. But I got used to it. And it’s not a sportbike; it handles very well for a bike with a long wheelbase.
JL: I don’t know if I buy this claimed 40.9 mpg. We’ll see. We’re keeping track of the mileage, so we’ll be able to let the readers know by the end of summer exactly what kind of mileage we got.
Here’s a funny story: the gas gauge is on the LED readout on the speedo, right? So it’s a four hash-mark gauge, and once it reaches one hash mark, it automatically switches to display that; it just supersedes whatever you happen to have showing. It’s pretty cool, kinda like an idiot light, I guess, and you can easily switch back to the clock, odo, or tripmeters using the Select button on the right thumb. But I noticed something weird: it’s a 4-gallon tank, and with a four-hash gas gauge, you’d think that, at one mark, you’d be down to about a quarter-tank, right?
MK: Makes sense.
JL: So the other morning, when it automatically switched over, I figured I had 1 gallon left and fueled up. Thing is, it took barely 2-1/2 gallons of gas!
MK: Well, you know, it kicked on for me last weekend, and I never even left town! And even if that claimed mpg is right? Like Trish said in her review, a 160-mile fuel range isn’t anything to brag about.
(At this point, we removed the seat, to see if there really was a “subtank” underneath, as Trish’s review mentioned. We couldn’t tell, but we did find a toolkit and owner’s manual, which points out that the Stryker offers 3.96 gallons of total fuel capacity. The low fuel indicator activates when the tank reaches 1.36 gallons. It also showed a picture of something called a helmet holder — a plastic clip on the clutch side of the frame.)
JL: Hey! That’s really cool. And there’s a rubber pad there so the D-ring doesn’t scratch the frame.
MK: Totally. I don’t understand why more new bikes don’t have helmet locks. My SV650 has one.
JL: I know; my ’83 KZ has two. But is this an actual lock, really? It looks like it’s just a clip.
MK: Let’s find out. [Matt grabs a helmet, slips its D-ring over the tab, then puts seat on and latches it into place. Then he tugs on the helmet.] Look at that! It ain’t goin’ anywhere — and you need the key to remove the seat.
JL: Definitely. Now, I guess it’s a slight pain in the arse to take the seat off, but if it keeps your helmet secure, then it’s not a big deal at all.
MK: You know, I like that even though this is the basic black model, it’s not totally blacked out. The amount of chrome on it is not overbearing; it’s just enough to add a bit of bling. And I wouldn’t feel the need to change these wheels if I bought this bike. We’re changing them because we can, but I’m not sure those are as good looking as these.
JL: Yeah. I know Star has had an affinity for tombstone taillights in the past, but this is a nice, big, wide white horizontal lens that goes all the way across the bottom of the fender.
MK: That taillight is pretty slick, and the brake lights are super bright; the whole rear of the fender lights up red. And I like that it’s clear plastic with colored LEDs inside. But I love these pipes. They look great, and they sound awesome. And I dig the chrome tips.
JL: Yeah, they’ve got a nice midrange rumble — not too loud, but not tinny either. And you’re right, it’s just the right mix of chrome and black.
MK: One thing I’ve noticed is that this fuel tank looks flat to me. Trish liked it, but I think it’s a little too small for the bike. I would’ve liked a little more contour, which would also have the added capacity that we’ve agreed it needs.
JL: Yeah, it looks squished down. It could easily be 1/2″ taller.
MK: And these graphics don’t really add anything.
JL: True enough. But overall it’s still a great bike, especially for the price.
MK: Oh, no doubt. It looks great, runs great. It’s definitely worth the money. Hey, we’re out of beer.
JL: Well then, I guess this story’s over. [Shuts off tape.] RB
Words by Jon Langston and Matt Kopec, Photos By Riles and Nelson
Story as published in the September/October 2011 issue of RoadBike magazine.