This is the second year Yamaha's V-Star 1300-inspired Stryker's style and feel harkens back to that of the classic American chopper. With a 21” front wheel, massive back wheel, raked out front fork, elongated body, prominent dual pipes and short fenders, it should get chopper fans excited.
And the 2012 Yamaha Stryker seems to be doing the trick, as we came across many a wide-eyed admirer during our test drive, all totally seduced by this finely drawn, svelte bike.
A more modern engine
Having phased out air-cooled engines from its entire series of cruisers, Yamaha has now outfitted the Stryker with the V-Star 1300
engine. More refined and more powerful, this 1304 cc, liquid-cooled powerhouse has four valves per cylinder, as well as forged pistons and connecting rods that provide greater durability at a reduced weight.
The engine on the 2012 Yamaha Stryker throbs on nicely thanks to the crankshaft, which features a single crank pin for both connecting rods, and counterweights perfectly for neutralizing unwanted vibrations. Seated comfortably at 670 mm from the ground, feet up front but not excessively so, arms spread wide but not too far forward, you can be sure of a smooth ride… All to the steady rhythm of the V-twin.
|The 1304 cc engine is more refined and more powerful, than the former air-cooled mill. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)
The engine on the 2012 Yamaha Stryker picks up quickly, easily maintains a cruising speed even in strong winds, and comes out on top no matter the weather or road conditions: city, country, highway, solo or with a passenger.
Gear shifts are smooth and trouble-free, and the bike's torque lets you rev up while running low without having to ease off. There's just one hiccup: Shifting gears on the 2012 Yamaha Stryker is a bit of an unnerving free-for-all because of the gearbox free-play. And this, despite the belt transmission which, as we know, doesn’t add any play.
In fact, the long chassis and 1,750-mm wheelbase of the 2012 Yamaha Stryker provides greater stability. Brake-wise, the bike is equipped with a single, 320-mm floating front disc and a compact twin piston front caliper, revealing one side of the magnificent aluminum rim. There's a 310-mm disc on the back wheel -- impressive for a cruiser of this size. It comes as no surprise that the braking system on the 2012 Yamaha Stryker performs over and above the average.
The bike also features a full set of instruments, including a fuel gauge. Meanwhile, the front of the fork and the big tank offers some protection against the wind, making highway trips less tedious.
As soon as you reach 20 km/h, you easily forget that you are riding a 293 kg machine. The low centre of gravity helps with slow riding in parking lots and around bustling city roads and, thanks to the bike's torque, you can gun it in low gear without too much grumbling.
The 2012 Stryker handles bends quite well too, despite its big, 210-mm rear wheel, which is somewhat resistant to directional changes. The engineers have obviously paid particular attention to the chassis to maximize the bike's agility and stability -- both are better than even some of the most celebrated choppers.
|The low centre of gravity and the abundant torque should help those seeking out the proverbial never-ending cruise. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)
The rear suspension on the 2012 Yamaha Stryker still shakes up the backside a little, but that's to be expected with low riders. However, the bike's powerful and responsive brakes will boost your confidence in both dry and wet conditions.
The 2012 Yamaha Stryker is an admirable addition to an already impressive series of Yamaha cruisers. It's both agreeable and accessible thanks to its low seat and low centre of gravity, making it a powerful and pleasant ride for those seeking out the proverbial never-ending cruise.
Refined and efficient engine
Well behaved for a chopper
Flawless, quality finish
Awkward gear shifting
Restricted back clearance (to be expected from low riders)