"Did I just ride a Stryker or a Raider?" This was the question I asked myself after overhearing two riders ooh and aah as they stood before the bike I had just pulled in on. These two fellas were convinced it was a 2012 Yamaha Stryker when in fact, it was a 2011 Yamaha Raider.
Stand before a 2011 burnt-red pinstriped Raider and 2012 Stryker of the same colour and the cosmetic differences are subtle. So subtle, as our ogling motorcyclists proved, a rider could easily be fooled.
However similar the appearance of these cruisers, get behind the bars and you will soon know the difference.
The 2008 Raider was the first custom cruiser in the Yamaha lineup and today is a bike that is packing power and performance with a 113 cubic inch, 1854 cc, air-cooled, fuel injected, v-twin engine.
"Yamaha usually introduces a new series of motorcycles with the most powerful or top-of-the-line bike first," said Kelowna Yamaha dealer, Terry Poirier. "The following years it delivers the lower engine sizes."
Three years later, Yamaha birthed a sibling and added the 80-cubic-inch, 1304-cc, liquid-cooled v-twin Stryker. The idea the manufacturer was going for was "His n' Hers" rides.
"The models that they (Yamaha) come out with in cruisers are generally around for
8-10 or 12 years before they get phased out. The Raider today is virtually identical to 2008, other than placement of chrome parts, paint colour etc. This way, they maintain a strong resale value.
"After-market parts companies love it because they can make parts for a bike that is going to be in production for a number of years so there is a broader range of windshields, saddlebags, chrome pieces etc. Even five years later, Raider owners still feel like they have a new bike because it
The Stryker felt like a more compact ride. The 26.4-inch seat had me feeling too cramped and I experienced some tailbone discomfort.
Getting behind the bars of the Raider, my 5'11" frame sat quite comfortably on the 27.4-inch seat and the shorter back support of the seat did not lead to any tailbone
Placing the seats on both bikes so low, gives the bike's appearance more of an attitude.
However, posing in front of Starbucks is not where you will see this machine as once you lean forward and grip those bars, open up the throttle and stretch those limbs out, there is no looking back as you settle in for a powerful yet relaxed ride.
As I debated the necessity of adding a windshield I was pleasantly surprised to find that the low seat height and ergonomics of the handlebars sends the wind around the rider lessening the fatigue.
"It looks like a factory chopper. It looks like a bike that was built in a chopper shop somewhere," added Poirier.
Bonus features both models offer are wiring inside the handlebars adding to that custom appearance, self cancelling signal lights and ease of steering.
"Yamaha has got this really cool offset steering column. The steering column is not as raked out as the front forks are. When you go at a low-speed corner, the front wheel doesn't fall over like it would on a regular chopper," Poirer said.
As I pulled out of the parking lot, I rode cautiously anticipating chopper-like steering. My apprehension dissipated after the first few corners and I found it easier to open up the throttle and let the bike steer itself rather than try to manhandle around a corner in low gear and I felt as though I was being pushed into the bend and pulled out the other side.
Poirier laughed when I told him that the 'His' Raider would be solely 'Hers' in my case and responded, "All Yamahas are built to fit as many different sizes of riders as possible - not just one big person or one small person.
"For someone that is maybe 6'4", the Raider would be a better choice because it is a bigger stretch to the handlebars and the footpegs."
I think the bike is great for someone say, 5'11", with long legs and bigger bones.
The Raider delivers 123 foot-pounds of torque at 2,500 r.p.m. compared to the Stryker's 78.8 at 3,500 r.p.m.
The effortless shifting through the five-speed transmission, paired with a belt drive, delivers a smooth and quiet ride for both models. At highway speed, just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Despite the size and power of the bike, the Raider has a 15.9-litre (3.5 gallon) fuel tank - slightly smaller than average, but more frequent fuel stops will give other travellers a chance to admire your ride.
The classic-style fuel tank-mounted instrument panel on the Raider is a faux pas in my opinion. As a rider who wears a full face helmet, I couldn't see the panel when riding. To see any of the gauges while riding, I would have to literally bend my head about 45 degrees to catch a visual from
inside my helmet.
Then I looked at the marketing material and in every photograph of a rider on the bike, the rider is open faced. I understand the open face helmet goes with the custom cruiser styling much better, but choosing to wear a full face helmet shouldn't impair operation of the bike.
I suppose you could argue that r.p.m., fuel, the low-fuel warning light that kicks in with three litres remaining and the time are all unimportant while riding. You could even argue red-and-blue flashing lights will let you know if you are riding too fast, but why boast about an instrument panel that can be changed from the handlebars with a simple flick of the thumb if you can't even see it?
The instrument panel on the Stryker is mounted between the handlebars and easily visible. Keep in mind that perhaps not all full face helmets obstruct the view of the gauge, so take my rant for what it's worth.
All in all, the custom cruiser Yamahas are coming in with a great look and an even better price. MSRP for the Stryker around $13,000 and for the Raider around $20,000.
MotorcyGal is written by Marissa Baecker. Visit MotorcyGal.com, like on facebook.com/motorcygal or follow on twitter @motorcygal.