When you fire up a 2011 Star Motorcycles Stryker, prepare yourself to violate the laws of physics. A bike so big and powerful shouldn’t seem as light and deft as this metric cruiser feels at speed.
Star served up a royal blue version of this special street bike for an extended road test throughout Southern California. With its chopper-inspired, low-angled styling and extended signature front wheel, the Stryker looks like a custom bike – even though every model rolls off the assembly line with the same features I enjoyed during the test ride. Add its counter-angled “star” spokes, almost racing-inspired handlebars, and the Star Stryker is a motorcycle other riders and pedestrians will go out of their way to examine and identify.
The 1304 cc, liquid cooled, V-Twin engine provides smooth power and pick-up via its rear, racing pedigree Bridgestone/Exedra G852 Radial. Much of that acceleration can be credited to the Stryker’s refined, well-balanced weight.
For the Stryker, Star Motorcycles imported metallurgy and compound compositions from sister company Yamaha’s metric racing and sports bikes. When you take the same basic materials Jorge Lorenzo rode to a 2010 Moto GP World Championship, you’re going to end up with a lighter, more nimble cruising bike.
The lighter, smoother feel of the Stryker applies beyond the just the ride. The clutch lever and right hand brake put less strain on your hands than you’ll find on similarly sized, competing cruisers from Harley-Davidson, Indian or Victory.
Those refined materials also blend to forge a wonder of a transmission. It’s frustrating for a reviewer to revert to the same terms of “lighter” and “smoother” several times too often, but Star doesn’t leave me much room for alternative evaluation.
As for that transmission, I’ll forgo digging out the thesaurus and serve up a practical example of its refinement. When you’ve been riding a while, and the hot motorcycle under you is parked at a light, you might want rest your clutch hand. On a lot of big cruisers, the heat produces enough give in the transmission to send “Neutral” into hiding. Thanks to the Stryker’s precision, you’ll never find “Neutral” easier in any bike close to its size.
The entire package comes together to serve up a street cruiser that’s an entirely enjoyable ride. In two weeks on the bike, I never felt awkward starting from first gear on an incline. I leaned into turns and counterbalanced on the Stryker in ways I’d never attempt on most cruisers of similar size.
While California allows riders to slip between traffic lanes on freeways by cruising the median strips, it’s dangerous and awkward to attempt at times on a big, heavy cruiser. The weight balance on the Stryker makes it feel like a much smaller bike, encouraging maneuvers I’d be reluctant to try on other makes. So, I zipped between gummed up So Cal traffic with ease.
Any obvious criticisms come off as quibbles. The readouts on the handlebar display are pretty bare-bones for a metric cruiser that required such subtle technology to build. The self-canceling on the turn signal indicator could use some fine tuning. The horn is too close to that indicator, so I was beeping at random folks every time I had to turn for the first couple of days I rode the bike.
Obviously, such criticisms are minor complaints and could be brushed aside by a rider with a different aesthetic sense or a a more accurate thumb. Selling for around $11,200, there are more affordable motorcycles on the cruiser market, but few that are as entertaining to ride.