Yamaha Star Raider SCL
Started in Japan, finished in the US of A
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER. THIS PAST April, Yamaha held a press conference in Braselton, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta, and gave journalists their first chance to spend a little seat time with the Star Raider SCL, the company’s 2012 “factory custom” cruiser. But as media events go, this one was, well, unusual. Normally, the press corps is invited to get up-close-and-personal with a new model before it hits the streets; but by this mid-April conference, the Raider SCL had already been in dealerships for a couple of months. So, yes, unusual.
SCL is Yamaha-speak for “Star Custom Line,” denoting the company’s intentions to produce a range of limitededition customs. The Raider SCL is the first of that series, with only 500 examples having been built.
Actually, the bike itself also is unusual, but not in the way it performs; in the way it was produced. This colorful cruiser is the culmination of a partnership between the factory, Yamaha’s U.S. subsidiary and two American aftermarket companies. The factory in Japan built the bikes, sprayed each one with its Blazing Orange Metalflake paint and black-and-gold graphics, equipped them with stainless front-brake and clutch lines, along with stainless throttle cables, then shipped them to the U.S. with stock rear wheels but no wheels at all up front.
Upon their arrival stateside, the Raiders were delivered to a facility in Carson, California, where the original seats were replaced with two-tone, genuine leather saddles built by Saddlemen in nearby Rancho Dominguez with design input from Yamaha. The rear wheels were swapped for stylish chromed ones mated with similarly designed rear pulleys and chromed belt guards.
Matching 21up front, with both ends rolling on stock 120/70-21 front and 210/40-18 rear tires. Much like the seats, the wheels, pulleys and belt guards are the result of a joint effort between Yamaha and Performance Machine in La Palma, California. The finishing touch on each SCL is an aluminum tank badge that denotes that bike’s number in the 500-unit series. What emerges from this “team” effort is a flashy, $19,900 cruiser that really does look like a bike that made a quick pass through a custom shop.
Because the engine, chassis and suspension all were left untouched, the SCL performs just like any stock Raider. Its 1854cc air-cooled V-Twin bangs out impressive torque and a great soundtrack, and the SCL handles nicely, more like a standard-style motorcycle than the raked-out cruiser that it is.
The buy-in ($5400 more than the base Raider, $4600 above the priciest Raider S) is a bit steep, but a Raider owner who chose to replicate the SCL on his own would have to shell out more than this by the time the project was completed.
The Star division of Yamaha plans to produce other SCL / customs, but at this point, the company has not ' ' announced which models might be the targets. —Paul Dean