2015 Star Motorcycles Bolt C-Spec Review

Modern Performance Meets Vintage Style

The 2015 Star Motorcycles Bolt C-Spec
The 2015 Star Motorcycles Bolt C-Spec. Photo © Brian J. Nelson

Star Motorcycle’s most popular ride in 2014 was the Bolt, a custom style cruiser whose engine was based on the V-Star 950's and became heavily marketed as platform made for customization. Star’s approach in designing a pared down, performance-driven motorcycle with a well-supported accessory lineup enabled them to craft the latest iteration of the Bolt: the C-Spec (with the "C" standing for "Café").

 

The C-Spec’s performance can be attributed to the Bolt’s 942cc (58 cubic inch), air-cooled, fuel-injected SOHC 60º V-twin engine with a 5-speed transmission and final drive via a 21mm wide carbon-fiber core belt. Principal changes in performance between models lie in the suspension and the ergonomics. In lengthening the forks a full 9mm and the twin rear shocks by 6mm, the ride height increases just over an inch, increasing the lean angle of the C-Spec to 37° in preparation for carving up those twisting canyon roads. The ergonomics of the C-Spec are less drastic than the traditional café racers of the 1960’s, which were modeled after Isle of Man racing machines. Fork mounted clip-ons draw your upper body over the tank while the higher (1.25 inches) and more rearward (5.9 inches) adjusted footpegs slide your lower body backwards. The solo seat on the C-Spec is level with a taper at the front to improve firmly footed access to pavement for the inseam-challenged due to a nearly three-inch increase on this model’s seat height to 30.1 inches.

 

The C-Spec comes standard with 12-spoke cast wheels and sportier Michelin Commander IIs.  Optional upgrades to custom 40-spoke wheels are available through Star’s accessory line.  The 298mm front and rear disc brakes both utilize sportier wave-type brake rotors: the front a floating-mount two-piston caliper rotor and the rear a single-piston caliper rotor.

ABS is not currently an option on any of the Bolt models, so take it easy on heavy application of the rear brake. 

With a low center of gravity for its 542 pounds (wet) and relatively short 61.8-inch wheelbase for the cruiser category, the C-Spec’s handling is responsive and uncomplicated, which coupled with its compact design, nicely facilitates lane splitting on traffic-clogged California highways. An estimated mileage of 51 mpg for its 3.2 gallon tank means fill-ups about every 160 miles.

Enough with the performance, what about the aesthetics? The C-Spec comes equipped with the basics, keeping the price point reasonable and competitive with similar V-twins at $8,690. Lots of options for customization are available through Star’s C-Spec accessory line. The first café stylistic cues noticeable on the C-Spec are the clip-on handlebars at the fork tubes, classic fork boots, modern blacked out chassis, engine, and exhaust components with a modicum of chrome, and solo seat backed by a cowl (with a passenger seat option, available through Star’s accessory line). An LED rear taillight and sporty café paint options of either Liquid Silver or Envy Green coupled with graphic detail round out the aesthetics.

Like the standard Bolt, Star’s factory-supported accessory line allows plenty of opportunity for C-Spec customization. In addition, maintaining the C-Spec’s compatibility with the pre-existing standard and R-Spec Bolt models has opened up access to existing aftermarket options. 

The Ride

The Bolt’s engine purrs like a kitten (but not at a register requiring ear plugs) and with just enough vibration at higher speeds to be reminiscent of its lineage as a cruiser. Intentionally lagging behind the group at times meant I was able to capitalize on rolling back on the throttle and quickly shifting through the gears. Never did the bike feel underpowered during my sneaky little game of playing catch up. Throttle response and acceleration were smooth; shifting was instantly second nature. The engine characteristics favor low and mid-range torque.

The lightweight feel of the bike and its low center of gravity made for easy cornering with plenty of grip from the Michelin Commander IIs on back roads between Laguna Beach and Trabuco Canyon. Braking performance was more than adequate with the Bolt stopping quickly whenever the need arose abruptly in city traffic. Overall, the ride was as it should be: relaxed, uncomplicated, and enjoyable.

Downsides

For rides longer than a couple hours, my 5’10” frame and my lower back have never been able to appreciate the forward reaching ergonomics of café-styled motorcycles. Everybody is different, but some may find the C-Spec's ergonomics uncomfortable on longer duration rides. Adding a few extra minutes during fill-ups will do wonders in minimizing the discomfort of the aesthetically pleasing café motorcycle genre. 

Purely a personal observation, but I found the exposed seam at the bottom of the tank and the gap between the seat and the tank to be irksome visuals. 

Bottom Line

A café racer is defined by its distinctive stylistic cues and ergonomics, including clip-on handlebars, a rearward-located seat, rearward adjusted footpegs, minimalism, and optimization for speed and handling (as opposed to comfort). The Star Bolt C-Spec employs all of the above on its best-selling entry to intermediate level cruiser while maintaining a performance-based and cost-friendly approach in carving a niche in the café racer market.

You can judge for yourself and take a test ride at one of Star's Demo Tour stops.

Gear References:

Alpinestars Vika Jacket

Alpinestars Kerry Denim

Bell RS-1 Helmet

Racer Gloves USA Queens

SIDI Fusion Lei Boot

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