2013 Star Raider Motorcycle Rides with Carefree Style

Whether it's the low-riding profile or the smooth engine, the 2013 Raider from Star Motorcycles draws plenty of attention.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

The 2013 Star Motorcycles Raider serves up a low, smooth outline and smoother performance.

When you forge the right aesthetic design with precise engineering, you end up with a motorcycle certain to turn heads like Star’s Raider.

A big, low-riding cruiser, the Raider’s smooth aesthetic lines mix with the brawn of its thick-backed tank and seat to create an imposing, long outline that can’t fail to attract attention on any street.

I recently enjoyed a week-long test drive of the Raider recently while covering another story in the Midwest. The bike provided seven days of carefree pleasure, allowing me to ride both comfortably and aggressively.

The Raider comes in three editions – the standard (about $15,000), the Raider S (about $15,800 and the Raider SCL (about $20,000). The S model packs more chrome and a few extra bangs and whistles, while only 500 SCLs were built with their billet wheels, braided cables and other beauty marks.

Out of the box, the standard Raider is plenty of cruiser. With a 113 cubic inch, fuel-injected engine, acceleration is generous, but not excessive. It’ll make freeway speeds without a drop of sweat and will provide plenty of sudden pick-up to keep you out of trouble.

One of the real unsung treats of the Raider or any Star Motorcycle is the transmission. Poets should pen sonnets about the Star gearbox in their sport and touring models. Smooth, precise and reliable, it’s still the best transmission in the consumer motorcycle universe for bigger bikes.

The engineering behind the five speed multi-plate wet clutch trans comes to Star from its parent company, Yamaha (creator of world champion sport and racing bikes). If you take the sort of high tech design, beef it up a bit and transfer it to the engine of a bigger bike like the Raider, you end up with shifting experience that seems wonderfully out of place in such a big motorcycle.

To give you an example of what I have come to expect on cruisers built elsewhere, you should get said motorcycle (…Call it Cruiser X…) good and hot. Ride it hard and put it away wet, etc. But, as you go, stop and quickly and casually put Cruiser X in neutral. Go ahead. Find that precious N.

You might get lucky. You might just nudge it up from first or down from second and find the sweet spot. But, you’ll must likely play the “clunk-first gear, clunk-second gear” game back and forth a few times before you can let go of that clutch. Not only is the Star transmission “neutral on demand,” every shift in between all of the gears is precise, immediate and reliable.

Obviously, nobody buys a motorcycle for its transmission, but – when you ride as many different breeds of bikes as I do – the kind of refined engineering and performance you find in a detail like this shifter stays with you. Priced competitively with rival brands of a similar class, the 2013 Star Raider would be high on my list of potential cruiser purchases.