Yamaha's C-Spec Bolt offers a Cafe styled iteration and at $9,999 offers exemplary value for money, even as a blank canvas for customising. Test: Kris Hodgson, Images: Kris Hodgson, Jeff Ware
Delve into Yamaha’s Star Sport Heritage models and you’ll find the café inspired Bolt C-Spec or ‘Café’, built upon the same platform at the ‘Star cruiser’ Bolt and up-spec Bolt R bobber style offerings, but offering a subtly different take on this V-Twin experience.
For just $9,999 Ride-Away the Bolt Café is an attractive option with distinct styling, a tall front end, low seat height, fairly compact riding position and torquey twin propulsion. Features particular to the Café (C-Spec) include clip-on ‘bars, fork gaiters, café paint and graphics, while also receiving the Bolt R shocks.
Add the Akrapovic exhaust – available through Yamaha – and you won’t be rewarded till you remove the bung. At that point you’ll receive the proper V-Twin experience. As tested this model also had the headlight mini-cowl, and side race plates fitted, for a bit more café racer styling. The seat cowl is standard on this model.
The air-cooled 60′ V-Twin is a SOHC four-valve 942cc item, with un-official figures suggesting peak torque of almost 60-lbs-ft at 3000rpm. The final drive is belt, keeping maintenance down, while the gearbox is a five-speed, which in my time with the bike had me frequently searching for another gear.
Performance is grunty, and accessed via a fairly resistant throttle action which requires a fair bit of input as the revs rise to get the most out of the bike. Once I got used to being more aggressive to take advantage of that smooth top end, after a punchy low range, everything came together, with the Bolt Café offering enough performance.
That five-speed gearbox is clunky and I’d often find myself missing a gear as I upshifted through the gearbox quickly on aggressive take-offs, after not allowing the gear shifter to return far enough to grab the next gear.
Fuel capacity is 12L, and I was averaging just over 20km/L, with my last fill up being about 9.5L for 210km, so I’d suggest that 250km may be pushing the range, unless you’re very smooth (and slow) on that throttle.
Having done the work commute, including about 30 minutes in each direction of freeway, I wouldn’t be picking the Bolt Café as a long distance cruiser, with minimal wind protection out in the elements.
Yes that probably goes without saying on this style of bike, but the seat is on the hard side, even in textile touring pants, while I also found the suspension too harsh for my 70kg or so in gear. It’s ideal for smooth, sporty and open road conditions however, so it’d really depend on where you’re riding and if the suspension is more suited to your weight.
At low speeds through the tighter stuff the Bolt Café was a handful, with overall handling very front-end orientated in a fashion that took some getting accustomed to. Part of this no doubt comes down to the 19in front and 16in wheels, and relatively tall front end with clip-on style ‘bars. As with most bikes, owners will generally acclimatise to their own bikes characteristics rather quickly, especially if they only ride the one machine, so it may have just a matter of more time and tarmac under the wheels.
Out on the more open sweepers the bike was awesome, holding a line well through the corner and feeling rock solid.
The riding position, with stretched back ‘bars, has a very upright feel. There’s a reasonable stretch of the legs, but the bike is very wide between the knees, with the covers proving uncomfortable protrusions. Heat wasn’t an issue in any of my riding, although being the middle of winter doesn’t make for the best testing of this particular characteristic.
Providing stopping power were 298mm petal rotors both front and rear, with the majority of bite being on the rear, leaving me largely using that for around town riding. The single front brake setup feels a little overwhelmed by the weight of the bike, considering how quickly you spool that engine up to speed, however in reality the stopping power between the two brakes is sufficient.
With the levers not adjustable I did struggle with easily reaching the brake and to a lesser extent clutch lever, but thoughtful touches like the dash switch on the right switchblock and a clear simple dash were a definite plus. There’s also a flasher on the left switchblock, which I put to good use warning other road users of a hazard they were coming up on, on the morning commute one day.
Other features which stand out are the mirrors which look great in the polished black finish, but were very susceptible to vibrations, and the gloss black indicators with clear lenses. The tail light is compact and bright, like the indicators.
I inadvertently tested the horn while getting used to the button being so close to the indicator switch – especially in heavy winter gloves on the really cold mornings, while the ignition is also side-mounted, which is a little awkward until you get used to the location, with a separate steering lock on the same side.
The Bolt name across the paintwork adds to the feeling of quality, and the finish quality on this bike is simply exceptional, as you’d expect from Yamaha.
Overall the Yamaha Bolt Café is good value at $9,999 On-Road, even if you’d need to spend a little more to get it kitted out in the manner of the machine we tested. The paint is eye catching if sparse, and performance and the V-Twin character are both strong points.
Having tested the standard Bolt years ago, I don’t remember having quite the same reservations regarding the low speed handling, but at the end of the day, it’s easy to see the Yamaha Bolt Café is aimed at a specific segment in the market in both looks and ergonomics, and just as easy to see the bike has plenty to offer.
Plus there’s a great potential canvas there for would be owners, while you simply can’t argue with the price. Just a few tasteful modification like those added by Yamaha Motor Australia and you’ve got yourself a particularly eye-catching motorcycle, with cool character.
2018 Yamaha Bolt C-Spec Specifications
Price: $9,999 Ride-Away
Warranty: Five-year warranty, unlimited kilometre
Colours: Liquid Metal or Envy Green
Claimed power: N/A
Claimed torque: 59.3lbs-ft@3000rpm
Wet weight: 247kg
Fuel capacity: 12L
Engine: Air-cooled, four-stroke, SOHC, four-valve, V-twin, 942cc, 85 x 83mm, 9.0:1 compression ratio, belt final drive.
Gearbox: Constant mesh five-speed
Suspension: 41mm telescopic forks, 120mm travel, dual rear shocks with external reservoir, 70mm travel
Brakes: 298mm rotor front & rear, dual-piston calipers
Wheels & Tyres: 12-spoke cast aluminium wheels, 100/90B – 19 57H, 150/80B – 16 71H
Seat height: 765mm
Overall length: 2295mm
Instruments: Single digital multi-function display
2018 Yamaha Bolt C-Spec Gallery
The Verdict | Review: 2018 Yamaha Bolt C-Spec ‘Cafe’
Yamaha’s Bolt C-Spec is a Cafe styled cruiser boasting a host of unique features and offered at the extremely competitive buy-in of just $9,999 on the road, making for a cool factory special that is a weapon on the sweepers.