The Gods of Torque looked down upon the land and saw the Star Raider muscling its way through the atmosphere – its rider clinging to the grips, vainly trying to become more aerodynamic – and they decided to help the poor mortal to better enjoy the awesome engine that their powers had wrought. By their command, salvation for the rider, in the form of a bullet cowling, descended from the heavens, magically attaching itself to the triple clamp. And all was right in the world.

2012 Star Raider SCL Review

Okay, so maybe this isn’t exactly how the 2015 Star Raider Bullet Cowl came into existence, but the effect of one simple addition to Star’s muscular chopper is no less transformative. Since its introduction in 2008, the Raider has been all about attitude in the form of its 1854cc (113ci), 48-degree air-cooled V-Twin. Sourced from the Star Roadliner and Stratoliner, this engine was dropped into a chassis that is lower in weight and heavy on aggressive styling – with the fat 210-series tire and the 39° rake stealing the show from the Liner’s more pedestrian 190 and 31° bits. The result is a bike that, with its 21-in. front wheel and rearward angling lines, looks ready to launch.

2015 Star Raider Bullet Cowl Action

On the leading edge of the lower pipe’s heat shield, the bolt that contacts after the peg feelers can be seen. The peg mounting bracket comes shortly thereafter.

But back to the engine. The two pistons operating through a bore and stroke of 100.0 x 118.0mm have, in the past, shown us dyno numbers which are certain to make a V-Twin torque junkie smile knowingly. To wit: 103.4 lb-ft at 2200 rpm and 81.8 hp at 4400 rpm. Whacking open the Bullet Cowl’s butterflies delivers a pull of similar proportions. Additionally, the power delivery is silky smooth with one small quibble. While maintaining neutral throttle is quite easy, the transition from neutral throttle to full-on engine braking can be abrupt. After some time riding this beefy Twin, it recedes into the background only to call attention to itself when it occurs mid-corner, like in a decreasing-radius highway entrance ramp. Big Twins are known for their healthy engine braking, so this characteristic should come as no surprise, but more modern EFI systems are able to alleviate this condition.

In the straight-up-and-down world of the Stop Light Grand Prix, tire-spinning launches and their tell-tale pavement tattoos are regular occurrences – unless you can restrain your inner hooligan. While riding at a more grown-up pace, the engine remains pleasantly smooth until it hits its upper rev range, and the only reason to go there is because you’re not behaving like a grown-up. So, around town, and even on the highway, the Raider’s 113 cubic inches offers tractable power delivery with only a hint of vibration at most speeds.

2015 Star Raider Bullet Cowl  Engine

Say it with me: One-hundred thirteen cubic inches. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Speaking of riding on the highway, the bullet cowl from which this Raider gets its name is nothing short of a revelation. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, Star slapped new graphics and a bikini fairing on a Raider and called it a new model. The thing is: The bullet cowl makes the Raider much more fun to ride if you go any distance at elevated speeds. And I do mean elevated. When approaching the ton (not that MO would ever condone breaking posted speed limits), rather than struggling to hang on in the face of the wind blast, the Raider Bullet Cowl remains easy to ride with a relaxed grip on the bar. My 5’ 11” frame experienced no helmet-level buffeting at these speeds – unlike those barn doors of windshields that cruisers are sometimes saddled with. Enough air still makes it around the cowl to allow for effective cooling during hot weather, too.

2015 Star Raider Bullet Cowl

Who would have thought that simply adding this sultry cowl would change the riding experience so dramatically? The mirrors’ shape is pretty cool, too.

The only criticism I could find about the bullet cowl itself is that it leaves a large, empty space on the inside of the cowl above the headlight – smack, dab in the middle of the rider’s line of sight – but I know if Star’s accessories department hasn’t already started working on some storage device, the aftermarket will.

Mainstream Choppers Shootout

Once you look past the improved high-speed riding experience (meaning any speed above 60 mph, actually), the Raider Bullet Cowl is the same fun-to-ride bruiser that it’s been since 2008. The dual 298mm discs, clamped by four-piston monoblock calipers, deliver impressive stopping power. Although low-speed maneuvers can be a bit awkward, the Raider’s handling is good for a raked out cruiser – with the handlebar offering plenty of leverage to muscle the bike when necessary. While the rear suspension only offers 3.5 in. of travel, Star managed to get the most out of the shock’s stroke, taking care of most road irregularities except sharp-edged bumps. In fast cornering situations, the chassis and the shock’s rebound will tend to wind up over rippling pavement, but the times that most Raiders are pushed this way are few and far between.

2015 Star Raider Bullet Cowl Interior

There’s enough room in here to pack your lunch.

The lean angle before the Raider touches down peg feelers is just a hair better than cruiser average (which is still a tad too soon). However, on the left, there is still room to lean the bike over even further before other hard parts start grinding. To the right, a muffler clamp ends the party shortly after the peg touches down.

First Ride: 2008 Star Raider

Star has taken a cruiser that has been around for seven model years and managed to make it seem new again with the simple addition of the bullet cowl – or maybe it was just the right time to rediscover what a fun bike the Raider has been all these years. The 2015 Star Raider Bullet Cowl is available in dealers now for $15,390. The only color option is Raven, but as is typical of Stars, the paint quality and the bike’s fit and finish are quite nice.

+ Highs

  • Intoxicating torque
  • Improved rider comfort
  • Did we mention the torque?
– Sighs

  • Limited ground clearance in right turns
  • We have to return it to Star
  • Only available in black (Raven)

2015 Star Raider Bullet Cowl Action

2015 Star Raider Bullet Cowl Specs
MSRP $15,390
Engine Capacity 1854cc (113 cu. in.)
Engine Type Air-cooled 48° V-Twin
Bore x Stroke 100.0 x 118.0mm
Compression 9.5:1
Fuel System Fuel injection
Ignition TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Valve Train Pushrod/Overhead Valve, 4 valves per cylinder
Transmission Five-speed
Final Drive Belt
Front Suspension Telescopic fork; 5.1-in travel
Rear Suspension Single, preload-adjustable shock; 3.5-in travel
Front Brakes Dual 298mm disc, 4-piston calipers
Rear Brakes Single, 310mm disc, single-piston caliper
Front Tire 120/70-21M/C 62H
Rear Tire 210/40-18M/C 73H
Seat Height 27.4 inches
Wheelbase 70.9 inches
Rake/Trail 39° / NA
Wet weight 730 lb.
Fuel Capacity 4.2 gal.
Colors Raven

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  • Craig Hoffman

    Add a 6th gear and some tuning tweaks to get rid of the excessive engine braking and this would be the perfect cruiser engine.

  • RandleMcMurphy

    Great engine, no argument there but, I just can’t get excited about the looks of this bike. The pipes? Ugh. A 2 into 1 shotgun style would look far better IMO. The tank looks like small. Kind of like they put the wrong tank on it. I can’t quite figure out why the design bugs me. Maybe it’s just a lot of little things. Maybe it’s that Star seems to have over-thought the design. I would LOVE to see a “naked” bike with this engine. By that I envision a dyna style design. Embrace the large engine and build around it with similar scale. I liked the Warrior when they made them. Something more along that line but, perhaps even more traditional. Have a good 4.5″ of real travel. Make it a good bike for 2 ups.

    Just being honest here but, when I see this bike I think “no way I’d be seen on this!” Truthfully, I’d be embarrassed. Oh, I’m sure I’d enjoy riding it. I have no doubts about that but, I could never pony up for one as they are now.

    • Kenneth

      This over-the-top styling seems way past its prime (along with its 730 pounds, 71″ wheelbase, 39 degree rake, etc.). I’d like to see Yamaha to take this great, immense engine and put it to better use in something a bit more “standard.”

    • Craig Hoffman

      Agree. I love the engine but don’t like this model;’s format. The graphics on the too small tank, and those ugly pipes are visual problems that are hard to get past. The Strat or Roadliner are more of interest, with a 6th gear of course!

      • Evans Brasfield

        it’s funny that, aside from the ground clearance problem it causes, I like the style of the pipes – although I was quite fond of the Warrior’s exhaust, too. I guess I’m just tired of the same old cruiser exhausts we see so often.

    • It’s a BEAUTIFUL bike–I’m not embarassed to ride my BEAST. What’s interesting is that I get a whole lot of compliments on the pipes. I love the looks of them…but then, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • TalonMech

    I think the stretched out, feet forward cruiser thing has run its course. How about this engine in an updated MT-01?

    • Morphon

      I don’t understand statements like this. Run its course? It’s a style of bike ergonomics – how does that ever “run its course?” Imagine someone saying that about the latest and greatest supersport or literbike – I think the crouched over, lay-on-the-tank thing has run its course. How about this engine in something I prefer, like X? – People ride cruisers because they enjoy them. Same for sportbikes, dual-sports, touring bikes, etc… They like what it does and like how they feel riding it.

      • Coy Coleman

        After 100 years it has run it’s course. It won’t last another 100 years. (Sarcasm)

    • ????

  • frankfan42

    Nice bike, gorgeous engine, but not really my cup of Joe. Still, I applaud choice in the marketplace. There is likely more than a few people who just love this bike. Ride what you like, so long as you ride.

  • Auphliam

    Since Harley discontinued the Rocker, you should re-do the Mainstream Chopper Shoot-out with the Raider, Breakout and Jackpot.

    the results would probably all be the same, but imagine the fun LOL

  • scott.

    I would definitely consider this for my next bike but Star still doesn’t offer even optional abs on anything but the VMAX. Get with the times Star, most of the competition has!

  • I absolutely love my ’08. It’s torque is addictive! In my 30 years of riding this is one of the best bikes I’ve ever owned! I get LOTS of compliments, especially from Harley riders. I’m a pretty large guy and this is one of the few “chopper” styled bikes that I don’t look too big to be riding!