2012 Honda Fury vs. 2011 Yamaha Star Stryker [Video]
Chopper Lite Shootout
2011 Yamaha Star Stryker
Star Motorcycles took a less conventional approach than did Honda for its chopper. While Honda’s Fury favors the traditional high-neck style that’s typically associated with the great American chopper, Star applied some styling cues generally associated with pro-street choppers, a breed that has its roots in San Francisco Bay area where many custom bike builders gave their bikes long, low and lean stances.
During the 1970s and 1980s bike builders like Arlen Ness and Ron Simms honed this styling theme to create what became known as the Frisco chopper, bikes with exceptionally radical steering head angles. At about that same time the pro street class was gaining popularity at the drag strips across the country, and eventually the Bay Area choppers formed the vanguard for what became the pro street look for custom motorcycles. It’s a look that remains popular today.
The Stryker employs many of the pro street elements, but with a few modern touches added. For instance, the 41mm fork legs utilize the latest damping technology, and a low-profile 210-series rear tire fills an equally wide rear fender (like the front fender, it’s made of steel). Pullback handlebars offer a more upright seating position for the rider, and forward foot controls sprout from the lower frame rails.
But while Honda successfully incorporated American chopper heritage into the Fury, the Star designers fell short of delivering as impressive and cohesive a package.
In terms of appearance, the Styker seems disjointed and cluttered, as if the bike had been designed by committee, each designer given a single task but without being privy to what the other committee members were assigned.
To appreciate this, check out the right side where the gas tank and air cleaner box vie for attention. Viewed as individual components, the gas tank and air cleaner box offer clean, aesthetic lines, but when positioned together on the bike, the tandem comes across as an afterthought.
Indeed, the Styker and Fury share similarly shaped and sized air cleaner covers, but while the Honda’s box seamlessly integrates with the rest of the bike, the Star’s chromed triangular-shaped box seems to just dangle alongside the engine. And above the Stryker’s airbox the stylish peanut-style gas tank looks as if it were unceremoniously placed on the frame’s backbone rail.
The same applies to other components on the Styker. The horn clings obtrusively to the right forward foot control, and an unsightly emissions-control can protrudes from the left foot control. Weld joints in the frame (including the all-important steering head weld joints) are concealed with black plastic covers, and the paint finish on our test bike’s rear fender showed signs of fish-eye under certain lighting conditions.
Despite these styling shortcomings, the Styker’s ride and handling is above what most other cruisers can deliver. The suspension is taut, with good feedback to the rider, and steer-in for turns is predictable and rather precise, although steering feels heavy at low speeds, probably a byproduct of the wide front tire and excessive fork angle. Even so, the fork does a good job of soaking up the bumps, and the spoon-shaped seat offers plenty of support – much more than does the Fury’s.
“The Fury’s lower seat feels cooler,” Duke opines, “but the Stryker’s broader and better-padded seat is a preferred perch for longer distances.”
And after you plop your behind on the Styker’s seat and place your hands and feet on the controls, you’ll be treated to a more conventional riding position than what the Fury offers. In fact, our test riders agreed that it feels more like you’re sitting in the Fury, and on the Styker.
Each riding position has its pluses, too; the Fury’s high gas tank and steering neck serve as a windbreak at high speeds, while the Styker’s stance seems to give the rider a better feel for the bike while cornering and maneuvering through tight places.
Same holds true under braking conditions. Like the Fury, the Styker has single disc brakes front and rear, but while the Fury’s anchors felt vague, with minimal feedback, the Styker’s brakes delivered a more positive feel. Both braking systems brought our test bikes to smooth and controlled stops, we just preferred the feel of the Styker’s progressive feedback more.
“The Star’s front brake offers better speed retardation than the Fury,” Duke says, “due partially to the bigger contact patch of its wider front tire.”
Oddly, though, while Star predicts that about a third of its Stryker customers will be women, the bike is equipped with more manly Harley-like clutch and front brake levers. On the other hand (pun intended), the Fury’s levers felt small and wimpy, as if they were developed for smaller hands.
“The Stryker’s wide dogleg levers feel appropriately butch,” Duke says. “In contrast, the Fury’s narrow brake and clutch levers feel inadequately beefy for a bad-ass motorcycle.”
In the mechanical department, the Fury and Stryker are the same only different. The Fury’s V-Twin engine’s three-valve cylinders are set at 52 degrees while the Stryker’s are splayed slightly wider at 60 degrees. Displacement is closely the same, too, and interestingly they share about the same displacement as Harley-Davidson’s Evolution V2, an engine that powered Milwaukee’s Big Twin models from 1984 through 1999 and 2000 when the current Twin Cam and Twin Cam B debuted respectively.
These Japanese V-Twins deliver power in smooth, broad strokes, but the Styker’s four-valve-per-cylinder engine clearly revs quicker and higher than does the Fury. Bore and stroke dimensions are a major factor here: the Fury gets its 1312cc displacement from bore and stroke figures of 89.5mm by 104.3mm, while the Stryker checks in with practically the opposite stats of 100mm x 83mm, resulting in 1304cc.
The shorter-stroked Styker peaked at 5600 rpm (67.6 hp; maximum torque of 75.0 ft-lb at 3700 rpm) while the Fury reached its maximum horsepower (57.3) at a more lazy 4300 rpm (with 72.9 ft-lb of torque at 3600 rpm). As noted, vibration isn’t a major issue with either bike, and roll-on power is nearly equal.
Like the Fury’s transmission, the Stryker’s five-speed box shifts smoothly and positively. There was, however, a slight notchy feel from first to second gear during up-shifts, otherwise it’s the same smooth-shifting set of gears that you expect from Star.
Despite some shortcomings in its style and finish, the Stryker is a custom cruiser – a chopper, if you will – that delivers the goods as promised. Its strong point, though, is in how it delivers the goods to the rider, making it one of the better choppers for enthusiasts who like to ride.
“The Stryker’s belt-drive system is lighter and has less driveline lash,” Duke says, “plus it’s capped by an attractive rear pulley.”