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The Yamaha Bolt R-Spec holds an interesting place in the global motorcycle market. Splitting the difference between sport bike and cruiser, the Bolt has built a dedicated following among riders seeking a versatile bike equally suited to long highway rides and daily urban use. For particular highlights of the ride, Bolt R-Spec owners identify two areas where the 2023 model year shines.

1. The Yamaha Bolt is fun-to-drive

With an MSRP of just $8,899, the 2023 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec delivers a formidable fun-to-dollar ratio. As TopSpeed reports, the Bolt is just a fun ride, whether a rider is running errands or riding highways across the country. The pickup is quick, the controls are responsive, and while the top-end speed of 106 mph is nothing to write home about, the bike’s nippy acceleration and solid steering make it more than quick enough to be fun. After all, motorcyclists only spend so much time at triple-digit speeds. For almost all daily use cases, the Bolt R-Spec manages to be rock-solid, reliable, and a delight to ride.

2. Yamaha nailed the styling on the 2023 Bolt R-Spec

Part of the pleasure of riding a 2023 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec is the immaculately retro styling. The design is stripped back, beautifully functional, and more suggestive of an old-school sport bike or cafe racer than a modern do-it-all daily ride. Per Timeless 2 Wheels, the blacked-out internals complement the bike’s sleek lines, striking just the right balance of simplicity and showpiece power. The result is half-elegance, half-brawler – just right for this kind of Yamaha thoroughbred.

R-Spec areas that could be dealbreakers

As solid as many of its design elements are, the 2023 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec isn’t perfect. The first apparent flaw is that top speed. It may be true that most riders never get a chance to take their bikes to maximum speed, but the Bolt still feels underpowered for the price and styling. 

The Bolt R-Spec also does such an excellent job as a jack-of-all-trades that it never nails down a specialization. If a rider wants a long-distance touring bike, the Bolt is never going to beat, say, a Honda Shadow Aero, which delivers more comfort and storage space for a comparable price. For a snarling urban racer, the Kawasaki Ninja 650 eats the Bolt’s lunch: TopSpeed puts the Ninja’s, well, top speed at 131 mph to the Bolt’s 106 mph, and its 0-60 mph at 3.5 seconds to the Bolt R-Spec’s 5 seconds. Not bad for a bike more than a thousand dollars cheaper.

Fundamentally, the shortcomings of the Bolt R-Spec come from the same place as its best qualities: it’s willing to be all things to all riders. Dedicated tourers may be comfier; pure performance bikes may outdo it on the pavement, but unlike its specialist competitors, the Bolt can do all those jobs and more. Between being a pleasure to ride and its flexible design, the 2023 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec may be the most versatile sub-$10K motorcycle on the market today.