Yamaha Bolt Problems: 3 Known Issues (Explained)

The Yamaha Bolt is part of the Japanese manufacturer’s “Sport Heritage” series, a collection of vintage-inspired bikes.

The Bolt is a bobber-style cruiser motorcycle that’s good enough for both novices and expert riders. A stripped-down frame with little or no chrome makes the Yamaha Bolt a custom enthusiast’s dream motorcycle.

For all its high points, the Yamaha Bolt has a few flaws. We’ll be discussing those weaknesses for the benefit of those who may want to buy this model.

Note: these problems don’t mean the Yamaha Bolt is a bad bike.

We only want to give you an idea of the issues to expect.

1. “Death Wobble” Issue

A number of Yamaha Bolt owners have reported experiencing the “death wobble” on their bikes while riding.

So what exactly is the “death wobble” and why is it problematic for riders?

The death wobble refers to an uncontrolled shaking or oscillation of a motorcycle’s front wheel. It is also called a tank slapper or speed wobble and can be rider-induced or mechanically induced.

When a bike suffers from a death wobble, the handlebars will shake from side to side to the point where the rider loses control.

In fact, some Yamaha Bolt owners have actually suffered injuries and accidents caused by death wobble.

This is one problem you must avoid at all costs.

According to reports, the death wobble can occur when:

  1. The motorcycle accelerates
  2. The motorcycle decelerates
  3. The motorcycle turns at a corner
  4. The rider tries a risky riding move, e.g., removing hands from bars while riding.

As we said before, a death wobble often results from either a rider error or a mechanical fault.

Causes of Speed Wobbles:

– Excessive Speed:

On some bikes, the death wobble occurs at a particular speed.

Usually, this is often at high speed (e.g., 75mph and above). The reason this happens is that the bike cannot handle the speed.

Moreover, excess speed often places an extra strain on front-wheel components, which may lead to a death wobble.

Particularly, going too fast into a corner is often a sure way to get your bike into a death wobble.

– Bad Wheel Bearings:

Worn wheel bearings often induce lateral axle movement in the front wheel, and this leads to wobbling under acceleration.

– Tire Issues:

The following tire issues can lead to a death wobble:

  • Tread Pattern: Many Yamaha Bolt owners have complained about the stock tires on the Yamaha Bolt models. According to them, the “zigzag” tread pattern often contributes to the occurrence of death wobble problems on the motorcycle.
  •  Wheel Balance: If the wheels on your motorcycle are out of balance, a speed wobble may happen when you accelerate.
  • Low Tire Pressure: The service manual recommends a particular level of air pressure in the tires. If the air pressure in your tires is not up to spec, it may cause a death wobble.

– Bad Wheel Forks:

Sometimes, worn or damaged wheel forks can contribute to death wobbles on a bike.

– Rider Error:

This is perhaps the most likely cause of a speed wobble.

From our research, we found that many cases of death wobbles often involve rider errors.

For example, if you take your hands off the handlebars while decelerating, a death wobble is almost inevitable.

Possible Solutions for These Issues:

– Swap Out Stock Tires:

Some Yamaha Bolt owners say the death wobble issue disappeared after they replaced the stock tires with better tires.

– Inspect Wheel Bearings:

If you suffered from a death wobble, checking the wheel bearings is one of the first things you should do.

If they are worn, replace them with newer variants.

– Inspect Tires/Wheels:

Check if the tires have optimal air pressure.

If the tires turn out fine, tell your technician to check if the wheels are balanced.

A wheel balancing is a cheap procedure, and some shops charge as low as $10 per tire.

– Inspect Wheel Forks:

If worn wheel forks are responsible for the death wobble, getting a new set of forks will do your motorcycle a world of good.

– Ride Carefully:

Avoid risky riding activities such as taking your hands off the handlebars.

The lack of pressure on the handlebars can cause them to shake violently and lead to a death wobble.

2. Clunky Gear Shifts

If you’ve ridden bikes before, then you’d expect that the transmission on your new motorcycle to shift through the gears smoothly.

Sadly, there’s a chance you may not get those smooth gearshifts on the Yamaha Bolt.

Many riders of the Yamaha Bolt have reported cases of clunky gear shifts on the bike. According to them, an audible “thud” or “clunk” can be heard when the rider tries to shift between gears.

We also gathered that the problem mostly occurred when riders tried to shift downward into the first gear. Therefore, you may not experience this problem when you switch from, say, 5th gear to fourth gear.

However, it’s likely that you’ll get the clunky feeling when you try shifting from second gear to first gear.

Some owners actually love the clunk, but you may not. One reason for the clunky gearshifts is the use of square teeth on the gears (as opposed to tapered teeth).

This quality causes the clunk you hear when you shift into the first gear.

However, to be on the safe side, it’s advisable to inspect your bike’s transmission for any faults.

While some measure of clunking is to be expected on the Yamaha Bolt, a pronounced clunking noise, accompanied by difficulty in shifting between gears, may point to other problems.

Possible Causes for Clunking on the Yamaha Bolt:

– Worn Out Clutch:

A bad clutch will induce clunky gearshifts on your bike.

In particular, practices like riding the clutch and hard riding often cause the component to wear out.

With time, you may start to feel a clunk when you switch between gears.

– Using Low-Viscosity Oil:

Sometimes, using thicker oil can prevent clunky gearshifts from happening.

The Yamaha Bolt uses a wet clutch type that requires constant lubrication. Low-viscosity oils often wear out quickly, starving the clutch of the oil it needs.

This may eventually lead to clunky gearshifts.

Other causes include:

  1. Faulty transmission
  2. Badly adjusted clutch cable

3. Bike Refuses to Start

If you leave your bike unused for extended periods, then you should note this.

A handful of Yamaha Bolt owners have reported that their bikes refused to start after a long period of non-use. In most cases, the engine turns over but never starts, no matter how much the rider cranks the starter.

Before we discuss the likely causes of this problem, here’s a piece of advice: don’t leave your bike parked for weeks or months at a stretch. If you can, run it occasionally, even for a few minutes.

Bikes are machines and often develop problems if they are not used.

So, what can cause your bike not to start after a long period of disuse?

Here are some likely culprits:

  1. Bad battery: If you didn’t disconnect the battery or keep it on a tender while you stored the bike, it would drain completely. And once it does, it may refuse to charge, meaning your motorcycle won’t start.
  2. Bad gas: If you park the bike for months, the gasoline may have degraded by the time you attempt to start it. This is why adding a fuel conditioner or stabilizer to your tank is necessary if you plan to store the bike for long.
  3. Bad spark plugs: Spark plugs may suffer from corrosion, which will cause them to provide a weak spark when you try to start the bike. Obviously, the fuel mixture in the engine won’t ignite with a weak spark, and the motorcycle won’t run.
  4. Clogged fuel supply components: The fuel may evaporate and leave behind sediments that may build up in the fuel pump, fuel lines, and petcock supply valve. If this happens, fuel flow to the engine becomes restricted, leading to engine starting problems.
  5. Dirty carburetor: Evaporated fuel will lead to dirt buildups in the carburetor. Particularly, the pilot and main jets could be blocked and may need thorough cleaning for the engine to run properly.

General Pros and Cons of the Yamaha Bolt

Here are the main positives and negatives of the Yamaha Bolt:

Pros of Yamaha Bolt

Here are some selling points of the Yamaha Bolt:

Easy Customization:

Thanks to its bare bones, no-frills look, the Yamaha Bolt is a serious bobber motorcycle that can be customized to individual tastes.

Value for Money:

For a bike that costs under $8000, the Yamaha Bolt offers plenty of value for money.

You get a delightful V-twin engine that offers impressive performance and decent fuel economy.

Sure, Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 883 offers similar benefits, but the Bolt will cost you $1000 less.

Compact and Lightweight Chassis:

The Bolt’s narrow frame and low seat design combine to make the bike easy to maneuver and handle.

Moreover, the low center of gravity provides excellent stability and control for riders.

Cons of Yamaha Bolt

Here are some downsides of the Yamaha Bolt:

  1. Death Wobble Issue
  2. Clunky Gearshifts Problem
  3. Bike Refuses to Start

What Do the Reviews Say?

“Simple and compact, with low seat height, the Yamaha Bolt R-Spec offers light, agile handling that instills rider confidence. A new breed of “crossover,” the Bolt R-Spec is an interesting blend of cruiser features in a chassis that offers a natural, upright riding position.”

[Source: akmotorcycles.com]

“Powered by an air-cooled V-twin, but with plenty of technology, the Bolt is a good in-between size: not too small that you’ll outgrow it soon and not so big that it is intimidating for new riders. The bobber-style seat, easy cruisin’ rider triangle, and naked-bike look make the Bolt a choice little bar hopper or commuter ride.”

[Source: Topspeed.com]

What Is the Resale Value On Yamaha Bolt?

Year Mileage Price($)
2018 7,533 6,999
2015 4,073 5,999
2014 3,334 6,499



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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.