2015 – 2017 Yamaha V Star 1300 Tourer Review

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Introduced in 2007, Star— now folded back under the Yamaha umbrella — has been offering essentially the same bike spec-wise since 2012, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The V Star 1300 Tourer is a mid-size touring bike— not a full dresser — but with plenty of storage. It’s not a small bike, but the V Star 1300 Tourer is small enough that you don’t have to wrestle with it. A low seat height and low center of gravity makes it easy to handle, and the 80-cubic-inch engine is big enough to be respectable but not so big it intimidates.

Design

Yamaha V Star 1300 Tourer

Two details I especially like on the V Star Tourer are the extra wide clutch and brake levers that give you a sure-grip feel, and the remote adjustment feature on the headlight. I just hate having to monkey with a wrench trying to aim the headlight so remote adjustment is a small, but welcome, feature.

With lots of chrome for bling, sculpted top lines and contoured leather-wrapped hard saddlebags, the V Star 1300 Tourer looks sophisticated, even standing still.

With lots of chrome for bling, sculpted top lines and contoured leather-wrapped hard saddlebags, the V Star 1300 Tourer looks sophisticated, even standing still. Steel fenders, easily removable windshield and two 35-watt accessory light connectors inside the headlight shell give you all sorts of customization options. A dish-shaped seat cradles your butt and with a 27.2-inch seat height, so you have plenty of room to reach the ground for a relaxed posture.

New-in-2016, the 1300 Tourer came with a lockable quick-release windshield and lockable quick-release passenger backrest as part of the standard equipment package. Handlebar-mounted instrumentation includes an analog speedometer and LCD display with indicator lights for high beam, turn signal, oil and fuel level warnings, coolant temperature and neutral, along with an engine diagnostic function.

Using buttons on the handlebar switch, you can change main instrument functions without taking your hand off the grip. Self-canceling turn signals, which I find a notable feature on a smaller, less expensive bike, I expect to see on a tourer and I’m not disappointed here.

Chassis

Yamaha V Star 1300 Tourer

The double-cradle steel frame utilizes a rigid engine-mounting system that bolsters the overall torsional stability of the frame for predictable tracking in the corners, but strikes a balance that leaves just enough give in the system for comfort. It tracks well on the straightaways, too, due to the 32-degree rake and relatively long wheelbase of 66.5 inches.

The frame construction and layout allows for a surprisingly deep — deep for a cruiser — maximum lean angle of 36 degrees, which keeps it from “cornering like a cruiser.”

This lends the bike a long and low profile, and leaves plenty of pilot and passenger legroom for comfort on the open road. The frame construction and layout allows for a surprisingly deep — deep for a cruiser — maximum lean angle of 36 degrees, which keeps it from “cornering like a cruiser.”

Large, 41 mm KYB hydraulic front forks come equipped with large diameter covers that give the front end a really fat, retro look. The rear monoshock, tucked away low and out of sight, keeps the center of gravity low and manageable. The rear shock comes with a nine-position preload adjuster, so you can find a sweet spot for any load or condition. Front-wheel travel is reasonable at 5.3 inches, and the rear-wheel travel is typical of faux-rigid frames at 4.3 inches – sufficient, but nothing to write home about.

Dual twin-piston calipers bind the front wheel, and a single-pot caliper binds the rear wheel with all-around, 298 mm brake discs for plenty of stopping power, even with the weight of loaded bags and a passenger. Not one to miss an opportunity to lower the center of gravity, the designers placed the rear caliper below the swingarm because, let’s face it, every little bit helps.

Fat, 16-inch tires round out the period look of the bike, and while the seven-spoke, cast aluminum wheels look okay, I think laced wheels and a set of gangster whitewalls would really take the retro vibe up a notch.

Drivetrain

Yamaha V Star 1300 Tourer

A 60-degree, SOHC, V-twin engine pulls duty as the powerplant for this touring cruiser. The mill displaces 80 cubic-inches, and cranks out 81.8 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm – plenty for pulling hills, and holeshots, with authority.

The mill displaces 80 cubic-inches, and cranks out 81.8 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm – plenty for pulling hills, and holeshots, with authority.

A 40 mm, dual bore Mikuni throttle body manages induction with a throttle position sensor and ISC — idle speed control — for smooth throttle responses across the full rpm range.

Head design incorporates four valves per jug, and the large, 36 mm intake and 32 mm exhaust really opens the engine up, allowing it to breathe for efficiency, emissions and power. An oxygen sensor and catalyst in the exhaust system rounds out the emission control. Though the engine is liquid cooled, the cylinders bear what you might consider to be traditional cooling fins to preserve the dated look that the factory was going for. I can appreciate this attention to detail, especially in light of the “stealth” liquid cooling system.

Coolant hoses are routed in an inconspicuous manner, and the radiator itself uses the front down tubes to screen itself from view, at least from the sides. Insofar as you really cannot hide a radiator, I think the designers did a good job of camouflaging it.

Pricing

Yamaha V Star 1300 Tourer

MSRP on the 2017 V Star 1300 Tourer is $12,599; up a couple of bills from last year. Your choice of colors is Sapphire Blue for the MY 15 and Raspberry Metallic for MY16. For 2017, get your tourer in Galaxy Blue. Yamaha covers you with a one-year limited factory warranty.

Competitors

Moto Guzzi California 1400

Suzuki Boulevard C90T

Thinking about a comparable-size engine in a touring bike, the California 1400 Touring from Moto Guzzi comes to mind, as well as the Boulevard C90T from Suzuki. Star Motorcycles serves as the Made-for-the-U.S. cruiser branch for Yamaha. As such, it follows a building philosophy and marketing strategy made specifically to appeal to its targeted market. Though Star was ostensibly its own brand complete with its own designers, etc., its parent company is one of the major Japanese heavies, so I felt it would be fair to compare the V Star 1300 against another Japanese bike that is obviously meant for U.S. shores and went with the Boulevard C90T.

Since both are meant for the same market, it stands to reason that they would share much in common, and to be fair both of them do have a certain appeal to my Western eyes. To be equally fair, both seem to borrow heavily from Harley-Davidson. I won’t belabor the details, and it makes sense that they should emulate certain aspects of the company that helped define what an American-style bike should look like, so that is not a criticism. It is just an observation.

That said, the fat tires, front forks and windshield lend the front end a certain visual weight and get things moving in the right direction. The upper lines flow across a large fuel tank to a scooped seat that strongly resembles a good, old-fashioned horse saddle. I have heard that Japanese designers consider an affinity for saddles to be part of American DNA, if there is such a thing, and I cannot but agree on that point.

Another genetic trait I would be comfortable admitting to is our propensity for V-twin engine configurations — I blame Harley and Indian— but whatever the reasons, the V-twins in both of these rides place them squarely in the realm of classic Americana.

We like our engines big over here, a fact not lost on either manufacturer. To be fair, due to recent jumps in displacement by our domestic heavies, these engines now fall into the mid-size category, but one could still consider them to be “big enough.” Suzuki takes the cake with its 1,462 cc, liquid-cooled, 54-degree V-twin, just a skosh larger than the 1,304 cc, liquid-cooled, 60-degree V-twin from Yamaha.

Both mills serve as a sort of crown jewel with the rest of the machine simply acting as the setting, because let’s face it, what good is a beautiful engine arrangement that you can’t see? Not only does the look fit within American expectations, but this style produces an engine note and tempo that drives our souls. I can’t explain it, but simply accept that it “is.”

At $12,599, the V Star comes in a little under the $12,899 sticker on the C90T, not exactly enough to shove buyers one way or another, and if 300 bucks makes that much of a difference, you are probably already over-budget at this price range anyway. In the end, personal preference and maybe brand loyalty carries the day, and these considerations are much too subjective for me to make the call.

He Said

My husband and fellow motorcycle writer, TJ Hinton, says, “Not a bad looking bike, and typical of what I have come to expect from Star, Yamaha’s Made-In-USA brand. I gotta say I like that they put both connecting rods on a common throw, instead of going with an offset arrangement. This gives the engine a classic, V-twin rumble that is pleasing to the ear, and hints at the torque waiting to be unleashed.”

She Said

“The V Star 1300 Tourer handles very well for a big bike and is surprisingly nimble. There seems to be less wind buffeting when meeting and passing big vehicles, so the aerodynamic qualities of the bike seem well designed. Just keep in mind that there are different-height windshields for it, so pick the one that fits you best.”

Specifications

Drivetrain:
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled 60-degree V-twin; SOHC, four valves per cylinder
Displacement: 80 cubic inches (1,304 cc)
Bore: 100.0 mm
Stroke: 83.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5 to 1
Maximum Torque: 81.8 pound-feet at 4,000 rpm
Fuel Delivery: Mikuni dual bore, 40mm returnless-type throttle body fuel injection system with TPS (Throttle Position Sensor) and ISC (Idle Speed Control)
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: Five-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: carbon cord Belt
Chassis:
Frame: Double Cradle
Suspension / Front: 41 mm Telescopic fork; 5.3-inch travel
Suspension / Rear: Single shock; 4.3-inch travel
Trail: 5.7 Inches
Rake: 32 Degrees
Lean Angle: 36 Degrees
Brakes / Front: Dual 298 mm, floating front discs, two-piston calipers
Brakes / Rear: 298 mm rear disc brake, single-piston caliper
Tires / Front: 130/90-16M/C 67H
Tires / Rear: 170/70B-16M/C 75H
Wheels: Seven-spoke aluminum
Dimensions:
Length: 98.0 inches
Width: 39.4 inches
Height: 59.8 inches
Seat Height: 27.2 in
Wheelbase: 66.5 in
Details:
Fuel Capacity: 4.9 gallons
Fuel Reserve: 1 Gallon
Fuel Economy: 42 mpg
Recommended Fuel: Regular Unleaded (E10 acceptable)
Wet Weight: 712 pounds
Maximum Load: 419 Pounds
Saddlebag Storage: 19 Gallons
Saddlebag Capacity: 11 pounds each bag
Maximum Speed when Loaded: 80 mph
Warranty: One-Year Limited Factory Warranty
Color:
2015: Sapphire Blue
2016: Raspberry Metallic
2017: Galaxy Blue
Price:
2015, 2016: $12,390
2017: $12,599

(topspeed.com, https://goo.gl/ehe2Uj)

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