It doesn’t seem possible that five years have passed since I rolled out Portland, Oregon, in the saddle of the new Star Roadliner–a cruiser with real performance, handling, and braking. It was an exciting day. More importantly, it was a new direction for Yamaha, a company we typically associate with winning motorcycle championships at the highest level on both dirt and asphalt.
By taking this passion, enthusiasm and dedication to excellence and infusing it into the new Star brand of cruisers, it hasn’t taken long for the company to make it to the number two position in the class–the giant from Milwaukee being the only brand to outsell them in this class.
Striking out in its own direction with the art deco inspired Roadliner, Star has taken some valuable clues from Harley’s success, and the Roadliner platform spawned the touring focused Stratoliner and the more custom-styled Raider. Working from this initial Roadliner platform, Star was able to create three unique motorcycles without undertaking major redesigns. Now, there’s a fourth member of the family–the Stratoliner Deluxe.
Designated a “Bagger,” the concept for this style of motorcycle is fairly simple. Take a cruiser and make it more focused for traveling, without turning it into a full-on touring bike. Add a good-sized front fairing, some nice integrated saddlebags for carrying your gear, on-board music, a set of spacious footboards, and voila–one bagger to go. It’s certainly a trend that seems to have risen from the ashes of the chopper fad, with riders looking for more practicality and comfort from their rides, without having to lose the ability to customize and personalize their bikes.
The heart of the beast remains the same, with two large cylinders housing 100 mm pistons sucking in fuel and air, and spitting out burned gases through a pair of inlet and a pair of outlet valves. Riding on a long 118 mm stroke, the compression ratio is a healthy 9.5:1 and helps the bike to make a claimed 91 hp. Thumping out an equally healthy 117 ft/lbs of torque at 5000 rpm, the Star motor is a thoroughly modern power house that gives the ability to thump at low rpm or give sporting power as the rpm rise.
It’s also a real air-cooled V-twin, not a faux-finned water-cooled unit, and the four valves per cylinder are opened by pushrods. This allows the stylish engine to have large chrome pushrod tubes to further accentuate the style, and they certainly help make the Star engine look as much like a piece of art work as the rest of the bike.
Faultless fuel injection makes the riding experience a joy in whatever mood you are in from putting round town to carving canyons and twisty roads. This perfect fuel delivery is made possible by a pair of 43mm, twin-bore throttle bodies. The 12-hole, 2-directional fuel injectors that ensure the cylinders get filled completely, and the twin spark plugs making sure combustion is complete.
As with all modern bikes there is an idle control valve in place of the choke, and the bike fires instantly to life, cold or hot at the slightest touch of the starter button. These downdraft bodies have throttle position sensors (TPS) that make sure the throttle response is spot on, no matter what you are doing with the throttle, or how fast the engine is spinning. An oxygen sensor in the two-into-one exhaust system makes it a closed loop system by reading the burned gases and adjusting the fuel injection system as necessary.
In an interesting move, an EXUP valve, normally found in higher revving sport bikes, is also used to help boost low-end power and provide crisper throttle response. The system is a meaty-looking affair and gives the bike a nice deep rumble on idle. It’s certainly not asthmatic sounding when you twist the throttle either, and aftermarket pipes for more audio are available from your local Yamaha dealer.
Power is taken to the rear wheel via belt drive through a 5-speed gearbox. This belt drive system is clean, quiet, and close to maintenance-free. The Deluxe comes complete with big cruiser clunk upon first gear selection, but shifts very smoothly once on the move. A heel/toe shifter system is employed, and it works as well as it looks. Shifting in the conventional manner causes no problems. The floorboards are roomy, and don’t force your feet into one position which is a great benefit on longer rides.
The fork-mounted fairing not only looks stylish, but also does a reasonable job of fending off the oncoming breeze. It also doesn’t make the steering heavy or cumbersome due to its lightweight construction. One of the best parts of the new fairing on the Deluxe is the iPod hook-up that plays through a pair of 5-inch speakers. This has a watertight compartment for your particular player, and easy to use controls on the left handlebar above the usual switches. These take some familiarizing with to scroll through the various artists, playlists, and sound levels, so it’s not a bad idea to get fully familiar before you hit the road.
The Stratoliner Deluxe handles extremely well for a bike that weighs 810 pounds full of fuel. This is achieved with the combination of a low, sculpture seat and the wide bars that don’t need an unnatural reach. Leaving me sitting comfortably straight up and down, I could certainly make a lot of comfortable miles in the saddle of the new Deluxe. Thankfully, the Star crew avoided the move towards packing the largest back wheel possible under the rear fender, and the attractive 12-spoke alloy wheel gets a sensibly sized 190 rear tire, and is complemented by a 130/70- 18-inch front. It works perfectly on the big Star, and with the aforementioned wide bars, the steering input is always light and precise, not something you would initially expect from such a big bike. The Deluxe is also easy to pull up from the side stand, and is not difficult to maneuver around in tight spaces. With a combination of the light controls, easy fueling, and low seat height, you won’t be sweating and straining to get out of congested parking lots.
The front fork is a beefy conventional 46mm affair with no provision for adjustability. With the big Star using what I consider the best braking set up in the cruiser world–a pair of 298mm rotors and R1-styled mono block calipers. Not sprung too softly to collapse the forks under heavy braking, they are not so hard they give a harsh ride. In the rear a single shock is used and there is provision for pre-load adjustment. This is useful when you add a passenger and luggage to keep the bike on an even keel.
The single disc out back is actually slightly larger at 320mm and also uses a four-piston mono block caliper. With heavier cruisers, the longer wheel base means you can use a lot more rear brake, and this allows the Deluxe to scrub excess speed quickly and safely when needed. A point to note here is that there is no ABS, which might or might not be a deal breaker for someone looking at a bike in this class.
One of the more visually stylish elements of the new Star are the saddlebags. Color matched to the bike’s paint scheme, they are more integrated than the smaller ones found on the Stratoliner, and as practical as they are good looking. Capable of holding close to seven gallons of luggage per side, they are easily opened and closed–something that can’t be said about all motorcycle saddlebags.
The controls, gauges and instruments are all the same as previous Star models, and this means high-quality. Easy to read analogue gauges are nice touch for older riders or those who struggle with hyperactive digital read outs, and all the usual data is presented in an analog format. The level of finish with all the painted and chromed parts is extremely high, with the machine giving off a very custom feel, even in standard trim. As usual, Star custom guru Jeff Palhegy was along for the ride on his own personal Deluxe, and it was breathtaking as you might imagine with its beautifully painted fairing lowers and custom parts.
Priced at $17,490, the new Stratoliner Deluxe makes a great addition to the existing Star line up, and a very unique one at that fits with the other offerings in this class. Capable of giving long distance touring comfort and convenience if needed, it’s still a super slick looking ride for posing down the high street and taking short jaunts on your favorite roads. I was able to reconnect with the reasons I’ve always enjoyed the big Star lineup. Unique styling, great power, competent handling and braking, wrapped up in a modern package that’s a blast to ride. The Stratoliner Deluxe certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Motorcycle Specifications | 2010 Star Stratoliner Deluxe
Engine Type…113-cubic-inch (1854cc) air-cooled 48°V-twin; pushrod OHV, 4 valves/cylinder
Bore x Stroke…100.0 x 118.0mm
Fuel Delivery…Twin-Bore electronic fuel injection
with throttle position sensor
Ignition…TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission…5-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Suspension/Front…46mm telescopic fork; adjustable preload, 5.1-in travel
Suspension/Rear…Single shock; 4.3-in travel
Brakes/Front…Dual hydraulic disc, 298mm
Brake/Rear…Hydraulic disc, 320mm
Fuel Capacity…4.5 gal.