2018 Yamaha V Star 250 Review | 30th Anniversary Retro Cruiser

2018 Yamaha V Star 250 Review - fun motorcycle

2018 Yamaha V Star 250 Review |

Urban and Canyon Tested

A beginner motorcycle should be welcoming, friendly, and fun—a simple concept that Yamaha figured out 30 years ago and hasn’t let slip away with the 2018 Yamaha V Star 250.

New riders will immediately feel comfortable when they throw a leg over the very-approachable 27-inch saddle. The low seat will allow most people to sit astride the slim 326-pound motorcycle with both feet firmly planted on the ground, and this is one of the best ways to put a beginner at ease.

The grips are within easy reach of the rider as the compact cruiser motorcycle has narrow drag bars and the foot controls are in a relaxed forward position. Surprisingly, Yamaha totally missed the mark on the hand levers. The levers are non-adjustable and the reach, especially to the front brake, is excessive. I have big hands for my size—women’s large gloves—and it was immediately noticeable to me. The only saving grace to this inexplicable oversight is that the clutch pull is light.

2018 Yamaha V Star 250 Review - beginner motorcycle

The air-cooled V Star still has a single 26mm Mikuni carburetor, so you’ll be flicking the handlebar-mounted choke when you start the motor when it’s cold. The engine warms up quickly and I didn’t find any fueling issues.

With a decidedly undersquare 249cc 60-degree V-twin powering the V Star, the motorcycle has ample low-end torque. Getting underway is easy and, because the acceleration is anything but fast, newer riders with less polished clutch and throttle skills will not get spooked by accidentally grabbing a handful.

You have to be quite deliberate and short shift the five-speed transmission to squeeze the most acceleration out of the engine. However, this is what makes the 2018 Yamaha V Star 250 a winner with beginners. It is a non-intimidating platform with generous room for error, and there’s little chance of overachieving in the speed department.

The five-speed transmission works well, and you will kick up into fourth gear for most of your urban riding, as the gearbox ratios are expectedly short. Fifth is mostly an overdrive for cruising down a fast-paced boulevard.

2018 Yamaha V Star 250 Review - commuter motorcycleYou can ride the V Star 250 on the freeway, but you’ll be happier if you stick to urban routes with a 55 mph speed limit. The motor and chassis is overmatched at speeds over 65 mph. Consider this a great urban motorcycle, and one for quieter rural routes.

Handling is intuitive and light—so much, in fact, that it almost feels like riding a bicycle, albeit a motorized one. With the narrow 18-inch wheel up front, I had to back off my input as I found myself initially over-steering because I’m used to riding larger, heavier machines.

When it takes such a light hand, it truly seems like a play bike. Novices will be delighted that they never have to wrestle with the Yamaha V Star 250.

With 5.5 inches of fork travel and nearly four inches from the diagonally mounted twin shocks, the V Star’s suspension manages to soak up most of the road imperfections at relaxed speeds, encouraging unhurried spins through side streets and neighborhoods.

Exploring mountain roads is also a blast, though the combination of narrow front tire, spindly 33mm fork, and the 32-degree rake leaves the V Star feeling less planted. An experienced rider will probably enjoy the light and loose feeling, but a newer rider may find it less secure.

2018 Yamaha V Star 250 Review - left 3/4Although the tube tires are bias-ply Cheng Shin rubber, they are fine for the intended use. Higher spec tires are available for the Yamaha V Star 250 should you feel the need, though you’ll likely have to experiment with slightly different widths and profiles.

The V Star 250’s brakes are perfectly tuned for newer hands, soft on initial engagement and with enough power to leave a rider confident to twist the throttle. Because the reach to the right hand lever is so far, I found myself using the rear drum brake quite a bit. It has good feel and enough power to do more than simply finesse my stops.

Again, nothing happens overly fast on the 2018 Yamaha V Star 250, and this includes engagement of the brakes. That’s fine, perfectly in line with the intended audience and riding style of the bike.

The roomy seat is comfortable—to a point. I found myself getting fidgety at about the hour mark, and that’s due to the feet forward riding position that leaves my weight firmly on my posterior.

2018 Yamaha V Star 250 Review - fun motorcycleThere is also a noticeable amount of vibration in the seat and grips that crept into my consciousness at about that same point. Still, it’s doubtful that most riders will get anywhere near emptying the V Star’s almost 200-mile range of the 2.5-gallon tank without stopping several times.

While the 2018 Yamaha V Star 250 is targeting entry-level riders and has a very appealing price tag at $4349, you wouldn’t know it by looking unless you’re an aficionado.

The V Star 250 is well proportioned and appealing with its genuine old school looks. In fact, while at a stoplight alongside Editor Don Williams, astride a Harley-Davidson Street Glide, a young man in a car leaned out his window to comment admiringly on both motorcycles.

The 2018 Yamaha V Star 250 is a seasoned model for good reason. With a non-intimidating engine, comfortable ergonomics, and easy handling, it takes care of the basics without looking like a budget beginner bike. This is the 30th year of production—Yamaha should have issued a special edition—and given that the motorcycle is unchanged, you’re getting an authentic 1980s cruiser fresh from the factory.

Photography by Don Williams

Riding Style

Helmet: HJC RPHA 11

Jacket: Joe Rocket Classic ’92

Gloves: Racer Women’s Guide

Jeans: Dainese Jessville Lady Skinny

Boots: Joe Rocket Heartbreaker

2018 Yamaha V Star 250 Specifications


Type: 60-degree V-twin

Displacement: 249cc

Bore x stroke: 49 x 66mm

Compression ratio: 10.0:1

Valve train: SOHC, 2 vpc

Fueling: Mikuni 26mm carburetor

Cooling: Air

Transmission: 5-speed

Final drive: Chain


Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable 33mm fork; 5.5 inches

Rear suspension; travel: Spring-preload adjustable shocks; 3.9 inches

Front tire: 3.00-18; Cheng Shin

Rear tire: 130/90-15; Cheng Shin

Front brake: 282mm disc

Rear brake: 130mm drum


Wheelbase: 58.7 inches

Rake: 32 degrees

Trail: 4.7 inches

Seat height: 27.0 inches

Fuel capacity: 2.5 gallons

EPA estimated fuel economy: 78 mpg

Wet weight: 326 pounds

Color: Raven

2018 Yamaha V Star 250 MSRP: $4349

2018 Yamaha V Star 250 Photo Gallery