2018 Yamaha Star Eluder 500-Mile One-Day Test With The GT Option Package
My plan was to loop from Los Angeles to Death Valley and return putting over 500 miles on the odometer of the 2018 Yamaha Star Eluder. I wanted to see if a 200-miles-per-day rider could head off to Sturgis and put in 500-mile days. Also, I wanted to see how it compares to my Generation 2 Yamaha Royal Star Venture V4.
I started out at 7:30 a.m. with a topped off tank to get a good idea of mpg and miles per tank at various speeds.
I felt like a bad ass, as I was riding this aggressively styled 1854cc bagger. I was thinking of ripping off my shirtsleeves and getting a tattoo. I have never ridden a bagger style bike before, and I found myself with a whole body feeling of testosterone and masculinity (no offense to the ladies, but not being one, I don’t know what the equivalent is).
The Yamaha Eluder feels like it has a very low center of gravity. It is extremely easy to maneuver at slow speed. Using the friction zone from training on Ride Like A Pro, I was quickly able to U-turn in a space not much wider than my Honda XR250R dirt bike and at very slow speed. The Eluder has a 200mm wide low-profile rear tire.
The lean over roll rate is noticeably slower than my Gen 2 Venture, but I quickly remembered about throwing the outside knee against the tank to help push the motorcycle over in conjunction with countersteering. The Eluder still doesn’t weave (swerve practice on the freeway) as nimbly as the Gen 2, but by the end of the day I was getting close.
The stability of the Yamaha Star Eluder is amazing at freeway speeds. I spent time hands off the bars and the bike tracked true and straight. I don’t remember the hands off on my Gen 2’s bars with the stock front tire because I had changed it to the narrower tire for lighter handling soon after I got it, and it is definitely not a hands-off bike now.
Many have mentioned, and it has happened to me that in a high-speed turn on the Gen 2, that if you hit a bump while leaned over the bike will wallow and wiggle. The Eluder is absolutely solid in a bumpy turn and doesn’t wallow. It carves tight and wide turns very capably and predictably.
The bike is very stable and cruises comfortably at 85 mph in sixth gear. I would guess that about half of the 525 miles was at or around 85 (Note: Professional driver on a closed course. Do not attempt.)
With that cruise speed, I still averaged 32.6 mpg for the day. At 65 mph I saw about 45 mpg, and at 75 about 38 mpg. The tank holds over six gallons, so even at 85 mph you can get 180 miles between gas stops. I ran the gas gauge down to just before the red/empty line, and it filled to the brim at 5.2 gallons. As I understand the tank, that still left 1.4 gallons until sputter out.
The Eluder has a rev limiter at 4600 rpm. I have no idea what the rev limit is on the Gen 2, but I was bumping into the Star Eluder’s limiter for most of the day when starting out from a stop. Eventually, I got the hang of quickly upshifting shifting during acceleration.
When aggressively taking off, you better hold on or you will be left behind. Yamaha tells us that peak torque is at a low 2500 rpm, and what that translated to is pulling just about any of the six gears from almost any speed.
Speaking of six speeds, many times I was cruising for quite a while in fourth or fifth gear, completely forgetting there is a sixth cog. Cruise control worked great at any speed, and was a real help in 35 mph zones. At any set speed on any hill, up or down, the cruise control held exactly spot-on.
In addition to quite a bit of power, the engine puts out a lot of heat. I didn’t notice it when the air temperature was between 45 and 73 degrees, but above 73 the underside of my left thigh was cooking, though not the right side. There are lower vents on both sides, but they are inconvenient to open and close while riding. When closed the heat was very uncomfortable at any speed. Open, they did help blow some of the heat away.
Everything below the seat is warm or hot. Riding slowly in traffic at 90 to 120 degrees during the summer will really be uncomfortable on your left leg!
The seat seemed comfortable in the garage but after 200 miles I started squirming. Where is Rick Butler when you need him? For those that don’t know, Butler is a craftsman in Dallas who modifies touring motorcycle seats for extreme all day comfort. Butler takes your seat and crafts it into a perfectly shaped butt pillow that takes the “iron” out of Iron Butt!
I am most comfortable sitting back on my tailbone, and with only floorboards there was no way to sit back. The floorboards are really long, so there is plenty of room to move your feet a good distance all around, However, I ended the day with my shins hurting (or the underlying muscles) due to having to keep my feet at a forward (hyper-extended) angle.
With highway pegs on a long ride I have never had shin pain. I will be doing an Iron Butt on the Venture model and I expect to be in the saddle for 18 hours. Without highway pegs I have concerns how much this is going to hurt.
This is the reason I wanted to do a 500 mile ride on this bagger, to find the pain points that don’t show up on 200 mile rides.
I got the bike with the handlebars in a fairly neutral stock position, but I wanted the full bagger experience and I raised them up to almost even with my shoulders. Yamaha engineered the bars and cables to accommodate a wide range of adjustment from low to high. For me, arms level was very comfortable all day and gave me a little backward angle to sit back on my tailbone more than just flat on my butt.
The stock short windshield forced the freeway air right at my eyeballs and slightly above, causing my faceshield to always force to closed. I like to ride with my shield open except when it is very cold or very hot. I had to ride on the freeway sections with my shield down which I did not enjoy. If I owned an Eluder, I would opt for Yamaha’s Eluder Custom Windshield – Medium, which is four inches taller than the standard windshield.
Mounted in the dash is a helpful seven-inch full-color LCD. The Yamaha Star Eluder with the GT Option Package has all kinds of data that can be displayed on the screen, but please don’t be a distracted rider.
I did have a few complaints regarding various details on the Eluder. For instance, Yamaha should be ashamed of itself for putting a “meep-meep” on a $24,000 motorcycle in place of a horn. Also, the fuel door opens back toward the rider. To fuel the bike you have to contort yourself and squeeze the gas nozzle between the handle bar and the gas door. Why doesn’t it open up and away from the rider for easy access?
The right side storage compartment that has the USB port for charging and connecting into the communication system just barely fit my Apple iPhone7 with it plugged in. If you have a larger phone than the iPhone 7, you will have to store it or mount it somewhere else.
Additionally, when kicking off the cruise control at higher speeds, the bike jerks as though you tapped the brakes hard. I tried messing around with opening the throttle a bit before releasing the cruise control and I couldn’t get it to not jerk pretty hard. The kind of jerk that your passenger will get a shot of adrenaline from!
The bags have adequate space for a day ride with changing temps, but I don’t think you can fit several layers and rain gear for two in them. If you are riding to Sturgis then you will definitely need a tailbag, which means the addition of an Eluder Quick-Release Passenger Backrest from Yamaha Accessories.
My overall impression of the 2018 Yamaha Star Eluder is that it is a fun-to-ride heavyweight touring motorcycle that is well designed for its purpose. Mind you that my experience is 10,000 miles on a 1984 Honda Shadow 700, 78,000 miles on a Honda Shadow Spirit 1100, and 35,000 on my 2007 Yamaha Midnight Venture. The Eluder is a 200-mile per tank eye-catcher, but it will cook your left leg at higher temperatures.
It is a completely different bike, from the ground up, than my Gen 2 Venture, and it is a well engineered high-speed tourer that will impress the heck out of you when you get on it, lean it into a turn, ride it slowly in a parking lot, or hit the brakes. You will appreciate the cruising stability and the fact that there is no wallow in the frame. If you are thinking of buying a 2018 Yamaha Star Eluder, just make sure your test ride is on a hot day to see how you feel about the heat coming up on the left side.
Photography by Neil Wyenn
For full specs and video, read Don Williams’ review of the 2018 Yamaha Star Eluder.