2018 Yamaha Star Venture Review w/ Transcontinental Option Package
Unveiled in June 2017, but delayed in production for six months, we finally got a chance to go touring on the 2018 Yamaha Star Venture.
An all-new machine, Yamaha gets serious about luxury, technology, and long-distance touring with the Venture. Here are 21 essential facts you want to know about riding the latest big-inch twin from Yamaha.
1. Yamaha returns to luxury touring with an all-new motorcycle. If you’re a motorcycle touring enthusiast, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the venerable Royal Star Venture. However, it has nothing in common with the new 2018 Yamaha Star Venture, except for its mission to travel cross-country with power and style.
2. While it might bring the Raider powerplant to mind, the 2018 Yamaha Star Venture’s big V-twin is a completely new design. Checking in at 113 cubic inches with slightly undersquare twin-sparked combustion chambers, the air-cooled motor has pushrods actuating four valves per cylinder. Yamaha’s research convinced the company to move to a V-twin rather than lift the V-4 from the second generation VMax, as had been done with the Royal Star Venture with the original V-Max.
3. Yamaha didn’t want you to be pounded by the V-twin and has done an impressive job of reducing vibration, but not entirely eliminating feel. Not only does the Star Venture have counterbalancers, it also has composite engine mounts (not rubber) to keep the nastiest of vibrations at bay. The result is a motorcycle with a V-twin sensation that is not overwhelming. You will not be fatigued by vibration on long trips.
4. Although not a V-4, the Venture does not want for power. The motor is all about low rpm torque to make things happen. The redline hits at an early 4750 rpm, with the torque peaking at about half that. The engine revs freely, so you’ll want to shift early when accelerating, as it hits the soft limiter quickly. Even at just 2000 rpm, it’s packing about 100 ft/lbs of torque, so there is no reason to wring it out.
5. There are two power modes, and they are distinctive. For most riding, the Touring mode is the way to go. The power delivery is softly insistent. When it comes time to pass, or you simply want that feeling of unencumbered acceleration, switch to the Sport mode. This is quickly accomplished by letting off the throttle and pushing a large button with your left thumb. To get back to Touring, just push the button again. Traction control is part of the electronics package—if it intervened, I never felt it.
6. Shifting is extraordinarily smooth. Big inch V-twins can be a clunky group when it comes to transmissions, but the Yamaha Star Venture is incredibly smooth. Despite having floorboards, Yamaha goes with a toe-only shifter for the six-speed gearbox. That’s not an issue, as it doesn’t take much effort to move the lever on upshifts. In fact, it is more than happy to accommodate clutchless upshifts under power, though we wouldn’t recommend that as a daily diet for the tranny.
7. Clutch action isn’t heavy due to an assist-and-slip design, though engagement is late. It’s easy to overrev away from stops until you get used to how far the lever has to get from the grip before the clutch fully engages. It’s not a big issue, though with a machine this size, earlier full-engagement makes the motorcycle easier to handle. I aggressively downshifted a number of times to confirm the slipper system works—it does.
8. With plenty of power, stability is a must on a big motorcycle, and the 2018 Yamaha Star Venture delivers. It is no surprise that the Venture has a rock solid feel at speed—the specs don’t lie. The wheelbase is over five-and-a-half feet and the non-adjustable 41mm forks are kicked out 31 degrees. Add to that a commanding weight of 963 pounds for the Transcontinental version we tested, along with a fat 200mm rear tire, and you know the Venture is planted on the road. Even in high wind conditions with 18-wheelers blasting by at closing speeds of around 140 mph or so, the Venture did not waver.
9. Although the frame-mounted fairing offers good protection, it doesn’t put you in a cocoon. Riders looking for a motorcycle with a still-air bubble behind the windscreen and fairing won’t find what they’re looking for in the Venture. There is always a bit of wind moving around, even with the electronically adjusted windshield at its highest position, the mid-fairing wind wings adjusted to direct air away from the rider, and the lower fairing vents closed. The key to getting the airflow to your liking is to pay close attention to the configuration of these three air management opportunities. Annoyingly, you have to go through the infotainment menu to adjust the windshield, or push buttons on the tank—we prefer a more accessible bar-mounted control.
10. In the twisties, the Star Venture acquits itself impressively. When riding a motorcycle that weighs nearly a half-ton before you get on it, you don’t expect much in the way of agility. However, the Star Venture is quite effective in the corners. As in a straight line, stability in fast corners is unquestioned—this bike goes where you point it. When you need to make a mid-corner correction, the Venture needs only a bit of body English and grip pressure to redirect itself. Even in tight corners, the Venture feels light on its feet. As satisfying as it is at high speeds through open terrain, it’s equally rewarding to hustle through the mountains.
11. Bridgestone Exedra tires are a known quantity, and they live up to their reputation. The Exedras help make the Yamaha a no-drama tourer. Stability is outstanding, as is braking feel. You can lean the Star Venture until you run out of cornering clearance with no protests by the tires. As a bonus, tire pressure monitoring is standard on the 2018 Yamaha Star Venture.
12. Braking is ready for the speeds the Venture easily attains. I’m a huge fan of the linked brakes, and use the foot pedal almost exclusively. It puts plenty of braking force on the 200mm rubber in the back, while adding just the right amount of pressure to the 298mm discs in the front. Yes, the front brake lever is there for the hardest stops, but with ABS to back you up, going with the triple-disc foot pedal is more than enough over 99 percent of the time. The ABS is well mannered and does its job fairly transparently.
13. Approachable ergonomics of the 2018 Yamaha Star Venture help make the tourer manageable. The grips and floorboards aren’t a long reach, and the seat height is a low 27.4 inches. As big as the Venture is, it doesn’t have an overwhelming feel. The bars are fairly low, though you can rotate them up quite a bit, if desired. In any case, you are still fairly upright on the Venture; there is only so much room on the floorboards to adjust your foot position to reduce fatigue.
14. The seat is a bit of a sore spot. As long-distance touring mounts go, the Venture’s seat is firm. The seat feels good for most of a 6.6-gallon tankful without stopping, but it eventually makes itself noticed. The seat has nice lumbar support, though it is no replacement for a full back support. We couldn’t find anyone who would want to run through a couple of tanks with just a stop for high-test, so plan on a lengthy lunch stop to give your posterior a change of pace. After an hour lunch break, I was fine for another tank-emptying run, but those with more sensitive rear ends will want to look into a cushier replacement.
15. The seat and grips are heated, and they get hot. Even when the temperature dropped to 42 degrees as I was flying through a wintery Mojave Desert, I didn’t need to go hotter than the middle of three heat levels on the seat or grips—even then, I was switching between low and medium. If you like to ride with the temperature near freezing, those heaters are ready for you. Adjusting the heating elements is a bit of a pain, though, as there aren’t dedicated buttons or switches—you must go through the menu of the infotainment system.
16. While the infotainment system in the Transcontinental Option Package is good, it’s not great. We’re all used to smartphones, and the intuitive user interface of the iOS and Android operating systems. It takes some time to learn the ins and outs of the Venture’s infotainment system and customize it to your needs. The system still relies on a cable to communicate with the rider via speakers and a microphone in the helmet (a Bluetooth interface may be a future option). Still, you have the features you expect, including GPS, multiple radio bands, limited interfacing with your smartphone via Bluetooth, a USB port, rider-to-passenger intercom, and various technical readouts.
17. Yamaha’s new Sure-Park System is great for nudging the Venture in parking lots. Pull out a huge lever on the left side of the engine, and the Venture is ready to become an electric motorcycle. Don’t worry—it won’t even go walking pace. Instead, you use a button on the left instrument pods to inch the Venture forward or backward as needed. There is a limit to its power—I have a somewhat steep driveway and the Sure-Park balked at taking the Venture up it. You will probably think you won’t need this feature, but it’s addictive in tight quarters.
18. We haven’t yet tested it with a passenger—though watch for a report soon—but the passenger accoutrements are nice. The backrest is 17 inches wide, the passenger gets her own music options (including controls), and there is an independent seat heater control that also warms up the backrest. With the Transcontinental Option Package, the two Venturers have 38 gallons of storage space for travelling.
19. The bags lock electronically, but they aren’t one-touch for opening. While I loved being able to push a button on the Yamaha Smart Key fob to lock and unlock the sidebags and trunk, they’re fiddly to open with gloves on and two hands are required. A system with automatic damped opening and closing lids would bring the bags up to luxury standards. As you would expect, you can put a couple of full-face helmets in the cavernous trunk; the sidebags look larger from the outside than they are on the inside, but they still have a good, usable capacity.
20. For those who like to tour at night, Yamaha has gone all LED with the 2018 Star Venture. With the four headlights on, you will not be wanting for vision, while the running lights and turn signals are highly visible. The fog lights on the Transcontinental version are also LED, and make the Venture even more conspicuous.
21. Not quite up to the latest technological standards, the 2018 Yamaha Star Venture establishes itself as a rider’s tourer. With a fantastic chassis and wonderfully responsive motor, the Star Venture is simply a great ride. Longest distance riders will want to personalize it a bit, while those who keep the daily mileage down to a couple of tankfuls will find very little to distract from pure touring enjoyment.
Photography by Don Williams
- Helmet: HJC RPHA 70 ST
- Communications: Sena 30K
- Jacket: Tour Master Transition Series 5
- Gloves: Cortech Scarab 2.0 Winter
- Base layer: Cortech Journey Coolmax Crew Neck
- Pants: Spidi J&K ProTex
- Base layer: Cortech Journey Coolmax Pant
- Boots: Tour Master Flex WP Dual Zip
2018 Yamaha Star Venture Specs
- Type: V-twin
- Displacement: 113ci (1854cc)
- Bore x stroke: 100 x 118mm
- Compression ratio 9.5:1
- Cooling: Air
- Valve train: Pushrod actuated overhead valves; 4 vpc
- Fuel delivery: Yamaha Fuel Injection w/ YCC-T and D-Mode
- Ignition: Transistor-controlled
- Transmission 6-speed
- Clutch: Assist-and-slip wet clutch
- Final drive: Belt
- Frame: Cast and forged steel w/ die-cast aluminum rear subframe
- Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable 46mm fork; 5.1 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted remote-reservoir gas shock w/ remote spring-preload adjustment;
- 4.3 inches
- Wheels: Aluminum alloy
- Tires: Bridgestone Exedra
- Front tire: 130/70 x 18
- Rear tire: 200/55 x16
- Front brakes: 298mm discs
- Rear brake: 320mm disc
- ABS: Standard, w/ linked braking
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 67.6 inches
- Rake: 31.0°
- Trail: 5.7 inches
- Seat height 27.4 inches
- Fuel capacity: 6.6 gal
- Estimated fuel economy: 34 mpg
- Wet weight: 957 pounds (Transcontinental: 963 pounds)
2018 Yamaha Star Venture Colors
- Granite Gray
- Raspberry Metallic
2018 Yamaha Star Venture Prices
- Standard: $24,999 MSRP
- Transcontinental Option Package: $26,999 MSRP