One of the latest offerings from Yamaha Star Motorcycles is the new V-Star 1300 Deluxe, a midsize bagger ready to hit the open roads in style and comfort - but with a lot of emphasis on comfort.
The V-Star Deluxe is more than your standard cruiser yet it isn't packed to the hilt with long-haul amenities like you might find on all-out full-dress cruisers. It fits somewhere in between, which is why the folks at Star Motorcycles refer to this trunkless-style bagger as a Casual Full Dress (CFD) Tourer. But don't worry, this machine is still very presentable for the big dance and is certainly well suited for long hauls, as it has some pretty cool features that will make some of the full dressers jealous.
You've seen much of this motorcycle before. It's core is identical to that of the standard V-Star 1300 and V-Star 1300 Tourer in that it's propelled by the same 60-degree V-twin SOHC 1340cc (80 cubic inch) water-cooled motor and rolls on the same double-cradle steel chassis and suspension as the other two models. It has more in common with Tourer, however, but Star has taken the Deluxe one step farther - like giving it an all-new handlebar-mounted fairing with a tall windscreen. But it's what tucked away inside the fairing that makes the Deluxe, well, just that - deluxe. Within the fairing is a very cool audio system with satellite radio capabilities, and it’s all integrated into a very sweet GPS navigation system. It’s all stuff we dig and that really sets it apart from the other bikes in its class. Not to mention its appealing $13,690 price tag, which is $3,400-$6,000 less than its primary competitors, like the Kawasaki Vaquero and Harley Street Glide.
Within plain sight and easy reach of the rider's finger tips is a Garmin Zumo 665 GPS unit, which is motorcycle friendly, meaning it's waterproof and you can operate the touch screen while moving and without having to remove your gloves, though we didn’t get the chance to try it out with large winter gloves on our paws. For security, the GPS is easily detachable, and it can even be used in other vehicles, like your car whenever the V-Star is parked in the garage. It also comes with Bluetooth capabilities, lane assist, 3D building view, voice directions, and a lifetime of free map updates.
Besides offering SiriusXM satellite radio capabilities, there is an audio plug inside the safe confines of the left side bag for your iPod, or iPhone, which can be controlled by a hand controller on the left handlebar. The plug fits the iPhone 4S and earlier models, so you'll need an adapter for the iPhone 5 or newer iPod. The convenient hand controller adjusts volume and music tracks, and a mode button allows you to toggle between the iPod and the satellite radio audio source. However, there is no display information when your iPod or iPhone is playing.
The Deluxe's Deep Blue color-matched hard bags are new, too. They are top loading and locking and with 15.2 gallons of total storage capacity it holds more stuff than does the V-Star Tourer's bags, which offers 10.0 gallons of total storage space.
Star recently introduced the new V-Star 1300 Deluxe to the media in Santa Barbara, California, where we got a chance to take it out for a quick test run. In the performance department, we didn't expect it to be much different than the previous V-Star 1300s, and it isn't. Like the standard 1300, it delivers good power but is a little "revvy" compared to the other big-bubba cruiser bikes around town, but that is to be expected from this midsizer. There's little vibration, shifting is remarkably smooth, clutch pull is light, and the exhaust system delivers a throaty rumble, but is hardly intimidating. Throttle response is instantaneous and very smooth, even at parking-lot speeds.
Need more entertainment? The Deluxe features a powerful audio system, as well as GPS navigation. Photography by Brian J. Nelson
Performance-wise, our only real concern about the Deluxe was handling - would the Deluxe handle any differently (okay, worse) with the additional weight of the fairing, windscreen, GPS and audio system, which includes two large speakers, all bolted on to the front end? From what we could tell, no. But we have to admit that it's been a while since we last rode either of the previous V-Star 1300s, but Star engineers did seem to do a fantastic job keeping everything well-balanced and centralized up front. They kept everything, including the two speakers, in tight, low and pulled back, so you don't really feel that added weight up there. For a fairly big bike, the V-Star steers light and offers excellent feedback through the Deluxe’s wide handlebars, giving you comfort and great confident-inspiring leverage. The front end never felt loose or shaky at any speeds, and you never give it a thought when taking a hand off the handlebar, which we found ourselves doing a little more than usual because of the navigation and audio gadgets.
As a whole, however, the V-Star does feel a little top heaving compared to some of the other comparable cruisers we've ridden lately, but the low 27-inch seat height overrides that small issue. We found the seat to be quite comfortable – good enough for a good one-day ride but not without a few lengthy breaks in between - and the bike was roomy enough for our 6’1” test rider. He even felt the tall-enough windscreen offered very good protection without too much buffeting and excessive wind noise.
Overall, the Star is still a solid and sweet-handling and comfortable machine. In fact, it’s a pussycat. When pushed in the turns, however, you’ll find there isn’t a lot of footboard clearance, so beware.
Suspension offers a fairly plush ride for just a few inches of wheel travel at each end, again making long days in the saddle quite tolerable.
And another thing making long stretches more tolerable is the Star's impressive audio system, which provides welcomed entertainment for those – and there always is - dull sections of road. It is powerful and surprisingly clear, and just plain pleasant sounding. After one day on the bike, we figured out all of the switches and buttons and their functions – at least the important ones – but we still have some learning to do. Most of the audio functions are controlled through the GPS’s touch screen, which can be operated while in motion and, as mentioned, is right there in front of you, making it easy to reach and to keep your eyes close to the road. And, the audio volume also automatically increases and decreases with speed. Overall, both the audio and navigation system are fairly intuitive, and we were impressed by how simple it is to remove the GPS from its integrated housing so you can take it with you when walk away from the bike.
Despite the new audio and navigation systems, and new fairing, Star managed to keep the “V” in value. At just $13,690, the V-Star 1300 Deluxe is priced significantly less than most of its comparable rivals and you really do get a lot for the money – a very good-performing bike that’s easy to ride, looks good and even sounds good, and we’re not talking about exhaust note (although that’s pretty good, too). And you certainly don’t have to worry about getting lost.
To top things off, Star will be offering plenty of accessories for the Deluxe.
Star says this bike will appeal to the rider who wants an affordable touring motorcycle with great value that will allow the ability to travel long distances in comfort, but also offer the simple everyday convenience of a bike with fairing and bags to commute with.
From what we can tell so far, we say, they’re right.