Yamaha Star Power

Yamaha, long the most cruiser-conscious Asian motorcycle maker, has rebranded its cruiser line as Star Motorcycles. Yamaha was the first Japanese manufacturer with a real line of cruisers, rolling out its Special series in the late 1970s. It built the first modern Japanese tandem V-twin in ’81 with the Virago 750 the first bike carrying a Japanese engine built specifically for the cruiser market. In ’96, Yamaha raised the bar again with its Star-series motorcycles, which brought classic style, high-end finishes, appropriate technology and easy personalization to the mix. The Star series has been extremely successful (and profitable) and has attracted solid aftermarket support and tremendous customer enthusiasm.


Powered by a 1854cc air-cooled V-twin, the Star Roadliner has an aluminum frame wrapped in elegant, eye-pleasing lines inspired by the streamliner styling of the ’30s. The streamliner era of styling was prompted by the first aerodynamic advances back in the ’20s and ’30s. It inspired the designs of everything from trains to toasters and delivered some of the prettiest automobiles in memory. That theme echoes through the Roadliner’s sweeping fenders and flow-through lines.

The eight-valve pushrod engine shares the same 48-degree V angle of the Road Star series, but has a 100mm bore and 118mm stroke (compared with 97 x 113mm for the 1670cc engine), moves the transmission mainshaft 5mm farther from the crankshaft and inhales through dual fuel-injector throats. An EXUP valve, a cruiser first, increases the efficiency of the 2-into-1 exhaust, and a big oil-cooler keeps the fluids temperate.

Buyers will have three versions to choose from when the Roadliner hits showrooms this fall, with the base model retailing for just under $14,000. As with other Star Motorcycles, there will be a blacked-out Midnight version of the Roadliner for about $1000 more. Topping the series will be the Roadliner S (expected to have an MSRP under $16,000), which will feature additional chrome and polish throughout.

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