In the land of cruisers, bigger truly is better. Two years ago, Yamaha introduced its Road Star, featuring a 98 cubic inch (1600cc) v-twin with 99 foot pounds of torque arriving at 2250 rpm at the crank. The Road Star is the torque king of production v-twins, and features the largest displacement production cruiser engine at this point.
With a five-speed transmission transferring power from the huge pushrod motor to the rear wheel via belt drive, the Road Star has all of the features you would expect in a classically designed cruiser. Modern engineering touches like four valves per cylinder, forged pistons and ceramic composite cylinder bore plating evidence Yamaha’s commitment to performance and durability with this machine.
The long, 66.3 inch wheelbase contains a beautifully designed and detailed machine. As it had with its Royal Star cruiser a few years earlier, Yamaha painstakingly, and effectively, styled the Road Star to reflect the classic cruiser look. From the huge engine to the rear view mirrors, from the spoked front wheel (with twin disc brakes) to the tail light and turn signal treatment, Yamaha sweat every last detail of this design.
Yamaha wanted more than good looks, however, and it aimed the Road Star at the top of the v-twin cruiser class. Although the engine and belt drive are part of the look, they are a big part of the performance of this machine — which comes through with stump-pulling torque and smooth, strong acceleration (with engineered-in “pulse”, as Yamaha puts it).
The seat height is low, and the ergonomics comfortable. The reach to the bars and the forward mounted floor boards, with heel and toe shifter, all seem in the right place.
Clutch pull is easy and the engagement is predictable — allowing smooth departure from a stop. Gear changes were predictable (no missed shifts).
With 677 pounds of motorcycle underneath you, you might expect the Road Star to be clumsy in the handling department. It isn’t. For such a massive machine, the Road Star is surprisingly easy to ride. Although that weight requires respect (and the Road Star certainly doesn’t handle like a sport bike), for the mega-cruiser class, Yamaha has delivered predictable handling, both around town and on the highway.
The dual disc brakes up front are appreciated (many big-bore cruisers feature a single disc). Hauling down this much motorcycle, the front brakes are definitely put to the task, and stopping distances are not in the sport bike class, either. For the heavy weight cruiser class, once again, the Road Star delivers good braking performance, with both decent feel and good power.
We tested the Silverado edition, with windshield and saddlebags. Freeway cruising behind the windshield is comfortable — although some buffeting above 65 mph was experienced at the helmet level of my long-waisted, 5’11″ frame. The compliant suspension, combined with good roll-on power in top gear (not surprising, given the massive torque generated by this motor) made my freeway time fun and comfortable.
The Road Star Silverado’s seat is firm and supportive. Extended freeway rides were completed without significant back or butt ache. This was surely helped by the windshield, which kept the cruiser-style seating position from resulting in significant wind blast on the Interstate.
The saddlebags offered by Yamaha are attractive, durable looking, and surprisingly spacious. They certainly add to the functionality of this machine, particularly when running errands around town or taking short, overnight trips.
The paint quality, fit and finish, and features of the Road Star are all top notch. A 5.3 gallon fuel tank allows reasonably long trips without refueling, while the tank-mounted speedometer provides more information than you would expect from most cruisers, including odometer, dual trip meters, clock, fuel gauge and indicator lights for low fuel, high beam, turn signal, neutral and engine diagnostics.
For 2001, Yamaha offers new paint schemes and design elements in its Road Star line, including the stunning Midnight Star. Take a look at Yamaha’s web site for further details.
At an MSRP of $12,399, Yamaha’s Road Star Silverado offers top-notch style, performance and convenience in the cruiser-tourer category. It also offers tremendous value compared to the pricey American competition. By all accounts, the Road Star line has been hugely successful for Yamaha — a fact we are not surprised by after our time with this machine.