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2005 Yamaha Royal Star Tour Deluxe: MD First Ride

New for 2005 is Yamaha’s take on the all-purpose cruiser. The Royal Star Tour Deluxe features the same V-4 engine we loved in the Royal Star Venture (a dedicated touring bike reviewed by MD on January 21, 2003), with lower, more aggressive cruiser styling, and the ability to change from tourer to naked cruiser in a matter of seconds.

We raved about this V-4 engine in our Venture report for good reason. It is powerful (rated at 98 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, with 89 foot-pounds of torque at 4,750 rpm), extremely smooth (featuring a single counter balancer) and sounds good. It allows the Royal Star Tour Deluxe to pull well — even loaded with passenger and luggage.

With air adjustable suspension front and rear, and dual 320mm disc brakes up front, the Tour Deluxe also features a chassis that goes beyond your typical cruiser. This bike is a very good performer for the category, both in terms of engine performance and chassis performance (handling, suspension and braking).

The real story here is the flexibility of the design. Taking the Tour Deluxe from its “full dress” tourer mode (see our photos) to the naked, cruiser look literally took less than 30 seconds with Yamaha’s quick-release design for both the fairing and the passenger backrest. With the Tour Deluxe design, you are not likely to be “too tired or lazy” to make the bike look like you want it to — every time you ride it. A big plus for those riders who want one bike to have more than one look.

We only had the Tour Deluxe for a short time, but we did put a few hundred miles on it here in Southern California — riding solo and with a passenger. At first, the rear shock was way too soft, but a quick blast of air took care of that. We left the forks with their standard air pressure, and the bike balanced out very well. Take note of the rear suspension setting. At first, the bike wanted to wander on the freeway, and I lacked confidence in corners. Putting air in the rear shock raised the rear end of the bike a half inch, or so, and this made a huge difference, particularly, with a passenger aboard.

The front brakes on this bike are excellent. Whether being ridden solo or two-up, the bike stops quickly, smoothly and confidently, with good feel.

On a longer trip, with a passenger, the comfort level approaches that of a full-dress touring bike. Wind protection is excellent (with minimal wind buffeting — at least, for my 5’10” frame), the passenger backrest works well, and the luggage space provided by the saddlebags is surprisingly good. It doesn’t hurt that this bike comes with cruise control and excellent seats (a bit on the firm side, but generally comfortable).

Yamaha describes both 4th and 5th gears (the transmission is a five-speed) as “overdrives”. In practice, 5th gear is an overdrive, while 4th can be used for passing at higher speeds. In 5th, the bike is at a very low, relaxed rpm at freeway speeds.

Fit and finish of the Tour Deluxe is excellent (again, on par with Yamaha’s Venture). With classic cruiser style and excellent paint finish, our tester drew more than a few glances, whether being ridden with all of the accessories or naked.

Ergonomics are pretty standard cruiser fare. The floorboards (both for the rider and the passenger) isolate vibration excellently, and add to the comfort equation. The fairing lowers (which also shields the large airbox — the airbox that significantly boosts performance on this bike) are really a nice addition. Your legs stay much warmer and more comfortable in cool weather with this feature.

As stated, high speed handling is very good. Ground clearance in corners is limited (as it is with virtually all cruisers), but improved significantly when air was added to the rear suspension. The floorboards are the first to touch down (without drama or loss of control).

The 2005 Yamaha Royal Star Tour Deluxe proves to be a comfortable and versatile machine. With shaft drive, and the proven Venture engine, reliability should be good, as well. The Royal Star Tour Deluxe will be available here in the United States next month, in the charcoal silver and raven color (as shown on our test unit in the photos) or raspberry metallic and raven. U.S. MSRP is $13,999.