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MD First Ride: 2007 Star Motorcycles V-Star 1300 and V-Star 1300 Tourer (Part One)

When the engineers at Star Motorcycles set out to design a mid-size cruiser to replace their aging V-Star 1100, they had some pretty ambitious design goals. We gave you a brief preview of the V-Star 1300 when it was announced on June 25, 2006. In the rapidly growing mid-size cruiser class (18% sales growth since 2002), buyers are looking for the look, feel, and character of a “big bike”, with the light weight and easy handling of a smaller cruiser. To that end, the all-new V-Star 1300 was designed to offer performance and character competitive with many larger bikes, while maintaining the weight and handling characteristics of its predecessor, the V-Star 1100.

Star engineers started out by developing a powerplant that carries an unprecedented amount of technology for a mid-size cruiser. We’ll get deeper into the technical specs in Part Two of this review (coming next week), but for now, you should know that while the V-Star 1300 appears to be a traditional air-cooled, pushrod V-Twin, it actually features an artfully designed and concealed water-cooling system, along with single overhead camshafts operating four valves per cylinder! These, along with a plethora of other advanced features, add up to what Star claims is “best in class performance”, and we’re inclined to believe them after riding the bike. With claimed gains of 13hp and 18ft/lbs of torque over the older 1100 motor, the V-Star 1300 offers performance which feels nearly equivalent to the 1500-1600cc cruisers that, up until a few years ago, were the largest and most powerful bikes in the cruiser category.

All this technology is crammed into a package that is dimensionally identical to the old 1100, and the claimed dry weight of the new 1300 is only 29lbs greater than that of the older 1100 (comparing the faired and bagged Touring versions). For the most part, the V-Star 1300 maintains the light handling characteristics of the old 1100, due not only to its similar weight but also to an all-new frame and suspension components.

So, has Yamaha succeeded in building a mid-size cruiser that combines the power and feel of a full-size (1500-1600cc) model with the weight and handling of an 1100? You’ll have to wait until Part Two to hear exactly what I think, but for now, the answer is a qualified yes.