2018 Yamaha Star Venture
That’s the tagline Yamaha’s been touting for the new bike that’s been teased over the past few weeks, the new Star Venture. After seeing all the goodies Yamaha has packed into their new bike, I’m betting most people are going to journey farther, as well.
Yamaha’s premier touring machine was the V Star 1300 Deluxe, which sports a handlebar-mounted fairing, saddlebags, and an 80-inch engine. While 80 cubes certainly gets the job done, the 1,304 cc engine is no match for the 100-plus-inch engines that newer touring designs are packing, and the lack of a top box means Yam didn’t even offer a full-dress machine. Pity, because Yamaha’s had some really wonderful touring machines in the past, like the Venture Royale and Star Royal Venture, both heavy hitters in their day, which explains why that nameplate has been dusted off. Get yourself a frosty beverage and hunker down, because the spec sheet is going to take a bit to get through.
The new Star Venture ($24,999) is built upon a hybrid frame (steel main section with an aluminum subframe). The bike is motivated by a new air-and-oil-cooled engine. The 113 ci (1,854 cc) is an eight-valver, and compression is a healthy 9.5:1. The new mill also sports dual counterbalancers, presumably to keep vibrations mellow. Output is a tarmac-twisting 126 foot-pounds of torque produced at just 2,500 rpm. Hydraulic lifters should remove any need to perform valve adjustments. Power is fed through a six-speed gearbox, and final drive is via a belt. The throttle is electronic (“fly-by-wire”), and Yamaha has also fitted the Star with two throttle modes (touring and sport), in addition to a traction control system. (The Common Tread staff believes this is the first time we’ve seen TC on a full-dress touring outfit.) Brakes are linked, and ABS at this price (and time) probably doesn’t even need to be announced. Cruise control is standard, as is a slip ‘n’ grip clutch. (The clutch offers assist as well as slip function, to provide tamer lever pull.)
Another bit of ancillary engine kit that’s going to contribute to “further journeying” is the Star Venture’s twin alternators, pumping out a combined (and staggering) 750 watts. That electrical output will surely power all manner of aftermarket accessories, but there are quite a few gadgets on the bike that need the juice, too. Sure-Park, for example, is a small electrical motor engaged with a lever and controlled by a button on the handlebar, to aid in low-speed parking situations. It can be driven both forward and backwards. Note that this is not simply a repurposing of the starter motor, but a dedicated motor exclusively for parkin'. There’s also an electrically adjustable windscreen, heated grips, and heated seats and heated backrests for rider and pillion. The power-locking Tour Trunk and saddlebags will also sip some electricity as well. The infotainment system relays info and ‘tainment via a seven-inch screen, said to integrate music, navigation, communications, and vehicle information in a “single system that sets new standards for two-wheeled technology.”
The Venture is definitely set up to tour: The rider backrest is adjustable, TPMS is standard, and this bike wears a 6.6-gallon tank, which provides a 200-mile range. Lighting is all-LED for conspicuity and efficacy (four LED headlights across the front should permit the odometer to keep rolling along deep into the night). Storage capacity will be welcome to chronic overpackers: Star Venture has over 38 gallons of room. The Tour Trunk is said to swallow two full-face helmets with room to spare, and both rider and passenger are treated to multiple storage compartments. (Three for the rider, and two for the pillion.) Yamaha also included a remote rear hydraulic preload adjuster. (Nice work, guys. This is a lifesaver for those of us who commute and haul a sweetheart.)
Everything so far has been standard. Kind of makes you wonder what the hell could be optional on this bike, doesn't it? For another two grand, a rider can opt to purchase the TransContinental Option package, which includes GPS nav, SiriusXM satellite radio, upgraded audio system, a CB (Who still uses a CB?), LED fog lights, and a security alarm.
Now for my favorite part: my unsolicited opinion. I am imagining most of you had the same initial thought as mine, and it hasn't changed after a few hours of mulling it over: This bike is ridiculous. It catapults Yamaha back into the touring market. Yamaha simply has not been a player in high-speed, high-mileage touring for far too long. Long-haul riding is no longer dominated by the "More of the same-ol', please!" crowd. Touring rigs are now cutting-edge machines that often showcase the best technology and design the manufacturer has to offer.
On paper, this bike looks every bit as tantalizing as anything Harley or Indian has sitting on a dealership floor. And as much as I love the Wingy, this bike pretty much puts Honda on blast. The Gold Wing can’t be the de facto king if similar money can buy a bike that’s packed with this much grandeur. I mean, jeez. Sit back and just bask in the majesty. The only item that causes me to raise an eyebrow is the paint. Raspberry Metallic and Granite Gray look peachy, but at the sticker price, I think some riders will expect a wider selection.
Riders are going to snap these up if they’re fun to ride. The only thing I’m gonna enjoy more than this review is the return salvo from the other manufacturers. I can’t wait to find out how these ride and put Mrs. Lemmy on the ass-end of one and see how long we can stretch our time on the tarmac… to “journey further,” as it were.