2012 Yamaha and Star Motorcycles Model Preview

It's evolution, not revolution, for Yamaha and its cruiser brand


As the 2012 model year arrives and the economy is struggling to pick itself up, the major OEMs have stayed rather conservative on releasing new models — choosing instead to give their current lineup a refreshing of sorts, even if that only means adding a different paint scheme or new decals. The “Bold New Graphics” approach, as we industry types call it.

Yamaha and its cruiser line, Star Motorcycles, is one of those manufacturers erring on the side of caution with next year’s street lineup. This despite being the second-best selling brand for cruisers 900cc and up last year (behind some company from Milwaukee...), and with the Raider being the best selling “high end” metric cruiser above 1300cc for the same time period. On the sport side of things, Josh Herrin’s and Josh Hayes’ success on the YZF-R6 and R1, respectively, have done little to convince Yamaha to come out with something new. But that’s not to say the company doesn’t have some exciting surprises in store.

2012 Yamaha and Star Motorcycles Model Preview

First some bad news: those hoping Yamaha would unveil a new YZF-R6 for 2012 will be disappointed. The same basic model we’ve seen since 2008 will see its way into another year, although freshened up with some different paint schemes. In fact, not only is the R6 the same from last year, the FJR1300A, FZ1, FZ8, FZ6R and WR250R are all copies of the 2011 versions with new colors and price hikes of $100 - $200.

On the Star side, models returning from last year are the V Star 950, V Star 950 Tourer, V Star 1300, V Star 1300 Tourer, Road Star, Road Star Silverado, Stryker, Raider and Venture. These are unchanged except for different color options and a price increase of $100 compared to 2011.

New For 2012

The following models all receive updates for 2012. Some are minor, while others are rather dramatic.

Yamaha YZF-R1
$13,990 - 14,490

We begin with Yamaha and the YZF-R1, which is the only street motorcycle in its lineup to receive a significant upgrade for 2012. In keeping up with Kawasaki’s ZX-10 and many of the European sportbikes, the R1 will now be fitted with traction control featuring seven levels of intervention. Coupled with the R1’s existing three-level Drive Mode selector, the new ECU has 21 different settings to choose from. Details regarding the sophistication of the traction control and the amount of sensors involved were unavailable as of press time.

2012 Yamaha and Star Motorcycles Model Preview

We do know the ECU settings get a tweak for better low-and-mid rpm response and the footpegs have been redesigned for better grip and contact with the rider’s boot. The top triple clamps are also revised, now with a more YZR-M1 MotoGP-esque look to them. Visually it may look the same, but there are subtle changes to the headlight cowling for a more aggressive appearance. In the rear, the exhaust heat shields and end caps get massaged for a svelter backside. To commemorate 50 years of Grand Prix racing, just 2000 R1s worldwide will be adorned with the 50th anniversary white and red color scheme Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies have worn at select races on the MotoGP calendar this year.

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Yamaha is planning a street and track ride aboard the T/C-outfitted R1 next month and we’ll be there. Look for a review shortly after. That’s it for Yamaha. Here’s more on Star.

V Star 250
$4190

2012 Yamaha and Star Motorcycles Model Preview

The machine that many riders started their motorcycle journey on is back for 2012 with a minor change. Instead of the sweeping handlebars on the previous version, Star is bringing the 250 in line with the times with a new, drag-style unit. Otherwise, the diminutive starter bike sees no other significant updates. Available only in black, err...Raven, the V Star 250 gets a $100 bump in price compared to 2011.

VMax
$19,890

On the complete opposite end of the scale from the 250 is the VMax, Star’s power cruiser that ruled the muscle-bike category before the classification even existed. Like many models in Star’s 2012 lineup, the mighty Max gets only a smattering of cosmetic changes. This includes matching the side cover’s color with the intake cover and switching from red seat stitching to grey, to make the bike’s overall appearance more cohesive.

Roadliner S/Stratoliner S
$15,390/$16,590

2012 Yamaha and Star Motorcycles Model Preview

In case you were wondering where the Roadliner and Stratoliner S were in Star’s lineup for 2011, Star’s Kevin Foley says “that due to the economic climate these models were ‘delayed’ for the 2011 model year to better balance supply in our dealer channel to current market demand.”

But the two are back this year and with a few changes. Market research indicated that consumers felt the “over the top” styling made the models a little polarizing. Responding to this criticism, the new Roadliner and Stratoliner feature a new tank emblem with a single bar instead of the tri-bar design previously employed. The front fender stay seen on the previous model is now removed, all in an effort to give the two models a broader appeal. The Roadliner is available in Seashell, while the Stratoliner comes in Intense Black.

Stratoliner Deluxe
$17,990

2012 Yamaha and Star Motorcycles Model Preview

With the Roadliner and Stratoliner being criticized for its polarizing design, it’s only natural that the Stratoliner Deluxe receive similar changes in the looks department. The fuel tank gets the single-bar tank emblem and gone is the front fender stay. When it comes to the Deluxe model, however, consumers also cried for more features. Star responded with an integrated iPod/iPhone player with controls located on the handlebar. Chrome trim now greets the speakers as well, but the most convenient feature is the new Garmin Zumo 665 GPS, Garmin’s top-of-the-line GPS designed specifically for motorcycle applications.

Integrated into the Stratoliner Deluxe’s audio system, the Garmin’s flip-down design makes it easy to reach the ignition or stow the unit away when off the bike. It can connect via Bluetooth to send directions directly to the rider’s helmet. With the optional Sirius/XM subscription you can listen to satellite radio and get weather, traffic and road condition warnings.

Raider/Raider S/Raider SCL
$14,590 - $19,990

2012 Yamaha and Star Motorcycles Model Preview

The Raider and Raider S return for 2012 virtually untouched from their 2011 iterations, save for different color options and a $100 bump in price compared to last year.

The big news from Star is a new concept called SCL, or Star Custom Line. Basically, SCL cruisers are “factory customs.” Similar in scope to Harley-Davidson’s H-D1 Customization program, SCL speaks to Star’s tagline of “We build it, you make it your own.”

Initially, the Raider will be the first model to get the SCL treatment, which includes a six-layer painting process of Blazing Orange with custom graphics, custom chrome wheels that were co-developed with Performance Machine, chrome belt guard, stainless mesh throttle cables and brake/clutch lines, and a genuine leather two-tone seat with color-matched stitching. Only 500 SCL Raiders will be produced, as noted by the numbered, limited-edition tank badge, and unfortunately, customers can’t pick and choose which options they’d like on the Raider SCL — you either take it or leave it. Also, if you’re thinking about making a replica of the SCL Raider yourself by buying these motorcycle parts through the Star accessories catalog, don’t bother — many of these items are exclusive to the SCL line.

2012 Yamaha and Star Motorcycles Model Preview

So far the SCL only consists of the Raider SCL, but expect SCL versions of other popular Star models down the pipeline. At $19,990, the Raider SCL is an attractive offer for a factory custom, and hopefully we’ll get to ride it, along with the rest of the 2012 Star line, come February during Star’s official press event.

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View all Photos PHOTOS & VIDEOS

2012 Star Motorcycles Preview RaiderS_blk_S3
2012 Star Motorcycles Preview RaiderS_blk_S3
2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 50th 04
2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 50th 04
2012 Star Motorcycles Preview Stryker_red_S3
2012 Star Motorcycles Preview Stryker_red_S3
2012 Star Motorcycles Preview VS1300_red_S2
2012 Star Motorcycles Preview VS1300_red_S2
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