2012 Yamaha V Star 950 Review
Big-cruiser feel of the nicely priced mid-displacement variety
Of the five V-Twin and two V-Four engines powering Star’s 2012 model lineup, the 942cc Twin of the V Star 950 sits square in the middle. Neither too big nor too small, it’s a proportionate motorcycle a biker-chic version of Goldilocks would consider just right.
Not to say the V Star 950 is especially effeminate, it’s not. I’ve spent time aboard the mid-displacement Star on a few occasions and its moderate size demonstrates that bigger is not always better. At $8,490, the V Star 950 is also a more affordable bike compared to its larger-displacement counterparts, while its sub-liter-size displacement can reduce insurance costs.
The 60-degree V-Twin engine powering the V Star 950 employs EFI, a 4-valve-per-cylinder, SOHC valvetrain with roller rocker arms and ceramic-composite plated cylinders, dissipating its heat into the passing breeze instead of a surrounding water jacket.
The Mikuni fuel injection system draws air from a three-liter airbox and fuel from a 4.5-gallon gas tank to feed their mixture to the two cylinders via dual side-draft throttle bodies. Once inside the 85mm x 83mm cylinders, two forged-aluminum pistons compress the mixture against pentroof combustion chambers at a 9.0:1 compression ratio. Spent gases flow into a 2-into-1 exhaust system featuring a dual expansion chamber muffler that sounds somewhat tinny. Fuel efficiency is a claimed 47 mpg.
The V Star 950 and the 950 Tourer (featuring leather-covered hard saddlebags, a backrest and a windscreen for an extra $1,000) come equipped with modest amounts of chrome, but owners can exercise the option to increase the amount of shiny parts through a copious selection of OE chrome components or darken the bike’s profile with the Jeff Palhegyi Signature Series of “Midnight” accessories.
The Liquid Silver standard 950 V Star at a recent press launch was outfitted with the following Star accessories:
- Quick-release short windscreen and mounts: $537.90
- Hard Saddlebags by HardStreet and mounts: $899.90
- Windshield Bag: $89.95
- Comfort Cruise solo seat: $299.95
- Big Bar engine guards: $179.95
- Custom Midnight covers: $426.70
- Running lights kit: $309.95
- Billet license plate frame: $84.95
- Chrome belt guard: $119.95
Grand total for all those goodies comes to $2,949, but let’s focus on the first two items, the quick-release windscreen and hard saddlebags. Together they retail for $1,438, increasing the price of the standard V Star 950 to more than the MSRP of the Tourer model. However, the Tourer’s windscreen is not of the quick-release variety, and given a choice between the two, we’ll take the quick-release windscreen and its ability to easily adapt the 950 Star to various duties. Mileage gobbling on your way to a weekend retreat, simply snap the windscreen in place before leaving then snap it off and remand it to your hotel room while tooling around the local area — very nice.
The HardStreet saddlebags, on the other hand, aren’t conducive to long getaways. Attractive and color-matched but short and narrow with only 3,600 cu. in. of volume, the bags aren’t meant for serious distances. A person can, however, choose to purchase the same bags found on Tourer model ($1,224 for bags and mounts) and increase the carrying capacity to a combined 4,600 cu. in.
Star has available less expensive saddlebag options, and there’s always the aftermarket, but the quick-release windscreen is a must-have convenience for which we’re willing to pay. The quick-release screen is available in short, medium and tall heights, but we preferred the shorter screen as it created minimal wind disturbance .
Maneuvering the V Star 950 is made easy by its wide bars, light wet weight (613 lbs.) and low seat height (26.6 in.). The air-cooled Twin isn’t as strong in the basement as larger displacement Star models and requires more shifting during spirited riding, but it will hold its own in the company of more expensive cruisers with bigger bores.
Clutch engagement is limited to within a short distance of the lever at the end of its throw, making parking lot maneuvers and U-turns more problematic than they should be, but with practice it becomes familiar.
Cost-cutting measures are apparent in the single front disc brake, which provides adequate but not forceful stopping power. Otherwise the V Star 950’s persona is one of a higher-priced cruiser. Surprisingly, its shallow-looking fuel tank holds 4.5 gallons of petrol, good enough for a 200+ mile range.
Introduced in 2009 to fill a void in Star’s 901cc to 1300cc cruiser lineup, the V Star 950 and its 950 Tourer sibling strike a sporty posture and a classic profile that is light of weight and quick in movement with modern components and minimal tinsel. The V Star 950’s price has grown $600 since its 2009 introduction, but at $8,490 the 950 remains a bargain among liter-class cruisers.
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