Star Roadliner S Scorecard

Editor Score: 94.75%
Engine 18.5/20
Suspension/Handling 14.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 9/10
Brakes 10/10
Ergonomics/Comfort 10/10
Appearance/Quality 10/10
Desirability 10/10
Value 9/10
Overall Score94.75/100

Setting yourself apart from the 45-degree, air-cooled population inhabiting cruiserdom is a difficult task. Style your V-Twin a bit too liberally and you attract only eccentrics while ostracizing the general cruiser enthusiast. Maintain conventional cruiser fashion and you’re just another dot in a Seurat painting of Harley-Davidson.

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Star Motorcycles designers managed a coup with the Roadliner S (and its Stratoliner brethren). While not quite as ostentatious as an Indian Chief and its iconic valanced fenders, you could slip a Star Roadliner S into the original, 1933 version of King Kong and no one watching the movie would be the wiser.

From its large, streamlined headlight nacelle to its tapered bullet blinkers and the stylized numerals of its speedo, the Roadliner S personifies Art Deco fashion. Not many cruisers, or motorcycles in general, can claim this attribute, making the Roadliner S unique.

2014 Star Roadliner S Gauges

The Roadliner’s attractive instrument panel looks like an expensive wristwatch, although its low placement on the fuel tank makes quick reference difficult.

Complementing its stand-apart styling is an air-cooled, pushrod Twin splayed at 48 degrees – while only a three-degree increase from the industry standard 45, it’s enough to be different while going largely unnoticed. The 1854cc engine is an attractive power plant with two pushrods inside each exterior tube actuating overhead valves. At the engine block the cylinders are narrow, expanding into large heads at the top – both with a jewel-like machining on the cooling fins.

2014 Star Roadliner S Dyno

A small hiccup on its way to 103.5 ft-lbs of torque is the only blemish on this otherwise impressive chart. An early fuel-injected engine, chopping the throttle results in drastic engine braking, lurching rider and passenger forward.

With a curb weight of 750 pounds the Roadliner isn’t exactly light, but the big cruiser carries its weight well. It feels substantial at freeway speeds but light on its feet when performing slow around town and parking lot maneuvers.

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Engine vibes are the same at idle as they are at 65mph, but anything above that speed begins stressing the five-speed transmission and giving the engine a busy feeling. Testers were constantly searching for a sixth gear when navigating SoCal’s freeway system.

2014 Star Roadliner S Action Left

The wide saddle, pullback handlebars and “floating floorboards” provide a comfortable rider triangle. The heel part of the heel/toe shifter is independently adjustable – a very nice detail. The hidden rear shock gives the Roadliner S a softail appearance.

The 2014 Roadliner S features chrome on most unpainted surfaces including its handlebar clamps, engine covers, rear fender stays, front pulley cover, front brake and clutch master cylinders, belt guard and fork and fork covers.

“Its switchgear feels like quality items, operating with an expensive, tactile feedback,” says Chief Editor, Kevin Duke.

The flangeless fuel tank holds 4.5 gallons. During our travels we recorded an average of 36 MPG (Star advertises 42 MPG), giving the Roadliner S a 162 mile range.

2014 Star Roadliner S Headlight

Handlebars are internally wired with electrical lines while the ignition features a slidable door for incognito concealment.

The Roadliner S rolls on an aluminum frame and a controlled-fill die-cast swingarm. The components are light while providing exemplary stiffness for handling cornering forces. Up front is a non-adjustable 46mm fork while the hidden rear shock is adjustable for preload only.

Twin, monoblock calipers grip a pair of 298mm discs. Combined with the large, single disc rear brake, the Roadliner exhibits exceptional stopping power and feel. However, Star does not provide optional ABS for the Roadliner.

In all, the $14,990 Roadliner S is an incredible value for a motorcycle with distinct style and impressive comfort and performance.

“I believe the Roadliner is one of the cruiser world’s most underappreciated models,” says Duke. “It’s lovely to look at, has a class-leading motor and offers up a distinct option for fans of big-inch cruisers. If Harley released such a bike, it would sell them by the truckload.”

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  • Craig Hoffman

    The Star’s engine is the most appealing of all the big cruisers. Curious why Harley seems to have such a hard time matching this similarly low tech powerplant’s output.

    • Rick Vera

      I’ve wondered that too. Star has only over the Choking Chicken 110. Consider further that this engine is the only engine and not some absurdly-priced upgrade, and this looks even more attractive. Between this and Indian’s new 111’s, Harley is going to have to do more than throw some baby radiators in the lowers if you ask me.

  • Hot Stuff

    I think the Japanese manufacturers have priced themselves out of competition with Harley in the large displacement cruiser market. One can get a Dyna with ABS for less than the price of this Yamaha. And a Harley Softail isn’t much more. Why buy the imitator when you can get “the real deal” for the same amount of cash?

    • Don Mercer

      Harleys are the “real deal” LMAO, get a clue, poser boy!

    • Rick Vera

      The Roadliner/Statoliner frame would be comparable to Harley’s FLHX Road King/Street Glide/etc. in terms of dimensions. The Dyna chassis is smaller than my V Star 950 and the Softail is more in line with one of Star’s older bike’s, the Road Star.

      While yes, the Harley has fantastic attention to detail, its off-cadence baritone exhaust much emulated and honestly has a better tech package (FLHX’s), Star has many attributes worth noting that simply shouldn’t be glossed over. The is one, the stellar aluminum, the art deco styling, and an attention to detail (chrome-tipped engine fins, steel fenders, finished tank, etc.) that bests any metric and, to my eye, even Victory.

      With that, Star’s Strainer is definitely worth a look when shopping for a Road King. If you want to save yourself some money and/or don’t care for the touring amenities, this Roadliner S comes in at a price point that’s hard to beat in a class almost by itself as every bike this big is a tourer and anything that’s not a tourer isn’t this big.

    • 7th_son

      Imitator?…even the CVO,s(starting at $25,000) won’t stay with the “Liner”…I know, because I have surprised more than a few CVO riders with my bike(Stratoliner Bagger). That 113 Engine has so much grunt down low that shifting down to pass someone is optional. Buy a Harley, and then spend whacks of dough to upgrade that Anemic Engine for another $5000 and still get blown away by my Strat!
      Ever try pulling a $15,000 Harley to 130 MPH?…forget it…the liner will do it right out of the crate…no mods…just a K&N Air Filter.
      My only complaint…I go through a lot of back tires with all that torque.

      Re: Engine vibration over 65….modified the floorboards…vibration is gone…

      • Pepe Alvarado

        How did you modify the floorboard to decrease vibrations?

        • 7th_son

          First of all, I bought a set of Kuryakyn floorboard covers. I then formed a series of 1/4″ diameter beads of clear silicone caulking on top the OEM boards…and then filled the screw sockets on the under side of the boards with wet silicone and carefully placed small washers in the wet silicone being careful not to let the washers touch the floorboards…Let the silicone fully cure(24hrs) and then placed the Kuryakyn covers on the OEM boards, screwed them on through the silicone isolated washers….YOU HAVE TO BE SURE THERE IS NO METAL TO METAL CONTACT between the Kuryakyn covers and OEM boards….you also need to make sure the throttle bodies are synced for smooth engine operation. I get a little vibration at around 85 MPH but it is smooth below or above that speed.

    • starker1971 .

      Why buy a crankshaft that isn’t solid forged as one piece ?

  • vtwinsrbest

    Have owned my Stratoliner since new in ’06. The quality of construction, engineering and form have only impressed me more as the miles accumulate. 27 thousand miles and only tires, brakes and oil changes. Like a lot of other owners, I would like to see a taller top gear for those 300 plus mile days. And I would not consider a new bike today that didn’t offer ABS as at least an option. But every time I take this bike out for a ride, I come back with a smile on my face!

  • John Wright

    Glad you call out the abrupt off throttle deceleration and ‘busy’ feeling engine over 65 mph. Yamaha really needs to listen. Thankfully, a Barron’s big air kit takes care of both issues. This really is an under appreciated bike. I love my 113 cu beauty.

  • 7th_son

    ” If Harley released such a bike, it would sell them by the truckload.”…too bad…,so sad…
    HD’s attitude of “We sell all we make anyway” attitude, gets in the way of real innovation like the Roadliner/Stratoliner Star Models….Polaris hit a home run with the new Indian Engine…but, just like the Roadliner the styling is not for everyone… the Star or the Indian…customize it and make it your own…The HD “collective” don’t know what they are missing.

  • starker1971 .

    A couple of photos in this review are of the Triumph Thunderbird. Doesn’t bother me since I don’t like pushrods 🙂