The Yamaha V Star Classic, in traditional cruiser form, boasts a SOHC, air-cooled, 70-degeree V-Twin. But to accommodate the cruiser enthusiasts who does not necessarily want to ride a hog (figuratively speaking), the engine is 649 cc. This contributes to an ultra-low 28-inch seat height and highly manageable 495 pounds (dry).
The bike also offers boatloads of chrome, a flashy, two-tone, pinstriped paint scheme and a manufacturer's suggested retail price below six grand. In a nutshell, the V Star Classic offers cruiser attitude without weighing heavily on your pocketbook or your driveway.MO took the V Star on an extended ride which included a bit of freeway, a healthy dose of city traffic and some twisties thrown in for good measure.
Sometimes, it's important to look past ones initial impressions. This was one such case.
In regards to the V Star, the aforementioned first impression was that of lackluster power and wimpy brakes.
A 500 pound bike with a shaft drive is a lot for a 650 twin to push around. But once a rider learns where the power resides (you have to rev it a bit), the V Star offers adequate thrust for real-world driving.
The same held true for the brakes. In other words, as saddle time increased, so did confidence in the binders. Weird.
Where the V Star shined in relation to other cruisers was handling.Palos Verdes, for example, is laden with sweeping turns and uneven pavement. Through it all, the V Star maintained its composure, though limited rear wheel travel meant a slightly bumpy ride.
It's also worth note that shifting was smooth and the clutch action was fairly light. Neutral, incidentally, was easy to find when you wanted it and never reared its ugly head when you didn't.
There were one tiny nit pick:
We wish the V Star had floorboards instead of foot pegs. First off, the pegs force you to position your right foot oddly to avoid touching the rear brake. And since the rider's legs are out in front, it's difficult to lift one's rear off the seat to reposition it. On a long trip, this could become a butt-numbing experience. Our test fleet's 800cc Kawasaki Vulcan Drifter, equipped with floorboards, exhibited neither of these problems.But wait! Yamaha Product Specialist Brad Bannister informs us the 2001 model comes equipped with floorboards. I guess we weren't the only ones with this tiny nitpick.
"We listen," Bannister said simply of Yamaha's attitude about giving customers what they want.
The wide handlebars, meanwhile, look cool and were positioned comfortably but prevented a few lane splitting opportunities.
On the plus side, we noticed the shape and layout of the tank allowed one to install a tank bag while still leaving the speedometer and gas cap exposed.
Minor details aside, the V Star Classic was supremely easy to maneuver in real-world riding situations. Though it could use a tad more power, the V Star never left its rider feeling a lack of confidence.But don't take our word for it, let's hear what MO's own mini tester, Sugi, had to say. For the record, Sugi is a scant 5 1/2 feet tall and weighs 100 lbs.
My first experience on a cruiser was a positive one for the most part. Although the bike was considerably heavier than the Honda NSR250 (two-stroke GP race-replica) I normally ride, it was a nice change to able flatfoot it at stoplights. The braking power on the V Star wasn't instantaneous, but I didn't experience any problems slowing the bike down either. Stopping was hard to get used to as you really felt the weight of the bike when coming to a standstill. I really had to concentrate because I didn't want to topple over. How embarrassing would that be (not to mention I probably wouldn't be able to pick the bike up)! To my chagrin, I couldn't quite reach the rear brake pedal comfortably. Once I was stopped though, it was a simple matter to shift my body a little bit so I could reach.I wasnt sure what to expect from a cruiser, but as a sportbike rider, I didn't have a very high opinion of them. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this was no Hardly-Ableson! Acceleration was quite smooth and the riding position was very comfortable. The vibrations were barely noticeable except in the seat. I dont think I'd be able to do a long ride without my butt falling asleep! Hmmm, maybe the bike could double as a butt massager for those really stressful days. The bike moved along quite nicely and was surprisingly nimble.
Although I still prefer to ride sportbikes, I can see the allure of cruisers. This bike makes it easy to enjoy yourself on a ride. It was extremely manageable both in size and power without feeling puny. Okay, now I think I'm ready for the Valkyrie! Hehehe.
2001 V Star Classic Specifications MSRP TBA $5899 (single tone purple) $5999 (two-tone silver/green) Note: available starting November 2000 Engine Type: 649cc, 40-Cubic Inch, SOHC, Air-Cooled, 70 V-Twin Bore x Stroke / mm: 81 X 63mm Compression Ratio: 9:1 Carburetion: (2) 28mm Mikuni Downdraft-Type Transmission: 5-Speed Final Drive: Shaft Front Suspension: Telescopic Fork, 5.5" of Travel Rear Suspension: Preload-Adjustable Single Shock, Link-Type, 3.9" of Travel Front Brake: 298mm Disc Rear Brake: 200mm Drum Front Tire: 130/90-16 Rear Tire: 170/80-15 Overall Dimensions (Length x Width x Height): 96.5" X 36.6" X 43.5" Seat Height: 28" Wheelbase: 64" Minimum Ground Clearance: 5.7" Fuel Capacity: 4.25 gallons Dry Weight: 495 lbs Color: Stardust Silver/Forest Green, Deep Purple, Onyx