As you examine the photos in this story, please take note of the outstanding finish on the brightwork and paint. The Tour Deluxe looks great in pictures and absolutely stunning in person. It is obvious that Yamaha's product development people spent more than a few sleepless nights nailing-down the finish on this bike. I'm not really surprised though, as fit and finish was one of the things that helped Yamaha's Road Star Silverado win our recent Touring Cruiser Shootout. With bikes like the R1, Silverado and Tour Deluxe, it looks like Yamaha has well and truly raised its styling game.
When ridden as intended, the Tour Deluxe has an exceptionally smooth, comfortable and stable ride (as you would expect from the Royal Star platform) and it is blessed with by far the most comfortable cruiser seat I have ever tested. There is no mistaking this bike for a light and nimble 600 race rep, but it is far more capable than a bike this flashy and comfortable has a right to be. Clutch action is smooth and reasonably weighted and the gearbox is silky smooth and positive shifting. At parking lot speeds, the steering is light, but the wide bars mean that you have to move your hands pretty far for tight circles. Above parking lot speeds, the steering is solid, accurate and smooth, making the big Yamaha a joy to meander through country lanes.
Even though it sounds a bit V-Maxish in that healthy V-Four sort of way and though the Tour Deluxe shares a good deal of engine architecture with the V-Max, its engine character is closer to that of a steroidally enhanced Road Star V-Twin. The 1,294cc engine sounds great and pulls like stink, right up to the point where you'd expect the V-Boost to kick-in, then the tuned-for-torque motor quickly signs-off and begs for an upshift. Is it just me, or does it make perfect sense to slap an actual V-Max motor in this thing and let it eat? It's not like the chassis isn't up to the task and the added weight would naturally mellow the V-Max's hit. A bit of work with the polishing wheel and some faux finning, et viola! instant Badder-Ass Tour Deluxe. .
Ok, enough of my poseurish wannabe racer ramblings. The truth is, the Tour Deluxe's "Power" Cruiser status isn't in any danger, as its mill still puts out something in the neighborhood of 100HP to the ground, coupled with enough torque to send your neighbor's favorite V-Twin running for the hills.
If you choose to chase that neighbor into the hills, you will be happy to learn that this big Yamaha is willing to play and handles quite a bit better than expected. Much of this is due to the fairly high mounting of its floorboards and good (for a cruiser) overall ground clearance. There is a hint of shaft-drive-jack, but it isn't bothersome and can be used to slightly increase ground clearance, when you accelerate through corners. I have it on good authority, that the 700+Lb Tour Deluxe is quite happy to hack-sideways into corners, do burnouts and perform other sophomoric pranks, if its owner is as immature as the average motojournalist. I spent a good part of an exceptionally fun day, chasing Darb Retsinab through the VA countryside and the bike was happy to do anything I asked of it. True, it is wise to remember the Tour Deluxe's weight when planning your stops, but its brakes never faded or gave a hint of protest. All in all, I would say this is a thoroughly engineered and well executed package that (much like the original Honda GL1000 Gold Wing) is capable of performing well beyond its intended role.
Neat touches abound on this bike. The quick-release windscreen and sissy bar can be mounted or removed in seconds and attach in a similar manner to Harley's convertible accessories. However, the Yamaha attachment system seems much more solid than the Harley system and engages with a nice, positive click! Removing the windscreen and sissy bar/passenger backrest has a dramatic effect on the Tour Deluxe's overall look, transforming the bike from comfortable cruiser to long and low boulevard blaster in a blink of an eye. The saddlebags are nicely styled and offer ample storage and a load carrying capacity of 20Lbs each. They open wide and give easy access, with positive latches that are easy to operate one-handed. As an added bonus, Yamaha includes a 5-Year Parts, Labor & Roadside Assistance Warranty on every Royal Star and Royal Star Tour Deluxe. Couple these features with the aforementioned uber-comfortable seat, good performance and best in class paint and chrome and you come up with a bike that scores high on the "Me Want one" scale.
PAGE 2Before you go off thinking I'm blinded by its goodness, let me add that the Tour Deluxe has three niggling traits, one is easy to fix and two are a bit tougher to rectify.
First, the stock windscreen is great for cold weather and/or rain, but it keeps the air a bit too still and leads to a stuffy cockpit on hot days. This is easily (and handsomely) fixed by buying the short windscreen from the accessory catalog and taking 10 seconds (see video above) to swap it with the full height windscreen. My second complaint is the speedo which is styled like American car dashes from the 60's and 70's with a sweep needle that covers a broad swipe from left to right (see video). It's sort of neat-o, but instead of windscreen for the Tour Deluxe.using an actual needle and stepper motor, Yamaha decided to use a grey LCD display that totally ruins the retro theme and is hard to read in the daytime. This isn't as easy to fix, but isn't really that big of a deal either. Another complaint is the bulbous radiator shrouds that do a great job of shielding your lower legs, but block cooling airflow and look like something my cat just coughed-up.
Though the Tour Deluxe looks like a cruiser, its original engineering and ergonomics are more in the standard/tourer mold, which means that it has a dynamic advantage from the get go. I suppose comparing the Tour Deluxe's road manners and performance with bikes that place engineering second to looks isn't really fair. However, if Yamaha can make a properly engineered motorcycle look this good, perform this well and fit into so many roles, I say tough ti**y, ain't competition grand! When ridden as a power cruiser or touring cruiser, I think the $13,999 Tour Deluxe only has (had) one potential challenger and that's the recently discontinued Honda Valkyrie. If you're mourning the loss of the Valk, dry your eyes and head over to your Yamaha dealer.
|2005 Royal Star Tour Deluxe Specifications|
** SPECS PROVIDED BY YAMAHA **