2006 Star Roadliner
Star Looks to the Past to Find the Future
"The more things change the more they stay the same."
One could apply this adage to Star Motorcycles' approach to their latest bike release, the Roadliner. Anyone who is a fan of art deco "streamlining" will immediately see Star's attempt to reach back in time, at least in terms of styling. As Star's marketing material says, "It was a design era driven by emotion, not logic." And they dictate that it's "Star's original and unique direction (within the cruiser world)."
If nothing else, Star designers have done an impressive job of staying true to their styling direction. The Roadliner is a very attractive bike and it often garnered looks while stopped at an intersection or parked along the curb. Although color choices and use of the shiney stuff as styling cues are subtle, overall the bike is a pleasure to behold. With swoopy lines, low saddle height and wide, beach-cruiser style handlebars the `Liner certainly harkens to the `30s and `40s eras of motorcycle appearance. Some will probably even make the comparison to Indians of yore.
Coming in three trim levels, the Roadliner, Roadliner Midnight and Roadliner S, Star is vying for your attention whether you like your bikes in chrome or not-so-chrome. The Roadliner model comes in Black Cherry paint with most of its shinny bits polished. The Midnight variation, as you probably guessed it, is essentially all blacked-out. And the Roadliner S comes in either Pearl White or Charcoal/Bronze with all of it's bling-bling being chrome rather than painted to look chrome or just polished aluminum.
These bikes, as mentioned before, are real lookers. Star spent a lot of time focusing on every detail. For instance, the headlight is not only one large piece of chrome artwork but it also conceals the ignition when not in use by means of a sliding cover. All switchgear wiring is routed through those big, wide handlebars. The mirrors, master cylinders, levers (including foot controls), engine covers, exhaust, pushrod covers, cylinder head covers, cooling fins, signal light stems, handlebar clamp and a number of other items are either polished or chrome, depending on the model. The exception to this flashy dream is the Midnight model, which as mentioned earlier, is draped in black. Simply reading this brief description might have you running for the hills for fear of another chrome monster, but Star was discrete; they put the shine in all the right places. Nothing about this bike is gaudy. "Sophisticated" and "classy" are adjectives that spring to mind when you spend some time taking in this new era streamliner.
Another nice feature is the "multi-function meter", or gauge cluster as most know it. Being all one piece centered on the fuel tank, it's easy to take a quick glance downward and see how easily you can break the basic speed law while you watch the analog speedometer. The tach and fuel gauge are analog as well. Modern touches are found in the LCD trip meter, fuel trip meter and odometer. And the `Liner has some slickness to operating all these gauges and meters by way of the selector and reset switches mounted "passing switch" style on the forward part of the switchgear housing. Simply flick back and forth through the settings with a touch of your index finger. One final note on the gauge set up: when the night rolls in, the multi function meter will illuminate with a pleasant and soothing blue back light.
The Roadliner's beauty is more than skin deep. The aluminum frame weighs in at only 37 pounds (claimed) and consists of a total of eight separate pieces. The die-cast aluminum swingarm is made up of just five pieces and weighs 11.8 pounds; weight reduction was definitely on the minds of Star engineers. Said to have "tuned rigidity for great handling", the frame is definitely not inclined to flex like so many cruiser frames do. Wrapped inside the stout aluminum frame is the heart of the beast: an air-cooled, 113ci (1854cc), four valve pushrod V-twin motor with a bore and stroke of 3.9" x 4.6". In addition to air cooling, the Roadliner uses a dry sump oil system with "three scavenging points" to assist in keeping the oil cooled, which in turn is said to lead to cooler pistons. Twin counter-rotating balancers were engineered into the motor "to provide optimum `Pulse Character'" as Star puts it. Feeding this voluminous twin is handled by a 3.5 liter, under-the-fuel-tank airbox that gets sucked on by 43mm throttle bodies with 12-hole injectors. Power is put to the ground through a very smooth and quick-shifting five-speed tranny that twists the ponies onto a belt final drive.
When spent gases exit the motor they do so through the "first for a cruiser" EXUP-enhanced exhaust system to emanate one of the best sounding exhaust notes found on an OEM cruiser. The exhaust is a two-into-one unit that is claimed to improve low-to-midrange torque at between 2,500 and 3,000 rpm. A catalytic converter is attached to keep the EPA happy. When the bike is at idle it's difficult to discern if it's even running. But blip the throttle or twist it open to get between shifts quicker and you'll find yourself asking how they were able to get past stringent noise emissions standards. It simply sounds great. As a quick side note, the muffler can be exchanged without removing the EXUP valve.