2006 Star Roadliner
Star Looks to the Past to Find the Future
Climb aboard the low and wide Roadliner and you can't help but feel you've stepped back in time a little. The wide, sweeping bars and low saddle height (you truly feel as if you on a saddle, again reminiscent of Indians) have `cruise' written all over them. Reach over the handlebar clamp to access the ignition switch -- which is hidden underneath a sliding cover that's part of the headlight housing -- thumb the starter switch and listen to the starter motor lazily spin until the big twin rumbles to life. You will immediately begin to think someone swapped out the stock exhaust for a throaty but subtle aftermarket set-up. The exhaust note is as significant to the overall design of the bike as the general appearance is.
The next step in your adventure is to operate the clutch. Grab the well contoured and finely polished lever to find an effortless pull and tap the `toe' shifter into first gear. Nothing more than a smooth, reaffirming thump and you're in gear. Twist the throttle gently as torque is on tap from just around 2,000 RPM. Staying on the shifting theme, clutchless up-shifts are another testament to Star's refined and robust tranny.
Getting up to speed quickly is a smooth and rapid process. The Roadliner will have you in hot water with the local constabulary in a hurry if you're not careful to mind the speedometer. Cruising speeds of 80-plus miles per hour are an easy affair and despite the lack of a windscreen, windblast isn't an issue. Wind the throttle up in a roll-on and the `Liner will gladly oblige and have you in the highly illegal range without a complaint. This low-slung machine is just as stable and confidence inspiring at 100 mph as it is at 65 mph.
Look for an opportunity to test the aluminum frame's alleged stability, on a sweeping on ramp, and you'll be hard pressed to find so much as a wiggle out of the bike even at speeds far in excess of the posted on ramp limit. The Roadliner is as solid in it's handling as Star claims it to be. Find a slower, meandering section of winding road and you'll again be fighting your own suppositions on how a bike this big should handle. Steering is neutral and the low center of gravity makes the initial turn-in surprisingly light and easy. The leverage from the beach cruiser bars obviously contributes to this but the Roadliner effortlessly steers itself against the common notion instilled by earlier cruisers that they just don't turn well. Ground clearance is at worst average and even less of a concern as the big floorboards do a good job of insulating the grinding sensations.
Speaking of sensations, Star found a nugget of gold in their counter balancer design as only a moderate amount of vibration works it's way up to the rider through the bars and the rest of the bike. And this is easily remedied by up-shifting and letting the torque monster do it's job. Once you've done this, all is well again in the smooth department.
Star has also done a good job of considering the probable passenger that you'll want to share your riding with. A large, roomy and comfortable seat is perched over the rear fender.
When you've had enough fun and you're ready to pull her in from the road the simple but effective twin calipers up front do as good a job or better than using all the brakes on most cruisers. The feel is sensitive and the application is fairly linear until right near the end when an additional amount of force is required to haul it to a complete stop. But considering the heft of this neo-streamliner the brakes are more than adequate.
If you're in the market for a new cruiser and are growing tired of the dime-a-dozen customs and the increasingly common look of most cruisers, pay attention to the Roadliner. Hitting dealer showrooms in November, according to Brad Banister of Star, the Roadliner is sure to make in-roads in the cruiser market. So if you're a softy for things of yesteryear but want the technology of tomorrow -- or at least of today -- this bike is a must on your short list of bikes to consider.