In 1996, the cruiser market in America was introduced to the initial Star motorcycle, the Royal Star. Over the next few years, more Stars appeared on Yamaha’s manifest, in the form of V-Stars, Drag Stars, and Royal Star variations. In 2006, the company decided to commit to the flourishing line of motorcycles by creating Star Motorcycles as a brand separate from the mothership, much as Toyota did with Lexus and Nissan with Infiniti. Eventually journalists and riders, alike, became accustomed to what, at first, seemed arbitrary and unnatural – since Yamaha logos were still featured in discreet locations on Star Motorcycles.

1996 Yamaha Royal Star Tour Classic

2006 Star Stratoliner Press Introduction

Well, now that’s going to change. A few weeks ago, we noticed that was forwarding to Yamaha’s website. So, we inquired with our media contacts and have now heard back with the official word from the tuning fork company:

“As the cruiser motorcycle market in the U.S. continues to evolve and mature, we feel that the best opportunity for future sales success and growth from each Star cruiser model is to integrate our model line with other Yamaha models that hold the strong brand identity, the heritage and the DNA that define the Yamaha Brand. This means that we will begin to promote our Star models in parallel with other Yamaha models, understanding that the cruiser customer is still looking for a unique retail environment and purchase experience from your dealership where personalization is key.

“In order to better integrate synergies with the other key Yamaha models, the establishment of a new Street segment called “Sport Heritage” will be part of this new positioning and marketing integration.

“This transition has already begun on our website, with consumer literature, and with our national event programs.”

yamaha website clipping

The Cruiser/Touring and Sport Heritage categories are now listed on the Yamaha website.

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  • DickRuble

    “at first, seemed arbitrary and unnatural ” — and stupid, and pointless, and idiotic, and not only at first…

    • Douglas

      I never did…..always called ’em Yamahas.

    • jpath

      Very true. I thought the same thing when Suzuki decided to start calling all of their cruisers Boulevards. (not a separate brand, but the same basic marketing scheme)

  • Ser Samsquamsh

    I crashed all three of my awesome Yamahas and therefore consider myself an expert; Yamaha is a great brand. Star is something a mystic crystal store sells as a remedy for malaise. Yamaha is a powerful vertically integrated industrial combine: 128 years of semiconductors to pianos. No need to mask that!

    • DickRuble

      Have you considered taking the MSF riding courses?

  • Kenneth

    The artificial brand name, “Star,” always seemed too obvious an attempt to mask the origins of what everyone knows is a Japanese manufacturer, to boost sales to an often flag-waving American demographic. If an American buyer is interested in a “Star” cruiser, he or she probably knows – and likes – that it is a Yamaha product. ‘No need for subterfuge.

    • Rick Vera

      I completely agree. Perhaps this may have been the case in decades past, it wasn’t entirely necessary in my opinion. However, I don’t agree with the statement that the brand was artificial. A brand is merely a product marketed under a particular name; there’s nothing artificial about that. Secondly, unlike, say, Kawasaki’s Vulcan or Suzuki’s Boulevards, Star was its own sub-company with its own design studio based in California.

      • Kenneth

        “Star was its own sub-company with its own design studio based in California” — ‘Didn’t know that; I thought it was just a badge. Still, I think Star was contrived as a sales tool to draw favor from those who might believe that, somewhere, there must be a Star factory building bikes with an Anglo-sounding name and looks and proud heritage (similar to you-know-who).

        • Auphliam

          “A sub-company? It sounds like another Scion, Rick”

          It is/was…just as Lexus is to Toyota and Infiniti is to Nissan, as mentioned in the article. I doubt you’ll find any (or many) people providing disclaimers about those brands. Why do you feel it’s necessary for Star?

          • Kenneth

            Hey, you guys seem pretty defensive about this. All I’ll say is I am not a fan of marketing (to put it mildly) – nor marketing/sales people. It’s usually about the deception of influencing people to believe they’re getting something more, or other, than what is actually there. It’s dishonest. Star is dead. Long live Star.

          • Kenneth

            Let it rest, already, fellows. Star – the “company”/ marketing experiment was (to paraphrase D. Ruble, below) “…stupid, and pointless, and idiotic.”

        • Rick Vera

          Brands ≠ Companies. All brands are contrived marketing tools. That’s why I don’t agree with you that it’s an “artificial brand.” If you want to argue that it’s an artificial company, perhaps I can get on board with that idea.

          Even though they became their own company in 2005, their reach never seemed to extend past design; I know manufacturing was done in Japan and I believe engineering was as well. Therefore, as a motorcycle company, yes, Star was artificial. But if Yamaha wants to brand their cruisers as Star, well, that IS what branding is. There’s nothing artificial about that with respect to how a brand is defined.

          It’s not too dissimilar from Buick and GMC being car companies. GM is the real car company; Buick and GMC seem nothing more than brands these days. Nonetheless, Buick and GMC are still brands — it’s not artificial.

  • Rick Vera

    Just a few weeks ago you noticed, MO? Get on my level.

    • Ian Parkes

      “Thanks for reaching out to us”. (shudder). That nearly had me retching out.

  • Lucktoday

    When people ask me what I ride I’ve always said Yamaha Raider. People wouldn’t know what a Star motorcycle is,they know Yamaha.

  • Starmag

    Translation- branding fail.

  • Buzz

    Translation: They ain’t selling no more.

  • Old MOron

    Could this be more hipster influence in the market place? Stick with me for a moment.

    I don’t know much about hipsters, but aren’t they supposed to be concerned with heritage and authenticity? Now that Indian looks like it’s going to stick around, Star smacks of Johnny-come-lately.

    Harley is all about authenticity, right? And Indian calls on its heritage for marketing purposes, right? But Star is only ten years old. Maybe they want to bring the cruisers back under the brand that has more history.

    As a bonus, they’ll get to tie their cruisers to Valentino Rossi when he retires.


    I wonder if this means a modernized Venture is on the way………………nah………………………

  • Ok Campers

    At age 68 and wanting a used bike for that long-dreamed-of-post-retirement trip my wife and I had fantasized, weI went shopping last August and came across a model which seemed to have the potential to meet both our wants and needs. The dealer said it was a 2009 V Star 1300 Tourer….which meant nothing to us until he clarified by saying “it’s a Yamaha”.

    The end result was that we bought it and took a 12 state, 6 week, 6000 mile problem-free ride…… and we are planning another for this Fall.

    The name meant nothing; the ride meant everything.

  • I suggested this years ago when Burns actually worked for the Yamaha ad agency. An ill fated idea at best. Of course everyone argued with me.

    • Rex

      C. Montgomery Burns never worked for any Yamaha ad agency…neither did George Burns…or Ed Burns.

  • Greg H

    The Yamaha brand has history, heritage and respect. Why they would try to market away from that is beyond me, a complete mistake. Mistake number 2 was the name “Star”. That’s something your kid would name her teddy bear after putting it in a tutu and a tiara. Talk about misreading the American motorcyclist.