The power cruiser genre almost got started in the mid 80's with Honda's V-65 Magna and Yamaha's awesome VMX-12 V-Max. These bikes however, were powered by liquid cooled OHC V-four motors, which though extremely fast, didn't feel or sound right to traditional cruiser buyers. Oddly enough, just when Harley was changing the cruiser game, Japan stepped up to the plate with bikes that finally looked and to some extent sounded like traditional American cruisers.
The Yamaha Roadstar Warrior combines best in class suspension, and excellent brakes, with a 73hp / 92LbFt, 102ci (1670cc) air-cooled, pushrod, V-twin in a racy long and low cruiser package, for $11,999.
Having both of these bikes at our disposal, MO decided this was a prime opportunity for a mini "Best of the Best Power Cruiser Shootout" Given the disparity in price between the Warrior and the V-Rod, we allowed two easy to install and fairly inexpensive bolt-on mods to the Yamaha.
The mods are: a $449 Vance & Hines "Pro Pipe" 2 into 1 megaphone exhaust, and a $329 Dynojet Power Commander PCIII adjustable tuning module.
Thus modified, the Warrior gained a somewhat louder and deeper exhaust note and more importantly, picked-up 5.2 horsepower and 5.8 foot-pounds of torque, for a total of 78.4 and 97.8, bringing the Warrior a little closer to its more powerful rival from Harley. How ironic the Japanese does its best work at about half the rpm level of the V-Rod...
"Both bikes look cool, and with the V&H pipe, the Warrior even sounds the part."
Unfortunately, around town the V-Rod sounds a little castrated, though I wouldn't recommend saying that to its face. If you allow it to rev however, the V-Rod sounds like the highly tuned raceresque motor that it is. Even though it has a few added horsepower and sounds big and bold, the Warrior is still unable to hang with the V-Rod in a straight line, lagging around 1/2 second back at the dragstrip and falling further behind, as speeds rise. If you really want to pick on V-Rods with a Warrior though, all is not lost. Yamaha now offers a 104 hp, 122 LbFt Yamaha Speedstar Stage IV Competition Kit. This kit includes an extensive list of upgraded engine parts and will result in V-Rod eating sub-12 second quarter-mile times for the Warrior. The price of the kit is $3,000 + labor and would result in about a $16,500 Warrior.
What's it all mean you ask? In a nutshell: These bikes are capable of being ridden in a reasonably swift manner. Ground clearance is respectable, allowing for more lean angle than most motorcyclists typically use. Aggressive cornering is still accompanied by loud scraping noises, and your ability to change direction in an emergency is well behind that of a "standard" or "sport" bike. On the other hand, stopping is a strong suit for the Warrior.
In a straight line, with a good drag racer aboard, these bikes will embarrass the vast majority of custom and cruiser motorcycles. When traction is low, they will easily spin the tire off the line, but this isn't a problem, due to their long wheelbases. In fact, a little wheelspin is a lot of fun on the Warrior or V-Rod and entirely in character with their bad boy street brawler image.
|Just the facts, man (winners in bold)|
|H-D V-Rod||Modified Yam Warrior||Yam Warrior|
|Drag Strip||Sean Alexander||12.55sec @ 107.62mph||13.10sec @ 99.40mph||N/A|
|Eric Bass||13.32sec @ 105.09mph||14.22sec @ 94.49mph||N/A|
|Dyno||SAE HP||106.6bhp @ 7,950rpm||78.4bhp @ 4,500rpm||73.2bhp @ 4,500rpm|
|SAE Torque||72.6LB-ft @ 6,900rpm||97.8Lb-ft @ 3,700rpm||92.0LB-ft @ 3,300rpm|
Eric Bass Says
Alright, this one oughta jog a few long-dormant brain cells in the 30 and over set: A kid eating a chocolate bar bumps into a kid eating some peanut butter and the chocolate bar gets jammed into the jar. "Hey, you got chocolate in my peanut butter!". "Hey, you got peanut butter on my chocolate!". (tentative tasting ensues) "It's good!" (smiles and nods all around).
A combination of intuitively disparate flavors brought together with potentially calamitous results give birth to a tantalizing new delicacy. That's pretty much the equation at work in the "power cruiser" category. While the vocal minority seem to fall into purist "sport bike" or "hog" camps, the silent majority of riders are open-minded to the possibilities of a hybridized bike that allows you to have your cake and eat it too with a minimum of compromises. Not that the purists will ever stop hurling insults at one another but somehow, it just won't be the same.
All the Warrior's visual clues tell you this is a massive, heavy, 800-pound gorilla of a cruiser. The fat, 200-section Dunlop D220 rear tire, the Schwarzennegger-like V-shaped gas tank, the grenade launcher of a muffler (pre-Vance & Hines mods), even the prominent chrome air intake and filter scream "big, bulky, muscular cruiser... attempt to turn or brake at your own risk!"
But a funny thing happens once you climb aboard. The first thing you notice (at least at night) is the space-age indigo glow that emerges from the instruments when you turn the key in the ignition. So what if you can't read a damn thing. You're thinking hmmm, never seen THAT before! Looks pretty damn cool splashing over the cobalt-purple paint too!
"What did they make this thing out of, carbon-fiber?! Yamaha somehow managed to get the weight down to 606 pounds dry, and the 28" low seat position gives it a center of gravity that makes it feel even lighter."
Starting the engine reveals not a Screamin' Eagle growl but a . . . well a sport-bike purr. Hmmm, definitely not what I was expecting! Myself, I'm partial to the growl but let's stay open-minded here, we haven't slapped the Vance & Hines on yet. Alright, now for the clean and jerk to get this bad boy upright. . . WHOAH! Time to get this baby rollin'!
The 1670cc air-cooled, pushrod V-twin will get you a quarter mile out of Dodge in about 12.5 seconds, depending upon rider girth and agility with a clutch.
This be plenty fast enough to leave all but the most exotic 4-wheel vehicles reading your John Burns autographed edition "My other bike is your sister" license plate holder (only 10,000 left so order yours today!).
The rev limiter kicks in hard and early (somewhere shy of 5000 RPM) so I had to punch through the gears pretty fast (especially first gear) but once I got it dialled I couldn't believe how quick the Warrior was for such a "big" bike. The clutch and shifter are very smooth and once accustomed to the Warrior's internal rhythms it gets gone in a hurry. Now let's see if it can stop. Thanks to the R-1 derived brakes, the Warrior has no trouble at all coming back to reality without the runaway freight train feel of an old-school cruiser. A real confidence builder in traffic. About now I'm ready to exit the freeway and as I approach the cloverleaf I hear a little birdy whispering in my ear to "flick" the Warrior down and see how it handles.
"Flick" a cruiser? OK, let's not get crazy here, but the Warrior enjoys a good off-ramp as much as you do. Soooprise! Sooooprise! Alright, time to come back to earth, if it sounds as though the Warrior is without flaws, it's not. Despite it's fine performance, it has some aesthetic and ergonomic quirks that I would change if I were King.
I already mentioned the bike's Mike Tyson-esque quality of looking like a natural born killer and sounding like . . . well . . .like Mike Tyson! Hell, this fearsome "Warrior" couldn't even wake a baby! So while of course our swapperoo to the V&H pipes was for purely performance related reasons (an extra 6bhp), the addition of a throaty growl to the Warrior's vocal repertoire was a welcome improvement. The aftermarket pipes also give the bike a more conventional look that could be mistaken for an unnamed American-made motorcycle (wink, wink) at a distance.
If you will indulge my whining a bit longer, the handlebars are exceedingly wide, low, and forward and the pegs are sort of tucked under. So my legs are at a 90 degree angle, but my back is slightly hunched over to reach the bars (unless you have an NBA-caliber wingspan) and now my neck is tilted back to keep my head level.
Which pretty much made me feel like a crucified hunchback in a windtunnel, when riding at freeway speeds. And I don't mean that in a good way. The mirrors stick out wider than Ross Perot's ears, and make "motorcycle lane" trips to the front of the traffic signal more of an adventure than they need to be.
Add the aforementioned unreadable instrument panel and the rev limiter's itchy trigger finger to the list and I'd have to surmise that the Warrior is an awesome bike with room for improvement, but nothing that a little aftermarket cosmetic surgery couldn't cure.
I will say this, the bike's exaggerated features do lend it a truly magnetic "what is that?" appeal. I keep the test-bikes at a secured underground lot and park them right next to the valet office. When the parking attendants saw the tricked-out indigo dash glow they were swooning and sighing like schoolgirls at a Backstreet Boys concert. After a few days, one of them even asked me to move it somewhere else because he was so sick and tired of all the customers asking him about the bike!
A couple of friends of mine own a cafe in L.A.s downtown garment district and when I went to join them for a free lunch (my faaaavorite kind!) I parked the Warrior out front and we sat in the window and watched it twist necks like crazy. The bike was literally stopping all the fashionista designers in their tracks. When the three of us stepped outside so I could give the fellas a closer inspection, the locals swooped down on us like pigeons to bread crumbs. Bottom line, the Warrior passes the test in terms of performance and curb appeal but could use some tutoring in Ergonomics 101.
If that isn't how you feel astride the V-Rod, then no pill is gonna cure your ills (to paraphrase the late 20th century poet laureate Robert Palmer). Oh V-Rod, how do I love thee, let me count the ways (Elizabeth Barrett Browning, now we're moving up in the world). Dahdun . . . DUN . . .dahdun . . . DUN . . . feel like ma-kin' love to you, my darling V-Rod (Bad Company, OK I'm getting out of control here.)
Seriously though, what an ambitious and daring project by H-D, and what a grand success. They could have played it safe, and stuck with the "big bikes for bad boys" formula that has powered their post-AMF resurgence. But instead they swung for the fences and put it out of the park!
I should qualify my enthusiasm by saying that many of the V-Rod's attributes are of a love-it-or-hate-it nature and there are those who despise it with as much passion as I adore it. And just because they're wrong, that doesn't mean they aren't entitled to an opinion. H-D has fused past, present, and future in a manner that can either appall or delight.
For instance, the riding position created by the forward positioned foot pegs and pulled back handlebars is my Platonic ideal of ergonomics. This is how I want to feel on a cruiser. Nothing too severe, but leaned back, stretched out, and feelin' like Peter Fonda in Easy Rider. I can even kick up my heels and get a cramp-relieving, full leg extension without the need for unsightly highway pegs. The bullet boys here at MO, accustomed as they are to the face-down fetal position, utterly loathe this attribute.
Perhaps they are merely disconcerted by their body's newfound ability to circulate blood to all of their extremities. I can only speculate.
If the V-Rod's stylized pipes, raked-back forks, and in our case, factory custom paint, have you thinking, "all show and no go", you would be mistaken. The long (93"), and low (26" seat height/ 5.6" ground clearance) looks conceal a lean (596 lbs dry weight) and mean (106bhp) machine. While admittedly not a canyon carver, the form to function ratio of the bike's design is far superior to a custom chopper when it comes to handling. Overly agressive lean angles will, however, be sharply reprimanded by the sound of your $20,600 (with $2,600 paint kit) investment being devalued as it polishes the pavement. Speaking of pavement, when pointed in a straght line, H-D's new creation gobbles it up as fast as almost anything without a fairing.
My singular complaint being that it does it so quietly. No potatoes here, the V-Rod's Porsche pedigree shows through in the Germanically efficient sound of its performance Revolution engine, well . . . performing efficiently. This may come as a great relief to some, but my second favorite pastime is setting off Bavarian car alarms through the garage doors of Beverly Hills' hoi poloi at 2AM on my way back home from the bars while howling "Born to be Wild" at the top of my lungs, so I kind of wish I could have my potatoes back.
My most favorite pastime, by the way, involves a jacuzzi filled with Sparks caffeinated malt beverage, a very long straw, and those blond twins from the Coors beer commercial, but I only get to indulge that one in my dreams.
"Value of owning a vehicle that cruises for chicks and scores digits for you while you sleep: PRICELE$$!"
Speaking of ladies, the V-Rod is George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Antonio Banderas rolled into one when it comes to getting props from the fairer sex. I support this assertion with the following actual 'honest to the man with the plan' statistic. Number of love notes seductively tucked between the seat and gas tank, including name and phone number, by real-life women breathlessly requesting that whoever I am, I simply have to take them for a ride on my bike, left on the V-Rod: 3. Number left on every other test-bike I have ever taken home: zero.
Value of owning a vehicle that cruises for chicks and scores digits for you while you sleep: PRICELE$$! YEAH BABY! GRRRRRR! The miniscule pillion even serves as a screening device to ensure that only the tight of bottom dare request permission to come aboard.
Unfortunately, it also serves as a deterrent for them to stay aboard long, as the minimalist padding and rearward sloping seat angle will have your date alternately yearning to get off, and clinging to stay on. But I'm beginning to split hairs here.
The Bottom Line:
Both of these bikes have earned the right to hold their heads high. If price was no object, the V-Rod would be my steed of choice. However, considering the approximately $7,800 gap in price as configured for this comparo, with a few more ergonomic mods, the Warrior starts looking like a very attractive alternative for those with a more civilian budget and/or jealous wives or girlfriends.
And the Better Half Says...
By Ashley Hamilton
I tell you true: The V-Rod's pillion perch is not a mount at all, rather, I'm sure it's some sadistic torture device. And it's good at its task: the narrow, pointed-in-all-directions seat rides up worse than a vengefull pair of thong undies. But the physical torture pales next to the phsycological deathdance the sloping-down-and-back "seat" imparts on you -- the driver (if he's got any girth or size to him at all) sits relatively leaned back, pushing the passenger to be leaning back too, clinging for dear life. On a painful, narrowing, sloping-downward seat. Any fit of acceleration could easily divest your passenger of her place. I rode on the back of our V-Rod from Torrance to Long Beach -- all of 15 miles -- and made EBass promise to go get another testbike and come back and pick me up.
"Good thing you wore comfortable shoes," he tells me. The bastard. Chivalry is gone, I know that for fact now. Likewise, the V-Rod is invisible to my eyes. I won't acknowledge it until the MORons get a real seat for the beast. And a silver bike. Purple flames? Huh? Purple rain? Where's the fairing formerly know as WindJammer? Whatever! Regardless, if you care at all about your passenger, plan on spending some coin to get a new seat. Or, if you've got some nagging hag of a wife, by all means, leave the stocker on -- we'll all know what you're up to, it'll be our little MORonic joke, and we all promise not to sniggle.
The MO boys giggle and say nasty things about the high, rearward pegs of the Warrior -- I fail to see how a female dog in heat relates to a motorcycle's passenger pegs. Feel free to not enlighten me. What I do know is that the Warrior's secondary accommodations are super comfy. The pad looks narrow, but it only looks that way because the driver seat is so wide. Thickly padded yet firm, it helps to be fairly flexible to bend your legs up and out to wrap around the driver, but it's a comfortable, bolt-upright position that never seems to jar the kidneys. It is best, however, for a guy and a girl, or two girly guys, but not for a pair of manly men; once, Sean and EBass had to ride it tandem to pick up another bike, and it was a hilarous, squirming bout of "dude, don't touch me" guydom. I laughed for days, and almost forgave EBass for (almost) making me walk home from Long Beach.