They say: “A high-value ‘casual full dress’ tourer.”
We say: “Where the dress includes a GPS and sound system.”
Half the battle in motorcycle marketing is identifying a segment no one else serves. It doesn’t even have to be a big one, just sufficiently well defined that you can proclaim, “Look! We’re the only ones here.” You also need conviction that the spot isn’t empty for a reason besides nobody’s recognized it.
More than a little of this thinking underpins the new Star Motorcycles’ V Star 1300 Deluxe, which exists in a sub-segment that parent company Yamaha calls “casual full dress touring,” or CFD. The prime definition? Standard hard bags and front fairing (not just a windshield) but no tail trunk. So, CFD = bagger. Ah, now we get it.
Fussing over marketing minutiae shouldn’t obscure the fact that the new V Star is a good, well-executed package. All the additions that make the Deluxe come on top of a familiar platform, introduced in 2007. The liquid-cooled, 60 degree V-twin displaces 1304cc from a 100mm bore and 83mm stroke. It feeds a steady flow of smooth, pleasingly portioned torque through a five-speed gearbox and carbon fiber-reinforced belt final drive. The steel frame holding all this together features the semi-required “hardtail-look” rear suspension with a single under-slung shock adjustable for spring preload. A 41mm damping-rod fork gets to the bumps first, but at least the V Star has a decent amount of wheel travel, 5.3 inches in front, 4.3 in. out back. Yamaha Star-spangling engineers wisely retained the bulk of the V Star 1300’s bodywork so that various accessories—from the Star brand and elsewhere—fit all three models.
Robert Blake would approve of the batwing-fairing-in-blue scheme. All but the tallest ride
What is new for the Deluxe is a color-matched “batwing” fairing bolted to the handlebars. It’s a biggun, measuring a bit more than 41 in. across. The fixed windscreen is tall, too: nearly 15 in. at the center. And it’s fairly close set, about 20 in. from the rider’s nose. Results? A large pocket of commendably still air for the rider that spans from shoulder to shoulder and extends well over a 5-foot-9 rider’s head. Wind protection below is less thorough, with a stream of wind directed back from the lower fairing to the rider’s legs and midsection. You can bet the aftermarket will jump in with additional deflectors for the Minnesota-based set.
In the V Star Deluxe, that fairing does more than split the wind. Just under the windshield, in a clever, sturdy mount, is a Garmin zumo 665, the centerpiece of the Deluxe’s navigation and entertainment package. This zumo includes SiriusXM satellite radio, traffic, and weather connectivity. (The GPS comes with the bike, but service subscriptions start at $14.99/month for music plus $8.99/month to add weather and traffic.) On the V Star, the zumo plays through a pair of fairing-mounted speakers and is partly controlled by a four-button wired remote near your left hand—with it you can advance tracks on stored music, change input modes, and adjust the volume. You can play tunes from the satellite feed, from a Micro SD card plugged into the Garmin, or from your iPod or iPhone. A cable for that purpose is hard-wired into the left saddlebag. While you listen, your iPod or iPhone will charge as well.
Garmin’s zumo 665 resides center stage in the Deluxe’s new bar-mount fairing. Grab the rec
The system works well. Sometimes these daisy-chain setups provide lethargic response to track skipping or volume adjustments, but the V Star’s arrangement acts promptly. Up to legal highway speeds, the speakers kick out sufficient volume to be clearly heard in a full-face helmet, but they struggle against the wind much above that. Placing the Garmin front and center makes it easy to reach and even easier to see. Whether your riding buddies will tolerate a high-decibel dose of Dressy Bessy or Bikini Kill is your problem to solve.
Our day-long ride ticked off just 140 miles, with many stops for photos, so it’s hard to know if the V Star’s broad saddle and cruiser-neutral riding position—roomy without being too stretched out, though the grips are fairly far apart—will make it a good long-distance runner. For its part, the mellow engine is very smooth in steady state, with just enough judder on acceleration to make it seem politely charismatic. Throttle response is direct and well matched to the engine’s flywheel effect and gearing. Basically, you get what you ask for. There’s no tach, but torque flattens out well before the rev limiter kicks in, so you’ll have clear shift cues and few reasons to explore the top of the rev band. In all, it moves the none-too-light V Star more than adequately. (We’d like to say how much it weighs, but Star hasn’t released that figure. It’ll probably be a little more than the V Star 1300 Tourer, which weighs 712 pounds wet.)
Each floorboard throbs slightly to the engine’s tune, but vibration never becomes an issue. Mostly the floorboards will contribute scraping sounds should you decide to pick up the pace away from the highway, but the V Star is fairly typical in this way. Its chassis feels like it could take more aggression and give it back without winding up, but that’s not on the target buyer’s must-do list. So there you go.
The V Star swings in the same batting cage as Honda’s 1300cc Interstate and Suzuki’s 1500cc C90T—both of which have windshields instead of a fairing—but Star likes to compare it up market to the 1700cc, $17,149 Kawasaki Vaquero. From that vantage point, the V Star 1300’s $13,690 price tag seems totally reasonable, but that’s only part of the story. The V Star is more compact than the Vaq, a genuinely manageable size despite the fairing and eminently useful hard, lockable saddlebags (total capacity 57 liters). Considering that fact, and then pondering the standard entertainment system, Star’s marketing angle—unique within a category—is both accurate and smart. Casual Full Dress Tourer might not roll off the tongue, but it seems incomplete to call the V Star merely a “budget bagger.”