First Look: 2018 Yamaha Star Venture

Yamaha returns to the luxury-touring category with a new Star Venture.

2018 Yamaha Star Venture
2018 Yamaha Star Venture with the optional Transcontinental Option Package in Raspberry Metalllic.Photo: Yamaha

A full-dress touring motorcycle with the Venture name has been absent from the Yamaha lineup for nearly five years now. Not a long time but long enough for the design team at Yamaha USA to develop the concept and design of an all-new luxury touring motorcycle that makes its public debut today at the 35th Americade Rally in Lake George, New York.

Other than its touring class designation, the new Star Venture has nothing in common with its predecessor, the Royal Star Venture. Gone is the classic touring style and V-4 powerplant in favor of a new air-cooled V-twin engine nestled in an all-new hybrid frame with a steel main section and aluminum subframe. The 2018 Star Venture is a clean-slate design that Yamaha Product Line Manager Derek Brooks says was created using the engine as a major part of the overall styling.

2018 Yamaha V-twin engine
The Star Venture's 113 cubic-inch V-twin is air-cooled with tuned twin counterbalancers and advanced composite engine mounts to deliver a smooth and comfortable ride. A semi-dry-sump design lowers the effective center of gravity by allowing the engine to sit lower in the frame.Photo: Yamaha
Yamaha Primary Drive Shock Dampers
Cut-away view of the new Yamaha V-twin engine shows the right-side alternator and the Primary Drive Shock Dampers that help to lessen the lurching or chugging sensation under low-rpm operation.Photo: Brian Hatano

“The engine truly is the center of design,” said Brooks at the recent Star Venture press launch. The 1,854cc (113-cubic-inch) air-cooled V-twin has a familiar look, but Media Relations Manager Marcus DeMichele assures us that the engine is indeed all-new and is not derived from any previous model. With a claimed 126 lb.-ft. of torque, the engine was developed specifically for the needs of long-distance touring with a new six-speed transmission geared to make use of the low-end power from takeoff to highway cruising with overdrive ratios in fifth and sixth.

Star Venture fiel capacity
The Star Venture has a fuel tank capacity of 6.6 gallons.Photo: Yamaha
Star venture
An external oil tank is integrated into the aluminum subframe to centralize mass and reduce weight, and a compact oil cooler is hidden between the front frame down tubes to help maintain ideal engine temperatures.Photo: Yamaha

The ability to manage a large touring motorcycle like the Star Venture requires confidence, and helping to provide that is the new Sure-Park System, a dedicated electric motor that provides both forward and reverse to assist the rider when maneuvering into tight or tricky parking situations. The Sure-Park System is engaged with engine off by pressing down on a lever located near the left side of the seat. Once active, the rider can easily move the bike with a rocker switch located on the left hand control.

Other technology coming with the Star Venture is Yamaha’s ride-by-wire Chip Control Throttle that provides two ride modes (touring and sport), traction control, and cruise control. Yamaha claims to be the first manufacturer to offer such a system in the full-dress touring class.

Star Venture
Clearly readable analog speedometer and tach flank the 7-inch touchscreen LCD of the infotainment system that provides on-screen control of the integrated systems such as trip status, computer functions, tire pressure, and heated grips and seats.Photo: Yamaha
Sure Park System parking assist
A rocker switch on the left hand control operates the Sure-Park System.Photo: Yamaha

No luxury tourer is complete without a good infotainment system and Yamaha’s seems to be state of the art with a 7-inch LCD display that can be controlled via touchscreen, handlebar controls or voice command. Vehicle information, Bluetooth communication, and audio are all integrated into the console.

A range of infotainment upgrades are available with the Star Venture Transcontinental Option Package that includes GPS navigation, a CB radio, SiriusXM Travel Link, and additional high-output speakers with an exclusive dual-zone audio control that allows rider and passenger to select from different sources.

Star Venture LED lights
A tuned exhaust features left and right mufflers that are slightly different internally to create pleasing tone. Lighting front and rear is all LED.Photo: Yamaha
2018 Star Venture storage
Total storage capacity is 37.3 gallons, which includes the side cases, trunk, and upper and lower fairing compartments.Photo: Yamaha

Storage capacity is also up to par with a total 37.3 gallons of volume and a top trunk that will hold two large full-face helmets. Dealers will be offering a priority delivery program, allowing customers to place a deposit to make sure that that they get one of the first Star Ventures that will arrive at dealerships in August 2017. The Star Venture will be part of the Yamaha National Demo Tour, so you will have the opportunity to ride before you buy.

2018 Star Venture brakes
Yamaha’s Unified Braking System dynamically adjusts front and rear brake force balance in real time to ensure linear braking feel and power. ABS is standard equipment.Photo: Yamaha

The Star Venture fits neatly into the same category as Harley-Davidson's Road Glide Ultra and the Indian Roadmaster, two American-made dressers powered by V-twin engines. On paper, the Yamaha stacks up nicely against the competition, offering the most claimed torque, the most storage capacity and the lowest MSRP of the three. For specs-conscious touring riders, this might seem like an automatic win. But the flip side to the touring/cruiser paradox has nothing to do with practical amenities, power or price. It's more about heritage and emotional attraction to the machine. Whether the Star Venture checks those boxes, of course, depends on the individual.

The 2018 Star Venture will be available in Granite Gray and Raspberry Metallic with an MSRP of $24,999 for the base model, and $26,999 for models equipped with the Transcontinental Option Package