2016 Yamaha Star V-Star 1300 Tourer Review

01
of 03

Introduction: Bringing the Big Bore Cruiser to the People

2016 Star Motorcycles V-Star 1300 Tourer
The 2016 Star Motorcycles V-Star 1300 Tourer. Basem Wasef

There's a significant correlation between engine displacement and asking price in the world of touring cruisers-- and most any motorcycle, for that matter. Big engines equate to big premiums, and adding the long-distance friendly touring component tends to up the ante considerably; shop for the most affordable touring-focused Harley-Davidson, the 103-cubic inch (1,687cc) v-twin powered Street Glide, and you're looking at a $20,899 cost of entry. Opt for the custom-built CVO version (if you can find one), and the premium climbs considerably further.

Star Motorcycles, the folks who brought us Harley challengers like the raked-out Raider and the Sportster-like Bolt, pack a promising package with the 2016 Star Motorcycles V-Star 1300 Tourer. At the heart of the bike (priced at $12,390, which includes a quick-removable tall windshield and passenger backrest and saddlebags) is an 80 cubic inch (1,304cc) liquid-cooled 60 degree v-twin engine that mates to a 5-speed transmission. Belt drive links to the rear wheel, and with a wet weight of 712 pounds, there's certainly no shortage of substance with this hefty package. Seat height measures a low 27.2 inches, and suspension is a relatively simple 41mm telescopic setup up front (with 5.3 inches of travel), and 4.3 inches of travel from the rear monoshock. The non-ABS brakes use dual-disc 298mm units up front and a single disc unit of identical diameter at the rear.

In keeping with the V-Star 1300 Tourer's long distance aspirations, the big 4.9-gallon fuel tank coupled with the estimated fuel economy of 42 mpg equates to a cruising range of over 200 miles... not exactly the stuff of hardcore adventure bikes, but certainly enough to outlast the capacities of most bladders.

What's it like to ride this big bad boy? Read on to find out.

02
of 03

Star Motorcycles V-Star 1300: On the Road

2016 Star V-Star 1300 Tourer
A cockpit view of the 2016 Star V-Star 1300 Tourer. Basem Wasef

Even though its 700+ pounds of mass make it a rather imposing bike even before you've lifted it off the sidestand, saddling the V-Star 1300 Tourer reveals a rather manageable persona, thanks in part to the low 27.2-inch saddle that makes a good deal of that weight disappear. Push the starter, and the 60 degree v-twin comes to life with a deep pulse. Unlike the somewhat more raucous Harley engines, the V-Star 1300 sounds a bit more modulated and measured. And yet, there's a decent-sounding quality to the thrum, something that earns it a certain amount of notoriety despite the counter argument that Japanese cruisers don't have quite the same charismatic personality as the older, more established Harley-Davidson marque

The V-Star 1300 clicks into gear with a solid clunk, and the five-speed's gears are rather spread apart, with what feels like rather tall ratios. However, there's no confirming the engine rpms with a visual indicator; there's no tachometer on the simplified dash instrumentation (which consists of a speedometer with an inset LCD for trip info). Unlike other multi-displays, scrolling through the LCD's functions won't reveal engine speed.

Steering is surprisingly light given the bike's weight, and reasonably swift stops can be attained with a firm grip of the right brake lever (though the bike slows down considerably quicker when the rear brake is called upon via the right pedal). The engine pulls with plenty of smooth torque, though V-Star 1300 would feel like much more of a hot rod with shorter gears. Nonetheless, it's easy to accelerate from almost any part of the powerband thanks to its big displacement, and the shifter is smooth and easy despite the rather substantial feeling shift action. Wind levels at highway speeds will depend on your height; though lower speeds were comfortably quiet, I encountered a bit of turbulence at highway speeds due to the way the wind hit my helmet (I'm 5'11"). A quick-removable windscreen transforms the V-Star 1300 into an around-town cruiser, and is ditched and re-mounted easily with an ignition key-operated lock.

After a day of riding, the humongous saddle proves comfortable and easy to live with, as does the bike's tame manners, smooth suspension damping and copious torque (though the diminutive leather-wrapped saddlebags won't hold a whole lot of extras). The V-Star's engine even feels relaxed at highway speeds despite the 5-speed transmission. One of our few gripes? Some driveline lash at low rpms and a too-light steering feel at higher speeds over certain highway surfaces, which makes the front end feel unstable when rain grooves are present.

Bottom Line

Is the Star Motorcycles V-Star 1300 Tourer right for you? The answer depends on your style and your needs. For some riders, there's no substitute for Harley-Davidson's signature potato-potato sound (which can be a bit too much of a good thing when it's coming through unmuffled pipes). For others, the V-Star 1300 Tourer's practicality and performance make it a no-brainer that ticks a lot of boxes in the long distance cruiser category. Is this V-Star right for you, or should you go shopping for other metric alternatives like Kawasaki's Vulcan lineup or Suzuki's Boulevard bikes? The answer, like finding your life partner, boils down to chemistry: go to a dealer, swing a leg over, and see for yourself which of these bikes resonate with your style, your desired level of performance, and your budget. As it stands, Yamaha's Star Division is building some of the finest, most value-packed cruisers money can buy-- but whether they're right for you depends entirely on your sensibilities and tastes.

03
of 03

Specifications, Who Should Buy the V-Star 1300 Tourer?

Star Motorcycles V-Star 1300 Tourer
The Star Motorcycles V-Star 1300 Tourer's 4.9-gallon fuel tank. Basem Wasef

Specifications

  • Price: $12,390 (including saddlebags, windscreen, rear backrest)
  • Engine: 80 cubic inch (1,304cc) liquid-cooled single crankpin v-twin
  • Fuel economy (estimated): 42 mpg
  • Gearbox: 5-speed manual
  • Suspension (front/rear): 41mm telescopic fork; 5.3-in travel / Single shock; 4.3-in travel
  • Brakes (front/rear): Dual hydraulic disc, 298mm / Hydraulic disc, 298mm  (no ABS)
  • Tires (front/rear): 130/90-16 / 170/70B-16
  • Fuel capacity: 4.9 gallons
  • Seat height: 27.2 inches
  • Curb weight: 712 pounds
  • Warranty: 1 year (limited)

Who Should Buy the V-Star 1300 Tourer?

Value-minded cruiser fans with a hankering for a big, mellow v-twin pulse, light luggage needs, and comfortable all-day riding characteristics.