Enter the cruiser age…
Two words… EASY RIDER!
There’s something in that long lasted phrase that has never left the life style of men and motorcycles. The changes have come in different bike styles over the years… many many years. But lets be real about it. The cruiser style is a class for the open road. The long open road with miles and miles of smooth roads, slow winding corners, vistas with sunsets and clouds and warm colors.
Freedom is on the open road. Period. ( sound of record scratching…) BUT not in the city? There is a definite market for these bikes and its one that is quite large. How ever I never thought I’d ever be on one. They usually seem to be ridden by a rough type of crowd, a person that was against everything the world was doing at the moment. But that’s not actually true. Stereotypes are easy to attach here, and would not be accurate. If I was to estimate this market, I’d say they were individuals with an opportunity to get away. Ones that can take the bull by the horns and steer it. (sorry, bad joke.)
This V-star puts the rider, me, into a trance. I’ve never felt so separated from current issues in my life. The rumble of the engine is so different, the V-twin roars with smooth easy power. Complimenting the riding position. It’s easy to drift away while riding this bike… I don’t mean “asleep” either.
So now you know my first impression of the bike, let’s get into how it rides, handles, feels…etc.
Pulling the bike off the kick stand, I notice the extra weight that comes with a cruiser. I thought it might be troublesome, but quickly I felt the balance point and learned how it turns, leans, accelerates and brakes. To be honest I was a bit nervous, so I rode around the block a few times to get familiar with how it steers. It is a different kind of turning that I’m not used. Thankfully I ran into a retired motorcycle cop a few weeks ago and one tantalizing phrase he said with a light joking tone was… “feather the clutch”, along with, rubber side down, and knees to the wind.
Feathering the clutch was probably the most important thing I’ve heard in a while. This bike handles so differently, that when I applied the feathered clutch thru turns, it was brilliant. Control and ease followed, and my turns were on track. At that moment my ride became “easy”.
At that moment the bike became real for me. I hadn’t thought about the engine size, suspension, accessories, wind screen, sound system, foot pegs, drive train, cruise control… (sound of record screeching, scratching… whatever). This bike doesn’t have any special features. In fact I found it’s supremely out of date when trying to compare it to other 2016 machines across the board. It’s loaded with nothing… Oops, it has a GPS system in the dash of the fairing to help with long distance treks. It also has an audio system that can connect to a Sirius account. That’ll make the ride much more enjoyable for long distances. Oh, and let’s not forget that you can plug in your iPhone or iPod and listen to your own music… Oh, but wait, your devices need to be circa iPhone 4 or earlier. The connection is the old wide iPhone mount that nobody uses anymore. And if you’re going to pick up this bike new off the floor, you definitely have upgraded your devices to close to current models. I’m guessing there should be a company that makes a conversion plug for the old devices to plug into a newer slot.
…oh, let’s not forget that any android device is excluded with this insane feature. Making a bike solely devoted to Apple Corp is a mistake. I’m sure they don’t make a cord to connect old apple products to an android connector.
The handlebar controls are basic. There is iPhone, iPod or Sirius controls on the left a few others on the right grip.
The motor is typical of of a twin this big. Lot’s of feedback through the bars. The power was moderate in acceleration at highway speeds. I was used to an inline 4’s acceleration and needed to withdraw my expectations of accelerating on this machine. Although it is powerful in it’s own right.
Being on the freeway with lot’s of traffic, it is the first time I felt like I was accepted as a road vehicle from other drivers. The size alone feels like you’re bigger than other speed freak bikes an almost on par with most cars. It feels like they see you with out having a loud exhaust to alert drivers that you’re nearby.
At nearly 720 pounds (which I didn’t notice that much), the bike is pretty nimble. I never went downtown in super tight traffic, but the traffic I did get involved with was a a breeze. On a few of the rides we went on, I did notice that the weight came into play more so when in a sweeper turn. I could feel the bike set into it’s line and glide through smoothly. The only difference between this V-Star and a crotch rocket, would be the ability to change your line in a hurry, while in the turn. This machine moves noticeably slower in that particular feature.
One downfall I had with this bike was the windshield. This was probably just an odd occurrence with me specifically, but I couldn’t go faster than 115 km/h. The turbulence from the winged front windshield/fairing made it absolutely impossible to see clearly. The wind hit my helmet with so much force from many directions, that my head felt like I was being punched with left’s and right’s coming at me in a flurry. My vision was compromised to the point where focusing clearly on the road was not possible. So I traveled at 110 and all was good.
I think this is only because I’m a bit taller than the regular rider. If I owned this machine, I’d have to either extend the windshield or just take the whole front fairing off and take the wind in the chest, which wouldn’t be bad at all considering the riding position.
I know I’m not a designer or engineer, but one thing that I notice on every bike I ride is the mirrors. In all the years of upgrades in the engines or the frames or the brakes or where ever, the mirrors never get addressed. On the good side, these mirrors are placed beautifully. With a clear line of sight to EVERYTHING behind you. BUT, I ask why aren’t they part of the fairing? Handlebar mounted mirrors baffle me. On this bike they work cleanly, but on many other bikes, it truncates the cockpit to a point where an important riding feature is overlooked.
One day, hopefully soon, we’ll see this change.
Moving on to the seat and the rear of the bike, I’d have to mention that the riding position for the lower back is not the best. I know I don’t have an iron butt, but I wasn’t expecting my butt to go numb within 10 minutes on this nice wide, well shaped seat. With the feet forward on the comfy platforms, I found the riding position was a difficult one to keep. My lower back tended to round-out, and I was constantly focusing on keeping my abs tight to straighten my back and relieve the rounded-out position.
I didn’t get a chance to travel with a passenger, but I can only guess that it would be a breeze. So, in that, I have no feedback on the passenger seat. But I can say it looks cool.
The saddle bags that are mounted are just great. they hold a lot of stuff, but won’t handle an extra helmet, unless it’s a skull cap.
In the last few bikes I’ve ridden, I’ve had a chain drive, a shaft drive and then this belt drive. I all 3 bikes, I can’t tell if there is any positives or negatives of any of the drives in any of the conditions I rode in, which is usually sunny and dry. So for performance with a belt drive, I’d have to say it’s perfect, flawless, outstanding…
So my time on this V-STAR Deluxe was fun. It was a completely different bike than I ever thought I’d ride. Having the opportunity to review bikes has showed me many sides to the motorcycling industry. Just like there’s a lid for every pot… there’s a bike for every rider.