Of the four motorcycles in this comparison, the Star V Star 950 has the most distinctive look. Ever since Yamaha created Star Motorcycles as a separate brand for its cruiser division, the company has carved out a distinct niche in the segment. Last year, Star launched the Raider SCL (Star Custom Line) and it just released the Bolt and Bolt R-Spec, two all-new models that use the same engine as the V Star 950.
Introduced for 2009, the Star V Star 950 is powered by an air-cooled, fuel-injected 942cc 60-degree V-twin. Like the Kawasaki Vulcan, it uses a single-pin crankshaft for a loping feel and has belt final drive. The Star is the only air-cooled bike in this comparison, and the absence of a radiator gives the bike a clean look. Visually, it is the longest and lowest of the four, and custom touches abound: two-tone cast wheels, bobbed fenders, a well-balanced mix of gloss black and chrome, and special graphics on the elongated tank and rear fender. If there’s too much black for your taste, the base model ($8,590) is also available in pearl white. The V Star 950 Tourer ($9,690) adds a windshield, leather-covered hard saddlebags and a passenger backrest.
Though the Star’s 942cc V-twin is the largest in this comparison, its dyno figures are comparable to the next-smaller 903cc Kawasaki. On Jett Tuning’s dyno, the Star belted out 55.4 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel, just nudging past the Kawi’s 54.3 lb-ft. More than 50 lb-ft of torque are available from 2,200 to 4,700 rpm. The Star’s peak horsepower—47.1 at 5,600 rpm—is just shy of the 48.1 posted by the Kawasaki.
The Star has the second-best fuel economy in this test—an average of 46.0 mpg—and the second-highest fuel capacity (4.4 gallons), good for 207 miles of range.
2013 Star V Star 950
Base Price: $8,590
Warranty: 1 yr., unltd. miles
Type: Air-cooled, transverse 60-degree V-twin
Bore x Stroke: 85.0 x 83.0mm
Compression Ratio: 9.0:1
Valve Train: SOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Adj. Interval: 16,000 miles
Fuel Delivery: EFI w/ TPS & 35mm throttle bodies x 2
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 4.3-qt. cap.
Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt
Ignition: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Charging Output: 461 watts max.
Battery: 12V 11AH
Frame: Tubular-steel double cradle w/ steel swingarm
Wheelbase: 66.3 in.
Rake/Trail: 32 degrees/5.7 in.
Seat Height: 26.6 in.
Suspension, Front: 41mm stanchions, no adj., 5.3-in. travel
Rear: Single shock, adj. for spring preload, 4.3-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Single disc w/ 2-piston pin-slide caliper
Rear: Single disc w/ 1-piston pin-slide caliper
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 18 in.
Rear: Cast, 4.50 x 16 in.
Tires, Front: 130/70-18
Wet Weight: 615 lbs.
Load Capacity: 461 lbs.
GVWR: 1,076 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 4.4 gals., warning light on last 0.8 gal.
MPG: 87 PON min. (high/avg/low) 48.4/46.0/42.0
Estimated Range: 207 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: NA
* This article Black & Gold was part of a four-motorcycle comparison titled Main Street Middleweights which was published in the June 2013 issue of Rider magazine. To read the individual bike reviews, click on the links below: