Today, at the Rider magazine-sponsored Opening Celebration to kick off the 35th annual Americade Rally in upstate New York, the public got its first look at what Yamaha calls “the ultimate trans-continental touring motorcycle,” the 2018 Star Venture. If you’re expecting a typical dressed Harley or Honda Gold Wing clone, however, think again. The Star Venture is a daring blend of modern and traditional luxury-touring bike features and styling with an impressive list of standard technology and a sporty, muscular look.
Yamaha boasts that the Star Venture is the most technologically advanced, most fully featured touring bike on the market, and a rundown of its specs and standard equipment builds a strong case. A thoroughly redesigned version of the 1,854cc (113ci) air-cooled Roadliner V-twin engine pumps out a claimed 126 lb-ft of torque and has a 6-speed transmission. There’s a Park Assist System with electric forward and reverse, a Bluetooth-enabled infotainment system with a 7-inch, full-color LCD touchscreen, and a full complement of rider aids such as cruise control, drive modes, traction control, tire pressure monitoring and linked ABS brakes.
Comfort and ergonomic features include heated seats with an adjustable, heated rider backrest and heated passenger backrest, heated grips, electric windscreen, cowl deflectors and vents, and adjustable handlebars and levers. Adding the optional “TC” (Trans-Continental) package gets you GPS navigation, CB and Sirius XM satellite radios, LED fog lights, an alarm, dual-zone audio and passenger storage compartments. With 144 liters of total storage capacity and a 6.55-gallon fuel tank, the Star Venture certainly seems ready to prove its “ultimate trans-continental touring motorcycle” title.
An aggressive, sporty front fairing with a bank of four LED headlights for safety is mounted to the frame rather than the fork, for more stable handling at speed and easier parking lot maneuvering. Things get more “cruiser” behind the fairing, with the big V-twin prominently on display, long floorboards that let you move your feet back and forth and belt final drive. The bike rides on radial tires with an enormous 200-series tire in back. A cavernous trunk that will easily hold two full-face helmets tops the distinct three-piece luggage that includes large top-opening side cases and central locking in a sleek design that melds with the bike’s lines.
Prior to Americade, Rider’s Editor-in-Chief took a 2-hour test ride on an early sample of the Star Venture TC, and found it to be an exciting blend of contemporary luxo-touring features and strong V-twin power with a great rumble. Dual counterbalancers eliminate any annoying vibration without suppressing the satisfying pulse feel from the rubber-mounted engine, and the V-twin accelerates with a rush up to its redline of just 4,750 rpm and makes plenty of power for fully loaded two-up touring. The new 6-speed transmission with an assist-and-slipper clutch shifts smoothly and easily and drops the revs into the basement in sixth gear on the highway.
Like most air-cooled big V-twins there’s some noticeable engine heat at low speeds, but the air management system comprising the electric windscreen, adjustable cowl deflectors and closeable lower vents blows the heat away at speed yet provides a warm, mostly still pocket of air for the rider and passenger on cooler days. Handling and braking are at least on par with the best in this class and the manually adjustable suspension provides good control with comfortable compliance. Spacious, comfortable seating with a low rider’s seat and easy reach to the ground should make the Star Venture easy to live with on tour as well.
The 2018 Star Venture will be available later this year in Granite Gray or Raspberry Metallic, for $24,999 (the TC version is $26,999); both come with a 1-year warranty that can be extended to 5 years with the optional Yamaha Extended Service plan. We’re looking forward to getting our hands on one for a thorough tour test. To see and hear it in action, watch Yamaha’s official Star Venture video below.