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2009 Yamaha XVS950A Midnight Star

2009 Yamaha XVS950A Midnight Star

All-new Yamaha XVS950A Midnight Star - Full-size cruiser performance with a lightweight feel

Powered by a newly-designed 942cc high-torque air-cooled V-twin SOHC engine housed in an easy-handling long-and-low chassis, the all-new Yamaha XVS950A Midnight Star brings an exciting and refreshing ‘new style classic’ look to the sub 1,000cc cruiser category.

This unique and original new machine is aimed at the customer who wants genuine ‘heavyweight’ cruiser style and gutsy V-twin torque combined with punchy performance, light feeling handling and a rider-friendly character. Until now, the choice for new riders looking for a ‘real’ full-sized cruiser has been limited to larger-capacity 1,000cc+ V-twin models whose higher weight and bulkier bodywork can sometimes be intimidating for less experienced bikers.

With its compact new high-torque air-cooled V-twin engine, as well as a long and low chassis, a low seat height, and class-leading modern styling, the easy-to-handle Midnight Star 950 opens up a new chapter in cruiser design. For 2009 those wild-at-heart riders of all ages will have the chance to own a genuine V-twin cruiser whose looks, image, character and performance ensure that it delivers real street credibility.

Although the machine benefits from the use of advanced Yamaha technology, great care has been taken to ensure that this new bike retains the essential simplicity of design that characterizes every classic cruiser.

For example, our engineers spent a great deal of time tuning the new exhaust system in order to accentuate the soulful low-frequency sounds and eliminate high frequency noise. Likewise, much effort was put into creating an efficient intake system which not only enhances performance, but also emits a good intake sound boost pulse feeling from low speeds right through to the high speed range.

The new Midnight Star 950 runs with a large-diameter 18-inch front wheel in order to lighten the handling feel and emphasize the bike’s image of lightness – and for ease of use and enhanced controllability, the fuel tank narrows considerably at the rear.

This extreme attention to every detail – however small – is evident throughout the machine, and the end result is a high quality machine which adds a new dimension to the cruiser world. With its high-torque V-twin air-cooled engine, steel fenders, belt drive and long and low style – as well as new-style classic cruiser looks and a simple, clean-cut design, the all-new Midnight Star 950 delivers full-sized performance with a lightweight feel and easy handling.


All-new high-torque 942cc air-cooled V-twin 4-valve SOHC design

In order to achieve the design team’s goals of creating a new generation cruiser with a lightweight feel and gutsy performance, the Midnight Star 950 is driven by a newly-designed high-torque 942cc air-cooled V-twin 4-valve SOHC engine with fuel injection.

For optimum low to mid-range performance, the 942cc engine runs with almost ‘square’ bore x stroke dimensions of 85.0 mm x 83.0 mm, and the highly efficient pent-roof combustion chamber delivers a compression ratio of 9.0:1. (For comparison, the Midnight Star 1300 features a bore x stroke of 100.0 mm x 83.0 mm, and a compression ratio of 9.5:1.) The combination of a 4-valve head with a pent-roof combustion chamber and a ‘square’ configuration gives the engine a punchy torque output for strong acceleration and rapid overtaking potential.

This compact new V-twin engine utilizes the same three axes (crankshaft/front cylinder cam/rear cylinder cam) as the larger-capacity Midnight Star 1300 to give a compact V-bank, but it has a very different power delivery character as a result of the elimination of the balancer mechanism. By not equipping this new V-twin with a balancer mechanism, our engineers have been able to enhance the pulse feeling and also minimize the new engine’s crankcase dimensions and weight.

In addition, the decision to adopt air cooling has given our designers more freedom in creating a clean and simple profile which further emphasizes the light feel and image of this new-generation cruiser.

This gutsy new 942cc 60? V-twin also features state-of-the-art internals, including lightweight forged pistons, a ceramic plated cylinder and highly efficient 4-valve cylinder head, as well as many newly-designed components including cams, valves, throttle body, oil pump, crankshaft, connecting rods, clutch, transmission gears, crankcase cover and exhaust system.

Optimized squish area design

In any big-bore engine design, the combustion flame must travel a greater distance than on a smaller bore engine, and so in order to ensure high combustion efficiency, the new Midnight Star 950 engine features pent-roof combustion chambers with a specially-designed squish area. By forcing the fuel/air mix towards the centre of the combustion chamber more quickly, the optimized squish area gives a faster combustion speed, which gives stronger throttle response and higher levels of performance.

60º V-twin engine design with uneven firing interval

One of the most significant and defining features to be found on the new 942cc V-twin engine is the uneven firing interval. Combustion takes place at 300º and 420º, which makes for a distinctive and pleasing engine pulse, and it is this uneven beat that gives the new Midnight Star 950 such an appealing and special character, as well as a gutsy exhaust note.

In order to enhance the lightweight feeling with pulse generated by the uneven firing sequence, this new V-twin engine features no balancer shaft, which not only strengthens the gutsy character, but also makes for easy revving and strong response. Vibration is minimized by the use of lightweight forged pistons and connecting rods, and rubber mounts for the handlebars and footboards ensures high levels of rider comfort.

Eliminating the balancer shaft also brings with it a number of other advantages, including reduced gear noise, lower engine weight, and more efficient engine operation and better response thanks to a decrease in pumping losses.

This compact new engine also features a 60º cylinder bank, and this relatively narrow angle between the two air-cooled cylinders contributes to the bike’s concentration of mass, which accentuates the lighter handling feeling – a central theme of this new-generation cruiser’s very special character.

Specially-shaped cylinder fins

The Midnight Star 950’s muscular looking air-cooled V-twin engine is the focal point of this new-generation cruiser, and the beautifully-designed cylinder fin layout adds to the appeal of the classic V-twin architecture. By shaping the fins so that those at the top of the cylinder are wider than those at the base, each cylinder’s fin outline creates a V-form, with the sharp end of the ‘V’ pointing towards the centre of the crank axis.

This design feature underlines the classic cruiser image of the Midnight Star 950, and is complemented by the buff finish on the cylinder head fins to give a handsome, high quality feel to the bike. Few engines capture the original spirit of motorcycling as well as the classic V-twin layout, and by specially shaping the air-cooling fins to form a ‘V’ profile, Yamaha’s designers have succeeded in creating an authentic modern-day classic.

Right side-mounted air intake

The compact new 942cc V-twin has been developed to produce strong low to mid-range torque with punchy performance, and in order to ensure outstanding intake efficiency a large-capacity 3-litre air cleaner box is mounted on the right side of the V-cylinder block. Featuring a triangular shape, and located between the 60? V-bank, this stylish air box emphasizes the V-twin configuration.

For optimal efficiency combined with a pleasing intake sound, particular attention has been paid to the design of the ducting which has been specially tuned to produce the right note. At lower speeds the intake emits a throaty burble, while at higher speeds the intake note complements the exhaust sound to accentuate the engine’s pulse feel.

Fuel injection

For strong performance across the rpm range, together with minimized emissions, the 4-valve cylinder head’s pent-roof combustion chambers are fed by a sophisticated 4-hole, 2-directional fuel injection system. Equipped with a 35 mm diameter throttle body, these injectors aim the spray directly at the valve surfaces which ensures good atomization of the fuel for faster and more complete combustion.

Various sensors transmit data on air temperature, atmospheric and intake air pressure, engine temperature, crank position, speed, throttle position and exhaust oxygen levels to the ECU which then adjusts the fuel injection system to ensure optimal combustion efficiency.

This system is designed to offer excellent drivability together with instant response and efficient operation, and for outstanding idling stability which is set at 950-1050 rpm, an Idle Speed Control (ISC) valve is fitted.

Forged aluminium pistons and ceramic composite plated cylinders

In addition to its high performance 4-valve cylinder head design and highly efficient fuel injection system, the latest addition to Yamaha’s cruiser family benefits from new lightweight forged aluminium pistons. As well as being immensely strong, the Midnight Star 950’s compact forged pistons also help to reduce reciprocating weight, which in turn makes for a smoother running engine and also makes for excellent throttle response.

The running efficiency of these lightweight forged pistons run is further enhanced by the use of ceramic composite plated cylinders, which ensure more effective heat dissipation, and also help to minimize oil consumption.

Roller rocker arm for smoother engine performance

This new-generation cruiser benefits from a number of design features aimed at enhancing both the feel and the performance of the new V-twin engine, including the elimination of the balancer, as well as the adoption of an uneven firing sequence and the fitment of an efficient fuel injection system.

Another important feature which plays a vital part in making this one of the most impressive performers in the class is the roller rocker arm valve lift mechanism.

The Midnight Star 950’s advanced rocker arm design features a revolving slipper mounted on a needle roller bearing, which dramatically reduces the friction normally generated between a conventional slipper and the cam – which features a tough Isonite coating for optimum engine performance. In addition to reducing frictional losses, this roller rocker arm also permits the use of a cam and valve spring design that gives a softer valve seating speed. Another advantage is that valve overlap can be reduced for stronger low to mid-range performance, and exhaust emissions can also be cut.

Right-side exhaust system with 2-1 muffler and 3-way catalytic converter

The exhaust system has been developed to complement the new fuel injection system’s settings, and features a neat 2-1 design running along the bike’s right side. The muffler is a simple two-stage expansion type design which has been designed to accentuate the feel and character of the engine’s uneven firing sequence, and to give a good strong pulse in the low to mid-range.

This compact and minimalist two-into-one exhaust system is equipped with an oxygen sensor which transmits data to the ECU to ensure the optimal fuel/air mix is injected for efficient combustion, and a 3-way catalytic converter ensures that this new V-twin surpasses EU3 requirements.

The distinctive beat of the engine is one of the most striking features of the new Midnight Star 950, and the quality of the bike’s exhaust note is the result of intensive testing. Our engineers have developed a system in which high frequency sounds have been eliminated, and the low frequency note was accentuated, in order to ensure a gutsy and evocative exhaust note.

Smooth-shifting 5-speed transmission

The new Midnight Star 950’s transmission has been designed specifically to accentuate the gutsy character of the new air-cooled V-twin engine. The five gear ratios have been carefully chosen so that they enable the rider to enjoy fully the bike’s remarkably strong low to mid-range torque wave, and fifth gear has been set to deliver relaxed and comfortable cruising.

The gears also feature a straight-cut type dog design for even smoother shifting, and this – together with the instant supply of torque at the twist of the throttle – makes for a relaxing and enjoyable riding experience, together with spirited acceleration.

Engine - Technical Highlights

  • All-new 942cc air-cooled V-twin 4-valve SOHC engine
  • Bore x stroke 85 mm x 83 mm
  • 9.0:1 compression ratio
  • Compact 60º V-twin design
  • Uneven firing interval at 300º and 420º
  • Characterful pulse feeling
  • Pent roof combustion chambers
  • Strong low to mid-range torque
  • Elimination of balancer shaft for reduced weight and stronger engine pulse feeling
  • Specially-shaped tapered cylinder fin layout for classic V-twin style
  • Right side-mounted air intake with tuned induction noise
  • Large-capacity 3-litre air cleaner box
  • Efficient fuel injection for instant response and reduced emissions
  • Optimized squish area design for efficient combustion
  • Forged aluminium pistons and ceramic composite plated cylinders
  • Roller rocker arms for smoother engine performance
  • Right-side 2-1 muffler and 3-way catalytic converter
  • Smooth-shifting 5-speed transmission with straight-cut gear dogs


New-design double-cradle steel frame

The Midnight Star 950’s new double cradle frame has been designed to deliver a lightweight handling feeling, and this has been achieved by designing a structure which offers varying degrees of rigidity in different areas in order to achieve an idealized rigidity balance. The new frame is especially rigid around the head pipe area, whilst the torsional rigidity is set at a relatively lower level in order to introduce a degree of forgiveness into the handling characteristics, which makes for high levels of surface feedback and increased rider comfort.

The relationship between the frame’s torsional, lateral and longitudinal rigidity levels has been carefully selected by our engineers following extensive testing, and the result is a chassis whose roadholding and handling characteristics complement the performance of the high-torque engine.

From an aesthetic point of view, the design of the new double cradle frame projects an image of simplicity and functionality, which perfectly matches the classic lines of the new air-cooled V-twin powerplant. The engine is mounted to the frame with rigid mounts, with one at the cylinder head and three on the crankcase, and by using the engine as a stressed member the overall chassis weight can be minimized. The four rigid engine mounts also help to accentuate the uneven firing pulse feeling, to give a characterful and enjoyable riding experience.

Long-wheelbase lightweight chassis

Running with a wheelbase of 1,685 mm, this new generation Yamaha cruiser has the longest wheelbase in its class, and although it measures only 5 mm less than the Midnight Star 1300, the stylish new Midnight Star 950 is actually a full 25kg* lighter than its bigger brother.
* Note: wet weight difference

Compared to other machines in its class, the Midnight Star 950 delivers a much lighter and sportier handling experience, and one of the major contributors to this aspect of the bike’s character is the positioning of the air-cooled V-twin engine. Compared to the larger Midnight Star 1300, the new Midnight Star 950’s engine sits further forward in the chassis to give more weight over the front wheel for an optimized front/rear weight distribution.

In addition to the sportier front/rear weight bias, this new Yamaha cruiser features a caster angle of 32?10’, which, when combined with a trail of 145 mm and the increased front wheel weight loading, ensures outstanding handling performance in a wide range of conditions, from relaxed highway cruising through to sporty riding on winding roads.

Low seat height

In order to ensure that the new Midnight Star 950 delivers the high levels of riding comfort and ease of use that our designers set out to achieve, a low seat height of only 675 mm is featured, compared to 715 mm on the Midnight Star 1300.

This newly designed seat is narrow at the front, in order to match the slim rear section of the new fuel tank, and this makes it easier for riders to put their feet on the ground when stationary or riding at low speeds in traffic jams. Combined with the tapered fuel tank – as well as the angle of bend used in the pull-back handlebars, and the position of the footboards, this low seat gives a natural riding position which enhances overall comfort and controllability.

18-inch front wheel with 130/70-18 tyre

Another important factor which makes a significant contribution to the bike’s lightweight handling and steering qualities is the use of an 18-inch front wheel fitted with a relatively narrow 130/70-18 front tyre.

One of the main goals of the Yamaha’s Midnight Star 950 design team was to create a new type of cruiser which would offer light and easy handling characteristics, and the use of this narrower, lower profile 18-inch front tyre is a key element in achieving these aims.

In classic cruiser tradition, a wide-section 170/70-16 tyre is fitted for optimal traction and excellent rider and passenger cruising comfort.

Newly-designed aluminum wheels front and rear

The newly-designed 8-spoke front and rear wheels complement the bike’s classic, lightweight and sporty cruiser design, and help to minimize the unsprung weight for smooth and responsive suspension action. The front wheel is 18 x MT3.50, while the rear measures 16 x MT4.50. Furthermore, the spokes feature a two-prong design where they meet the rim, which accentuates the image of lightness which characterizes this excitingly different new cruiser.

Steel front and rear fenders

The new Midnight Star 950 is equipped with steel front and rear fenders to underline its classic style.

At the front end the slimline fender features a short front section and a flared rear end which accentuates the size of the new larger-diameter 18-inch front wheel, while the steel rear fender is cut horizontally at mid-wheel height for a classic cruiser look.

Teardrop fuel tank with wide upper surface

By using 3D CAD techniques, Yamaha’s designers have succeeded in creating a classic teardrop fuel tank which looks light and slim, and yet has a sizeable capacity of 17 litres. Viewed from the side, this stylish tank has a low profile and looks extremely slim – even though there is a built-in fuel pump – giving this cruiser an even lighter look.

In traditional cruiser fashion, the teardrop shaped fuel tank has a wide upper surface, and viewed from above this beautifully sculpted design tapers towards the rear to give a very slim section near the rider’s knees, making it easy to get both feet on the ground. The sharply tapered shape also underlines the bike’s sporty image, and gives a visual expression of speed.

This new fuel tank is a distinctive styling element to be seen on the Midnight Star 950, and it has been manufactured using Yamaha’s exclusive pressing technology which enables the production of increasingly complex and intricate components.

A long and low body with a “New-Style Classic” image

What sets this new cruiser apart from other designs is its long and low profile which Yamaha describe as the ‘New Style Classic’ image. Unlike many other more traditionally styled cruisers where the rider sits ‘in’ the bike in the ‘valley’ formed by the elevated fuel tank and the high pillion seat and rear fender, the Midnight Star 950 rider feels more like he or she is sitting ‘on’ the bike.

Viewed from the side, the horizontally-cut rear fender, flat pillion seat and low profile fuel tank on this new cruiser form a much flatter upper surface, in a similar style to the ‘NeoStreamline’ design of the Midnight Star 1900.

The long, low and horizontal profile give the machine an individual style, and accentuate the impression of lightness. This image is strengthened by the apparent simplicity of the tubular double-cradle frame’s design, which features an abundance of space around the head pipe area. The large-diameter front wheel and its relatively narrow, low-profile tyre add to the lightweight appearance, while the muscular looks of the timelessly-styled air-cooled V-twin engine with its beautifully sculpted fins reinforce the Midnight Star 950’s ‘New-Style Classic’ looks.

Finally, the bike’s distinctive character is underlined by the narrow, flared front fender, compact headlight assembly, right side air-intake and simple 2-1 exhaust system.

Aramid-type belt drive

Like the larger capacity XVS/XV models, the new Midnight Star 950 is equipped with a durable and efficient belt drive system. Manufactured using aramid, this 28.6 mm wide belt drive is an extremely effective way of transmitting the high levels of torque produced by the V-twin engine, and its lightness makes it an ideal match for a machine with such a long swingarm.

Offering excellent strength as well as good shock absorbing properties and resistance to corrosion, this low-maintenance belt drive system allows the rider to enjoy the Midnight Star 950’s high-torque and uneven firing pulses to the full.

Front and rear suspension systems with optimized settings

The front and rear suspension systems are designed to deliver a smooth, comfortable ride, together with the ability to handle everything from highway cruising with a passenger through to solo riding on twisty back roads.

Equipped with 41 mm diameter inner tubes and giving 135 mm of travel, the conventional-type front forks feature a wide pitch of 240 mm, and are offset by 45 mm. Although these heavy-duty forks appear externally identical to the design featured on the Midnight Star 1300, the settings have been revised to suit the lighter Midnight Star 950, and the spring rate is reduced by around 27% to 5.4N/mm, which ensures smooth suspension action and high levels of comfort.

Running with a caster of 32?10’ and a trail of 145 mm, this high quality front end ensures good manoeuvrability together with easy steering over a wide range of riding speeds and surface conditions.

At the rear end is a bottom link-type Monocross system which is similar to the design used on the Midnight Star 1300, and offers 110 mm of rear wheel travel. For high levels of rider and passenger comfort the preload-adjustable rear suspension is designed to offer a soft initial stroke which becomes progressively firmer as the suspension is compressed further. Together with the smooth-action front forks, this Monocross rear suspension system ensures that the Midnight Star 950 delivers high levels of comfort and excellent roadholding in a variety of situations.

Large-diameter 320 mm front disc brake

For smooth and strong braking performance a large-diameter 320 mm single front disc brake and 2-piston pin/slide caliper is used. To ensure effective operation together with accurate feel, close attention has been paid to optimizing virtually every element of this lightweight braking system’s design, including the lever ratio, lever shape, master cylinder diameter, brake hose expansion rate and caliper rigidity.

Compared to some heavier cruisers which feature dual-disc front braking systems, the single large-diameter disc featured on the lighter Midnight Star 950 offers reduced unsprung weight for more responsive front suspension action. In addition to the weight savings, the single front disc also emphasizes the lightweight image of this new cruiser.

This impression of lightness and simplicity is further strengthened by the 298 mm diameter rear disc which is equipped with an underslung caliper.

Cast aluminium upper triple clamp

For an optimum balance of strength and rigidity, the upper triple clamp is manufactured from cast aluminium, while the lower triple clamp is made from steel. This combination of steel and aluminium clamps – which is also used on the Midnight Star 1300 – ensures a good steering feeling together with excellent feedback.

New-design large-diameter instrument panel

Mounted on the new slimline fuel tank is a new-design large-diameter instrument panel which is framed by a wide chrome-plated cover which highlights the bike’s classic style.

The panel includes an analogue speedometer, as well as six indicator lights including fuel and oil level warning lights – while the multi-function LCD display features an odometer with two trip functions, as well as a fuel trip meter and clock. There is also a useful instrumentation illumination adjuster which can be operated from the left side handlebar switch, allowing riders to increase or decrease brightness of the LCD displays to suit the conditions.

Chassis - Technical Highlights

  • New-design double-cradle tubular steel frame
  • 1,685 mm long-wheelbase, easy-handling chassis
  • Low seat height of 675 mm
  • 18-inch front wheel for light feeling steering
  • 130/70-18 front tyre
  • Newly designed lightweight 8-spoke aluminum wheels front and rear
  • Front wheel: 18 x MT3.50; rear wheel: 16 x MT4.50.
  • Classic front and rear steel fenders
  • Slim 17 litre tapered teardrop fuel tank with wide and flat upper surface
  • A long and low body with a “New-Style Classic” image
  • Front forks with 41 mm inner tubes giving mm135 mm wheel travel
  • Bottom link type Monocross rear suspension giving 110 mm wheel travel
  • Front and rear suspension systems with optimized settings
  • Large-diameter 320 mm front disc brake, 298 mm diameter rear disc brake
  • Cast aluminium upper triple clamp
  • New-design large-diameter multi-function instrument panel
  • Belt drive system


  • Ocean Depth
  • Dark Red
  • Midnight Black

Technical Specification


  • Type - Air-cooled, 4-stroke, V-type 2-cylinder, 4-valve, SOHC
  • Displacement - 942 cc
  • Bore x stroke - 85.0 x 83.0 mm
  • Compression ratio - 9.0:1
  • Max. Power - 39.4 kW (54 PS) @ 6,000 rpm
  • Max. Torque - 76.8 Nm (7,84 kg-m) @3,000 rpm
  • Lubrication system - Wet sump
  • Fuel supply system - Fuel Injection
  • Clutch type - Wet, multiple-disc
  • Ignition system - TCI
  • Starter system - Electric
  • Transmission system - Constant mesh, 5-speed
  • Final transmission system - Belt
  • Primary reduction ratio - 72/43 (1.674)
  • Secondary reduction ratio - 70/30 (2.333)
  • Gear ratio; 1st gear - 46/15 (3.067)
  • Gear ratio; 2nd gear - 33/16 (2.063)
  • Gear ratio; 3rd gear - 30/19 (1.579)
  • Gear ratio; 4th gear - 34/27 (1.259)
  • Gear ratio; 5th gear - 25/24 (1.042)


  • Frame - Steel double cradle
  • Front suspension - Telescopic forks, Ø 41 mm
  • Front wheel travel - 135 mm
  • Rear suspension - Swingarm
  • Rear wheel travel - 110 mm
  • Caster angle - 32º 10'
  • Trail - 145 mm
  • Front brake - Single disc, Ø 320 mm
  • Rear brake - Single disc, Ø 298 mm
  • Front tyre - 130/70-18M/C 63H
  • Rear tyre - 170/70B16M/C 75H


  • Overall length - 2,435 mm
  • Overall width - 1,000 mm
  • Overall height - 1,080 mm
  • Seat height - 675 mm
  • Wheelbase 1- ,685 mm
  • Min. ground clearance - 145 mm
  • Wet weight (including full oil and fuel tank) - 278 kg
  • Fuel capacity - 17,0 litres
  • Oil capacity - 4,3 litres

Specification are subject to change without notice, in accordance with national regulation and legislations