We were shown a bunch of natty looking grafts to show Yamaha\'s growth in this cruiser/tourer sector, all showing substantial northward swings. This particular bike has been labeled as that do-it-all model that offers around town cruising style and with the addition of a couple of included accessories for the perfect touring package. At 787lbs and a 67.5 inch wheelbase it\'s an impressively large looking bike. However, seat height is the typically cruiser low and with its low center of gravity and big wide swept back bars, it\'s pretty easy to maneuver around.
Based soundly on the very popular Venture chassis, the new Royal Star deluxe is the Yamaha version of the convertible. This is a motorcycle that was produced to fill a gap in the Yamaha line up and a bike that was dictated by the customer\'s need to fill that void between the traditional cruiser and a tourer. It\'s also strikingly similar to the Harley Davidson Road King, not a bad thing methinks. It\'s long and low and has classic styling lines that disguise its heritage somewhat. It just doesn\'t look like a metric cruiser - If you are a Harley style fan, that\'s a good thing, if you like the Japanese quality and reliability, that\'s a great thing. The bike also has a quite pleasing sound emanating from its long and low four into two exhausts. That exhaust offers some customization too, with adjustable (rotating and slashed) end caps.
We got to sample this bike on some of the nicest pavement on the East side of town. Yes, with 98 horsepower and nearly 90lbs of torque - we were on the street, Surely I jest? That sort of power belongs on the race track... After a small demonstration of the cruise control we were let loose and set loose on innocent Virginian Hams. The bike has a nice flat torque curve that produced the goods from around 2000 rpm all the way to the 6K mark. That fat midrange rowed this particular boat in a very effective way with the 4th and 5th gear\'s labeled as overdrive\'s.
Power is typically cruiser soggy, but after getting off the steamy open classers, this thing still had enough go to keep me happy. The motor is based on the venerable 1294cc V4 motor lifted from the early eighties Venture Royale (with cheese?) and a motor that\'s also seen duty in the nuts mad V-Max - obviously this is a calmer and modernized block, but it comes from good stock and I bet there\'s a healthy performance sector catering for this engine, if you are that type of gear head. It\'s also liquid cooled and with four 32mm Mikuni carburetors, replete with heaters, it\'s going to be a good reliable motor regardless of extremes of climate.
All the controls are beefy, bordering on butch with both the clutch and brake levers having a solid aftermarket billet feel to them. Further comforts and finish include foot boards with a heel-and-toe shifter to keep your designer boot toes shiny. Shifting was very smooth with no missed gear changes to report even when playing silly buggers in the twisties. The bike is obviously no hotrod but it had enough grunt for cage passing and with seamless fuel inj... I mean carburation too. Of course it was also really shiny and attracted attention from small children and passers by. Another nice styling touch was the clear lens turn signal, small details but big on style points.
The retro-style speedometer was groovy in a faux-fifties style. Nicely modernized with a sweeping LCD hand on a stretched out speedometer housed in a chromed err, housing. It showed you how fast you were going, how far you had been, how much gas you\'ve used and what time all this is going on. A small and discreet set of idiot lights informed the idiot on board of oil pressure, water temp, high beam, cruise control and of course, turn sigs and neutral.
After doing the photo shoot thang I elected to scoot off on my own to explore the territory and to go find some guy called Monty Chello who I believe works at Thomas Jeff and Sons. Hitting a mixture of roads that included switchbacks and fast sweepers, the bike exhibited no obvious shortcomings. In fact, in both environments the bikes seemed in its element. The pegs drag typically early for the breed but a slight shift in body position was usually enough to stop it getting too noisy or too ugly. The bike has air assisted suspension, front and rear so a little ride height can be dialed in for more clearance and/or two-up touring easily enough.
The brakes were good on this bike too, with twin pistons up front grabbing two 298 mm rotors, and a decent four pot wrestling with a big old nasty supermoto style 320 mm rotor on the rear, braking was good, if not excellent. I could grab a handful up front and modulate the wheel lock-up point with ease, and with minimum fork dive too. The rear brake was perfect for tightening up a turn when running in a tad hot, of which I did many times. This thing cashed the checks that I wrote and didn\'t exhibit any bad manners from those silly inputs I was giving it. Speaking of Supermoto and bad manners, I swear you could back this thing into slow corners... although I never did - honest.
Comfort was excellent with or without the included quick change windshield. The shield was tall enough to protect me from the elements (I\'m 6\'1") although I eventually elected to remove that and the rear back rest for cosmetic preference. The removal of those two items was an example of thoughtful engineering and they were simple to remove too, even when you don\'t listen at the initial orientation and are left to figure it out for yourself. With a no-tools-needed system, the two supplied parts can sit in your garage whilst you\'re attending to around town duty or clipped back on for long distance pub crawling, err touring.
The decent sized bum shaped seat and reasonable sized passenger equivalent should see her-indoors happy, and with the 9.3 gallon capacity hard bag on each side there\'s more than enough room for some overnight clothes, her handbag and yours too if you\'re that way inclined. By the way, the wonderful easy-to-use cruise control offers no-handed girl fondling opportunities too and I can\'t wait to try that one on my girlfriend...
Fuel range was a little weedy, but then I was thrashing the goolies off of the thing for most of the day. Sensible (read: normal) throttle management will see a quite decent 200 miles on a tank. Be aggressive and you\'ll start seeing about 150 before you have to go search for the liquid gold. During that said thrashing I must (hate to) admit I was having fun - who\'d have thought it? As a bonus this was a first all day ride that didn\'t see me chasing the Jacuzzi for respite. Cake.
Oh, and to further convince you, it\'s got a super-duper 5-year warranty to back up its apparent build quality, and Yamaha has a 1001 aftermarket parts to fit this bike and all retain that 5-year protection. All joking aside, this turned out to be a very competent motorcycle, I also really enjoyed my Virginian jaunt, a trip that offered some creature comforts, some decent culture and of course some rich American history.