IT would be easy to dismiss the new US-market Yamaha Star Venture as simply a dolled-up version of the old XV1900 cruiser. But that would be doing a disservice to a bike that’s substantially a new machine and which looks like the most convincing new big tourer to emerge from Japan in the best part of a decade.
Yamaha categorises its new machine in a segment of its own, ‘Transcontinental Touring’ rather than lumping it in with existing tourers or cruisers. It’s clearly designed to take on the Goldwing, as well as bikes like BMW’s K1600GTL and some of the biggest Harley full-dressers.
The 1854cc engine’s roots lie in the old XV1900’s, but there’s a new air intake, exhaust and a completely new electronics suite including YCC-T (ride by wire). That adds multiple riding modes, traction control and cruise control to the mix. It’s bolted to a steel frame with an alloy subframe to centralise mass. The six-speed, shaft-drive transmission is also new.
Performance-wise, Yamaha’s claiming 126lbft of torque and steering clear of mentioning power. It’s not really the point of a bike like this.
What is important, though, is the gadgetry. Where the Goldwing was leagues ahead of its competitors when the current generation appeared in 2001, that’s 16 years ago now and the world has moved on. The Star Venture gives a hint at what we should be expecting from Japanese touring bikes.
Infotainment – a word that didn’t even exist when the Goldwing was launched – on the Yamaha includes a seven-inch touch-screen. It controls the stereo, the heated seats, backrests and bars, your telephone calls and texts, the sat-nav (where fitted), passenger communication and all the trip computer functions including tyre pressure monitoring. Opt for the $2000 more expensive Star Venture TC model and you get GPS, satellite radio (it’s an American-market bike, remember) and individual audio zones for the rider and passenger. Oh, and LED driving lights.
Other tech on the bike includes ‘Sure-Park’ which is an electric crawler gear, operating both forwards and backwards, to help you manoeuvre the bike without having to push its 434kg (437kg for the TC model) mass.
Yamaha UK says there’s no plan to offer the bike over here, and at the moment it’s not clear if the revamped engine would pass Euro4 emissions limits even if it wanted to. In America it costs $24,999, or £26,999 for the TC version.