Probably Star’s most appropriate motto would be “A Star for everybody” as they offer different, but close sized engines to power a variety of models that are meant to suit all possible riding demands. Take the V Star 1100 lineup for instance. This fills in the gap between the V Star 1300 and V Star 950 with three similar and yet so different models, the Classic, the Silverado and the Custom. So which one suits you best?
Powered by the same engine and riding on the same chassis, the bikes aren’t that different at their base so the small tweaks make the difference for each one in particular. It’s amazing how the simple 65-cubic-inch, air-cooled, 75-degree V-twin; SOHC, 2 valves per cylinder engine mated to a five-speed gearbox and fitted on a double-cradle steel frame with 33-degree rake can prove as successful in three different cases and even achieve similar performances despite the fairly minor differences in weight. Fuel consumption is a claimed 44 mpg in the case of all three bikes and the 4.5 gallons tank is there to keep your traveling rhythm constant and reassuring at all times.
Unlike bigger Star models – even the V Star 1300 – which features belt drive, the V Stars 1100 feature shaft drive as these smaller bikes aren’t that noisy. Still, smaller size doesn’t necessarily mean less inches of travel for the suspension so the telescopic forks provide a good 5.5 inches of travel and the rear shock a effective 4.5 inches of travel. That’s as much as the V Star 1300 provides and another similarity consists in the presence of two 298 mm brake discs up front and a single 298 mm one at the rear.
The difference between the three models consists in style. The Classic one features nice retro looks on which the Silverado adds touring goodies. In what concerns the Custom, this is a little bit shorter and lower and it is all about the bike being stripped down to its bare necessities.
Quite frankly, we expected to see fuel injection on the 2009 model years, but Star decided to stick with their two carburetors and they’ll have to face the competition this way. Kawasaki provides the closest things to the Stars in the form of their 2009 Vulcan 900 Classic/Classic LT/Custom.
All models are powered by the same 55.1-cubic-inch, liquid-cooled, V-twin; SOHC, four-valves per cylinder V-twin. Despite being smaller than Star’s, the Kawasaki engine develops 58.2 lb.-ft. at 3,500 rpm and it’s all due to the fuel-injection system featuring 34 mm Keihin throttle bodies. Style is what makes the difference in what concerns the Vulcans 900 too so the Classic has a $7,499 retail price, the Classic LT a $8,799 one and the Custom either a $7,699 one or a $8,099 one as there is also a Special Edition model available.
Kawasaki also fits their 900s with belt final drive so it seems to me they’ve got the recipe right.
Suzuki is out in 2009 with the Boulevard C50 and Boulevard C50T, two motorcycles which’s 49.1-cubic-inch engine is also fuel injected so worthy of being compared with Star’s bigger, but carbureted engine. Suzuki does not offer a Custom model. MSRP for the C50 is $7,799 while MSRP for the C50T is $9,099.
As I was saying, style makes the difference and the Star V Star 1100 models may not feature the most high-tech engines available out there, but they do stand out as the most refined representatives of the class that they belong to.
The 2009 V Star 1100 Classic features deeply valanced fenders built around the beefy tires and the seven-spoke cast wheels. It, like the other two models, has two disc brakes up front so that together with the thick forks make the front end look like meaning serious business. The round headlight blends perfectly in this scenario and the pullback handlebars follow the gas tank’s lines and stand for comfort. So are the spacious floorboards and the seat which is positioned only 27.9 inches from the ground. That partly chromed V-twin engine looks like it’s been there for decades and if we look at the big picture here, it actually did. At last we get to see a two-into-two exhaust system on a V Star and we love it. The colors that keep the Classic model so…classy are the Candy Red and Charcoal Silver with Flames.
The 2009 V Star 1100 Silverado is no more and no less than a Classic model with an adjustable windscreen, spacious touring seat, passenger pillion pad and backrest as well as a pair of leather saddlebags, all being studded for an enhanced long haul appearance. The Raven paintjob seems the most appropriate for the Silverado models while the Galaxy Blue one…well, I could live without that.
The 2009 V Star 1100 Custom features a lower 27.2-inches high seat and the overall length is also shorter (94.7 inches). Forget about the deeply valanced fenders and the 7-spoke cast wheels as the Custom model features stripped-down fenders and laced wheels. The Candy Red paintjob is also available for the Custom, but the special and most attractive one in 2009 is the Raven which also transforms the model into a Midnight Custom.
Compared to the competition, all V Star 1100 models are significantly more financially demanding and that’s mostly because of cylinder capacity. So the 2009 V Star Classic starts at $9,290 (Candy Red) and $9,490 (Charcoal Silver with Flames). Starting at $9,190 (Candy Red) and $9,290 (Raven – Midnight Custom), the 2009 V Star 1100 is also priced within decent limits, if we can even put it that way. The 2009 V Star 1100 Silverado though isn’t. This last starts at $10,290 no matter color scheme.
Star shows how value can be put as much on the fit and finish as other manufacturers would do on the engine and that’s ok as long as they stick to the 65-cubic-inch engine. Still, our thought head once again towards the inexistent fuel injection and that belt final drive. Hopefully, these will be 2010 model year’s brand new features.
Engine and Transmission
Type: 65-cubic-inch (1063cc) air-cooled 75° V-twin; SOHC, 2 valves/cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 95 x 75mm
Compression Ratio: 8.3:1
Carburetion: (2) 37mm Mikuni®; throttle position sensor
Transmission: 5-speed, multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: Shaft
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame: Steel; hidden shock
Suspension/Front: Telescopic fork; 5.5-in travel
Suspension/Rear: Single shock; adjustable preload, 4.5-in travel
Brakes/Front: Dual hydraulic disc, 298mm
Brakes/Rear: Hydraulic disc, 282mm
Wheels: 7-spoke cast - Classic and Silverado / Laced - Custom
Length: 97.0 in - Classic and Silverado / 94.7 in - Custom
Width: 37.2 in - Classic / 35.2 in - Custom
Height: 43.3 in
Seat Height: 27.9 in - Classic / 27.2 in - Custom
Wheelbase: 64.8 in - Classic / 64.6 in - Custom
Ground Clearance: 5.5 in - Classic / 5.7 in - Custom
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gal
Fuel Economy: 44 mpg
Wet Weight: 628 lb / C: 634 lb - Classic ; 670 lb / C: 676 lb - Silverado / 606 lb / C: 612 lb - Custom