2008 Yamaha V Star

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For years, 40 cubic inches was a lot of motor. Guess what? It still is, especially when a sweet overhead-cam 40-inch V-twin powers a bike that doesn’t weight so much. The V Star Classic is light, maneuverable and ready for you to make it your own.

 

Introduction

The V Star 650 Classic features an authentic 40 cubic-inch, air-cooled V-twin. With long, low styling and lots of chrome, this V Star is ready to impress.

Only the price tag will tell you this machine is a mid-size model. Everything else – the long, low styling, the authentic 40 cubic-inch V-twin, the painstaking attention to detail - - will just plain knock you out. Take one for a nice long ride, and you’ll see why. Big on value and good looks, the V Star 650 Classic punches way above its weight. It’s a champion by unanimous decision.

History

Yamaha V Star

Yamaha started it all with the first V Star Classic back in 1998 when it began offering this Star middleweight model. American styling, steel fenders and bodywork, long 64” wheelbase and a 70-degree V-twin engine are the basic features which made a statement almost a decade ago and which are still going strong now.

Based on the proven Yamaha Virago 535 engine, the V Star (Dragstar in Europe) cylinders were bored out from 5 mm to 81 mm and stroked from 4 mm to 63 mm, to net a displacement of 649cc. The V Star comes in two models: the custom with a lower seat height 695.96 mm and slightly less weight, and the classic with a higher seat height of 708.66 mm. The custom is approximately 500.44 lbs and the classic approximately 4.40 lbs heavier. The American versions of this bike have a lower HP of 33 @6500 rpm. Reasons for this restricted version may have to do with American EPA requirements.

The basic V Star Custom takes its styling from Harley’s Fatboy as it features fatter mudguards than the standard bike and shrouded forks.

Competition

Yamaha V Star

With the Honda Aero, the Japanese manufacturer uses the same technique that lead to the creation of the V Star Classic only that this time we are talking about 750cc. Full sized looks and 750cc performance without the full-sized price tag. Sound like a stretch? Not when you’re talking about the Honda Shadow Aero. Stunning is one way to describe its long, low, retro styling simply drenched in chrome from tip to tail and boosting classic valanced fenders, spoked wheels and five all-new colors. Staggering is another – especially once you see that all this muscular V-twin style and performance could be yours for a mid-sized price.

The Boulevard C50 has the soul of a classic cruiser combined with V-twin performance that gives you a charge every time you twist the throttle. The Boulevard C50’s Classic design begins with the flowing lines of its kicked-out front end and pullback handlebars, which perfectly complement its teardrop tank, stepped seat and boldly valanced rear fender. These lines, of course, show off its spacious seating position, which promises a comfortable ride hour after hour. Down the boulevard or on the open highway, the C50’s V-twin powerplant is engineered for pure excitement. With strong low-end and mid-range torque, it accelerates hard from just above idle. Yet, thanks to it advanced engineering, it’s incredibly smooth at highway cruising speeds.

Yamaha V Star

Exterior

Yamaha V Star

The V Star 650 Classic is all about retro style given by its cool and consecrated lines that practically define a cruiser. This bike has the talent of making itself look bigger than it actually is because, of course, when it comes to cruising machines bigger is always better.

The front end creates a beautiful balance between the steel valaced front fender, the solid looking fork and chromed halogen headlight. This equilibrium is borrowed from its bigger brothers, although the single hydraulic disc betrays the big-bike look. Not entirely though, because many big cruising motorcycles sometimes happen to feature a single front disc brake. The handlebars are slightly leaned back and offer space for those nice looking chromed mirrors.

Furthermore, the large 4.2-gallon teardrop fuel tank features beautiful speedometer designed with a large face for easy reading of the information that it provides. The seat height is low in order to allow shorter people to find their place on this machine and it also fills the gap between the fuel tank and that steel valanced rear fender.

In order to feature complete classic look, this Star received spoked wheels and lots of chrome accents that contribute at creating a timeless machine. Let’s not forget industry-leading Star Family fit and finish which always features lustrous paint and this is no exception.

It is funny how a bike that leads to the creation of a bigger one, now inspires its looks from that very same model. I am talking about the V Star 650 Classic and V Star 1100 Classic. The first implements the big-boy look found on the bigger bike. This can be noticed while taking a look to the cylinders, exhaust and virtually all the elements of which I wrote about.


Test Drive

Yamaha V Star

With the first moment I saw the 2008 V Star 650 Classic, I understood why people sometimes confuse it with 1000cc motorcycles. The bike simply surprises with its size and you ask yourself if you didn’t by mistake receive the 1100cc model.

After you clear that thought in your mind, pull out the “choke” knob situated under the left rear corner of the tank and fire the engine up. You will see how this unit’s response is quick and easy and how the bike idles smoothly while letting it worm up a little bit in a cold morning.

By this time, you will surely be anxious to give it a go so you will use the low-effort clutch and snick it into first gear. If you are used to dour machines, the V Star will feel smooth, reliable and confidence-providing and this is just the start. City traffic will be no problem for this ride as it shifts precisely and no abrupt feel will be encountered while using the clutch.

I enjoyed pulling away when lights turned green because this was a great opportunity to see the engine’s pull in the lower gears. Rolling on the throttle in lower gears provides good acceleration and the engine’s exhaust system makes a good impression also. In my attempt of detaching from four-wheeled traffic, I noticed that by the time you have to shift to second, all cars can be seen in the rear view mirrors. Third gear would have finished them off if you decide to be more gentile with the 650cc engine.

In town, I didn’t considered necessary to shift to fourth gear and that is why I felt necessary to get it on the highway and see what it really can prove with its V-twin engine.

This Star doesn’t feel short on power until it reaches 70mph. Also, at high engine speeds, power falls off surprisingly and that is where you realize that no mistakes were made and you received the right bike. The 649cc air-cooled, SOHC 70-degree V-twin is designed to crank out torque at low and mid rpm levels and until that time, these will be long gone.

By the time the rider becomes familiar with highway speeds, he will be capable to shift at peak power, an important part of gathering momentum quickly. Any other situations were proudly faced by this V-twin fed by two 28mm Mikuni CV carburetor.

Out on the highway, other issues rise up and are well worth considering. An example, especially on cruisers, is the vibration levels detected by the relaxed rider. Thanks to the V Star’s counterbalancer, vibrations remain almost nonexistent from around 75 mph, where the grips start to tingle and the pegs tremble a little. At 85 mph and above, the vibration level is very significant, blurring the mirrors.

Even though you may detect some vibrations, it is good to take in consideration the fact that this is a cruiser for the beginner rider at its second evolutionary step so it isn’t quite recommended to widely open the throttle. It would be best to enjoy the relaxed riding position. The footpegs are not too far forward positioned so they keep tall riders from feeling cramped and short motorcyclists from feeling like they have to extend their legs in order to reach the pegs. The same think with the handlebars.

Another important unit in providing comfort and stability in corners is the suspension. I noticed that is absorbs small bumps with ease and still manages to keep the bike steady while cornering. Speed bumps will require you to lift your butt of the seat in order to keep things comfy and simple.

Also important, but for a mental comfort, is to have good, reliable brakes which only require a stronger squeeze for more braking power. The same with the foot peg. Just hit it harder and you’ll soon feel the tires gripping and stopping this overall awesome cruising machine.

Price

The thing with middleweight motorcycles, cruisers included, is that they have to speak through their price. A manufacturer couldn’t claim that it offers an excellent middleweight package for somewhere around ten grand let’s say. Thinks have to remain proportionate so as the customer would make the best choice for him in relation to its pocket. This Star doesn’t exaggerate in any chapter as it is being offered for the suggested retail price of $6,199 (Galaxy Blue) or $6,299 (Raven w/Flames).

Conclusion

Star understands that you don’t have to be a heavyweight to express yourself. The way they see it, this Classic has all the Star quality and strong-running V-twin performance you want and I am pretty sure that this is your opinion either. It’s up to you to say the rest as I name it a wise mean of expression yourself.


SPECIFICATIONS

 

Engine and Transmission

Displacement: 40-cubic-inch (649cc)
Type: Air-cooled 70-degree V-twin; SOHC, 2 valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 81mm x 63mm
Compression Ratio: 9.0:1
Carburetion: (2) 28mm Mikuni CV carburetors
Ignition: TCI
Transmission: 5-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: Shaft

Chassis and Dimensions

Fuel Capacity: Steel; hidden shock
Suspension/Front: Telescopic fork; 5.5-in travel
Suspension/Rear: Single shock; adjustable preload, 3.9-in travel
Brakes/Front: Hydraulic disc, 298mm
Brakes/Rear: 200mm drum
Tires/Front: 130/90-16
Tires/Rear: 170/80-15
Wheels: Laced
Length: 96.5 in
Width: 36.6 in
Height: 43.5 in
Seat Height: 27.9 in
Wheelbase: 64 in
Ground Clearance: 5.7 in
Dry Weight: 505 lb
Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gal

Other

Warranty: 1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Color: Galaxy Blue; Raven w/Flames

Features

 

Key Features:

- Retro style is even cooler when it’s combined with modern engineering, including an SOHC air-cooled V-twin and shaft drive.


- Rider floorboards, steel fenders, custom looking clear turn signals, lots of chrome, etc – the V Star Classic represents tremendous cruiser bang for the buck.


- Rigid-look frame provides a great ride via a hidden rear shock with 3.9 inches of travel.

Engine:

Yamaha V Star

- Beautifully chromed and polished 40-cubic-inch (649cc) air-cooled, SOHC 70-degree V-twin cranks out torquey low- and mid-range power with minimal engine rpm – maximum torque is reached at only 3000 rpm – for powerful, smooth cruising performance.


- Wide-ratio five-speed transmission ensures extremely usable, cruiser-friendly power delivery to the asphalt.


- Low-maintenance shaft drive provides quiet, reliable performance.


- Two-into-two chrome exhaust pipes create sleek styling and deliver maximum low- and mid- range engine output.

Chassis/Suspension:

Yamaha V Star

- Stout, large-diameter steel frame designed to provide low seat height with ample legroom.


- Long, low 64-inch wheelbase adds to rider and passenger comfort and predictable handling.


- Stylish heel/toe shifter adds versatility and enhances overall cruising comfort.


- Comfortably placed full-size rider floorboards enhance ride by minimizing engine vibration and fatigue.


- Beefy, telescopic front fork with stainless steel covers and 5.5 inches of travel ensures a smooth ride with stylish durability.


- Hardtail-look frame conceals a link-type, preload-adjustable single rear shock with 3.9 inches of travel for excellent handling and a plush ride.


- Single front disc and rear drum brakes deliver strong, confidence-inspiring stopping power.


- Wide, retro-style handlebars evoke a classic design with roomy ergonomics for enhanced rider comfort.


- Fat front tire on wire-spoked wheel combines retro styling with solid handling and traction.

Additional Features:

- Industry-leading Star family fit and finish features rich, lustrous paint and extensive chrome accents that create a stunningly timeless machine.


- Deeply valanced steel front and rear fenders both durable and unmistakable classic.


- Large 4.2-gallon teardrop fuel tank features class-leading fuel capacity for extra long-distance cruising range.


- Beautiful, tank-mounted speedometer designed with a large face for easy reading of tripmeter/odometer displays and turn signal, neutral, high beam and engine diagnostic indicator lights.


- Chrome 60/55-watt halogen headlight adds a nice stylish touch and maximizes nighttime visibility.


- Maintenance-free 12V 10H battery ensures reliable, no-fuss starting.


Models Available

 

V Star 650 Classic

This model made the subject of my review so you became familiar with it, read how it behaves, and most of all how much cash will require. It is also the bike that was first introduced, with the Custom model right next to it, but let’s read about the other models, too.

V Star 650 Custom

Yamaha V Star

Plenty of attitude in a surprisingly lean and low package, priced to leave more of you to express yourself with cool Custom Star Accessories. Now there’s no reason to settle for less than a real Star.

Star motorcycles started with an authentic V-twin powerplant and a lean, low-slung chassis, and then tricked it out with lots of chrome, luminous paint, and a bobtail rear fender. And thanks to its chopper profile, shaft drive, and low seat height, the end result is no ordinary custom. The V Star 650 Custom is so stylish and unique that people will swear you must have customized it yourself.

Price

The Custom model is even cheaper and features all it needs for the custom-oriented rider. With an MSRP of $6,099 for both color schemes (Candy Red w/Flames; Raven w/Flames) it is a real bargain and blows away any for of competition.

V Star 650 Silverado

Yamaha V Star

Everything you need to travel is right here, with not much excess baggage to hold you back. A medium-sized adjustable windshield, low profile studded touring seat with backrest and studded leather saddlebags are everything the V Star Silverado needs to be a great traveling bike.

Price

The great news is that this accessorized model will only bring $1000 more on the price tag so you will be cruising economically. The Liquid Silver painted Silverado costs $7,199 and a Raven version, $7,299.


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