Essentially the same bike spec-wise since it was reintroduced in 2013, the 2015 V Star Custom gives a gutsy performance in a put-together package. The only bike in the 2015 Star lineup in this "tween" cc range, the V Star Custom fills a niche that manufacturers are waking up to: put a smaller, less intimidating engine in a big bike. The long wheelbase and big, narrow front hoop makes this a comfortable, custom-looking cruiser for around town, and the respectable fuel economy makes it a nice commuter ride for folks that want a big bike, but not the big-bike price tag. The V Star Custom has enough chrome to be classy without being ostentatious, and enough brawn to be taken seriously without looking like a thug — yes, even in black.

Continue reading for my review of the 2015 Star V Star Custom.

  • 2015 Star Motorcycles V Star Custom
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Engine:
    Air-cooled 70° V-twin; SOHC, 2 valves/cylinder
  • Transmission:
  • Energy:
  • Displacement:
    649 cc
  • Price:


2015 Star Motorcycles V Star Custom Exterior
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Let’s start with what I don’t like about the V Star Custom. The 3D speed graduations on the speedometer are okay, but with it mounted on the fuel tank, I find it not so easy to read at a glance. I want to glance at the speedometer, not study it. A taller person might have a better angle on it; but shorty-me, not so much. Is that a deal-breaker? Heck no.

Sometimes the little things make me happy, especially the low seat height so I can reach the ground without tilting.

The V Star Custom is a cruiser so the other downsides aren’t really downsides when you keep in mind what you have. It’s an around-town bike; it’s not a long-distance highway bike so I can’t really complain that it has quite a bit of vibration at highway speeds, and if you lean even just a little aggressively in the corners, you’re going to scrape. It’s a cruiser; get over it.

Now let me tell you what I really like: self-canceling turn signals. Is that a big deal? No, but it’s a feature that you usually find on more expensive bikes and I like it when I find little nuggets like that on an affordable ride.

There’s also a locking compartment under the side cover to stash your bits and bobs and a locking helmet holder under the seat. Another little nicety is the bungee cord tie-down points so you don’t scratch the finish when strapping stuff to the back of the bike. Sometimes the little things make me happy, especially the low seat height so I can reach the ground without tilting.

In the big picture, the V Star Custom is a lightweight, easy to handle ride with snappy performance — especially in the low and mid range — and old-school cruiser good looks.


2015 Star Motorcycles V Star Custom Exterior
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The double-cradle, steel frame supports the 41 mm telescopic front fork and the single rear shock tucked out of sight under the bobbed fender. It gives the V Star Custom that classic "hardtail" look without battering your kidneys. With 5.5 inches of travel in the front and 3.4 inches in the rear with 7x adjustable preload, the suspension delivers that smooth cruiser ride. The low center of gravity lends itself to easy maneuverability and sporty handling.

The stopping is more important than the going, so let’s look at the brakes. A single 298 mm disc with a twin-piston caliper in the front and a 200 mm drum in the rear provide ample stopping power. It is so old-school to see a drum brake these days, but I’m almost not surprised to find that when it has a shaft drive.

The parts that go roundy-round are spoked chrome wheels — a narrow 19-incher in the front and 170-series, 15-incher on the rear.


2015 Star Motorcycles V Star Custom Drivetrain
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The star of the V Star has to be the 40 cubic-inch mill. Though nestled away in the frame, it is visually offset by the polished cooling fins, chrome valve covers and engine cases over blacked-out jugs. In a move sure to please the American market, Star used a 70-degree, air-cooled, V-twin engine with both-on-one-side exhaust pipes.

In a move sure to please the American market, Star used a 70-degree, air-cooled, V-twin engine with both-on-one-side exhaust pipes.

The engine cranks out 37.6 pound-feet of torque right early on. It develops maximum torque at a mere 3,000 rpm, so you never have to wind her up to get useful power out of her. If this seems like a low number, consider that it is sufficient for a 0-to-60 time of around 8 seconds without trying too hard — not racing, of course, but in those clencher moments when you pull out and then realize a car is coming.

Lightweight forged pistons reduce reciprocating mass and engine vibration while the ceramic cylinder-bore plating reduces friction and improves heat transfer to the thick cooling fins.

This engine breathes through a pair of heated, 28 mm Mikuni carburetors with a throttle position sensor and electronic fuel pump working alongside them to provide smooth throttle response and a respectable 49 mpg.

The clutch is the old, reliable, wet multi-disc type and a low-maintenance, shaft-drive system serves as the final drive between the five-speed transmission and the rear wheel.


2015 Star Motorcycles V Star Custom Exterior
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MSRP on Star’s V Star Custom is an amazingly low $6,990. Available only in Raven for 2015, the price is so low, you can afford to peruse the accessory catalog to add some passenger amenities, saddlebags or some bling.

He Said

My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, "Like so many, this is another close copy of a Harley Davidson Softail. The price and the engine size are sufficiently different from the H-D models that it falls into a slightly different sector in the market. A good-looking beginner’s bike to be sure, but the engine may get to feeling a little small after a while.”

She Said

"I automatically want to like ’Made in the U.S.’ bikes, but I don’t have to stretch when it comes to the V Star Custom. While I really like this bike, it feels like it is wound up a little too much cruising in 5th gear. From the sound of the engine, I want to shift it once more into a 6th gear that isn’t there. That aside, it’s a nice around-town ride and you can’t beat the price. Very reminiscent of the Harley Softails in looks, the V Star Custom is less than half the price of anything in the Softail line-up."


Engine Type: Air-cooled 70-degree V-twin; SOHC, two valves per cylinder
Displacement: 40 cubic-inches (649 cc)
Bore: 81.0 mm
Stroke: 63.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 9.0 to 1
Maximum Torque: 37.6 pound-feet at 3,000 rpm
Fuel Delivery: dual 28 mm Mikuni® CV carburetors
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: five-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: Shaft
Frame: Steel; hidden shock
Suspension, Front: 41 mm telescopic fork; Coil spring/oil damper shock; 5.5-inch travel
Suspension, Rear: Single shock; 7x adjustable preload; coil spring/gas-oil damper; 3.4-inch travel
Trail: 6.0 inches
Brakes, Front: 298 mm hydraulic disc, twin-piston caliper
Brakes, Rear: 200 mm drum
Tires, Front: 100/90-19
Tires, Rear: 170/80-15
Wheel, Front: Spoke - 19M/C x MT2.50
Wheel, Rear: Spoke - 15M/C x MT3.50
Length: 92.1 inches
Width: 34.6 inches
Height: 42.3 inches
Seat Height: 27.4 inches
Wheelbase: 63.4 inches
Ground Clearance: 5.5 inches
Minimum Turning Radius: 122 inches
Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gallons
Fuel Economy: 49 mpg
Curb Weight: 514 pounds / California model: 518 pounds
Maximum Load: 397 pounds / California model: 392 pounds
Warranty: One-Year Limited Factory Warranty
Color: Raven
Price: $6,990
Allyn Hinton
Writer and Associate Motorcycle Editor -
If it had moving parts, it had Allyn's interest from a very early age. At age 11 when bicycles were too simple to hold her interest any longer, her father found her taking apart the lawn mower. When he asked why she was doing it, she replied, “I need to see how it works.” That curiosity and mechanical drive served her well over the next 40 years as she pursued careers in both the automotive and motorcycle industries. Having shared her love of motorcycles with her now husband, biker TJ Hinton, Allyn brings that love and knowledge to TopSpeed as writer and associate motorcycle editor.  Read More
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