Yamaha’s Hot New Transcontinental Tourer

Yamaha took a little hiatus from the full-dresser market to the tune of almost a half-decade, but the Tuning Fork Company has broken its fast with the release of the all-new Star Venture. This ride clearly comes geared to take on Harley-Davidson’s touring line in general, and the Road Glide Ultra specifically. Ambitious? You betcha, but Yamaha did its homework and put together a machine that brings torquey, big-inch, V-twin yummy goodness to the U.S. market in a rather tour-tastic package that boasts over 35 gallons of dry storage across the two hard bags and trunk box on the base model with additional storage available as part of the “Transcontinental Option Package.” The very name speaks volumes. Yammy even threw on an infotainment system to bring it into line with the other top touring models, but I want to see what else the factory has done to back it up.

Continue reading for my look at the Yamaha Star Venture.

Design

Yamaha Star Venture
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The Venture family has had a couple of runs so far. First, there was a 10-year span from ’83 through ’93, and another from ’96 to ’09. Past models in the Venture line ran big, four-banger mills borrowed from other lines, but this is the first time the factory powered it with a new, purpose-built V-twin. Could be that re-tooling is the reason for the production break, who knows, so let’s go examine the things we do know.

Folks, whatever else this ride is, it ain’t no exercise in subtlety. A broad, flat-top, shark-grin fairing leads the way with a quartet of LED headlights to slice the night and a power-adjustable windshield helping to create the comfort zone for rider and passenger. The windshield comes with over 3.5 inches of travel, and air ducts in the vented fairing provide even more control over the environment immediately behind. Adjustable hand levers come with five positions from which to choose, ’cause contrary to the popular saying, one size does not fit all.

The 27.4-inch seat height, on the other hand, will accommodate all but the shortest of riders. Even the passenger gets some flexibility with the two-position, adjustable footboards, and who wouldn’t love a 17-inch wide, adjustable backrest? Best of all, both seats, the handgrips and the backrest come heated as part of the standard equipment package, so you already get that bit of luxury at all your points of contact.

Yamaha really steps up to the top rung with its infotainment suite. The standard kit comes with a 7-inch, LCD-touchscreen display with all the usual pocket-jukebox compatibilities to include USB and Bluetooth to go with the usual AM/FM receiver. A tire-pressure monitor joins the standard package for a nice bit of safety, convenience and peace of mind.

Part of the Transcontinental Option Package involves an upgrade to the infotainment system; namely the addition of a CB radio, SiriusXM, satellite weather and GPS. Everything but the kitchen sink as far as that sort of thing goes; you even get another pair of speakers, you know, just in case the stock system ain’t enough. The tour-pack, saddlebags and in-fairing storage totals 37.3 gallons with the option of expanding that up to 38 gallons, so there is no shortage of dry storage for touring or at least some serious grocery runs.

Chassis

Yamaha Star Venture
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The base Venture and upgraded Transcontinental models weigh in at 957 pounds and 963 pounds, respectively, so the factory went with steel members for the main frame to support all that stress. A die-cast subframe finishes the skeleton with an eye toward mass-centralization, though that seems a bit futile if you consider the effect of a load in the tour-pack, but I guess they had to at least make an effort.

The steering comes raked out quite a bit at 31-degrees with 5.7 inches of trail, so the Venture is going to be quite stable in the straights and comfortable over the long haul. Even though the factory took steps to try to reduce rotational inertia through mass centralization, there’s no arguing with the steering numbers, and this bike is going to feel a little reluctant in the corners.

A pair of 46 mm forks support the front end on 5.1 inches of travel, but offer nothing in the way of adjustment while the rear shock gives up 4.3 inches of travel and only the obligatory preload adjustment. All-in-all, a rather uninspiring suspension system, but one that is, unfortunately, all too common on American-style tourers.

Dual, 298 mm discs slow the 18-inch front wheel with a massize, 320 mm disc to manage the rear, and not only does it come with ABS protection, but it also gets Yamaha’s Unified Brake System that electronically distributes brake pressure to where it’s needed.

Drivetrain

Yamaha Star Venture
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Yamaha really veers into H-D and Indian’s lane with the big, air-cooled V-twin mill that serves as the beating heart and anchors the look for the rest of the bike. It doesn’t just look big; this sucker runs 100 mm bores with a 118 mm stroke for a total displacement of 1,854 cc, or 113 cubic-inches. Though it looks similar to certain other American-made engines, the factory threw in a tuned counterbalancer to tame the vibrations for low-fatigue cruising.

Quad-valve, dual-plug heads are timed by an over-head cam with a transistor-controlled ignition to manage the spark. A RbW throttle enables the YCC-T and variable D-modes features for a little more of the electronic wizardry that buyers in this sector expect. The mill churns out some impressive torque numbers to the tune of a massive, 126 pounds o’ grunt at 2,750 rpm. Both fifth and sixth gear come with an overdrive ratio, and owners can expect to cruise at 75 mph at that low and comfortable engine speed.

Pricing

Yamaha Star Venture
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You can score a base-model Star Venture in Raspberry Metallic or Granite Gray for $24,999, or spring for the Transcontinental package at $26,999 with the same choice in color. Yamaha gives you a one-year limited warranty with an option for four more years through Yamaha Extended Service, for a total of five years coverage.

Competitors

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Yamaha Star Venture
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Since Yammy so clearly took aim at the Road Glide Ultra with this new Venture, I think it’s fair to see how they stack up against each other. Both carry shark-nose fairings (of which I am not a fan) with windshields and adjustable deflectors/vents to tweak conditions in the rider’s bubble. The Venture carries sportscar-like scoops up front, but the H-D actually mounts fairing lowers on the engine guard for even more rider protection. Yammy nailed the look pretty well with a classic, if chunky, overall panache and I’m hard pressed to pick between the two, though that’s mainly ’cause I don’t like the fixed fairing on either one.

The chassis are as similar as the looks with both running preload-adjustable shocks with fixed-value front forks, even though Harley availed itself of Showa’s Dual Bending Valve shocks for a better-than-vanilla ride. Both have their own ABS with electronically linked and balanced brakes on board, so neither bike in particular gains an upper hand here.

Same for the engines it seems; Harley falls short with only 107 cubic-inches versus the 113 cubic-inch Yamaha, and the torque numbers bear the size difference out with Yammy on top at 126 pound-feet, and Harley bringing up the rear with 113.6 pound-feet. Not a big difference, especially given that both weigh in at half-a-ton wet, but there it is. Yamaha also did a good job making the engine aesthetically pleasing, another critical point because it ain’t enough to just be powerful, one has to look good whilst doing it.

Pricing is on-point for the market. Yamaha squeaks in a win with a $24,999 sticker on its base Venture while H-D asks $26,299 for the Vivid Black Ultra, and even more for the less-boring paint. Once again though, this difference is hardly a deal breaker, especially this far above the 20 K mark.

He Said

“So there you have it. I, for one, saw about what I expected to see based on the price alone, though I was a little surprised at the total lack of attention to the front suspension. Still, it will be interesting to see just how well it competes in this fairly-unpopulated segment.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "I’m not sure what I think yet. For all the pre-unveiling build-up, it seems to be rather ordinary, and in fact, I might think it a little over-priced for its ordinary-ness. I do like the low-low rpms at cruising speed and there’s plenty of torque. I guess if you’re a die-hard Yammy fan and you’ve been waiting since 2009 for a proper tourbike, your prayers have been answered. Maybe if it were at or under the $20k mark, I might be more enthused. Mark me down for undecided at this time."

Specifications

Engine:
Engine Type: 113-cubic-inch (1854cc) air-cooled OHV V-twin; 8 valves
Bore x Stroke: 100.0mm x 118.0mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Yamaha Fuel Injection with YCC-T and D-Mode
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: 6-speed; multiplate assist and slipper wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt
Chassis:
Suspension / Front: 46mm telescopic fork; 5.1-in travel
Suspension / Rear: Single shock with remote preload adjustment; 4.3-in travel
Brakes / Front: Dual hydraulic disc, 298mm; Unified Brake System and ABS
Brakes / Rear: 20mm; Unified Brake System and ABS
Tires / Front: 130/70R18 Bridgestone® Exedra®
Tires / Rear: 200/55R16 Bridgestone® Exedra®
Dimensions:
L x W x H: 106.3 in x 39.9 in x 55.5 - 59.1 in
Seat Height: 27.4 in
Wheelbase: 67.6 in
Rake (Caster Angle): 31.0°
Trail: 5.7 in
Maximum Ground Clearance: 5.5 in
Fuel Capacity: 6.6 gal
Fuel Economy: 34.0 mpg
Wet Weight: 957 lb (Transcontinental: 963 lb)
Warranty: 5 Year Warranty Coverage (1 year limited factory warranty + 4 years Yamaha Extended Service = 5 years coverage)
Details:
Colors: Granite Gray, Raspberry Metallic
Price: $24,999 (Transcontinental: $26,999)

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: yamaha-motor.com, harley-davidson.com

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