Yamaha 1300 V-Star Tourer
by Glenn Roberts
If you told someone just 15 years ago that an engine in a motorcycle which was bigger than many import cars of the day was considered mid-size, they’d look at you like you had two heads. But by today’s standards, a 1300 cc engine in a cruiser could easily be taken for mid-size. After all, a small cruiser these days is generally in the 650-800 cc range and it’s not unusual for a large cruiser to reach 1800 cc and beyond.
For 2007, Yamaha has launched the V-Star 1300 as a new contender in the mid-size cruiser wars.
The 2007 V-Star 1300 comes in two flavours, the standard model and the Tourer. Both models are very much the same but as the name suggests, the Tourer comes with the touring amenities that make a long trip much more enjoyable. Those amenities include a windshield, leather covered hard saddlebags and a passenger backrest.
Each locking saddlebag offers 42-litres of cavernous storage space making it easy for a couple to store more than enough stuff for a few days on the road.
The look of the V-Star 1300 has everything that today’s style dictates. It’s long and low, clean flowing lines, has lots of power and it’s easy to handle. On top of all those features, Yamaha is garnering quite a reputation for its tasteful customized accessories for the whole Star line of motorcycles and this bike falls right in step with that kind of thinking.
Especially since this V-Star’s fenders and fuel tank are made of metal making a custom paint job fit right in the mix. The Yamaha website offers many bolt-on items to make your V-Star truly your own.
Riding the new Tourer makes it very easy to rack up the miles in a short time. Yamaha seems to have the suspension of all its cruisers dialed-in and the V-Star 1300 Tourer is no exception. During my travels, I had the new V-Star on some pretty rough, frost-heaved sideroads and the suspension absorbed any, and all punishment, and easily floated over pavement that had not weathered well. Not once did the rear end bottom out on me.
I didn’t ride with a passenger but if the ride gets a little rough with extra weight on the back, the single shock is spring preload adjustable. The rear shock is mounted out of sight vertically behind the engine.
The 41 mm front fork provides loads of travel, 135 mm (5.3”) to be exact. If you ride on roads that would bottom out on that kind of travel, you’re on the wrong style of bike. Just like the rear suspension, the front end worked flawlessly and provided a smooth ride.
Adding to both ends of the bike are the seven-spoke mag wheels and tubeless 130 and 170 section tires on the front and rear respectively. Two-piston calipers squeeze the dual 298 mm full-floating rotors up front while a single pot caliper slows the rear 298 mm rotor down. The rear caliper hangs low and is somewhat hidden behind the swingarm. The brake lever takes a light squeeze to operate the front binders and the rear brakes do an admirable job to slow the rear wheel.
All in all, the bike stops quickly without much effort on either the lever or the pedal.
Adding to the comfort is the roominess of the cockpit. The 1,690 mm (66.5”) wheelbase provides plenty of leg room and the vibration-isolated floorboards give the feet some room to move around as well. I did find that I had to reach for the handlebar as it seemed a little low on my demo unit, but it’s an easy fix to raise it up slightly.
The seat is wide and comfortable offering excellent support and only hovers 715 mm (28”) off of the ground making it an easy fit for most riders. The locking seat easily removes for access to a tool kit, fuses and the battery.
The zero-distortion windshield offers outstanding protection from the wind and that is in part because…it’s huge. When I initially walked up to the bike, that was the first thing I noticed and it wasn’t just me, others commented on it as well. Personally, I like to look just over the top of a windscreen but this one goes above my line of sight by about 2.5 inches.
I didn’t have the opportunity to ride in the rain but I have no doubt that the rider’s torso would be well protected from on-coming weather. Turbulence on the other hand, can act in funny ways on a motorcycle and can seemingly come at you in the strangest direction for no real reason. While I was riding the V-Star I had a breeze coming up from beside the fuel tank that was strong enough to push my coat into my chest.
This type of turbulence is generally associated with having a windshield but this seemed excessive, possibly due to the size of the windshield. On the plus side for those who prefer to ride sans windshield, it does come off easily with the removal of four bolts.
The analogue speedometer is mounted to the top triple tree, just to the rider’s side of the one-inch rubber-mounted handlebar making it easy to see and read at a glance. At the centre of the gauge is a multi-function digital read-out for the odometer, dual trip meter, clock and low fuel trip meter. Also on the gauge are the necessary idiot lights including a low fuel light to catch your attention should the need arise.
A switch operated on the right hand switchgear does the toggling between the different functions of the digital display so there is no need to take your hand off of the handgrip. All hand controls are easy to access and the turn signals are self-cancelling. The ignition switch, which serves double duty as the steering lock, is conveniently located just ahead of the speedometer.
Finishing up the view from the saddle is the colour-matched headlight pot up front.
The heart of the new mid-size V-Star is the liquid-cooled 1304 cc (80 ci) 60º V-twin engine offering Electronic Fuel Injection and chain driven Single Overhead Cams that operate 4-valves per cylinder. Although the engine is liquid-cooled, Yamaha has done a good job of hiding the evidence. The black radiator is tucked nicely between the frame’s downtubes and it comes with no chrome to draw attention to it.
The top coolant hose enters the engine from under the fuel tank while the lower hose enters the radiator at the bottom directly from the engine’s internal water pump. The hoses are almost invisible unless you are specifically looking for them. The engine features predominant cooling fins in an effort to fool the on-looker that the engine is air-cooled.
The engine dishes out plenty of power, getting up to speed quickly and smoothly. The engine produces 11.3 kg-m (81.8 ft lb) of torque at 4,000 rpm and that seems to be plenty to push the Tourer’s dry weight of 303 kg (666 lb) down the road. That number will increase though once coolant, oil and fuel is added to the 18.5-litre tank.
Regardless of the bike’s weight, a downshift is not really needed to pass a car on the highway in top gear. Although the V-Star doesn’t have a tachometer, Yamaha literature claims the engine revs at only 3,400 rpm at 110 km/h so a downshift during a highway pass would put the engine around the prime torque range of 4,000 rpm.
The engine does utilize dual balance shafts to cancel out most of the engine vibration, which along with both floorboards and handlebar being rubber-mounted, I felt no vibration in my hands or my feet. I am sure, however, I did feel some of the V-twins power pulses through the seat at various rpm.
Both exhaust pipes merge into one at the muffler. The exhaust system features a 3-way honeycomb catalyzer to reduce harmful exhaust emissions but still manages to let out a throaty bark at the end of the tailpipe. The fuel injection system is ‘closed loop’ meaning oxygen sensors in the header pipes, ahead of the muffler, monitor exhaust gases coming from the engine and allows the ECU to make engine management adjustments on the fly.
This means that slip-on mufflers can be used and they will not affect the way the engine performs.
Owners of previous V-Stars know what a pain it was to do your own oil change since the front exhaust pipe had to be removed. It might be worth an upgrade to the new 1300 for the simple reason that the oil filter now resides under the engine and no parts need to be removed for an oil change.
The 1300, however, doesn’t have a dipstick for checking the oil level, only a sight glass at the bottom of the engine. In order to check the oil level yourself, a bike jack is required to level the bike, or another person to assist and stand the bike up so you can look into the sight glass. Also annoying is that the sight glass is partially hidden behind the kickstand bracket.
It shouldn’t be this difficult to perform a regular task in my mind.
The five-speed transmission shifts smooth and precise so finding neutral was never an issue. I did notice a little gear whine, more predominant in fourth, but nothing to be concerned about. The clutch lever is an easy pull and a one-piece heel-toe shift lever makes easy work of shifting.
I found on my demo unit that my riding boot barely fit under the toe portion of the lever, but it looks like if it was adjusted up at the front, the heel part of the lever might go down too far and interfere with the floorboard. Final drive to the rear wheel is via a low maintenance carbon core belt that will do a fine job of keeping the rear wheel clean and the ride quiet.
I really enjoyed my few days riding the V-Star 1300. This is one bike that will make long trips a joy due to its comfortable ergonomics and smooth ride. During my time with the V-Star 1300 Tourer, my average fuel mileage was 5.5L/100km (52 mpg). That should yield about 336 km per tank of fuel.
The low-fuel light came on at about 220 kilometres so there is plenty of warning to find the next gas station. With that kind of distance on a tank of fuel and the convenience of the touring package, it would be easy to make tracks for a few days at a time.
Although I didn’t ride the standard model, I am told it is exactly the same, just lacking windshield, bags and passenger backrest and the weight that goes along with those items, so I have to assume the ride and performance would be identical.
Price for the V-Star 1300 Tourer is $15,299 and the regular V-Star 1300 is $13,799. For complete specifications or more information, go to your nearest dealer or check out www.yamaha-motor.ca. MMM
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