1999 Yamaha Road Star
- First Ride -

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Yamaha's Most Exciting Cruiser Yet!

Yamaha unleashed a big surprise with the introduction of the 1602cc Road Star. Aimed square at the heart of American cruising, Yamaha's brightest new star packs an industry leading displacement of 1602cc. The solid mount, air cooled, 48 degree V-Twin engine features ceramic composite cylinders with 4 valves atop each.  The are fed by a single 40mm Mikuni carb. An even bigger surprise is that Yamaha chose to push-rod valve activation. Yamaha claims this allows for shorter cylinders and easier customization by owners.Yamaha also says the cam can be removed in about 20 minutes, how's that for easy hop up servicing.

1602cc is a whole bunch of cubic inches, 98 to be sure, but don't get the idea this thing is a hot rod. Instead, the horsepower pumped out by this beast is best suited to laid back cruising. Just turn the throttle and she'll go. Yamaha is counting on Road Star owners who will want to customize their mounts. Because of this, everything on the bike has been kept as simple and basic as possible so bolt on accessories will be easy to produce and mount. Yamaha is at work creating their own high quality add-ons and has primed the pump in getting aftermarket companies to build additional accessories for Road Star owners.

At the center, so to speak, of this all new engine is a massive crank, the largest ever for a production Yamaha. You'll also find belt drive and comfortable floorboards on all Road Stars. Brakes consist of dual 298mm discs up front and a single 320mm disc in back. The brakes work well though they are unbalanced in the effort they require to haul down the bike. The rear takes a light touch while the front requires a strong pull.

Fit and finish is exceptional, and we love the overall package the designers came up with. The feel is long and low with a wheelbase of 66.3 inches and a seat height of just 27.9 inches. Sitting atop the bike is a  visual experience, as the clean and simple layout is endearing to the eye. The tank, instruments, and large headlight shell are as attractive as any we’ve seen from the riders perspective.

The bars are very comfortable, the floorboards very well placed, and the seat is low enough for just about any rider. The only comfort glitch for some riders was the rear portion of the seat where it prematurely and abruptly turns upward.

For overall riding comfort, we prefer the Silveardo version of the Road Star. This model features wider handlebars, a tall windshield, studded seats, a passenger backrest, white wall tires and attractive leather saddlebags with steel frame inserts. For this you'll pay an additional $1,500.

Yamaha thankfully mounted the key switch in a convenient location just in front of the fuel tank. The newly developed tank mounted gauges flash their needles across the dial and reset when the juice in turned on (ok, they let some trick Japanese engineering show). These attractive gauges are attractive and easy to read. There are needles for speed and fuel level, an LED clock and two separate trip meters. Warning lights for turn signals, neutral, high beam, etc. are small and unobtrusive – a very nice package.

- Photo Gallery -

The Road Star
turns well
The beautiful tank of
the Silverado model
Cruising the California
coast

Firing the big twin is simple and immediate, in part due to the auto decompression system. The rumble of the engine is very nice though a bit subdued as you might expect, as the manufacturers must meet so many regulations for sound and emissions. Throttle response is pretty quick for a twin of this size, but a rev limiter kicks in at a very low and disappointing RPM. Shifting is very good and requires less effort than many of the cruisers we've ridden lately.

Once under way you immediately discover the bike is a blast to ride. The big Road Star is stable in straight lines, regardless of speed, and turns quite well - especially the windshield and bag carrying Silverado version which has slightly longer bars which we prefer. These bars are more comfortable and add just enough leverage to make cornering easier and more flowing. Yamaha engineers have once again done an excellent job in developing a new chassis, just as they did with the new Royal Star Venture.

Just build what we want and forget the engineering rule books. This is what American consumers have been asking from the Japanese manufacturers for years. It seems to us, Yamaha is finally listening.

1999 Royal Star Venture / 1999 Road Star Model Info/specs

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