It used to be that anything with a set of saddlebags was loosely called a Bagger but now, a pukka Bagger must have the low, lean look of a cruiser but also sport a fork-mounted fairing for comfort and hard saddlebags for utility. Enter this new machine from Yamaha …
Yamaha’s foray into the Bagger wars is the $14,499 Touring Deluxe. It’s not really an all-new model as the basic platform is Yamaha’s V-Star 1300 chassis, which has a rep as one of the best mid-sized cruisers available. Yamaha’s “regular” 1300 Touring goes for $13,499 and comes with a bolt-on windscreen, leather-covered bags and a backrest.
But Yamaha laid some standard equipment on the Deluxe that makes it one of the best buys in all of Bagger-dom. First off, Yamaha ditched the Touring’s passenger backrest (which is SO last week) installed a molded batwing fairing with a tall screen and 28-liter, colour-matched locking hard bags. The fairing and bags alone would be worth the extra grand, but wait … there’s more.
Also standard is a Garmin Zumo 665 GPS navigation system, a unit specifically designed for motorcycle use that’s waterproof, fairly intuitive to operate and has a glove-friendly touchscreen that’s quite visible, even in bright sun. It’s nicely integrated into the cockpit and is quickly removable if desired.
A flat iPod or iPhone jack is located in the left saddlebag so if you subscribe to the Dark Empire of Apple-dom, you can bring your tunes with you. The Zumo can also play XM satellite radio if a subscription is purchased and it’s Bluetooth compatible.
Audio is controlled by a convenient switch on the left handlebar and the system has an ambient noise sensor. On the highway, it cranks the volume to overcome wind noise but at slower speeds, it quiets down so everyone in a five-kilometer radius doesn’t have to hear your Carly Simon collection.
The fairing-mounted speakers appear to be of a high quality, with little distortion noted at highway speed. The unit isn’t compatible with a standard, single-plug MP3 player, which would’ve accommodated a lot more potential customers.
All the extras add an 8 kg weight penalty to the Deluxe’s 324 kg.
Once you throw a leg over the Deluxe, you’re re-entering familiar territory as everything else is V-Star 1300.
The engine is the same 1,304cc, SOHC, 60-degree V-twin that’s powered Yamaha’s mid-sized cruisers for years. Putting out about 70 horsepower and 82 ft lbs of torque, it’s more than adequate to propel the 331 kg Deluxe up to freeway speeds with little fuss or fanfare.
The five-speed box shifts positively, if a little on the heavy side. Gears engage with a satisfying “clunk” – there’s never any doubt as to whether you’re in the next gear or not. For those that like ‘em, a heel and toe shifter is supplied. Final drive is by clean, quiet and efficient reinforced belt.
Yamaha claims that a cruising speed of 110 kph comes at 3,400 rpm but with no tachometer fitted, I couldn’t verify this, although the GPS was showing 125 once or twice and the Deluxe seemed to be just loafing along, not straining in the least.
The radiator is mounted between the frame tubes to be totally unobtrusive, while the cylinders have faux cooling fins cast onto them to maintain the classic, air-cooled look. In fact, everything is very cleanly routed on the Deluxe; all cables and hoses are well-hidden.
Most cruiser rear suspension is highly inadequate. The long and low look that customers desire doesn’t leave much room for suspension travel and this translates to a harsh, molar-bashing ride. Yamaha has always had the best cruiser suspension in the business and the Deluxe is no exception.
The 41mm KYB forks have a full 135mm (5.3 inches) of travel while the preload adjustable rear shock is vertically mounted behind the engine for the hardtail look, while still providing 110mm (4.3 inches) of travel. Spring and damping rates seem well matched to the motorcycle and bumps that would send an Ibuprofen-seeking jolt through my spine are simply swallowed up by the Deluxe.
The Yamaha stops well, courtesy of the twin 298mm floating front discs squeezed by two piston calipers. The initial bite is decent and it only takes a medium squeeze to bring the Deluxe and rider to a controlled, safe stop. Rear brake is a single 298mm disc with a single piston caliper activated by the traditional ’57 Buick Roadmaster brake pedal.
Even though the Deluxe has a fashionably low 690 mm (27.2 inch) seat height (or seat lowth, as the case may be) it’s doesn’t feel cramped for those of us over six feet. The floorboards aren’t overly forward and a nice touch is that the rubber inserts are semi-floating to cut down vibration to the feet.
As you’d expect from a low cruiser with a 1,690 mm wheelbase, it’s not exactly “flickable” but the Deluxe is stable and sticks to its chosen line through corners. Around town, the steering is a bit on the heavy side, but on the open road, it’s not noticeable. Any experienced rider will soon be grinding away on the “hero feelers” – replaceable bolts located under the floorboards that touch down before any hard parts.
The fairing keeps cold breezes from the rider’s hands and the tall screen provides a huge, still air pocket. Personally, I’m not fond of looking through windscreens; I’d rather look over them, but that’s easily rectified.
Inserting or removing the ignition key is rather like putting a stamp on an envelope once it’s already inside the mailbox as the ignition switch is way down inside the cubby-hole under the GPS.
A couple tanks of regular unleaded returned between 15.5 to 16.46 km per liter during a mix of in-town and highway riding, so the 18.5 liter tank should give an acceptable cruising range. I know when I’m traveling, the last thing I need is to fill up with gas every 200 km or so.
Seeing as it’s a “true” Bagger, the V-Star 1300 Deluxe is going up against Honda’s new F6B, Harley’s Street Glide and Road Glide as well as Kawasaki’s Vaqueros. But those motorcycles cost anywhere from three to eight grand more than the Star and none come with a standard GPS or satellite radio capability. I think Yamaha is missing out by not having a standard MP3 connection, cruise control or an ABS option but that could be in the next generation.
The Deluxe is comfortable and well thought-out. It’s not ground breaking by any means but it does make a very nice touring machine with adequate cargo capacity, great wind protection and class-leading standard features. It’s a lot of Bagger for the buck.
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|Bike||2013 Yamaha V-Star 1300 Deluxe|
|Engine type||V-twin , SOHC, EFI, five-speed transmission|
|Power (crank)*||70 hp (estimated)|
|Torque*||82 lbs. ft|
|Tank Capacity||18.5 liters|
|Brakes, front||Dual 298 mm floating discs, twin piston calipers|
|Brakes, rear||298 mm disc, single piston caliper|
|Seat height||690 mm, (27.2 inches)|
|Wheelbase||1,690 mm (66.5 inches)|
|Wet weight*||331 kg (730 lbs)|
|Colours||Purplish metallic blue|