Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Yamaha Star Roadliner

Wed, July 21st, 2010

Featuring a different large-displacement cruiser each day.

2006–10 Yamaha Star Roadliner
Another remarkably torquey cruiser motor, so much so that excessive rear tire wear is a typical owner complaint. Has the exceedingly well calibrated EFI circuitry typical of current Yamaha cruisers.
It's a 750 lb. motorcycle; it's not going to be agile or flickable. But that's not what cruisers are about, anyway. Fortunatley, the Roadliner hides its weight remarkably well, thanks to a lightweight aluminum frame, low CG and smart mass centralization. Once underway, it feels secure and reassuringly substantial, yet precise and fairly athletic. That impression is enhanced by impressive brakes. That's out on the road; try to bang a U-turn or wrangle it out of a parking space and its huge wheelbase will become plainly apparent.
The retro-streamliner design language is creative and original, but frankly it comes off a bit silly-looking, as if it was designed for a 1940's comic-book superhero.
Despite the theoretical benefits of liquid-cooling, Yamaha's air-cooled motors have proven to be no more prone to heat-related wear than their competition, without the extra complexity and potential corrosion problems of liquid-cooling systems. The lack of radiator also helps the bike appear more compact and more like a proper cruiser.
The Roadliner's massive motor and appearance are for style, rather than function. The Roadliner doesn't do anything measurably better than the cheaper, lighter, more agile 1300 or 950 V-Stars...except shred tires.
A fun to ride, quality-built, stylish bike. But a bit too concerned with style for me to seriously consider buying.
A heart-attack-serious motor dressed up in rather campy clothes.

TOMORROW: Honda Valkyrie