Is it possible to have cruiser styling in a functional mid-size touring package? Our Yamaha V-Star 1300 Deluxe Special Edition review gives an in-depth examination of Yamaha’s premium tourer. In it we look at price and aesthetics, performance, ergonomics, technology, and storage.
Are you thinking of getting or upgrading your cruiser and/or tourer? Read ahead and see why Yamaha’s Deluxe SE might make sense for you.
“Don’t worry, that’s not yours,” says the Yamaha Canada rep, walking me away from a dirty Yamaha V-Star 1300 Deluxe Special Edition towards a clean and shiny one.
The V-Star 1300 was introduced in 2007, as the successor to the aging 1100. The Deluxe Special Edition version is aimed at the casual tourer who demands a little more than the base model 1300. Long, low, and blacked out for attitude, the Deluxe SE looks the part. “This is your bike,” he says, pointing.
Hello, beautiful. It’s nice to meet you.
Price and Aesthetics
There was a time when a 1,300cc would be considered a flagship vehicle for a brand. Those days are long past, and Yamaha offers both the Stryker and the Raider in the United States and Canada. Here in Canada, Yamaha simply calls the V-Star 1300 Deluxe SE a “midsize tourer.” We think of the Deluxe SE as a light bagger, and after reviewing Honda’s Gold Wing F6B we were eager to see what Yamaha could bring to the market for nearly $10,000 less.
In North America, Yamaha offers three V-Star 1300 models:
- Base – $11,290 USD – US-Only, not available in Canada
- Tourer – $12,390 USD, $13,499 CAD – Featuring a quick-release windshield and backrest and leather-wrapped hard saddlebags
- Deluxe – $14,090 USD, $14,999 CAD – Featuring fork-mounted fairing, integrated dash and audio system, iDevice connectivity, Bluetooth, blacked out look including rims and exhausts, and hard bags painted to match
The fork-mounted batwing fairing is extremely attractive in a Harley-Davidson Street Glide kind of way. Blacked out rims and exhaust pipes help to back the V-Star Deluxe SE’s bad ass look, and bump up its curb appeal.
With a variety of additional amenities, including GPS navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth and iDevice connectivity, I expect the Deluxe SE to be more than just a pretty face as I ride away from Yamaha Canada’s head office. The bagger represents a slightly lighter, slightly less practical, and slightly less comfortable fully-dressed tourer. Even still, I quickly realize that the Deluxe SE mixes cruiser looks with touring practicality.
As I prepare to get on to the highway I notice my posture. The ergonomics leave me comfortably upright, a position I would test on a four hour ride later that week. The position is quite comfortable, and the low windscreen keeps the wind off of my arms and chest. However, it offers minimal protection for my face, and I get blasted with wind. In their Yamaha V-Star Deluxe 1300 Special Edition review, Motorcycle Mojo magazine referred to the screen as “the least effective windshield known to man.” Sensationalist? Sure, but you get the picture.
Looking down I find a wide comfortable seat with a 27.2″ seat height between my legs. At 5’10” I have no issues touching the ground at a stop. Even the bike’s kick stand is easy to reach.
The Yamaha V-Star 1300 Deluxe SE is really a heavy, low, cool, short trip bagger. The bike has a low center of gravity. The 66.5″ wheel base does it’s part to keep the 730 lb. tourer well balanced and stable. The big bubble wheels (130/90-16 front, 170/70-16 rear) and suspension (wheel travel: 5.3″ front, 4.3″ rear) eat up bumps and grooves with ease. Roadway imperfections get soaked up on a plush ride.
The distance from the grips to the steering column felt evident in corners in my first two rides. The motorcycle’s rake is not overly dramatic, but the upright plush ergonomics call for a handlebar that is swept high up, back, and extra wide. With practice however, the V-Star can confidently be pushed horizontally to the limit of its floor boards. By the end of the week you’ll comfortably lanesplit through downtown Toronto traffic. The latter is definitely better left to smaller motorcycles, but it is doable.
At $14,000 to $15,000, the motorcycle runs a little more expensive than Suzuki‘s C90T, but the Yamaha compensates by offering more amenities. Compared to Honda‘s CTX1300T, the V-Star 1300 Deluxe SE is significantly less expensive. You can do a lot of customization to the Deluxe SE with the money you’ll save, but I suggest you start with heated grips, and an iPhone Lightning to 30-pin Adapter.
Yes, that’s right. The 2017 Yamaha V-Star Deluxe Special Edition still comes with a 30-pin iPhone connector, and not the Lightning connector which has been used with every Apple product since the iPhone 4S in 2011. This is done deliberately for reasons known only to Yamaha senior management and God himself, but one can speculate.
Moreover, the audio controls at the handlebar did not seem to do a good job (or any job) of controlling audio playback from my iPhone once connected. This could be attributable to user error, or a one-off issue, but the problem was aggravated by a lack of FM radio on the bike. While satellite radio is possible via Sirius Satellite XM, a simple AM/FM radio would’ve been an inexpensive and welcome addition.
Another miss was the lack of rider/passenger communication system. While this wasn’t an expected feature given the Deluxe’s price-point, it only further underlined that the audio experience seems to be a bit of an afterthought on this bike.
Where the V-Star Deluxe SE really shines, as far as technology is concerned, is the encased, removable, Garmin Zumo GPS device. With all of my audio woes, more often than not I found myself listening to the GPS’ voice alerting me of turns ahead, and showing me visual distance countdown until my turn. The GPS was easily visible, even in peak daylight, as it is well shrouded in the dashboard. The appearance is that of a sealed built-in unit, however, pressing on a tab will open the carrying area. This makes it easy to remove the device or lock it away for security.
The V-Star’s 1,304cc (80 cubic inch) v-twin engine produces a nice, albeit quiet rumble. Some aftermarket exhausts wouldn’t hurt and a full stage 1 kitting would likely unleash more power. Dyno-testing from Cycle World magazine reveals that the motor puts out 65 horsepower and 81.8 ft-lb of torque at 4,100 RPM (64.8 at the rear wheel) from factory.
Final drive was via low-maintenance belt drive and top speed is about 105 mph or around 170 km/hr. Off the line, the V-Star 1300 Deluxe SE is un-intimidating and shows no will to launch itself at take off. With some throttle twisting it will pull, hard, but never quite lunges itself fully. This is a very Japanese cruiser. Smooth, reliable, and uncharismatic.
The five-speed transmission shifts smoothly. My demo unit had roughly 300 km on it when I picked it up. It never slipped or left me wondering which gear I was in, and clunks between shifts were as expected from a Japanese motorcycle of this class. Not quite a click, but a soft and gentle clunk. I did find that I prefer using only the toe shifter, as my size 12 Harley-Davidson boots felt too big and made shifting cumbersome on the V-Star. This was a problem that I also faced on the Honda Gold Wing F6B. Big-footed folks, watch out for that.
In Canada, the V-Star 1300 Deluxe SE is Yamaha’s only cruiser/tourer to boast liquid cooling. In the US, liquid cooling can also be found on the Stryker, but not on the Raider, as the cruiser community continues to wait on OEMs to provide the same level of standard equipment found on more performance-oriented motorcycles.
Under heavy braking I could’ve sworn a slight tendency to veer right, but truthfully I didn’t test my luck a third time to see if it was the bike, or the rider. I’d love to hear some reader feedback in the comments section below.
With a rider and passenger the bike grows to over 1,000 lbs. The stop and go of city riding can be physically demanding, but that isn’t what this V-Star is designed for. Once traveling at speed the bike carries the weight well. At this displacement, performance lag with a passenger isn’t particularly significant either in acceleration or in braking.
Average fuel economy is in the low 40 – 43 MPG range (5.88 – 5.47 L/100 km). A 4.9 gallon (18.5 lt) fuel capacity will get you over 300 km, with 10 – 30 km to spare. When I’m travelling, I like to pull over every hour or two anyway just to stretch and have some water, so I never came near running low on gas on the Deluxe Special Edition.
Enough good can’t be said about the 57 litres (28.5 each) of capacity of the hard locking saddlebags. They are color-matched to fit the Yamaha V-Star 1300 Deluxe Special Edition’s rich two-tone grey and blue paint job. The bags offered more than enough storage for a weekend trip to a friend’s cottage, as well as the typical camera equipment and other extras that come with moto-journalism.
The one-handed locking system works well but has one possible downside. Given that you are able to lock the hard bags without a key, it becomes possible to lock your keys inside of the hard bags. This type of goof-up happens every so often with scooters, where keys can be locked in the under seat storage. But a small-displacement scooter and a 1,300 cc middle weight tourer are two different beasts, and one is much more likely to be left stranded hundreds of kilometers away from home than the other.
Yamaha’s V-Star 1300 Deluxe Special Edition is built on a tried and tested platform, but still has room for improvement. The motorcycle delivers consistent, predictable and good power and handling. It does so smoothly. But it also does so without character or personality. It offers good value in the middle-weight touring division, looks rich and does a good job of combining cruiser looks with light touring capabilities, but the GPS is only thing that really sets it apart. This is a very Japanese tourer, built on a very Japanese cruiser platform, and for some, it will be exactly what they want at a price they are willing to pay.
Thanks, Yamaha Canada!
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