Yamaha Speedstar Products Day

Text: Neale Bayly • Photography: Kevin Wing

The Stage IV Speedstar-kitted Road Star Warrior is rumbling away beneath me, my eyes are locked on the timing lights and my clutch hand is just keeping the bike from rolling past the staging lights. The next few seconds seem to take an eternity as I feel my heart thumping through my leathers. The Christmas tree lights drop - I twist the throttle and slide out the clutch trying to balance traction and forward motion. The big V-twin catapults from the line, the rpms rise in a deep bass boom from the unrestricted exhaust, and then I hit second gear. Up to redline, shifting by sound, my eyes straight ahead as third gear is selected. I have done it: I have taken the hole-shot and my opponent is nowhere to be seen in my peripheral vision. Holding third gear till right before the rev-limiter, I go for fourth and blow it, and all I can do is watch the other lane fill with the sight of a passing Road Star Warrior. He trips the lights at 12 seconds and I follow close behind. Round two, I take him, but my run is slower and I miss my chance to break into the eleven-second bracket.

I am not unhappy, though. I have never drag raced before, and thanks to Yamaha, my introduction is about as good as it gets. Along with 11 other journalists from around the country, we assembled at the California Speedway outside Los Angeles on a warm, hazy morning. Public Relations Manager Brad Bannister has invited us out to ride Yamaha's new range of Speedstar products that are available for the popular Road Star and the Road Star Warrior cruisers. And, to let us make a direct comparison between the "kitted" bikes and the stock versions, they have brought a handful of each for us to sample.

Starting with a product review meeting, John Powers informs us of the huge 292 percent growth Yamaha has experienced in cruiser sales since 1997. Compare that to an overall growth rate of 135 percent for the industry as a whole, and you can see why Yamaha is enjoying much deserved success here. Break this down further to the over-1201cc segment of the market and Yamaha has experienced a phenomenal growth of 576 percent compared to the industry's 142 percent. Obviously this is a very significant market for Yamaha and, as a company that listens to their customers, they quickly realized the need for a range of performance products. The Star line of accessories has shot up from around 100 items in 1996 to over 750 in 2002, so it only seemed natural to offer more horsepower as another option in the shape of the Speedstar performance kits.

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For the complete article of the riding impression(s) and technical specifications, please purchase the July/August 2003 back issue.