2012 Star Cruiser Lineup: Something for Everybody

Text: Florian Neuhauser • Photography: Tom Riles, Brian Nelson

Star Motorcycles offers 14 different models that beat to the tune of seven different engine configurations, making it the broadest range to choose from in the cruiser segment. With so many choices, there’s an option for every type rider, from beginner to long-distance warrior.

Star offers a V-twin configuration in 249cc, 942cc, 1304cc, 1670cc, and 1854cc sizes; and two V-4s, 1294cc and 1679cc. We tested several models, all of which were fit for touring. No wonder they’re the top-selling metric brand in the over-900cc cruiser market.

VMAX
The “Why Not?” bike

This isn’t your average power cruiser. Crack the throttle too hard on the VMAX and you’ll have skid marks in places other than the pavement. Just a look at the stats should give you an idea of the raw power. The 1679cc, 65-degree, liquid-cooled, four-valves-per-cylinder, DOHC engine pumps out 174 hp. Keep in mind this motorcycle weighs in at 683 pounds, which has even been reduced from the 2011 model. Not much else has changed for 2012. It comes in a new matte black, features a new side cover finish that matches the bike’s distinctive intake cover, and has gray stitching on the seat.


The VMAX uses an organic electroluminescence multifunction display, but the location makes it tricky to see. It’s located where the gas cap usually is. It’s probably a good thing that you don’t have too much distraction while riding the VMAX, because it takes all of your concentration and self-control, too. The gas tank is mounted under the seat to centralize the weight and contribute to the looks.


With so much power available, good brakes are essential. The engineers outfitted the VMAX with Brembo master cylinders and large, 320mm, wave-style dual front discs matched to radial-mounted mono block six-piston calipers. On the rear wheel, there’s a 298mm disc (also wave design) and single-piston caliper. With so much power and technology comes a ,890 price tag.

V Star 1300 Tourer
Big brother of the 
V Star 950 Tourer

Basically unchanged from 2011, this midsize cruiser’s best attribute is its light and nimble handling. The test ride went through some of Georgia’s best twisties, and the V Star 1300 Tourer didn’t disappoint. Although I scraped the footboards regularly, it does have more ground clearance than similar models. It certainly feels lighter than the 712 pounds it weighs. The main reason for the easy handling is the chassis, which puts 48 percent of the weight on the front tire. It’s built on a 
double-cradle steel frame, giving the V Star a rigid base yet enough flex, too.


The 1304cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected V-twin provides ample power in all rpm ranges, and it produces a very appealing exhaust note. I took out my earplugs just to hear it. The V-twin is great for leisurely cruising around curves and doesn’t require constant shifting thanks to the broad power range. The 27.2-inch seat height allows riders of all statures to swing a leg over or at least plant both feet flat on the ground while seated. It costs ,090 for the Tourer version, which includes windshield, side bags, and passenger backrest (all of factory design to maintain the visual integrity). The factory estimates fuel consumption at 42 mpg.

Stratoliner Deluxe
Comes standard with a 
Garmin zūmo 665—great for RoadRUNNER’s 300+ GPS files

Updates over last year’s model include a new tank emblem and the omission of the front fender stay. Star also changed the speaker trim from black to chrome, added a closeable lid (for the iPod, included with a new purchase) that can also be used for storage, and our favorite addition, a Garmin zūmo 665 GPS. The GPS mount can be flipped up to hide out of view and make access to the ignition easier.


The powerful, 1854cc, air-cooled, pushrod V-twin produces great thrust at any speed. The twin-bore, downdraft electronic fuel injection provides the pilot with instant throttle response. It cruises at 75 mph at only 3,300 rpm, and maximum torque is reached only at 2,500 rpm. The seat is comfortable and allows movement during long and straight stretches. Through the curves, it behaves like a 794-pound cruiser should. In very tight corners, using third gear is the best option in combination with working the rear brake to avoid the choppy throttle experienced in second gear, where the rpms are just too high to be smooth. A single shock with adjustable spring preload on the rear is hidden from plain sight. The front suspension consists of a 46mm telescopic fork with 5.1 inches of travel.


The basic version costs $ 17,990. We also tested a custom touring version, which had $ 4,770.65 worth of add-ons, including a comfort cruise solo seat, comfort cruise tour pillion pad, billet rear fender rack, billet passenger footboards, passing lamps, quick-release passenger backrest side arms, a tall windshield, touring handlebars, and lots of chrome. We highly approve of the add-ons: They make a very capable touring motorcycle over the basic outfit.

Royal Star Venture S
Forget about the journey,
it’s all about the Venture

This luxury tourer is by far the smoothest of them all. The V-4 engine has been in Star’s lineup since ’99, and the refinement over the years clearly shows. The windshield provides excellent protection and is tall enough for even the big guys and gals. The plush rider and passenger seat with backrest provides the ultimate comfort for long hauls. The shifting is effortless, and the Venture holds a nice steady line through the curves. The rider is protected well by the fairing. (The morning ride started out with sprinkling rain. Only my knees got slightly wet.) What surprised me the most was the quality of the sound system. It’s rare that a stock system is this crisp, clear, and more than loud. An iPod comes with a new purchase and can be hooked up with the accessory cable located in the left saddlebag or the extra auxiliary jack in the cockpit; it makes for some rocking rides. The audio system is already wired and ready for a CB radio, intercom system, and AM/FM radio. The saddlebags are difficult to get into, because the keyhole is directly underneath the passenger grab handles. For a long-distance machine, more control gauges in the cockpit would be nice. What is nice, though, is a five-year unlimited mileage warranty and 24-hour roadside assistance program that comes standard and is completely transferrable on all Star motorcycles. This translates to worry-free roaming on the Venture and others. The “S” model comes with a chrome switch housing and front fork. It sells for ,190. Comparable motorcycles are the BMW K 1600 GTL ($ 23,200), Honda Gold Wing ($ 23,199), Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS (,999), Victory Cross Country Tour (,999), and Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Limited ($ 23,799).

Raider SCL
Custom Cruiser

A true newcomer to Star Motorcycles is the Raider SCL. SCL stands for Star Custom Line, and it signifies a unique model with a limited production run; only 500 Raider SCLs will be made. The number is included in the SCL tank badge. This piece of art features lots of chrome and a custom, six-layer paint process that makes sure the Blazing Orange stands out. Star even color-matched the stitching of the two-tone, genuine leather seat, which looks fantastic. It sells for $ 19,990.


Star’s vast lineup of motorcycles is impressive. The company slogan is “We build it, you make it your own,” which is certainly true with an accessory and apparel catalog of more than 300 pages. Visit www.starmotorcycles.com to find a nearby dealer to schedule a demo ride and view the entire motorcycle lineup.