2018 Yamaha Star Eluder: Eluding Convention

Text: Jeff Buchanan • Photography: Drew Ruiz

Elude: to evade or escape from, as by daring, cleverness, or skill.

The allure of escape has always been synonymous with motorcycles. The appointed destination of any trip often holds less importance than the act of traveling the roads between points A and B. A motorcycle will do that to you. If your own particular escape entails long-haul touring—especially that which falls under the heading “transcontinental”—Yamaha has created a mount that accommodates the wanderlust of travel: the 2018 Star Eluder. 

I was first struck by the Eluder’s imposing presence. Categorized as a touring/bagger, the Eluder is a low-slung beast, with its V-twin powerplant prominently displayed amidst the flowing bodywork, mixing cool aesthetics and muscle with genuine functionality. Once you’re astride the machine, sinking into the plush seat (27.4-inch height unladened) and pulling the bike off its side stand, its heft seems to vanish. Engineers have managed to centralize the majority of the Eluder’s 875 pounds (curb weight), keeping its bulk extremely low in the chassis. The narrow tank/seat juncture provides unobstructed leg reach for further confidence—a welcome arrangement for riders with short inseams.

Powertrain and Performance

The air-cooled, 113-cubic inch (1854cc), fuel-injected, 48˚ V-twin with a bore and stroke of 100.0x118.0mm (3.94 x 4.65 in) is attractively dressed up in matte black finish with machined cooling fin edges. Placed just below the chopped windscreen is a state-of-the-art infotainment center with a full-color, 7-inch LCD screen. Positioned for easy access and optimum visibility, the screen presents vehicle systems and a range of audio sources and Bluetooth communications—operated either by touch or the easily mastered switches mounted on the left handlebar. 

Crank the Eluder over and the twin engine counter-balancers, primary drive shock damper, and composite engine mounts prove they aren’t tech superfluities, but sophisticated design elements contributing to a significant reduction of vibration normally inherent in large displacement V-twins. The massive twin exhaust system transfers a good portion of engine noise to the rear of the bike, where the exhaust note (engineered in collaboration with audiophiles at Yamaha Music) can be duly appreciated.

Once you’re underway, the performance of the V-twin is immediately apparent. An astonishing 126 lb-ft. of torque moves the Eluder with ease. Even more astonishing is peak torque arriving at just 2500 rpm. The responsiveness of the engine, combined with minimal vibration and a succinct gearbox brings a new dimension of ride-ability to the new Star. Clutch pull is feathery, with a positive and consistent feel all the way through the 5-way adjustable lever’s throw. Yamaha has fitted their new bagger with a sophisticated slipper clutch that dramatically smoothes out downshifts and virtually eliminates any hint of rear wheel hop—even when riding aggressively.

Chassis and Handling

That phrase, “riding aggressively,” may seem foreign to a bagger, but rest assured, the Eluder is capable of some seriously lively riding, thoroughly belying any first impressions that it’s a somewhat overwrought touring bike. The double-cradle steel chassis (with aluminum subframe for weight savings) provides stability in straight-line operation and minimal flex in cornering, where the weight of the Eluder vanishes under the bike’s responsive handling. The wheelbase of 67.3 inches affords precise turn-in completely devoid of any front-end wallowing (often the curse of large touring motorcycles). Engineers have placed the bulk of the mechanicals (e.g., engine and transmission) extremely low in the chassis without compromising lean angle; the generous clearance grants plenty of room before touching down the floorboards. Catering to the duality of the Eluder’s character as a spirited touring machine, Yamaha furnished the machine with two engine mapping choices: touring and sport. The touring mode provides a smooth, seamless delivery of power, whereas the sport setting gives the Eluder a much sharper throttle response and faster revving. Many riders will find themselves leaving the Eluder in sport mode for the added response. 

The six-speed gearbox has well-spaced ratios, with first gear being low enough to provide easy off-the-line starts without having to feather the clutch, yet with enough breadth to avoid shifting in slow stop-and-go traffic. The enormous torque of the engine proves wonderfully forgiving, allowing the rider to go into corners a gear, and even two gears too high, without concern for bogging. Just roll on the ride-by-wire throttle and that beautifully sonorous V-twin power unfolds beneath you in a tremulous wave.

The Eluder is built for the open road, providing low-rpm highway cruising with a plush ride (courtesy of the compliant factory settings of the 46mm telescopic forks and the linkage-type rear shock system fitted with a gas-pressurized shock). The suspension components and settings are well-balanced between open-road smoothness and adequate stiffness and response for more demanding riding (i.e., switchbacks and cornering).

The Eluder is fitted with dual 298mm hydraulically operated disc brakes on the front and a single 320mm disc on the rear. Linked via Yamaha’s Unified Braking System, it adjusts rear and front braking force in real time for controlled and extremely efficient braking performance. Wheels are lightweight aluminum alloy in gloss black finish. The 18-inch front wheel is mounted with a 130/70 radial tire for better steering feel, and the 16-inch rear holds a 200/55 radial for a substantial footprint. Traction control (standard) optimizes grip on all types of road surfaces and safety when paired with ABS (standard). 

An oil-cooler is mounted in the lower portion of the chassis down tubes where it can collect plenty of airflow. Vents incorporated into the lower fairing on the right and left sides allow riders to manually adjust airflow over their lower legs. The mirrors and lower vents are difficult to reach while riding and should be adjusted when stopped. That said, the mirrors offer exceptional visibility and, given the lack of vibration from the V-twin, present a sharp, focused view of what’s going on behind and beside you. 

Features and Ergonomics 

The Eluder is equipped with two alternators, mounted low, with a total of 750 watts of output—easily capable of handling the heated rider and passenger seats, audio system and lighting, leaving lots of power for adding heated grips and apparel, and more lighting.

The Eluder’s bodywork contains various stowage compartments, which, when combined with the side cases, offer 18.8 gallons of storage space. The right-side rider compartment, fitted with a USB port, is designed to hold a smartphone. The stylishly low-cut windscreen keeps the cockpit surprisingly calm, even at speed, without any unusual turbulence stirring around the rider or passenger. The plush seat and relaxed ergonomics are suited for all-day riding; and, considering the Eluder’s class-leading 6.6-gallon fuel capacity, that translates into more than 200 miles between fill-ups.

Wrapping It Up

Yamaha manages to imbue their new Eluder with various aspects of modern technology and rider safety while retaining a slice of visceral soul—an essential aspect in the world of large-displacement, V-twin touring. Whatever it is you feel like eluding—whether the day-to-day grind or the stress of the city—this machine caters to short or long-distance whims and will serve as a formidable co-conspirator in your great escapes. 

The new Eluder will be available in Liquid Silver, Impact Blue, and Raven. MSRP is $ 22,499 for base models, and $ 23,999 for models equipped with the GT optional package.