Road Test Review
Since its introduction in 1999, Yamaha’s (now the Star Motorcycles division of Yamaha) air-cooled, big-inch V-twin Road Star has been tremendously popular. Over the years this cruiser has evolved, become more refined, its engine has grown in displacement and for 2008 it has been given another upgrade: computer-controlled electronic fuel injection.
The Road Star Silverado is a substantial motorcycle with its tall cylinders, whitewall tires and bodacious chrome accents including those on the air filter cover, engine covers, transmission cover, oil lines, valve covers and dashboard. Consider the brushed aluminum accents on the fork and switches, and it makes for a nicely appointed package.
The Road Star’s air-cooled, 48-degree, 1,670cc (102 cubic inches) V-twin engine has a single crankpin, and a bore and stroke of 97.0 x 113.0mm. Its long-stroke design indicates that it will deliver a good deal of torque, as indeed it does. It also features four valves per cylinder, and a compression ratio of 8.3:1.
Thanks to the new single 40mm throttle-body injector there is no longer any choke or fast-idle control to fuss with. Fuel injection offers more precise fuel metering, compensates for altitude and can reduce emissions, but conversely it may not have enough latitude to adjust if the rider adds aftermarket cams or pipes. Turn the key and, no matter what the temperature of the air or engine, our test Road Star fired up quickly and we were able to ride right off. The engine is solid-mounted to the frame, and delivers the right amount of pleasant throb to let you know you’re on a big V-twin. Its electronics monitor multiple engine parameters, and our Road Star metered fuel precisely. That, combined with its moderate clutch pull, helped to make low-speed maneuvering easy. Its five-speed transmission with heel-and-toe shifter was low-effort, and its belt final drive requires no lubrication and only infrequent adjustment.
With its 66.5-inch wheelbase and 32 degrees of rake the Road Star feels solid on the road, yet steering is light. I really appreciate that Star has resisted the trend toward those super-wide tires of 200mm and larger that look hot but require greater effort to turn. Rather, the Silverado carries a 150/80-16 rear tire that contributes to its easy, low-effort steering. Its 43mm fork provides 5.5 inches of travel, and the ride from its hidden link-type rear shock (with its 4.3 inches of travel) borders on plush. Like most cruisers the Silverado suffers the common problem of limited cornering clearance–as soon as the riding becomes at all spirited you’ll be dragging its comfy, floating rider floorboards on the pavement in turns.
Stopping this 790-pounder is a set of 298mm rotors up front grasped by paired four-piston calipers, and out back is a 320mm rotor with a two-piston caliper. Braking action is strong, but there’s a tad more fork dive than we’d like.
In Star parlance a Silverado is a touring model, one that has been fitted with an adjustable windscreen, soft leather studded saddlebags, a studded touring seat for the rider and backrest for the passenger. At its stock height the windscreen provides decent protection, and at 6 feet tall I felt the wind coming over the top at highway speeds hitting me at collarbone level. The ‘screen can be moved upward 2 inches higher if you remove four bolts to reposition it, but that would have put its top edge right in my field of vision. The screen is not of the quick, toolless disconnect variety; that’s available as an accessory, or on the extra-cost “S” model.
The saddlebags are leather combined with a plastic form that constitutes the floor and helps the bags hold their shape. Behind those standard-looking buckles is a set of convenient quick-release nylon buckles that you squeeze to open, and click back together to close. Though not lockable, the bag lids overlap to the point that they should keep out the rain. The passenger backrest is angled rather far back, but delivers some support. I found the “touring” seat initially cushy, but when I pushed back against its lip it eventually put my rear to sleep. To accommodate the injection system it was necessary to install the fuel pump and filter in the fuel tank, as is done with most other FI models. The result reduced fuel capacity from 5.3 gallons on the 2007 model to 4.75 on the ’08. During our test period the Silverado returned 41.9 mpg.
Suggested retail price for the Silverado is $13,599. If you’re seriously considering it, however, you might also consider the new Silverado S version–it features a quick-release windscreen and large, hard-sided, leather-covered locking saddlebags. It includes chromed accents on the switches, fork covers, levers and master cylinder, and also comes with passing lamps; it sells for $14,099.
The Silverado offers a lot to like including nicely laid-out ergonomics, confidence-inspiring low-speed handling and maneuverability, good touring amenities and a comfortable ride. It includes such niceties as the retro-look speedometer with fuel gauge, steel fenders, white LED taillight and clear turn signal lenses. Flawless fuel injection now gives the rider the ability to ride right off and smoothly maneuver in low-speed situations. All this makes it even more of a winner for 2008.