Yamaha Motor Canada launched their 2018 Star Venture TC and Star Eluder big twins this morning in Nashville, Tennessee, with northern media taking advantage of cool but dry conditions on some exceptional secondary roads. The two new 1854cc air-cooled vee-twins are built in Japan and share underpinnings, but the Venture TC is billed as a “Transcontinental Tourer,” the bagger Eluder the stripped-down sibling.
The engine is based on the performance-oriented Raider, but revised for smoother power delivery and more versatile, low-RPM rideability, with a claimed 126 ft-lbs of torque. Cams are new, the crank is now single pin, the counter balancers are updated and the six speed transmission now has two overdrive gears. The engine gets new cases, a hydraulic, assisted slipper-clutch and dry sump oiling with a lubricant tank in the sub-frame, as well as an oil cooler.
The Mikuni fuel-injection has 45mm throttle bodies, with a YCC-T (Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle) ride-by-wire throttle. The adoption of YCC-T allows for various rider modes, including Traction Control (a first for this style of machine), two throttle modes (Sports and Touring) and Cruise Control.
The twin muffler design features a distinct big twin sound, and Yamaha music pitched in the fine-tune the audio track.
Paired alternators are mounted low at the front of the engine cases, powering the heated seat, backrest and grips, audio and 7-inch LCD infotainment systems, as well as the Sure-Park system. Sure-Park allows low speed (1 km/hr) maneuvering, forward and backwards, powered by a lever-actuated electric motor – not the starter.
The chassis has a steel frame with rubber engine mounts, and a detachable alloy sub frame. The seat is narrow at the front and low at 695cm, and works with the low C of G to provide the big bike with surprising maneuverability and agility at speed.
We checked out the handling once we cleared heavy morning city traffic and tackled the perfect pavement and sweeping turns of the Backbone Ridge. Both twins handle well and are stable and predictable for machines of their size, but you might not call them nimble!
Power is ample, but fourth gear is best for spirited riding. The Sport mode offers great throttle response, but the Touring mode is less aggressive for general use. The soft rev limiter comes in around 4,500 RPM, but with so much mid-range, it isn’t necessary to spin the big twin all the way in every gear.
Both bikes are predictable when hustled, and only the eventual drag of the reinforced floor boards manages the fun. Suspension control is solid, and the linked brakes are powerful, predictable, and don’t affect turning angle even when applied when leaned over.
The Venture is very well appointed, but the long floor boards are somewhat spoiled by the left side rocker shifter that limits foot position. The Eluder benefits from a lower (80 pounds) weight, but doesn’t get the heated grips, Sure Park and the adjustable wind protection, and has only half of the storage.
Venture air flow is well managed with a good envelope of stable air for the pilot. On the Eluder, even with the slightly taller optional screen, the wind blast increases and turbulence is also an issue – but the Eluder is not the touring version.
The riding position is comfortable, with room to move to vary pressure points. Passenger accommodations are above average, with adjustable floor boards. Both versions work, but the Venture is the versatile workhorse.