2018 Yamaha Venture Air-Cooled V-Twin Luxury Touring Motorcycle - FIRST LOOK REVIEW

Yamaha Star cruiser line adds “TransContinental” long-haul touring motorcycle

2018 Yamaha Star Venture studio 3/4 view

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2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha

When we first saw the graphic "Journey Further" Yamaha teased leading up to the launch of a new motorcycle, we thought it might be for the production version of the FZ-07-based T7 adventure-bike concept shown last year. But when the teaser videos cut to Gen-X and Boomer folks talking about the wonders of motorcycle community and riding the open road, we knew we were in for something else.

The pleasant surprise with Yamaha's 2018 Star Venture touring bike is that it's not just another fringey retro-tourer trying for a slice of the Harley-Davidson/Indian bagger pie. It's a full-fledged modern luxury tourer with an air-cooled, 113-cubic-inch powerplant. So it plays a little retro to emphasize the emotional aspects represented by the rhythmic thumping of a narrow-angle V-twin with clean styling and cooling fins, but pairs it with a bodywork design that is sort of neo-retro in the same vein as the Dodge Challenger, but with a Japanese edge.

2018 Yamaha Star Venture engine details
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha

Yamaha researched luxury touring customers, who, says the company, stated a desire for something that would fall conceptually in between full-on retro tourers and the technically oriented Honda Gold Wing GL1800 or BMW K1600GTL.

Hence the 113 cubic inch (1854cc), 48-degree V-twin, “authentic cruiser soul.” It’s retro in cooling (air and oil with an integrated oil cooler) but features four valves and twin sparkplugs per cylinder. Compression ratio is 9.5:1, which is about as high as it gets with air cooling. Twin counterbalancers quell engine vibration. No horsepower claim is made, but Yamaha states peak torque is 126 pound feet. Perhaps the most impressive power figure is the pair of 375-watt alternators for an arc-welder-ready 750 watts of total charging power.

2018 Yamaha Star Venture studio side view
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha

Yamaha ride-by-wire throttle features two response modes, one ultra smooth and one with sportier response. Both fifth and sixth gears are overdrive and Yamaha says 75 mph in sixth is 2750 rpm.

Perhaps the nicest feature of all is “Sure Park” electric parking assist that will move the bike in both forward and reverse. If you’ve ever tried to push a full-rig touring bike around a gravel parking lot, you will appreciate this feature.

2018 Yamaha Star Venture top box details
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha

Large-headed couples will love the giant top box that is said to eat two of the biggest full-face helmets on the market. I kid, though I do wear an XL and my wife is happiest in a Large, so this would be really useful. All up, storage capacity for the saddlebags, top trunk and various fairing cubbies is 37.3 gallons. I find it useful to visualize 37 milk jugs arranged on the floor to get a notion of how much this actually is.

The frame is described as “hybrid” of a steel tubular front section with a cast aluminum rear subframe. The engine is rubber mounted, said mounts and engine counterbalancers said to be tuned to give the rider a good feeling from the engine pulses but to remove perceived negative vibration. A 46mm fork and single, linkage-equipped shock (with remote spring preload adjuster) roll on an 18-inch cast aluminum front wheel with 130/70 and a 16-inch wheel with 200/55 Bridestone Exedra G852s.

2018 Yamaha Star Venture seat details
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha

The focus on comfort is many faceted. Consider the adjustable and heated rider and passenger seats/backrests, plus heated grips. Airflow is controlled by an electric windscreen (with 3.5-inch adjustment) as well as lower fairing vents and mid-fairing deflectors/directors that can be used to bring fresh air into the rider area or deflect it away. Passenger floorboards are adjustable.

2018 Yamaha Star Venture floorboard details
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha

Not deluxe rig would be complete without an infotainment system. A 7-inch full-color LCD touchscreen greets the rider, and an array of features includes Bluetooth communications and offers voice commands, touchscreen operation or manipulation via handlebar controls. A proximity fob make for keyless starting.

2018 Yamaha Star Venture dashboard details
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha

The TransContinental option package ups price from the $24,999 base to $26,999. The package includes GPS navigation, CB and Sirius XM and XM Travel Link, plus adds an extra pair of sound system speakers and “Dual Zone” audio control that allow rider and passenger to take separate phone calls and listen to different audio sources using an accessory headset and mic. A security alarm and LED fog lamps are also added.

Yamaha made much of the dynamic capability and secure feeling offered by the low center of gravity and chassis and engine tuning. Traction control and an ABS system that helps balance front-to-rear braking pressures help add to this, giving the Yamaha Star Venture touring bike a unique place in a popular segment. The bikes offer more features than the new-defunct Victory brand’s touring bikes but a similar V-twin heart and modern styling. For an American-style bagger it now offers the most comprehensive luxury and safety features. Baggers and touring models remain one of the stronger segments by overall volume so we are curious to see how the market responds to the Venture’s combination of styling and features.

2018 Yamaha Star Venture studio side view
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha
SPECIFICATIONS
Engine Type 113-cubic-inch (1854cc) air-cooled OHV V-twin; 8 valves
Bore x Stroke 100.0 x 118.0mm
Compression Ratio 9.5:1
Fuel Delivery Yamaha Fuel Injection with YCC-T and D-Mode
Ignition TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission 6-speed; multiplate assist and slipper wet clutch
Final Drive Belt
Suspension/Front 46mm telescopic fork; 5.1-in travel
Suspension/Rear Single shock with remote preload adjustment; 4.3-in travel
Brakes/Front Dual hydraulic disc, 298mm; Unified Brake System and ABS Brakes
Brakes/Rear Hydraulic disc, 320mm; Unified Brake System and ABS
Tires/Front 130/70R18 Bridgestone® Exedra®
Tires/Rear 200/55R16 Bridgestone® Exedra®
L x W x H 106.3 in. x 39.9 in. x 55.5 - 59.1 in.
Seat Height 27.4 in.
Wheelbase 67.6 in.
Rake (Caster Angle) 31.0°
Trail 5.7 in.
Maximum Ground Clearance 5.5 in.
Fuel Capacity 6.6 gal.
Claimed Fuel Economy 34.0 mpg
Wet Weight*** Star Venture/Star Venture TransContinental 957 lbs./963 lbs.

Check out more photos of the 2018 Yamaha Venture

2018 Yamaha Star Venture studio front view
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha
2018 Yamaha Star Venture speaker details
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha
2018 Yamaha Star Venture left grip details
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha
2018 Yamaha Star Venture cockpit view
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha
2018 Yamaha Star Venture right grip details
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha
2018 Yamaha Star Venture switch key details
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha
2018 Yamaha Star Venture front wheel details
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha
2018 Yamaha Star Venture rear section details
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha
2018 Yamaha Star Venture headlights details
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha
2018 Yamaha Star Venture rear view mirror details
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha
2018 Yamaha Star Venture wind deflector details
2018 Yamaha Star VentureCourtesy of Yamaha