2010 Star Stratoliner Deluxe First Ride

Bryan Harley | February 22, 2010
Big sweepers are no problem for the sorted chassis of the Stratoliner Deluxe.
The 2010 Star Stratoliner Deluxe is both powerful and refined. A slick new fork-mounted fairing and sleek hard saddlebags set the Deluxe apart from its forebearers.

The brown haze blots out the mountains above Palm Springs, a gritty combination of sand, dust and debris. The wind keeps shifting as I-10 bends west through the high desert, doing its best to unnerve me as I lean the 2010 Star Stratoliner Deluxe into the direction it’s blowing, relying on the mighty 1854cc mill beneath me to punch through the windstorm. It’s power vs. power as man and motorcycle confront the winds that wildly spin the arms of the towering white windmills lining the highway. In these conditions I’m glad I’m on a heavyweight cruiser-tourer with a torque-filled lump and a full front fairing.

The streamlined fairing of the ’10 Stratoliner Deluxe became my saving grace while waging the losing battle between wearing a half-shell helmet and wind-borne sand. The Deluxe’s ergos have me almost vertical in the saddle so at six-feet tall, the blast from the front comes right over the shorty windscreen to smack me mid-face. I duck beneath the pocket of protection the fairing forms. It’s wide and tapers at the bars, providing great protection for rider’s hands, but tucking in I feel the breeze coming up from underneath on my cheeks. Still, it would have been a hellacious ride without it.

A city rich in neo-modern architecture like Palm Springs is a perfect host for the launch of the 2010 Stratoliner Deluxe. The model is known for its art deco styling. The 2010 version continues that tradition, but the art deco ribbing on the gas and oil tank is more subtle now thanks to an attention-grabbing, muscular front fairing and streamlined hard saddlebags. The Stratoliner Deluxe only comes in Raven, another contributor to its aggressive new presence, complemented further by the all-black fork components. Details like the fender strut on the front wheel and the honeycomb-shaped taillights balance the neo-modern look with a touch of classic hot rod culture.

The pillars of the Westin Mission Hills serve as a scenic backdrop for the neo-classic styling of the 2010 Stratoliner Deluxe.
The pillars of the Westin Mission Hills provide a scenic backdrop for the neo-classic styling of the Stratoliner Deluxe.

The heydays of hot rods in American cruising culture were epitomized by big engines, a fact not forgotten by Star. Build up a few rpm and the 113 cubic-inch pushrod V-Twin launches the bike with authority. The surge down low is immediate, the midrange is meaty and its horsepower kicks in on the top end until giving in to the five-speed’s demand for a higher gear. Star’s power claims are 91 hp and 117 lb-ft of torque. We registered 108 lb-ft of torque at 2800 rpm and 80.7 hp at 5000 rpm from our recent dyno numbers of the 2009 Stratoliner S, which runs an almost identical engine.

This V-Twin is infused with technology gleaned from Yamaha’s sportbikes, like ceramic-composite plated cylinder and forged pistons cooled by oil jets. Four pushrod-activated valves and dual spark plugs in each cylinder head keep the pistons churning efficiently within the 100mm bore while fuel delivery through the 12-hole injectors is spot-on. Its dual counterbalancers work well at quelling the vibes at speed. The Stratoliner Deluxe sports a relatively high 9.5:1 compression ratio for a bagger, a ratio that is achieved with the help of the dry sump oil cooler that assists in keeping the heads running cool.

Spent gases are jettisoned out a burly 2-into-1 exhaust running down the right side, spitting out a bass-filled note that is healthy without being over-the-top. After all, noise and emission standards are doing nothing but

The 1854cc powerplant at the heart of the 2010 Stratoliner Deluxe is definitely one of its strong points.
The 1854cc powerplant at the heart of the 2010 Stratoliner Deluxe is definitely one of its strong points.

tightening down so Star is doing their best to play by those rules. The 2010 Stratoliner Deluxe does have an Exhaust Ultimate Power valve (EXUP) inside the two-into-one exhaust system that aims to boost torque in the 2500-3000 rpm range.

Between Pinyon Crest and Cahuilla Hills, California Highway 74 drops down a mountain in a series of switchbacks and sweepers. The Stratoliner Deluxe’s eight-piece aluminum frame exhibits no noticable flex as it comfortably banks over in the endless onslaught of broad turns. At 37 lbs, the frame on the Deluxe is 25 lbs lighter and 56 pieces less complex than Star’s Road Star. And while the Deluxe is easy enough to coax into a slow-arcing turn carrying speed, tighter radiuses and slow-speed maneuvers requires some more work. Thankfully the handlebars are wide-set so you can get the leverage needed to keep those big floorboards scraping. But overall, for a bike that sports a decent sized 190mm bun on the back and has the girth of the Stratoliner Deluxe, the motorcycle felt more agile than the Strato S I tested a few months back.

The winding roads to Palm Springs gave us plenty of opportunities to sample the chassis and hanlding of the Stratoliner Deluxe.
The winding roads to Palm Springs offers plenty of opportunity to sample the handling of the Stratoliner Deluxe.

This despite the fact that the new Star sports a new fork-mounted fairing. Its combination polycarbonate and ABS construction tips the scales at only 16.5 lbs and is lightweight and well-balanced enough that it doesn’t inhibit steering much at all. Nestled cleanly in the recesses of the fairing are a pair of five-inch speakers that work in tandem with the audio control system mounted on the left handlebar above the control housing for the turn signals and horn. These thumb-operated controls are for the iPod port sitting in a small dugout compartment in the fairing below the shorty windscreen. Tunes while riding is always a good thing.

With the Stratoliner Deluxe’s 4.5 gallon tank full of fuel, our journey began with a 45-mile romp down the 405 and I-5 along the Pacific coastline. I take advantage of the bags, which are wider and longer than the bags on the base Stratoliner, and stuff the large pull-out liners with spare clothes, cameras, and a computer. The locking hard sidebags are made of the same polycarbonate/ABS blend as the front fairing and has a claimed 13.7 gallons of storage space. The one-finger push button system works well enough with gloved fingers and snaps shut without hassle. The bags do prohibit easy access to the preload adjustable rear shock, but the factory settings on the suspension provided a stable ride for my 220-lb frame and lightly loaded saddlebags.

Between the smooth ride provided by the well-sorted suspension and the comfort of the wide, cushy seat, highway miles are a pleasant experience aboard the 2010 Stratoliner Deluxe. The fact that with the Deluxe’s mill you can dispose of cars at will doesn’t hurt that experience either. With ample-sized floating floorboards at a good forward

The bags on the Stratoliner Deluxe are longer and wider than the standard Strat and hold a combined 13.7 gallons.
The bags on the Stratoliner Deluxe are longer and wider than the standard Strat and hold a combined 13.7 gallons. The sound from the five-inch speakers was clean and an iPod port and little cubby hole allow you to bring your tunes along for the ride.
Plug and play. Music on long hauls is always a bonus! iPod is making a killing getting all these manufacturers to make bikes that are compatible.

stretch, ergos are tilted a touch forward, arms spread wide apart, and even after 200-plus miles in the saddle I didn’t feel like I had been wrestling a big bike all day.

Every manufacturer looks for small features to set their bike apart. The trick lurking up the Stratoliner’s sleeve is a sliding main switch cover. It hides the main switch when parked. Gimmicky? Yes, but anything that might make it a little bit harder for a thief to figure out is cool by me. Routing the switch wiring inside the handlebars helps keep the bars tidy, and features like the engine’s big tapered pushrod tubes and machined fins add up to a motorcycle with quality fit and finish. Its air filter cover is plastic, but beyond that its all American-style steel fenders and side covers, a strong selling point for the market it caters to.

The tank-mounted console features a big dial with clock-style instrumentation dominated by an analog speedo, a tiny tach, a fuel gauge, twin digital tripmeters and an odometer. It’s also got a green low fuel light that I didn’t see come on despite the needle being almost buried on the E, but I learned from a Yamaha tech that it generally doesn’t kick on until it gets down to the 0.8-gallon subtank.

And even though it’s a new model, there are more than 90 current accessories already available from the Star accessory catalog. The list includes saddlebag guards and trim rails, a tall windshield, touring handlebars that aren’t quite as wide and an MP-3 Cable. Star also had a custom Stratoliner Deluxe at the intro that had been done over by Jeff Palhegyi Design. The JPD Fairing Lowers it was outfitted with are a great idea to counteract some of that updraft that sneaks in underneath the tapered front fairing.

Jeff Palhegyi Design shows what can be done to the Stratoliner Deluxe with a little customizing creativity.
Jeff Palhegyi Designs put its spin on this cusomized Stratoliner Deluxe.

The 2010 Star Stratoliner Deluxe has the power and looks to be an instant competitor in the big cruiser-touring market. Its 1854cc engine is one of the most powerful in its class, its bags give riders more incentive to take it on longer rides and the fairing looks so good you’ll want to get out and ride. But for a metric cruiser, it’s price point  $17,490 is so close to its American competitors, the 2010 Victory Cross Country at $17,999 or the 2010 Harley-Davidson Road Glide at $18,999, that even with its lower price point it might be a challenging sale considering the others have larger tanks, longer ranges and that made-in-America mystique in their favor.

The base Stratoliner Deluxe also lacks a couple features like cruise control and ABS that riders in this segment embrace. It’s within Star’s capacity, but when prodded for insight whether ABS was a possible future option, it sounds like it’s not currently in the works. Not that the Stratoliner Deluxe needs ABS. On the contrary, its setup already has great feel and modulates evenly without being catchy and doesn’t lock up easily.

Add into the equation that its fit and finish is on par with the rest of its class and we are sure its going to lure some customers to the Star side. Baggers are a hot commodity these days, and Star is pinning its hopes for snatching a slice of the cruiser market share with this solid competitor: The 2010 Stratoliner Deluxe.

Bryan Harley

Cruiser Editor | Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it’s chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to ‘Merican, he rides ‘em all.

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