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2010 Star V Star 950 Comparison

Monday, March 1, 2010
2010 Star V Star 950
The Star V Star 950 presents the most refined stylistic cruiser package in the shootout, at least to our eyes.
Yamaha, the second-largest motorcycle maker in the world, has done a fine job branding its Star Motorcycles cruisers as a unique entity in the American cruiser ranks. Its relatively new V Star 950, introduced in 2009 model year, represents the marque quite well in the appearance department, the middleweight splitting the difference between the 650 and 1100 displacements of its Star-branded siblings.

Of all our comparison competitors, the Star Motorcycles’ V Star 950 looks the most ‘cruiser-ish.’ At least that’s how things seem from our angle. Wide tires, thick fork, curvy tank, backswept bars, flowing lines… Yamaha PR speak describes the V Star 950’s lines as “New Style Classic” saying “designers used the influence of a single, horizontal line along the entire body, almost as if the wind has sculpted the machine.” Sure, we’ll buy it, why not? Give the wind credit, but whatever the reason the Star held sway in appearance.

2010 Star V Star 950
The V Star 950 riding position delivered the second-most satisfying ergonomics by our estimation.
The lone air-cooled metric entry, the V Star clean front end showcases the shiny V-Twin sans radiator – a real boost to the appearance factor. The right-side 2-into-1 exhaust terminates into a broad single muffler, the only bike in our test to do so. As for the sound escaping from the pipe, it’s fine, but didn’t distinguish itself in our opinion.

The bulky muffler routes the exhaust gasses from inside the largest Twin in our shootout at 942cc. The two forged aluminum pistons barrel up and down an 85 x 83mm bore and stroke, the two ceramic-coated cylinders set at a 60-degree V angle. A single overhead cam actuates the four-valve head, while chrome-plated valve covers add to the aesthetic appeal of the engine.

The air-cooled mill holds its own on the dyno too, but falls short in peak output to the Kawasaki. Torque production at 50.2, was less than 2 lb-ft off the Vulcan. The 44.9 horsepower registered a larger six-hp gap. On the street, however, the V Star displayed the most robust feel on the top end. That’s not particularly how the dyno charts say we should interpret the feel of the Star motor, but, what can we say, that’s how it felt.

2010 Star V Star 950 Dyno Numbers
Star V Star 950 Dyno:
44.9 hp @ 560 rpm (third-highest)
50.3 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm (second-highest)
Rap the throttle and the Star barks forward obediently, but not with the menace some riders crave. Once it starts winding it out, however, the V Star thrums with ready willingness. Most riders reported the Star’s V-Twin felt best when wrung out and charging hard under acceleration, though it did well at lower rpm as well. Not as responsive, perhaps, as the Kawi while chugging along at low speeds, yet still quite easy to ride.

Unlike its smaller-displacement V Star kin, the 950 is fuel injected. Truth be told, the throttles on all the metrics seemed particularly mellow, without any harsh herky jerky response. Also mellow and smooth, the five-speed transmission disappoints only with its sticky neutral. Sometimes the N was hard to light up on the dash, particularly irritating on our test bike as it would not turn over the engine unless in Neutral. On the plus side, the cable-actuated clutch features a light pull.

2010 Star V Star 950
Ground clearance hampered the Star's handling scores, touching down on even routine corners.
The V Star's biggest downfall was its minimal ground clearance. By minimal we mean floorboards scraping while turning right out of a parking lot. Some riders enjoy the spectacle of laying down metal on the asphalt at every opportunity, usually a sign of hard riding. Okay, okay, that’s fine. But there comes a time, say hurtling a 616-lb fully-fuelled motorcycle around a sharp bend, when you hear the scrape, and it keeps scraping, and scraping… way past the apex you blew and doesn’t stop until your edging too close to the shoulder for comfort. The Star’s big floorboards make for a cozy perch, but dial down the fun factor on curvy real estate.

“Floorboards scraped way too easily,” agrees Ray, adding. “It’s hard to have fun.”

Yet hustling around the corners isn’t the V Star’s métier really. Its true stomping grounds are the boulevard or some modest backroad jaunts where its suspension, a 41mm fork and rear monoshock, are more than capable. Both handle bumps in the road without trouble, and we never bottomed out, even on large potholes. Still, there’s no denying that turning the big Star requires more effort than its competitors, with the test’s longest wheelbase (66.3-inches) not deft at quick changes in direction.

2010 Star V Star 950
The Star didn't turn in as quickly as its competition, feeling the largest of all the shootout rides.
“Yamaha’s handling was kind of funky feeling. It felt like the largest bike and it didn’t really want to turn like the others,” explains Adam.

The bulkiest feel hurts the V Star at low speeds too, where it is the least nimble ride. It feels its weight in parking lot maneuvers, with steering a particular chore. Reach to the long bar taxed our grasp at times on sharp turns, though the 26.5-inch seat height offers easy access to a steadying toe tap.

Brakes deliver effective stopping power though. A two-pot caliper pinches down on a big 320mm rotor up front with the rear single-piston squeezing a 298mm disc – once the rider mashes down on the large right pedal. Maybe not quite the equal in our collective test riders' estimations to the Kawasaki, they were pretty dang close – the front quite responsive to a moderate squeeze at the lever.

The ergonomics on the Star better suited our tastes than the smaller Harley and Honda. The V Star can handle larger riders, with a wide seat and comfortable riding position. The foot controls, however, felt cramped for our size-12 feet, the heel-toe shifter in particular. Normal-sized folks won’t complain, and we’ll concede the fact that the floorboards increase the comfort factor. The long, wide handlebars feel low in comparison to the Kawasaki (and even Honda), but the reach feels natural. All told, the ergos are comfortable enough, though the seat got less cozy the longer we sat on it.

The fit and finish on the Yamaha rated top notch amongst our testers. Star puts together a sharp package and it all looks clean and well made - the minimalist instrumentation setting inside a chrome top piece on the tank. Our only big fault is the headlight, while quite bright from the front, our test unit’s low beam aimed too low on the road ahead - enough to make night riding unsettling (more so than usual). The high beam worked well, but approaching traffic didn’t much care for it.

2010 Star V Star 950
The 2010 Star V Star 950 looks the part of a cruiser, with fantastic styling befitting a larger design.
Recorded fuel efficiency for the 950 almost topped the list at 47 mpg, which equates to a range of 207 miles from its 4.4 gallon tank. Surprisingly, the 47 mpg mark is exactly what Yamaha promises on its website (how cynical we are… Also noteworthy, Yamaha’s claimed wet weight of 612 lbs is refreshingly close to the fully-fueled 616-lb curb weight we measured on our scales, as manufacturers are now finally listing real-world weight figures).

The V Star 950 sports an attractive $8090 MSRP for the Candy Red paint scheme we rode. Raven or Pearl While will cost an extra $200. The purchase comes with a 12-month warranty, just like the rest of the Japanese rides.

The Star delivers a lot of value for a fine-looking cruiser. Add in Star’s aftermarket accessory offerings and the V Star is a ride that can be further kitted out. As it is in stock trim, the V Star 950 represents a solid cruiser selection with riders able to score big-bike looks at a small-bike price.

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2010 Middleweight Cruiser Shootout
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Yamaha Star V Star 950 Dealer Locator
2010 Star V Star 950 Technical Specs
2010 Star V Star 950
2010 Yamaha Star V Star 950
Engine: V-Twin, SOHC, Four Valve
Displacement: 942cc
Bore: 85
Stroke: 83
Compression Ratio: 9.0:1
Cooling: Air
Fuel Injection:  Fuel Injection
Transmission: 5-speed
Final Drive: Belt
Front Brake: 320mm disc
Rear Brake: 298mm disc
Front Suspsension: Fork, 5.3 in travel
Rear Suspension: Shock, 4.3 in travel
Front Tire: 130/70x18
Rear Tire: 170/70x16
Rake: 32
Trail: 5.7 in
Wheelbase: 66.3 in
Seat Height: 26.5 in
Fuel Tank: 4.4 gal
Curb weight: 616 lbs.
Dry weight: 589.5 lbs.
MPG: 47.08
MSRP: $8,290 ($8,090 for candy red we tested)
Warranty: 12 months
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arless   August 15, 2012 02:28 AM
the head light on the Yamaha is four way adjustable, the engine makes more hp and torque than the kawaker. the 950 is a newer take than the older 900 custom. i love both the bikes mentioned, but my money goes to the v star 950.
Leroy -lite mid weights  November 3, 2010 11:01 PM
You boys were paid off to put that there Vulcan with its skinny legged floppy corning out dated water buffalo slab of concrete#@!%$%^ Where's the Tylenol??? You boys were paid off with add money and buisness for particularity to the Kawasaki nine hundo. The article tells the whole story you could not help but give it a way. Quote I would not be surprised with another set of Moran's testing these same bikes that the Star of the show would come out on top. Open them there peppers Charley. Every other cycle mag says the Star of the show Is guess who--- Yamaha's Star V Star 950 custom classic. Youwinses also got the horse power and torque mixed up on purpose putting the Star down and Kawacker on top. When every other magazine says different-- Hell even your own seat of the paints ride should have told and did tell the truth about who had the muscle. You boys were paid off or you hate the three of you anyway Yamaha----Star motorcycles. Oh except you Adam. Thow if you had not picked the Yam then a cheap pun for a picture what have sufficed for you Picture. How UN real that statement was. You said it had a kinda funky fill in the corners but when you classified the star you said it was not any one thing that made me choose the star but that the fit and finish and the top end biased mill and loved the way it l##ked. You were paid off I'll tell you paid off. The money Author you were paid off fellas
shorty -the Yam 950 Star  October 25, 2010 12:18 AM
The V Star is by far the better bike, Than the water cooled kawasaki 900. It is faster if that is all your after, It gets better gas milage. It has more up to date electronics. And looks way more the better of the two bikes. It handles better, And the price is lower than the socki. I was going to buy a 900 classic, But when Yamaha-Star came out with the 950 cruiser and I weighted out the differences. My mind is now made up. At my age this will be the last bike I will buy for my wife and I. Don't get me wrong the Kawasaki is a great bike and I still love the classic with the spokes and the plastic crome which now adorns most cruisers. Way to go Star Yam
wr -star 950  October 20, 2010 11:10 PM
the star 950 looks very fetching in deed, And for the price of a little over $5000.00 the bike really l@@ks great. With more power than the Vulcan 900 which is no slouch. The new Star 950 is the best middle weight yet from Star motorcycle's. I really liked the larger star 1300, but the weight of nearly 700 lbs or more from the tourer model. The V Star 950 looks like the bike for me and my wife to ride around town and the back roads and seldom any highway jaunts. As soon as the car gets paid for we will get us a new V Star 950 for a little back road twisting. Way to go Yamaha --Star
Raimy -comfort vs. acceleration  April 12, 2010 01:41 AM
of course the Vulcan is the more comfy because of its balancers and liquid cooling (and very stable steering because of its big front wheel and T-bar) and more smooth so that the sound from the mufflers can be more, stuff were the Star has none! Here in Holland, we have not much of elevation and temperature ;-) My Star does (when warm) about 26! kilometers at a liter Euro 95 gasoline were the Vulcan at best does 1:24...
Superglide -crankshaft vs. rear wheel  April 6, 2010 09:12 AM
I wouldn't trust horsepower numbers from a manufacturer's website. Most manufacturer's inflate torque and HP numbers by measuring it from the crankshaft. There is AT LEAST a ten-percent loss from friction in the drivetrain before the power gets to the rear wheel. Other factors impacting the HP numbers include air temperature and elevation, which the manufacturers also carefully optimize.
Raimy Rink -HorsePowers  April 2, 2010 04:00 AM
The V-Star950 has by my known 54 horsepowers and not 45, according to some speeding against my wifes VN900custom after a day riding, the Star wins always and also on the highway the 950 has the highest topspeed. See also the websites from Yamaha and Kawasaki for data. Friendly greetings