2009 V Star 950

A Tweeny Boppin' Mid-Size From Star

Enormous hall. Big name speakers. New ideas. Lots of cheering. One of the recent (August/September) political conventions? Better: the Yamaha (and Star) 2008 Dealer Convention, held at the beautiful The Mirage (hotel and casino!) in Las Vegas, NV this past September. However, rather than plying the faithful with promises for the future, Yamaha rolled out four, real, new motorcycles for 2009-the VMax (see the Editor's "First Ride" on page 20 in this issue), a couple of sportbikes, and something to fill a gap in Star's cruiser line-up. That would be the all-new V Star 950, slotting in between the V Star 650 and V Star 1100 models, both in displacement and price. The new 950 starts at $7890 and tops out at $9090 for the touring version.

Star is classing the 950 as a "Sport Classic," a motorcycle with the typical cruiser styling cues combined with a more sporting 18" front wheel with low profile tire and a narrow side-to-side bike profile. Built around a steel double-cradle-style frame, the bike uses the engine as a stressed member of the chassis. In this case, that engine is a 942cc, air-cooled, single-crank, 60-degree V-twin. Sounds pretty mundane, huh? However, Star has upped the tech level by using four-valve cylinder heads, 9.0:1 compression ratio, and ceramic-composite coated cylinders. More? How about lightweight forged aluminum pistons and low-friction roller-type rocker arms riding on needle bearings? Five speeds and belt drive? Still more? Fine-the 950 also comes with fuel injection that sprays right at the intake valves. As you can see in the photos, the exhaust is a two-into-one design and contains a three-way catalyzer for reduced emissions. Assuming that the engineers get the fuel injection maps right, it should be a fast spinning mill with good power at all engine speeds. Star claims an estimated 47 mpg for the 950.

Wheelbase is 66.3 inches with the Star riding on the aforementioned 18 inch front wheel and a 16 inch on the rear. Stopping power is provided by a 320mm front disc brake and a 298mm disc in the rear. The fuel tank is long and narrow, holding 4.4 gallons of petrol. Atop the tank is a new, large-diameter gauge with a speedometer, warning lights, and an LCD that, via a switch on the right handlebar, can display an odometer, two trip meters, fuel trip meter, and a clock. The 41mm front forks provide 5.3 inches of travel, with the single shock rear yielding 4.3 inches of bump control. Interestingly Star claims a full-tank wet weight of 612 pounds. That's 99 pounds more than the V Star Custom 650 and 6 pounds more than the V Star 1100 Custom. The 950 will be available in blue, red and black.

Perhaps the most notable chassis feature is the seat height, measuring in at 26.5 inches with a very narrow profile at the front. That makes the 950's seat lower than every other Star motorcycle, even 0.6 inches lower than the V Star 250. Despite my diminutive 29-inch inseam, I was able to sit on the bike with both feet flat on the ground and my legs well-bent at the knees.

There is also a new V Star 950 Tourer. Otherwise identical to the plain 950, the Tourer comes straight from the factory with a windscreen, passenger backrest, and leather-wrapped hard saddlebags. Claimed wet weight bumps up to 657 pounds.

Star also displayed a couple of interesting takes on the new '09 VMAX. One version showed the bike with all of the Star accessory carbon fiber parts-very cool. Another showed a "blinged-out" version that sported different wheels and a 240mm width rear tire. Star also had a third VMAX with a cut-away of the entire engine, intake and exhaust tracts, and fuel tank, providing a unique view of its inner workings. Additionally, there were some other highly customized Star models on display.

Look for a road test of the V Star 950 in the next issue. -Evan Kay

V Star 950
V Star 950 Tourer