Star Road Star S - Ape Star

A Different Kind of Cruiser Project Bike

Win it!

Star Road Star S

MSRP: $13,090

Caretaker: Bartels

Measurements:

6'0"/198 lbs/33" Inseam

Final Odometer: 4910

I was bored.
Specifically, I was bored by every long-term bike at Cruiser getting roughly the same treatment. Seat and pipes, possibly a backrest and a windshield and saddlebags, add a couple other knick-knacks and call it a day. Having worked extensively on the custom motorcycle side of the business, I was aware of how much you could do with just off-the-shelf parts, especially given a year or so that a long-term test lasts.

But the shortcoming of customs is rideability. Usually, the more you alter a bike from factory spec (unless it's specifically to fit you better) the worse things get. This being a magazine about riding motorcycles, I didn't want to stray too far down that path, so the compromise would be trying to keep the Road Star capable for the long haul.

Because of the parameters of the project, I chose the Road Star. The Road Star's introduction 11 years ago marked a point in time that Yamaha "got it," and, because it had remained mostly the same bike for the last decade, the aftermarket support for the Road Star was huge.

In my shock-and-awe campaign for the hearts and minds of Cruiser readers, the project started big, with big 'ol ape hangers. Apes frequently get a bad rap for comfort, but, if fitted right, they can be quite comfortable. Tall riders frequently have to slouch with stock one-size-fits-all bars, as they can be too close to the body to relax. Not a problem with apes! Plus they're wide, giving fantastic leverage over the front end. In this case, the 14-inch Burly Brand Apes we selected felt good around town, or when loaded down for a tour, but not on a long weekend ride. We should have gone one size smaller, as the big bars were only comfortable when there was something to lean on, like a passenger or gear on the back seat.

The overall idea for the bike began to take shape with the apes. The classic "ghetto cruiser" is the first idea we had. Apes, long dual fishtails, wire wheels (preferably a skinny front), and lots of bling. While this isn't what happened, it would have been fun to do a style not normally associated with metric bikes. In the end our goals reverted to simply something different and rideable.

The next steps were definitely comfort-based, adding a Corbin saddle and a Lindby Multibar, swiftly followed by a Star Sissybar. I'm a big fan of Corbin's firm, supportive seats, but the bowl of the solo seat was pretty deep and didn't quite match up with the riding position the bars provided, or go with the pegs on the Multibar. Plus the shape (combined with the apes) pretty much precluded anyone under 5'9" from riding the bike. Still, it was a vast improvement from the squishy stock seat, which was comfy for about an hour tops. The Multibar added much-needed alternate foot positions, but more importantly, both added an aesthetic edge to the bike, with the seat's baby alligator textured cover and the highway bar lining up with the retro badboy image we had in mind.

The sissybar/luggage rack combo was decidedly un-badass. But that's why we got a removable one. Along with a two piece seat, it meant the bike could go from loaded-down tourer to stripped boulevard cruiser in minutes. The wide Corbin Touring Pillion was selected for this exact reason: while not the prettiest thing out there, it could be removed easily.

Our next addition was a set of True Duals from Freedom Performance. Here we compromised again. While fishtails would have been true to the original concept, we ended up going with black/billet-tipped muffler pipes as well, as the fishies only came as straight pipes. We also added a Star high-flow air cleaner and a Power Commander, to match. Installation is a bit of a bear, as this bike was never designed to have its rear cylinder spew waste on the left side, and the space behind the jug is pretty tight. Also, removing the heavy stock system and moving half the weight to the left makes the bike pull slightly, which is really only noticeable if you let go of the bars.

Power gains were most noticeable in the midrange and top end, but the freer-flowing system didn't seem to hurt bottom end response. Sound from the pipes was the perfect mix of mellow when not under load and fairly loud when revved up, keeping the neighbors pacified, and cell-phone drivers on notice.

It was about this time that we began to settle on a black-out theme for the bike. We ordered up a two-tone black paint job from Colormania and black billet wheels form Star. Star sent along a slew of black covers and pieces to complete the look, including some very nice Arlen Ness mirrors from their catalog. A set of Battistini "holey" Grips were visually arresting but fairly impractical for the sort of mileage I try to do.

In fact, at this stage of the project the bike jumped the shark for me. Not only were many of the dress-up parts difficult to install compared to the minimal visual difference they made, but we were getting away from the theme of cool parts that didn't detract.

It all came back around with the wheels and tires. The larger-diameter billet wheels and the Metzeler meat that came on them were a revelation. I'd never liked the stock Bridgestones to begin with; they have a squishy carcass that didn't handle particularly well, especially in the rain. The rounder- and lower-profile Metzeler ME880s are fabulous, making for a night and day difference in handling. All testers who rode it near the end raved about the Ape's handling, but some still hated the bars. It's a total bummer that this very useful and visually-arresting addition came near the end of the project.

The last stage was paint and the Star saddlebags. Colormania did a really special job for us, and all we asked for was two-tone black, and to "make it cool." We got our two-tone, separated by a cool chrome-looking stripe, pinstriped in red outlines. They even put our logo on both fender tips.

The short saddlebags came as a surprise, but shouldn't have. The stock pipes stacked on the right side take up huge amounts of real estate, so the bags are tiny. Our dual exhaust set-up removes the space restriction, so the bags look a little odd hovering over the pipes.

Initially we were going to mount up a set of Corbin saddlebags as well, but when they didn't fit with the removable backrest or the stock pipes, we ended up changing horses. It might have been a good idea to stick with those, but they wouldn't have added any storage space.

So, you might be wondering what's next for a bike like this? Are we just going to strip it all back down to stock and send it off to be crushed? Thankfully, no. The good folks at Star are taking our Ape Star on the road, first to Bike Week (done by the time you read this), then to all the spring events their P&A; semi-truck goes to, and ending up at Star Days in Chattanooga, TN this summer.

Furthermore, this bike could be yours. That's right, Star plans to auction it off in the near future. Just a small donation to charity will score you a raffle ticket and a chance at living the dream. See you there.

MODIFICATIONS
PAINT: COLORMANIA $1900
COLORMANIA.COM
FREEDOM PERFORMANCE EXHAUST TRUE DUALS AND FREEDOM SLIP-ONS $899
WWW.FREEDOMPERFORM.COM
BURLY BRAND 14" APES $200
WWW.BURLYBRAND.COM
BARNETT THROTTLE CABLES $128
BARNETT CLUTCH CABLE $76
WWW.BARNETTCLUTCHES.COM
RUSSELL BRAKE LINE $125
WWW.RUSSELLPERFORMANCE.COM
LINDBY MULTIBAR FOR ROAD STAR $270
WWW.LINDBYCUSTOM.COM
CORBIN ROAD-S CLASSIC
SOLO SADDLE $429
CORBIN ROAD-TP TOURING PILLION $239
WWW.CORBIN.COM
METZELER ME 880 MARATHON TIRES
FRONT: 140/70-18 $246
REAR: 160/60-18 $260
WWW.METZELERMOTO.COM
STAR
PRIMER ROAD STAR HARD BAGS $930
SPEEDSTAR COMPETITION
AIR FILTER $206
DELUXE BACKREST PAD, PLAIN $60
QUICK-RELEASE BACKREST, TALL $151
QUICK-RELEASE BACKREST
SIDEARMS $270
JPD BOMBER MIDNIGHT KIT $236
RAD III TEARDROP MIRRORS
BY ARLEN NESS $140
MIDNIGHT WHEELS
FRONT 18X3.5 $1300
REAR 18X4.25 $1400
BELT PULLEY $550
BILLET RECTIFIER COVER $71
BATTISTINI ROUND HOLE
GRIPS BY ARLEN NESS $150
POWER COMMANDER $350
WWW.STARMOTORCYCLES.COM
TOTAL $9185

Star Motorcycles has since repossessed Bartels' labor of love, the Ape Star project bike, but don't worry-it's all for a good cause. Company reps tell us they plan to auction off the bike, with all the proceeds set to go to a charitable organization. We don't have all the details just yet, but we will update our website as soon as we hear: www.motorcyclecruiser.com

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