2018 Yamaha Star Eluder First Test Review
Big displacement cruisers are out and baggers are in. That’s what Yamaha is betting on with its new Star Eluder. Built off the same platform as its grandiose, Star Venture touring rig, the Eluder is an ultra-refined bagger for those logging serious mileage.
Long, Low and Functional
Styling is a big deal for any rider, and the lines of the Eluder don’t disappoint. The Tuning Fork men admit American muscle is a part of the Eluder’s DNA, as designers borrowed lines from the now defunct auto brand, Plymouth, and its ’71 Barracuda. It’s especially evident by a pointed nose that houses four bright LED head beams that ensure you get noticed on the road.
Huge fighter jet style air intakes swallow air routing it through the engine’s hidden oil-cooled radiator as well across the floor boards. This helps evacuate heat generated by the distinct power pulses of the 113-cubic inch eight-valve Twin. Easy to use flaps inside the lower fairing allow you to modulate airflow based on preference. During our occasionally rain-soaked ride in cooler winter air we had them closed.
The Eluder carves through the air with a pure and distinct bagger silhouette. Muscular toward the front, it tappers nicely rearward with a chopped back end that appears extra tidy with LED tail light strips and twin mini-canon exhaust pipes… and it sounds as good as it looks.
Music to the Ears
Hard on the gas, the 48-degree V-Twin makes all the right sounds— delivering a meaty exhaust note that makes you feel alive at each twist of the wrist. To do this, Yamaha tapped its music subsidiary, spending hours in an acoustics lab to ensure that the note is just right. Fun fact: each muffler emits a unique tone says Yamaha.
Yet the exhaust note isn’t so loud to drown out the tranquility of cruising across an open road at 80 mph. In fact, at this speed, and any for that matter, the Eluder is in its “happy place” churning out massive traffic passing torque without the need to downshift. Clutch lever pull is neither too stiff, nor too wispy and the transmission meshes between each of its six-gears with precision.
At 70 mph, the Venture pulls 2500 rpm in top gear, with another 2250 revs in the reserve. On the opposite end, the engine chugs cleanly right off idle making it easy to squirt away from stops. Those looking for big top-end horsepower should look elsewhere, as this Twin is all about friendly, stump-pulling low-end twist force.
During our ride the computer displayed a low-40s mpg average which nets upwards of a 250-mile range based on the 6.6-gallon capacity of the fuel tank.
Two-way adjustable push-button throttle maps (sport and touring) allow the rider to tweak the feel and response of the engine. We generally prefer the ’S’ setting as it makes the engine a tad more playful feeling when the throttle is cracked on. Always-on traction control also helps keep slips at bay.
A short fixed windscreen replaces the huge, and electronically adjustable piece on the Star Venture, which does substantially increase wind noise inside the cockpit. This drowns out the sound of its two-speaker stereo at highway speeds. However by installing Yamaha’s accessory and hard-wired J&M helmet headset, quality is partially restored with an immersive surround-sound experience. For $250 (with cord), it’s money well-spent. J&M says its working on a Bluetooth compatible setup in the future, but for now only a cable provides the necessary bandwidth for all of its functions.
The cockpit is well appointed for a six-foot tall rider. Saddle height is a smidge higher (0.2 in.) than the Venture, which will be appreciated by taller riders. An integrated three-way adjustable electric seat heater is standard and very powerful even on a chilly day. The seat has passenger accommodation, however lacks the forward/back adjustment as offered on the Venture. Still, the saddle performs as it should and will be welcomed by those looking for a cozy all-day perch.
Both the handlebar and the position of the floor boards complement the riding position, making for a relaxed yet commanding seating position. Oddly enough, heated grips are available as an accessory.
Over five inches of suspension travel up front and four at the back allow this Yammie bagger to float down the road with the utmost comfort. Yet that pleasing ride doesn’t sacrifice road holding nor this 875-pound motorcycle’s responsiveness and ability to change direction.
With an 82-pound lighter curb weight than its Venture big brother, the Eluder impresses with its lithe handling both at highway speeds or in the parking lot. One could bemoan Yamaha for excluding its fantastic Sure-Park system reverse feature from the Eluder, but considering how much lighter (and lower) it is— we didn’t miss it even in tight quarters.
Even at near triple digit speeds, the Eluder’s chassis is the definition of stable yet with gentle input it’s ready to carve a turn. Ground clearance proves a tad limited in the twisties— fortunately, Yamaha offers a remote preload adjuster beneath the right side seat cowling allowing owners to crank up ride height for added cornering clearance. One gripe: the adjuster requires a screwdriver or basic hand tool to make adjustment.
On a side note, we did prefer the overall handling of the Eluder to the Venture as it felt more natural—resisting the urge to always turn while barreling through curves. The OE-fitted Bridgestone Exedra rubber is equally capable in both wet and dry surfaces and the linked, triple disc brakes are sharp, powerful and easy to modulate.
With the removal of the Venture’s top case, storage capacity is reduced by 50% however the hard cases and three cabin compartments can swallow 18 gallons of stuff. There’s also a USB-power port accessible in rider’s right side compartment and a 12-volt power port on the left-side. The compartments can also be locked/unlocked electronically via the key-less ignition fob, that includes an alarm and handy “find me” feature that honks the horn and flashes the lights to let you know where your bike is in a full parking lot.
Infotainment Command Center
Yamaha certainly didn’t skimp in electronics, outfitting the Eluder with the same crisp seven-inch full color and touchable display as the Venture. The system can be manipulated via buttons on the switchgear or simply touching the screen directly, even with gloves. Voice commands are also possible when using a Bluetooth compatible headset or the optional J&M audio setup.
The infotainment display provides a wealth of both vehicle and entertainment— as well as navigation with the optional GT package. It proves especially useful at routing via visual and audio direction instructions. Of course you could use your smartphone for routing, however it won’t be as well integrated as the factory setup.
The system is so robust that it takes time to learn all of its many features. The menu is presented logically and a handy “home” button ensures that you’ll always start from scratch if you get lost. With thicker, winter-weight gloves we preferred manipulating settings via the touch screen as the switch gear buttons are a tad small to use with bulky gloves.
Another Worthy V-Twin Touring Option
With the encore introduction of the Eluder, it’s clear Yamaha means business in the V-Twin touring world. Boasting the same excellent riding dynamic as the Venture but with more pleasing styling that checks each and every box of what most bagger guys desire the Tuning Fork crew’s definitely giving the American brand’s a run for their money with the new Eluder.
Yamaha Star Eluder Riding Gear
2018 Yamaha Star Eluder Highs & Lows
Ultra-refined bagger performance
Pleasing air-cooled V-Twin character
Excellent styling and attention to detail
Only $2500 less expensive than its big brother
Heated grips are an up-charge accessory
Preload adjustment knob should be tool-less
2018 Yamaha Star Eluder Specifications
Engine: 113-cubic-inch (1854cc) air-cooled 48-degree V-Twin OHV, eight-valve
Bore x Stroke: 100 x 118mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Fueling: Electronic fuel-injection w/ YCC-T and D-Mode
Clutch: Wet, hydraulic actuation
Final Drive: Belt
Frame: Hybrid steel and cast aluminum
Front Suspension: 46mm KYB fork; 5.1 in. travel
Rear Suspension: KYB Shock with remote spring preload adjustment; 4.3 in. travel
Front Brakes: 298mm discs with Advics four-piston calipers with combined ABS
Rear Brake: 320mm disc with Advics twin-piston caliper with combined ABS
Wheels: Split five-spoke cast aluminum; 18 x 3.5 in. front and 16 x 6.0 in. rear
Tires: Bridgestone Exedra G853/G852, 130/70-18; 200/55-16
Curb Weight: 875 lb. (base); 877 lb. GT package
Wheelbase: 67.3 in.
Rake: 31 deg. Trail: 5.7 in.
Seat Height: 27.6 in.
Fuel Capacity: 6.6 gal.
MSRP: $22,499 (base); $23,999 GT package
Warranty: Five year, unlimited mileage