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2009 Yamaha V-Star 950 Tourer First Impressions


by Luc Brière ,

For 2009, Yamaha updated its custom lineup with the all new V-Star 950, available in base custom trim or as a touring model featuring a windshield and leather saddlebags.

The V-Star 950 Tourer has character, borrowing an Art Deco look from its larger sibling, the Stratoliner, but with a more understated twist.

The V-Star 950 Tourer has character.

Regardless of the brand, I generally like medium-displacement custom bikes since they combine great manoeuvrability and light weight with an engine strong enough to fill the bill in most types of riding. They’re easy to ride, so beginners are not intimidated, yet they can keep up with beefier steeds on the long, open road.

The V-Star 950 is somewhat different. It’s a big bike, virtually identical in size to the big customs from Yamaha. The seat remains low, ensuring that even short-legged riders can put both feet firmly on the ground. It might be a bit too low, actually, positioning the knees at such an angle that the legs lose considerable power. As a result, it’s hard to maintain balance when stopped, since the legs lack leverage.

At 5’7", I found the wide and otherwise comfortable handlebar to be too far away, making for difficult manoeuvring at low speed. The windshield is also too far away and, despite its ample area, my helmet ended up in turbulence. That was very annoying.

The Yamaha V-Star 950 is powered by a new V-twin engine that replaces the good old 75-degree design (inherited from the Viragos), in favor of a 60-degree cylinder angle configuration. In theory, such layout improves balance; in reality, the engine of the 950 vibrates a lot. Riding this bike and a 2004 Yamaha V-Star Silverado side by side, the latter equipped with a 75-degree V-twin, vibration levels perceived by the rider of the 950 were higher than those of the 1100. On the other hand, the smaller engine certainly pulls harder.

Meanwhile, the rigid chassis and wide handlebar of the new V-Star quickly instil confidence in riders, although the floorboards are too close to the ground, as you will find if you push a little bit on corner entry. The suspension is a rather simple setup that sacrifices styling in the name of comfort, leaving too little travel at the back. The single disc up front and the one in the back deliver no more than adequate braking.

The open road is clearly the V-Star 950’s element. With a very comfortable seat and a spacious riding cockpit, this machine gobbles up great distances almost effortlessly.

All in all, the 2009 Yamaha V-Star 950 is a full-size, less expensive variant of the great Stratoliner line.

Meanwhile, the rigid chassis and wide handlebar of the new V-Star quickly instil confidence in riders.

Photo Credit : Philippe Champoux