Excursion: Mojave National Preserve

HFL, Positions -


mojave.jpgThe Yamaha Star Stratoliner S is heavy, slow, has very little storage room, brakes poorly and hates corners. It’s utterly unsuited to long distance riding. But, we managed to find a place that suited it perfectly, the long, straight, scenic roads through the Mojave National Preserve.

Click below for the feature:
Excursion: Mojave National Preserve

  • Minion444

    It seems you haven’t ridden a Statoliner. Yes, in stock form the bags are small. Brakes poorly and hates corners, huh?

    Two huge front disks and a single disk in the rear. No abs, but the brakes are strong and linear with no fade. What are you comparing the cornering too, a sport bike. Compared to the Crusiers in its class, it out handles them all. KN2000 is a truck, M109 and VTX 1800 both muscle cars that don’t turn well.

    Yes the H-D roadking handles better, but can’t out brake or out run a Stratoliner.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

      It’s basic function as a motorcycle is just compromised. We understand that some people like cruisers (although we don’t really understand why), but there’s no reason Yamaha couldn’t have aped Harley Davidson’s looks while engineering a competent bike.

      Compared to say, a Triumph Rocket III, the Stratoliner is incredibly unstable while dragging its floorboards. Doing so shot me across two lanes of traffic. It gets terrible fuel economy, sucking its reasonably large tank dry in as little as 110-120 miles, that’s simply not good enough for a touring bike and was barely enough to make it through the park.

      Having said that, there’s a certain romantic appeal to its cruiser styling and riding experience, something that I think is captured in Grant’s photo story.

      • LinerRider

        “reasonably large tank”? Actually, that is one of the flaws with the bike. The tank is small, just 4.5 gallons. Mine averages over 40mpg, pretty good for the size of the engine. It would be nice to have a six gallon tank.

      • Tom

        Hi Wes,
        I have a Stratoliner and have ridden the Triumph Triple of a friend when we ride together and switch rides. The Strat handles much better and lighter in the curves.(no comparison…my buddy agrees…not even close.) The Triple has tons of power, although it’s not as usable as the Strats power.
        As for milage,I rode two hundred miles in the mountains yesterday and my fuel light came on at 186 miles. (which means I had about 3/4 gallon left.) Something must be wrong if you only get 120 miles on a tank? I agree that a larger tank would be nice to have. I would also like a sixth gear. But, I would not trade my Strat for any other cruiser. Maybe you do not like cruisers……then that is you. I love the comfort of a cruiser…..and this big boy is pretty nimble. Maybe you should give it another try.

      • ISellMotorcycles

        I have ridden every Japanese motorcycle that is currently on the American market. The Stratoliner is one of the smoothest cruisers I have ever ridden. Stylistically it rocks. It reminds me of an old Buick. I can see how the fill-up range would be an issue. I’m sure you weren’t just “cruising” either. The aluminum frame, fuel injection, and locking saddle bags bring this cruiser into the 21st century. The retro styling, air cooled outer pushrod v-twin keep things nostalgic. One issue I do have with this bike is the price. The new Voyager on the market will be right there in price. It is atleast 3 times the bike of the Stratoliner. However, I do feel that your assessment was incomplete.

  • LinerRider

    You got 2 out of 5 right. It is heavy. What 1800+ CC bike isn’t? However, it feels much lighter than it is. You are right about the OEM bags, they are pretty small.

    For a V-Twin, it is anything but slow. What are you comparing it to? It will out perform nearly any other stock V-Twin out there.

    Regarding braking and cornering, I think Minion got it right. You haven’t actually ridden one. For a big cruiser, it excels at both braking and handling.

    The Strat is a comfortable, powerful, big V-Twin cruiser that can be used for touring. Granted, it isn’t a Goldwing. But the Strat is a motorcycle, the Wing is a 2-wheeled car.

    Seriously, what are you comparing it to?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

      We put about 900 miles on the Stratoliner between the two of us and we’re comparing it to every other bike we’ve ever ridden. Just because it’s a cruiser doesn’t mean it has to be such a bad bike. Both of us remarked that we’d much rather have been on something like a Triumph Bonneville, which, while smaller, is considerably faster, easier and more fun to ride and actually handles in a safe manner. All that and it still has timeless looks.

      We rode a Kawasaki Concours 14 on the same trip. Apples and oranges, I know, but for $3,291 less, we got a bike with over twice the fuel range, considerably greater comfort, huge panniers that were capable of accepting full-face helmets and exponentially more performance and riding enjoyment. Watch out for its feature in the coming days.

  • TBM

    I suspect you do not know what you are talking about. I ride with many on other large cruisers and the Stratoliner is not only faster, it handles much better in the curves on twisty mountain roads. On long straight roads I would like a sixth gear, but that is the only change I would make.

  • Leo

    Not sure how you could be so wrong unless you are trying to get it wrong?
    After a few years on a Road King, I graduated to the Stratoliner. Wow, what a difference! The raw power and torque are far superior to the HD and my buddies on both HD’s and a Honda 1800′s can not stay with the Stratoliner in the curves. How did you get it so wrong?

  • bikerstar

    I do not own a “real” Stratoliner – by that I mean from the factory. I bought a Roadliner and added Corbin bags, Corbin seat and a rifle windshield. I agree with your assessment that the OEM bags suck (as does the stock seat). However, that is all I agree with. I took my bike to Sturgis this year and the handling in the twistys and mountains was unreal. The damn thing stops on a dime with no fade or heavy pressure on either pedal. It outruns any bike in its class and handles like a bike 200 lbs lighter. I do not know what you are comparing the ‘liner to but rememmber this is damn near an 800 lb bike fully decked out and it outhandles many bikes 200 lbs lighter.

  • Jimmydee

    I can’t believe you were actually riding a Stratoliner. My 2007 Strat is my 9th bike in about 30 years and have a little over 100k miles of riding. (We loose about 6 months a year here in Michigan) This is by far the best handling bike I have ever had. It comes off the stand like my V-Max I had and yes, it does have some short comings as it came stock. Those were corrected for a few hundred dollars of add on like the Ultimate seats and the Baron risers.
    Mileage is always 42+ and on the flat is always in the high 40s. I have never been comfortable with dragging the pegs on any bike I’ve owned but this one is probably the best cornering bike I’ve ever had.
    Power is short of my V-Max but it is darn close. Either you didn’t actually ride a Stratoliner or you are so blinded by the type of bike you usually ride, that your opinion is highly slanted. Ride a Stradoliner and check one out for real.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

      Are the photos of us riding said Stratoliner really not enough of a clue?

  • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

    We did, in fact, ride the 2008 Yamaha Star Stratoliner S, people. I’m afraid you’ll all just have to accept that. We took it from Seal Beach to Moab in less than two days. The fuel economy was so bad that at one point, I had to nurse it into a gas station on fumes, literally. Maybe the jetting was off, maybe the giant windshield secretly syphoned out all the gas while we were busy watching the road. I don’t know.

    And as for comparison to other bikes, I rode just about everything under the sun while I was creative director at Confederate. Dismissing me as an inexperienced V-Twin rider won’t cut the mustard either, fellas. The brakes were bad, the fuel economy non-existent, the engine performance dreadful and if you guys think that’s the best a 17K air-cooled V-Twin motorcycle is supposed to accelerate and perform in corners, you need to give yourselves a pinch on the way over to your nearest Buell demo day.

    Cruisers don’t require near the R&D that producing a performance bike does, so for a 2008 17K cruiser to, let’s face it, have it’s ass handed to it by a 1987 V-Max by the same company is plane silly.

    Yamaha can easily produce an awesome cruiser comparable to Hellcat handling and performance for 17K with large scale production. We’re guessing they haven’t done it because they’re too busy making hand-over-fist with the woeful crap Americans are perfectly happy buying.

    We’re just calling it like we see it…

    • ISellMotorcycles

      I can’t belive what I just read. Did you really just compare the Stratoliner to the VMax? In all seriousness? I have been pondering what to type next for five minutes and questions like “Were you drunk?” and “Do you have Down Syndrome?” pop into my head. “Cruisers don’t require near the R&D that producing a performance bike does, so for a 2008 17K cruiser to, let’s face it, have it’s ass handed to it by a 1987 V-Max by the same company is plane silly.” -Grant Ray. Do you all not understand that there are different motorcycles for different people. You obviously don’t like cruisers. I don’t either, but I atleast understand the premise of these motorcycles and the markets they aim to please. Yes, the Concourse is less expensive, but so is a bicycle. Please, if it is in your physical being to make reasonable comparisons then do so. Use the tools in your toolbox Grant. Otherwise, your validity as a magazine is done for me.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

        My point was cost as it relates to large scale manufacturing, ISellMotorcycles. For 17K, I expect more than chrome, flashy paint and sluggish brakes. Cruisers are old tech bikes with bulbous tanks and big fenders that don’t require a whole bunch of engineering.

        I’m not saying that the basic characteristics should be dismissed. Cruisers are great for what they are.

        However, for that kind of money from a company like Yamaha, I expect real development or higher spec componentry such as a better brake package, floorboards with height adjustability for better corner clearance when riding big sweepers, old-school looking wheels made of modern, lightened materials for better handling, quick release saddle bags, etc.

  • LinerRider

    OK, so you rode it. But your experiences and opinions contradict every magazine review and comparison ever done with this bike, not to mention those of owners. (Obviously, owners will be a little biased…)

    Maybe you had a “bad” one, who knows, but the bike you’re describing sure doesn’t sound like mine.

  • Dirty White Boy

    I loved my Roadliner (naked Strat) before it was destroyed by an idiot cager. I loved the way it handled, the power, the brakes. The things that would improve the bike are a better seat, 6th gear, and cruise control. Less chrome/more black on the Midnights too. It would be nice to have more factory options for bags, fairings, different fenders, etc.

    Seems like yall are expecting this big cruiser to handle and brake like a sport bike and get the fuel mileage of a Honda Spree.

    Overall, I was happy with the bike as I imagine most folks that buy one will be pleased as well.


  • pn CO111

    You obviously had one with something wrong with it. This bike has won every comparison with other large cruisers. I am not saying you are wrong about the individual bike you rode, that would be rude. However, my guess is that you got one with lots of problems. Sorry about that……your loss.

    I have had a Stratoliner for two years and never one problem. The engine is a beast and the mileage is usually mid to high forties with some occasional fifties. I would like a sixth gear and electronic cruise control and maybe ABS brakes. It is far and away the best cruiser I have ever owned.

    I suppose you can get a ‘lemon’ in just about anything. I have forty years of riding experience and the bike you rode has little in common with my bike. I am sure other Liner owners will tell you a similar story.

    Best of luck in the future

  • hwyman

    My 2006 stratoliner will take a vmax red light to redlight any day even the 09 vmax!,Altough most crotch rocketts and touring crotch rocketts will hand it to me after the 1/8 ,mile not all mind you, but most newer ones. I do have a few mods on her though,But after riding many different style and makes of motorcycles in my 50young years.

    There is not a better cruiser on the market, By the way those buels are fast at the top end but give me a short race with one and he or she will see a 800 pound plus cruiser shakin it’s tail at the front side of those mean old top enders.
    my strat will do 127 plus mph fully loaded with bags shield backrest etc.. not bad for a non braking , non curve turning, bad on gas MONSTER, Bring it I’ll race it curves straight away whatever and will hang with the best of them, but then again i do know what i’am talking about..:)

  • flaflyer

    O.K. Wes I read the story and the remarks made by everybody and your replies. My two cents worth: For what ever reason you must dislike Yamaha. You yourself stated “like comparing apples and oranges” when you remarked about the Kawasaki Concours 14. I ridden one of those and the bike damn near fried my leg off. Even the magazines comment about the EXCESSIVE HEAT. I have a Startoliner and it puts out heat too, all air cooled V twins do. But no where as bad as the Kawasaki. And the comments about a Buell (which you couldn’t spell right). More apples and oranges, most Buell’s are crotch rockets. The only one that comes close to being like a Stratoliner is the Adventure. Rode one of those too (neighbor has one he loaned me for a day) and all I can say is “What a piece of crap.” Handling sucked and it shook the hell out of me. Plus the Buell’s are all ugly as sin.
    Just my opinion Wes. Good Day!

  • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

    Man, you guys really brought the crazy.

  • Minion444

    Wes and Grant,

    My concern is you make a statement, without truly not showing the comparison.

    The Bonnie is a 50 year old throwback, that makes my heart go flutter and yes I want one. But, I wouldn’t travel cross country on one.

    The Connie is a sport tourer and is on par with machines like, st1300′s, BMW GT and RT’s, FJR’s and Bandits. It’s not a power cruiser.

    The Liner’s are Power Cruisers and or baggers. Not like a Goldwing, Electra or Ultra. But Like the Rocket Classic, VTX,Nomad and Blvds.and Road Kings

    Compare the liner to those and it out shines them

    My Liner gets terrible gas mileage. I Rode from NJ to Nebraska in 2.5 days. 1700 miles with detours. I average 25mpg and a speed of 80mph.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

      When we look at bikes, we don’t look at classes, we look at what the machines attempt to achieve and their ability to achieve it. Unlike many other publications, we don’t rely on the manufacturers for revenue or access. In fact, we’ve even had several threaten to cut that access off. But neither are we biased against any manufacturer, in fact, if we have any bias, its that we think motorcycles in general are pretty awesome.

      Between the two of us, we’ve ridden just about every bike going.

      We really didn’t intend to turn this article into a review for the simple reason that we only had negative things to say about the Stratoliner. Compared to every other bike we’ve ever ridden, it just plain sucked. At everything. Instead we wanted to take the opportunity to look at a very specific aspect of it: the whole big shiny cruiser on desert back roads thing.

      If the Stratoliner represents to you what you want from a motorcycle, then good for you, but we’d encourage anyone to look elsewhere before settling for one.

  • contender

    Jeez. I go away on vacation and the site gets overrun by crazies. I am sorry I missed all the fun.



    I have ridden every type of bike known to man in 45 years of riding. Prior to buying the strat I rode a new 06 Road King for 3 days and 750 miles thru the Santa Barbara/Ohaj area. There is simply no comparison. The harley are completely inferior bikes in every manner except for the snob appeal afford the Harley. As for other cruisers in this class close but no cigar, the Strat wins. Fuel usage- I average 45-50 at 70 mlles an hour. 80 plus it goes down as does every bike or any other combustion engine. I can only assume that the bike you rode was defective or you are bias where this bike is concerned.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/pierre-christianheggren/ Pierre-Christian

    Nice Leica M8!