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Review: Yamaha's new Star Eluder could compete with baggers from Harley-Davidson and Indian

Charles Fleming, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Automotive News

This is a great season for cruisers and baggers.

In the last few months, Honda has unleashed its new Gold Wing touring motorcycle and BMW has produced its mighty K1600 B and K1600 B Grand America.

I was able to spend a 300-mile riding day astride the Eluder, on a route between San Diego and Los Angeles that also included a lunch stop at Borrego Springs and offered a beautiful mix of freeways, back roads, twisty canyons, warm sunshine and freezing rain.

Yamaha's new bagger is powered by an all-new, air-cooled V-twin engine, with a 113-cubic-inch (or 1845cc) displacement and a whopping 126 pound-feet of torque. Run through a six-speed transmission and belt final drive, this power plant has been engineered to produce maximum torque and minimum vibration.

It's a lovely piece of work, offering tremendous pull off the line and drama-free acceleration. On the open road, at freeway speeds and higher, it's one of the softest, mellowest V-twin engines I've ever encountered.

It's also extremely rideable. Yamaha has wisely fitted the Eluder with a 27.6-inch unladen seat height, and made the seat quite narrow at the front. Riders of almost any stature will be able to get both feet flat on the ground when the Eluder is stationary.

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More importantly, the Eluder engineers managed to keep the motorcycle's 875 pounds very low on the machine. The bike comes up off the kickstand effortlessly, and even at slow speeds feels like a much lighter motorcycle.

The Eluder ticked off all the riding boxes for me during a full day of touring. It was easy to operate in downtown San Diego street traffic. It chortled pleasingly on the freeway. It cornered well at high speeds on the back roads around Julian and Mt. Palomar. It even behaved itself at very low speeds in parking lots and around gas stations, and despite its big bike girth proved narrow enough for some crafty lane splitting.

The linked ABS braking system made slowing the big machine -- it is 8 feet long -- a breeze. Standard traction control and the massive rear tire bolstered my confidence on fast sweeping turns in the rain. The bike's oversized floorboards made it possible to shift my foot position without feeling cramped.

Yamaha press materials boast of the Eluder's "authentic cruiser soul" and its "modern classical DNA," and proudly proclaim the bike "the most technologically advanced V-twin bagger" currently on the market.

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