It's hard to believe that Baggers is now two years old. We're no longer a new magazine that caters to our collective love of long-distance cruisers but still strive to be the best. For the most part, our handfuls of test rides over time have focused mostly on big, large displacement motorcycles from the likes of Harley-Davidson, Victory, even a Triumph, with a couple of smaller (displacement-wise) bikes thrown in the mix, such as the Buell Ulysses XT and BMW's K1200RT. Compared to the 1700-plus-cc displacements (2,300 for the Trumpet) of the CVO's and Visions of the world, on paper the 1200's just seem plain small.
We haven't been conspiring against smaller output machines; there are just not many bikes that offer touring amenities from the factories (such as saddlebags and a windshield) in a smaller package. There sure aren't any made in America. Not everyone wants to or is comfortably capable of handling a 900-pound bike.
In the fairness of our readers we decided to give Star Motorcycles a call to thoroughly test its newest touring bike, the V Star 950 Tourer. As you might have noticed from the name the bike is powered by Star's 942cc, SOHC (one per cylinder), air-cooled 60-degree V-twin, cradled in a Softail-style frame. This latest offering adds a windshield, leather-wrapped hard saddlebags, and a passenger backrest to the naked, Star 950. The extras add around a $1,000 to the price tag, but still comes in at about $9,000. Star Motorcycles, whose parent company is Yamaha, seeks to place the 950 Tourer in the middle of the pack between the 650 and the 1,100 V Star models.
At first pass our Liquid Silver Star test bike looked very well put together, with a nice mix of contrast provided by the various shades of silver and black. Sitting on the bike proved to be an overall positive experience, as the bike looks much larger than it feels. A low seat and easy to reach, wide beach bars put the rider in a very comfortable position. Rider floorboards are placed forward allowing the legs to slightly stretch out. On the left side a nicely shaped heel/toe shifter doesn't get in the way when you want to move your foot around; the heel section lets you hang your foot off the back of the board without getting in the way. Passengers get traditional fold-up rubber covered pegs as well as a very nice sissy bar with large padded Star embossed backrest.
The two other main attractions on this bike are the lockable saddlebags (keyed the same as the ignition) and fork-mounted windshield. The hard plastic saddlebags are covered in real leather and actually work. We're often surprised at how useless, from a storage standpoint, some manufacturer's bags can be. Not the case here. The top-opening bags hold a lot of gear and securely shut with a latching mechanism inside that doesn't obstruct entry into the bag. A push button is used to undo the latch and can be easily accomplished with one hand, an important feature when it's raining outside and you have your hands full.