If you're just joining us, I was the founding editor of this fine publication back in 2007, but life parked in an office (or commuting to one) just doesn't suit me, so I'm not any more. In any case, I've always thought that baggers are baggers regardless of place of origin, but acknowledge the fact that most of them are Harley-Davidsons. Still, that doesn't mean you need to ignore the ones that aren't.
Baggers is all about touring bikes you customize, or custom bikes you ride, but here at the magazine we typically test stock bikes that can be modified, and do feature photo-shoots of custom bikes that we aren't allowed to ride. So when Star (that would be Yamaha's cruiser brand) offered up this completely pimped Tour Deluxe, Toph (he would be the current editor) jumped at the chance...and kept it for a year.
Slathered in billet bling and chrome chotchkies, Star still found space and budget for some useful performance and touring amenities on this Royal Star Tour Deluxe. With $5,339 worth of Genuine Star Accessories, there was definitely a large contingent of flash, but the bike had some notable functional stuff as well. It was converted to a solo seat style, forsaking the pillion pad for a small luggage rack. Braided cables were probably mostly added for flash, but braided brakes usually deliver superior feel. A pair of K&N air filters (nestled under billet covers, of course) serve to improve airflow to the engine and performance behind the large fairing lowers. There might be some argument over the wisdom of this, but a tinted, cut-down windshield keeps most of the wind from the rider's chest, while leaving head and shoulders in the breeze.
The big girl may look a little like a Road King clone, but differs in many distinct ways. A liquid-cooled V-four motor derived from the '80s Vmax powers the Star. It delivers comparable torque down low, but has a much stronger midrange, and pulls into the top end pretty well. The exhaust note is pretty tame in stock form, but under load it honks like a V8...or at least half of one. Unfortunately those extra two cylinders and water-cooling system add close to 100 pounds more than a King, so in lower-speed situations it doesn't have the same snap that a Harley would. It also sits higher and carries its weight higher up.
But in some ways it is rather King-ish. Rather than a built-up cruiser as many Japanese light touring rigs are, it's a stripped-down variant of Star's full-boat Venture model, right down to the muscle car-inspired swept needle dash. On the open road it shows its happy spot is highway riding and faster back roads...but not too fast. Somewhat similar to pre-'09 Harleys it wiggles a bit over 80 mph, only from the front, not the back. It might only have a five-speed transmission, but the gears are well spaced and the motor smooth, so you don't really miss having a Sixth. In fact, Fifth gear is geared as an overdrive and purrs at interstate velocities. The transmission is buttery smooth in shifts, both positive in engagement and very low effort. Like the King, the suspension is air adjustable, but not just in the back, the forks are adjustable as well. However, in our testing all it did with a decent load on was raise the ride height and make it stiffer. Even loaded down it was fine with no added air.
Technically, this is the oldest Star in the lineup. Introduced in 1997, it was not even a Star, it was a Yamaha, predating the vanity brand by a couple years. But the Royal Star it was originally based on was a bust, getting replaced by the Road Star. But then it got an update, based on the touring mods of the Venture, such as a bigger motor, outboard airboxes (instead of hidden under the tank), and a larger fuel tank. With a longer range close to 200 miles, and claimed crankshaft horsepower more than 90, it found its niche as a stylish touring mount.