It’s been awhile, ol’ friend! Too long, way too long. Back in January of 2007, I reviewed the then brand-spankin’-new Star V Star 1300, with a one-page sidebar on the V Star 1300 Tourer. I called the 1300 a fine motorcycle; I called it that more than once actually. And in the Touring model sidebar, I touted the mere three things that Star bolted onto its standard V Star 1300 to make the bike travel ready: a clear 23″-tall windshield, a passenger backrest, and a pair of leather-covered, keyed-alike hard bags.
Doesn’t sound like much, does it? But those three items were (and are) three of the most popular accessory items sold at parts counters when riders feel the need for long-distance travel. Star just beat everyone to the punch and bolted on the most-wanted accessories to make it easy for the consumer. The intrepid V Star 1300 Tourer has been soldiering on for several years now in its original form. But with the 2010 model year comes an updated and upgraded V Star 1300 Tourer. The standard, hard leather-wrapped sidebags, passenger backrest, and windshield remain the staple items of the traveler’s kit. But several refinements are at hand in the areas of comfort, ergonomics, and trim. More on that in a moment.
When it came to the market, the V Star 1300 ushered in a new era of midsize cruisers. I remember asking in my original review, “Do you remember when 1100cc was considered a big bike?” The V Star 1300 had the look and feel of a large, genuine cruiser, and the generous 80″ engine was a validation of its cruiser credentials. That same engine remains unchanged over the years. Star did not feel the need to alter the liquid-cooled, fuel-injected V-twin, which produces excellent power across the board.
Measuring 1304cc, the fuel-injected, 60-degree V-twin engine delivers smooth power and has proven itself. Four valves per cylinder (36mm intake, 32mm exhaust) provide optimum combustion efficiency, while roller rocker arms rubbing on the single overhead camshafts reduce friction for better performance and less wear. Forged pistons measuring 100mm in diameter are linked to the single crankpin via forged connecting rods, working in a reasonable 9.5:1 compression ratio range for excellent durability and longevity. Early on, Star touted the power pulse and thumping tempo of the engine, which at the time I referred to as muted and mild. However, riding the V Star 1300 this time produced a different feeling. For fun, the V-twin beat of the engine seems just right to me now. Not so harsh as to induce a headache, but enough of a beat to let you know what’s down there. The 2-into-1 exhaust note is still on the quiet side, but that would be a blessing on a long riding vacation.
I’m still a fan of the super-clean cooling system that routes liquid through hidden hoses and internal engine passages for that air-cooled V-twin look with liquid-cooled engine performance. And I need to mention the simple and clean oil filter location on the 1300 engine, an improvement on removing the entire exhaust system to change the oil filter, as on the V Star 1100.
A clean and tidy belt final drive sends power from the five-speed transmission to the rear wheel and saves substantial weight over a shaft drive. A double-cradle steel chassis gives the bike a rigid base to work from, so the V Star’s substantial size is not felt in its handling. But instead of the traditional satin black coating found on all previous V Star 1300s, the 2010 model’s frame is distinguished by a high-gloss black finish. Steel fenders and fuel tank substantiate the V Star’s true cruiser character. Seven-spoke cast wheels and a matching rear pulley mount fat 16″ tires for a confidence-inspiring ride. Dual 298mm front and single rear disc brakes provide consistent and predictable stopping power. Up front are 41mm KYB fork tubes with stainless covers.
Connecting the rider to those fork tubes, suspension and steering gear is part of where the 2010 V Star 1300 differs from the original. The newest Tourer has a new handlebar bend, bringing the bars closer to the rider for a more relaxed riding position than ever before. And the shape of the seat has been redesigned with a “dish,” carved for improved comfort and to allow the rider to touch the ground more easily. It’s just a tweak to breathe some new life into a tried-and-true combination, as well as to make the V Star 1300 Tourer more than just a standard V Star with a handful of travel accessories bolted on.
Some minor trim changes were sprinkled on the Tourer for 2010 as well. The original fuel tank remains, with a flush, aircraft-style filler cap incorporated into the tank’s sleek, flangeless design. The tank holds a generous 4.9 gallons of fuel, thanks in part to a remotely located sub tank under the seat that also houses the fuel pump. This year, a new 3-D tank emblem design adorns the V Star 1300 Tourer, which also gets more chrome, thanks to a new chrome headlight housing and chrome belt guard.
All in all, this is not a major overhaul for the V Star 1300 Tourer. But there are some much appreciated refinements sure to make any motorcycle traveler more comfortable, and proud to boot. And with a mere $300 price increase over the most expensive ’09 model, it’s still hard to beat the big middleweight Star Tourer. RB
– By Steve Lita, photos by Bob Feather