2011 Yamaha Royal Star Venture S
Once upon a time motorcycle engineers in the land of the rising sun had a great idea. The perfect touring engine should be a V-four. The configuration allows the space efficiency to pack plenty of displacement into a relatively small space, the four cylinder design provides for ample generation of horsepower and torque, and the mellow exhaust note has hints of the luscious Harley potato potato potato to satisfy the retro crowd.
With this decision in hand, the Suzuki folks set off to create a truly memorable V-four tourer and named it the Cavalcade. It sold about as well as God Bless America bumper stickers in Tehran and soon disappeared beneath the waves of the Sea of Japan. The counterparts on the Yamaha side developed the Venture along the same lines. It managed to hang on a bit longer than the unfortunate Suzuki but it also succumbed to apathy eventually. However, the Yamaha true believers brought it back after a prolonged hiatus and renamed it the Royal Star. This time it managed to hold on until the present day when the Venture moniker was reborn and tacked on to the end of the name to produce the 2011 Yamaha Royal Star Venture S.
Unlike the engine of the V-Max which sprung from the same engineering genealogy, the Royal Star Venture S did not benefit from the redesign to a pavement shredding 1.7 litres. The engine powering the Royal Star Venture S is effectively little changed from the one fitted to the first Venture in those faraway days of 1983: A 1294cc liquid-cooled 70 degree DOHC 4 valves per cylinder V-four powerhouse fed by four 32 mm Mikuni CVs that still somehow manages to crank out nearly 100 horses and 90 ft-lbs. of torque.
The Royal Star Venture S is one long bike. It's not the freight train that the Gold Wing has become but with a 67.1 inch wheelbase it certainly allows for plenty of room for two adults to spread out on the saddle. The size is actually amplified by what is essentially a fairly small fuel tank with a capacity of barely 6 gallons. Given the Royal Star Venture S' touring credentials, it should hold a lot more fuel than the FJR1300A ABS sports tourer, but unfortunately it does not. That's the story with most of the Royal Star Venture S. It's one of those bikes that has passed it's sell-by date and it falls short in too many areas to be considered a true 2011 model.
The 2011 Yamaha Royal Star Venture S is dated. That's all there is to it. It's not especially retro, nor nostalgic, it's just long in the tooth. It doesn't hold a candle to either Gold Wings or Electra Glides, and there are several bikes in the triple tuning fork line up that not only are better tourers but much better value. At nearly twenty grand, Yamaha can't really be serious about selling any of these.
2011 Yamaha Royal Star Venture S At A Glance
Base MSRP: $23,899
Engine Displacement: 1294 cc
Engine Type: 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve, 70°, V-4
Bore & Stroke: 79 x 66mm
Ignition Type: Starting Digital TCI / Electric
Compression Ratio: 10:01
Transmission Type: 5-speed
Final Drive Type: Shaft
Front Tire: 150/80-16
Rear Tire: 150/90-15
Wheelbase: 1,705mm (67.1")
Saddle Height: 750mm (29.5")
Curb Dry Weight: 394kg (866.8 lb)
Fuel Capacity (US): 22.5 litres
* Specs/pix apply to 2010 model, updates as released