MOTORCYCLE REVIEW: V Star 950, New from the Ground Up

Entry-level or not?

By Genevieve Schmitt, Photos by Tom Riles & Nigel Kinrade

Its always exciting when a brand new motorcycle enters the picture. Say hello to Star Motorcycles V Star 950, new from the ground up new frame, new engine, new everything. Star is the cruiser line of bikes from Yamaha. It was inevitable wed see this new V Star 950 hit the market. Kawasakis Vulcan 900 was introduced in model year 2007 has been well received virtually redefining the middleweight category as bikes with engine sizes from 900cc to 1300cc. No longer does the industry view a 650cc motorcycle as a middleweight as was the case when the V Star Custom and Classic (650cc) was introduced in 1999. So if the 650 is not a middleweight, does that make it an entry-level now? It might be for some, but definitely not all riders. Actually, Yamaha is calling the 950 an entry-level model. Entry-level for whom is my question.

The V Star 950 is being billed as an entry-level motorcycle. I am wearing an Airframe Regal helmet from Icon and the Elektra jacket and Haley pant from Scorpion.
According to Yamaha research, the entry-level category is now leading overall cruiser sales in total volume.

Yamaha created the V Star 950 in response to two conclusions gleaned from the companys internal research. Number one: a resurgence of entry level riders (I would assume mostly male entry level riders) view anything under a 950cc motorcycle as too small these days (a la the V Star 650), and number two, these riders dont want the same old cruiser thats out there. They desire something new and different. Yamahas research also indicates there is strong growth in riders who want a motorcycle in that 900 to 1300cc range, even seeing a percentage of riders “trading down” moving from their big engine bikes to a more economical size that middleweight category. Yamahas presentation to the media never differentiated between men and women so I have to assume that these conclusions (like a resurgence of entry level riders view 950cc and under as too small) are based on mostly male riders. With that said, I test rode the V Star 950, like I always do when writing for Women Riders Now, with women riders in mind.

The bend in my knee allows me a decent amount of control over the V Star 950 when I#39;m moving it around. For reference, I stand 5-foot 6.5-inch with a 30-inch inseam.

I can see the V Star 950 being a new favorite among women, a bike beginners will trade up to after spending time building confidence on a 250cc or other smaller beginner bike. I see women skipping right over the 650 and going for the 950 as it offers everything the 650 does only better with newer technology in a more ergonomically friendly package. Plus, the 950 costs just $1600 more than the 650 so why not spring for a bike thats more modern in every way. The 950 should really be viewed as the next iteration of the 650, the 650 all grown up.

One might ask, then, why not just buy the V Star 1100 for just $1300 more than the 950. My answer is because the 1100 is a dated model with no major enhancements to it since it was introduced in 1999. If you want a big beefier bike, then buy the V Star 1300 priced at $10,290. Its a completely different feeling motorcycle than the 950 in terms of ergonomics, handling and it can accommodate larger sized riders better than the 950.

This shot shows another angle on how the V Star 950 fits me.

Seat height on the 950, of supreme importance to most women riders, is a low 26.5 inches, an inch lower than the V Star 650 at 27.4 inches, and a tad lower than its competitor, the Vulcan 900 at 26.8 inches. The seat on the 950 is narrow in the front so those with shorter inseams wont lose precious leg length inches when sitting in the saddle or trying to move the bike around. The weight of the bike, 612 pounds, is not overtly light, but its not extremely heavy either. The bike has a very noticeable low center of gravity so whatever weight you do feel is down low making it easier to maneuver. That said, I was not able to whip this bike around when I was doing a K-turn to back up into a parking spot. I had to be slow and methodical about it because it is “weighty,” but mostly because I had to stretch my arm long when turning the bars. Definitely not a deal breaker but something to take note of if you have short arms.

You can see the reach of my left arm as I turn the bars to the right to back up the bike – just a bit of a stretch for me.
You can get a sense of the width of the handlebars from this image.

The other woman on my test ride, Kelly Callan, who stands 5-foot-6 with a 32-inch inseam, and who sat flat-footed on the 950 struggled with backing up the 655-pound Tourer version up a slight up-hill gravel area where we pulled off. I had to give her a little push.

Here#39;s 5-foot 6-inch Kelly Callan, copy editor for Ultimate MotorCycling magazine, whose tall, lanky frame appears to fit just right on the V Star 950 Tourer, the same bike as the base model, just outfitted with a windshield, bags and backrest.

Another issue for a lot of women is being able to reach their fingers to the clutch and brake levers without moving their hand off the grip. I was able to reach the levers just fine without my hands leaving the grip, but my hands are bigger than most women. I wear size large womens gloves. To help with the reach, Yamaha designed the levers to be a bit wider than on other models. Wider gives your fingers more surface area to grab and makes the levers more comfortable when pulling in. The clutch pull was easy; no extra muscle needed there.

My gloved fingers reach the clutch lever without having to move my hand off the grip.

The Ride
The bike started right up on the brisk autumn morning of my test ride in the north Georgia mountains. No manual choke to fuss with because 942cc 60-degree V-twin engine is fuel-injected, a feature riders have come to expect on a new motorcycle these days. Fuel injection means the bike should spring to life easily on cold mornings because the fuel and air mixture adjusts electronically delivering the right amount of fuel for the climate and altitude conditions.

Coming at you, the V Star 950 has a commanding presence with its wide front end.

Unlike most Japanese cruisers that are quiet and vibration-less, the 950 lets you know youre riding a V-twin cruiser. There is a low, pulsating grunt to the engine and you can actually feel the motor beneath you pulsing, somewhat. Were not talking Milwaukee iron here. Pulsing is a good thing, in my opinion. I like “feeling” and “hearing” the motorcycle Im riding. This gives the 950 a real cruiser feel. Yamaha did an adequate job of minimizing vibration transfer to the rider considering the engine is rigid mounted to the frame. I took special note to see if I could make out images clearly through the rearview mirrors. I can. Check. The hand grips werent shaking. Check. The seat didnt shake. Check. The only place I felt some vibration was in the floorboards at high speeds. Good thing you can move your feet around the floorboards and rest on your heels to adjust for that if it annoys you.

Floorboards add to the comfortable ride both on the Tourer (shown) and the regular V Star.

It is important to note that this is a brand new engine. Yamaha didnt just take the V Star 650 and bore it up. This new engine performs cooler thanks to ceramic composite plated cylinders that dissipate heat better maximizing cooling efficiency.

As I rolled on the throttle for the first time heading out on my test ride, I noticed how light and nimble the bike felt at slow speeds maneuvering the tight S-turns of the hilly driveway out to the street. The bike felt very stable, which is confidence inspiring for new riders who sometimes get nervous handling a bike at slow speeds.

Shifting through the five-speed transmission was smooth. The shifter “clinked” naturally into each gear and finding neutral was easy, even using the heel part of the heel-toe shifter. A heel-toe shifter is often used on motorcycles outfitted with floorboards, and having floorboards on the 950 instead of foot pegs was a nice surprise. Most entry-level models, as Yamaha is calling this 950, dont have this “big bike” feature. But one of the appealing aspects of the 950 are its “big bike” features like the belt drive transmission instead of a shaft drive like whats on the V Star 650. A belt drive requires minimal maintenance, is very durable allowing for more customizing options.

The V Star 950 glided through the turns, although because the bike is low to the ground, I scraped the floorboards a few times, and I wasnt being that aggressive in my cornering. The floorboards on Star Motorcycles have a metal skid plate on the edge that takes the hit. This plate can be removed and replaced with a new one if it gets really scratched up.

Cornering is effortless on the 950. The bike leans easily into the turns.

Acceleration is quick. You’re up to fifth gear in no time, although, I did feel a slight lag at roll-on twisting the throttle at the start of each gear. I would have liked the throttle response to be crisper. With that said, it’s not like I would be doing any racing with this bike

Midsize cruisers feel like they either lumber or fly through turns. I found the 950 flew through turns and if it wasn’t for the low ground clearance I would have picked up my speed and really dived into the corners. The bike feels solid and planted. That’s partly due to the new double cradle steel frame that was designed for this motorcycle. Plus, the wheelbase is a manageable 66.3 inches and the rake is 32 degrees with trail being 5.7 inches, pretty standard for this size cruiser.

The front and rear suspension is dialed in just right taking bumps in the road without jarring me out of the saddle. Sometimes riding stock cruisers I have to adjust the preload on the rear shock because I’m lighter than the stock setting usually set for people weighing around 180 pounds. The link type rear shock does have a nine-position adjustable preload should you need to change the setting. It can be adjusted using a tool from the tool kit located under the seat. The rear shock provides 4.3 inches of travel, while the 41mm conventional front forks provide 5.3 inches of travel.

The brakes are what you’d expect on an “entry level” bike, one aimed at budget conscious riders. A single disc in both the front and the back bring the bike to a stop. A dual piston caliper in the front and a single piston caliper in the rear squeeze the discs to slow the bike down.

The polished wheels give the bike a custom look.

I’m not one to notice tires and wheels all that much, but the big 18-inch wheel in the front and 16-inch in the back caught my attention because they look custom with their eight stylish spokes that are powder coated black. It all adds to the sport classic design that Yamaha was going after with this bike. The front wheel wears a low profile front tire meaning you don’t see a chunky fat mass of rubber up there.

Styling wise, you’ll notice this Star is different from the rest. Yamaha engineers looked at what category of design was not currently being filled by existing models and discovered what they call “sport classic.” The lines of the 950 give the feeling of speed or movement with a look that is simple and clean with minimalist detailing. Nothing is too big or bulbous. The sweeping fenders and combination of the chrome and black components give it a classic look.

Lean flowing lines, as opposed to big and bulbous, define the look of the V Star 950.
Notice the flatter, slimmer fuel tank, part of that sport classic look. It holds 4.4 gallons and takes regular, not premium gas. Yamaha specs indicate the bike gets 47 mpg.
The speedometer is all new featuring two trip meters and a clock (big bike features) accessed by a button near the handgrips so you never have to take your hand off the grip to switch or reset the trip meters.

Ergonomically, I think the V Star 950 has a lot to offer for a wide variety of sized women. First, notice the position of my butt in the seat in the photos above. It fits in the entire saddle so I was able to take advantage of the high lumbar support in the back. Normally, I have to scoot up in a seat to reach the bars. Check out my video review of the V Star 1300, which shows me drowning in the large seat.

While the saddle and seating position fit me well on the 950, two male journalists on my test ride – one 6 feet, the other 5-feet-11, mentioned they got sore butts right away because they were cramped and had no room to stretch out their legs. Having their legs in such a tight position put pressure on the back of their legs and butt. Fortunately, Star Motorcycles offers an accessory seat for taller riders, shown later in this article.

Second, the handlebars, while they’re a little wide for my taste (I know some women prefer the wide style) reach all the way back to me for a comfortable position. There’s no leaning in so I didn’t experience a crick in my neck like I do on some bikes.

Thirdly, the floorboards allow you to adjust the position of your feet while riding if you don’t like them that far forward. A floorboard gives you more flexibility in creating the perfect ergonomic seating triangle for yourself.

The Tourer
The touring version sells for $1,100 more and comes with three main accessories, a windshield, saddlebags, and backrest that if purchased separately with the base model would cost more than the price of the Tourer. Star Accessories division offers three different windshield heights. The Tourer comes with the shortest one that was right in the middle of my vision. I would have preferred it to be either lower or higher and since this was the shortest, I would opt for the next size up so I could look through it. The stock shield does not come with the quick release feature that’s available on the aftermarket shield. That’s the only downside to the Tourer. The accessories are bolted to the bike instead of that convenient quick release feature. You can buy a quick-release retrofit mount kit for the Tourer for the windshield and for the backrest.

The hard-sized bags on the Tourer are covered in leather and are lockable, a feature that provides peace of mind when leaving your motorcycle. For stock bags, these are quite roomy holding 11 gallons or 42 liters.

Kelly fit her purse, her riding gloves and a wide brimmed straw hat in the large saddlebag. The wide opening allows her to gently place her hat in there without squashing it. No, you can't fit a full-face helmet, but what stock saddlebags can?

Make It Your Own
Star Accessories offers more than 1300 products to customize your V Star. A feature catching my eye are those quick release windshields, and combination backrest / luggage rack. They are each individually lockable so no one can steal them if you’re concerned about that. You can click on the images to make them larger.

Notice the lock on the left side of the windshield that locks the quick-release windshield to the bike.
Here you can see the lock on the chrome bar for the quick-release backrest and luggage rack. You can also see the lock on the saddlebag that is a stock item on the Tourer's bags.
Dave Pooler, Star Motorcycles accessory coordinator, sits on a customized Tourer. Notice the fender guards, engine guards, and saddlebag rails. He's perched on a custom seat that moves his body back a few inches so he can fit comfortably on the bike.
Here's that aftermarket seat from Star Accessories that gives Dave more legroom.

Specs at a Glance: 2009 Star Motorcycles V Star 950
Displacement: 952cc
Seat Height: 26.5 inches
Fuel Capacity: 4.4 gallons
Weight: 612 pounds; Tourer 655 pounds
Price: $7,890; Tourer $8,990

WRN Recommendation
The V Star 950 is an ideal motorcycle for intermediate and experienced riders who want “big bike” features in an economical package. You can do a lot with this V Star and it has plenty of power to take you on long overnight trips. True blue beginners may want to think twice about buying a 950cc 600-pound plus motorcycle as their first. I still recommend starting on a small beginner bike and then trading up to this Star. All riders should sit on the bike first to make sure the ergonomic triangle fits you just right.  

Star Motorcycle Jackets for Women
Star has an extensive line of apparel for women. I’m impressed with all the offerings. You can check them out at

Lindsey is wearing the Dynasty Nylon Leather Riding jacket in white, and JoLee is wearing the men's Star King riding jacket. We didn't know it was a men's jacket at the time. It's still a cool design because it says “Star” on the back and that could be fun to wear.
The same jackets shot from a different angle.

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48 thoughts on MOTORCYCLE REVIEW: V Star 950, New from the Ground Up

  1. I just love this review. I am a 50-something year old man, 5 feet 4 inches, and 185 pounds. I traded in my Yamaha V Star 650 Custom (put over 50,000 miles on the bike in five seasons) for a 2015 V Star 950 T. I just love the bike, it fits me perfectly and handles well and is very stable. I read Ms. Schmitt’s article along with dozens of other articles and reviews. I then test-rode the 950 and knew that I found my next bike. As a short male I read women’s motorcycle reviews because I find them more honest and better detailed. All the guys I ride with are taller then me and all said that I should have gotten the 1300 V Star because they believe that it’s all about the power. Well, power is important, however I believe that comfort and fit are even more important. My wife doesn’t ride so I feel that theV Star 950 will have no problem pulling my 5-foot-4-inch 185 pounds.

  2. I began my search for “the” motorcycle about a year before actually getting my license. I originally went into the local dealer expecting the Honda Shadow to be my future purchase when the salesman asked me if I ever considered a Yamaha. I tend to relate Yamaha with racing and I’ve always been the cruiser person so I hadn’t even thought about them. He had me stand up both the Honda and a Yamaha (which was one of the biggest motorcycles I’d ever seen) and I was impressed at the light feel for something that size.After that experience, I began to research the different Star models and found this article outlining the pros and cons of the 950. I admit that I was intimidated by the thought of going from the 250 from class to a 950 since this was to be my very first bike and I have had no riding experience prior to class, but I’ve always been a firm believer that once you see the one, you’ll know it. Thanks to your articles on how to choose a motorcycle and reviews of the 950 from a woman’s perspective, I am now the excited owner of a 2010 Yamaha V Star 950. I knew it was the one the moment I saw it and at 5 feet 4 inches with fairly long arms and a 32-inch inseam, it is a perfect fit for me. Thank you for your valuable information on its pros and cons!

  3. Hi I saw this review around the time I purchased my 2009 V Star 950. I’m 22 years old, 5-feet-10-ish and 230 pounds (shhh) so not exactly a stick. I can honestly say after a few months on this bike that I’m definitely going to upgrade the seat. After an hour my tailbone has had enough. I also immediately saw that I would be a lot more comfortable with the power if I had a 6th gear. Don’t get me wrong highway riding is fine but I’m constantly pushing it to keep the 70-75 mph on trips, I’m sure once I add a few mods this feeling will disappear. Otherwise I love the bike. It’s easy to maneuver and not huge and bulky feeling. I noticed the floorboard will vibrate if I push it too far in too low a gear, which is normal but I saw some complaints about this aspect. Overall I’m happy with my purchase and I’ll be keeping it for a long time, I plan to put the money for mods and customization for it. I like that it has the gas guage and is not carberated like the 1100 model. The stock handlebars have given me no issues but friends have had to lean forward a bit depending on reach. That’s all I can really find wrong with it and that’s nothing that can’t be fixed..

  4. I test rode a V Star 950 this weekend and found the vibration from the floorboards absolutely distracting! I know that they are floating floorboards, but the vibration all the way up my leg really was uncomfortable. I’ve looked for other reports of this but haven’t found any. Has anyone here found this to be an issue?Thank you!

  5. Presently own a Yamaha 650 Classic. Have been entertaining the prospect of obtaining a 950 Yamaha so I found your critique of the bike very informative. It was by far the most enlightening of any I have read! Much more so than any written by the men. Thank you and keep up the good work.

  6. I’m 5 feet 3 inches and 53 years old. I haven’t ridden a street bike for 10-plus years. I just purchased a 2009 950cc V Star because of this review. I looked at others but didn’t feel comfortable enough on them to take them around the block. After reading this review among others about other bikes, I trusted this information enough to travel two and a half hours to view a V Star advertised for sale.As soon as I saw the bike I knew it was the one for me! When sitting on it my feet are firmly on the ground. I can stand it up easily. I’m weaker then I was 20 years ago but after five hours experience I can move it around reasonably well. For now backing up a slight grade is challenging so some pre-planning is necessary when parking but I think that will improve with practice.I crept up to 130 km on the highway without knowing as there was no vibrations or odd engine sounds at higher speeds. The bike has been mine for two days and I can’t concentrate on work. I just want to ride.The bike is great to look at, sounds great, easy to operate around the city, smooth on the highway; just all around fun. Great women’s bike!

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience with this model, and how our review influenced your decision. We strive to provide the fairest review possible from a lifestyle, i.e. “real rider” point of view. We’re so glad it lead you in the right direction. Best wishes with your new motorcycle.

  7. Looking at purchasing a 950 to update my better half’s 535. Found Ms Schmitt’s article to be extremely informative, covering all aspects of riding, whether male or female. Her understanding of what makes a bike liveable and enjoyable when the “newness” wears off has definitely put her at the forefront of motorcycle reviews articles. Keep up the good work.

  8. Didn’t know anything about this bike. My bike (2007 Honda Shadow 750 Spirit) was having issues with ethanol. I decided in Jan. that I was getting a bike with fuel injection. Found some of the local dealers were having leftover 2009 bike clearance pricing. = So I went to the local dealer with a list of bikes from their Web site. Considered the V Star 1300 but didn’t like the look of the tank and headlight. So I decided on the V Star 950 Tommy Blue. Got a great deal on the bike. Got it home and my friend rode it and decided to get a leftover tourer. We love these bikes. Only issue is we both have pains between the shoulder blades. So we are adding pull-back risers to our bikes.

  9. Two weeks ago, I traded in my 1998 Suzuki Savage 650 and got a sweet deal on a leftover 2009 V Star 950 candy red. I couldn’t be happier. The bike is nimble around corners and has plenty of power on the highway. I do feel the floorboard vibes as the RPMs rise but it’s not intrusive. The seating position is a bit stretched with the low and wide handlebar and forward floorboards. I plan to tweak my ride a little to fit my short stature with pullback risers and a lowering kit already on order. Also, I’ll be adding a windshield and saddlebags for longer trips in the comfy saddle.The Savage was a good bike but limited. The V Star is an excellent ride! I have a permanent grin to prove it.

  10. OK, I have to admit that after having read this article (along with countless others) I bought a 2010 V Star 950 Tourer in the middle of April 2010. Because this article was written by a woman I placed more weight on it because I too am a woman. Six weeks later, there are more than 1,000 miles on the bike. I think about riding it even when I am not on the bike. I consider myself an intermediate level rider with only 2.5 season’s experience. I am 45 and on 5 feet 2 inches and feel very comfortable on this bike.I would recommend this bike to anyone with the same experience and size; it is not intimidating and it’s definitely not wimpy!

  11. My wife Carol loves her 950 V Star. It is her fourth bike in three years. She started out as a novice on a Harley Fat Boy but couldn’t handle the vibrations. From there she went to a V Star 1100 Classic, which she liked except for its poor handling in tight corners and twisty roads. While on vacation in Texas we bought her a new 1300 V Star, which handles much better but was just too tall for her in the long run, so we traded to the new 950 last year and have found the perfect fit; she is 5 feet 4 inches. She now has more than 4,000 miles on the bike and we are looking forward to putting on al ot more this summer. It was a great article by the way, and we did modify the handlebars to suit Carol’s arm length.

  12. I am 5'2″ and have been looking for the right bike for a while, I just bought the 2010 V Star 950 and it fits perfectly. This is my first bike and I love everything about it. I have more than 100 miles on it in just a week and plan to put a lot more long distant miles on it this summer.
    Thank you Yamaha!
    I also love the pearl white with pink/purple/black tribal design on the tank and back fender.

  13. Just bought a 2009 V Star 950. Have 44 miles on it so far. I turned 62 the day I got it. Love the bike. Will be putting lots more miles on it when weather gets better. Always had Gold Wing tour bikes but really like the way the 950 handles. Just have to put windshield, bags and Cobra straights on it.

  14. This is indeed an excellent review article. It is telling, I think, that a woman can review a motorcycle much better than a man. I am looking to move up from a 750cc bike, and only Genevieve Schmitt informs the reader (prospective buyer) about actual issues like short fingers, stretch to the bars, backing up …
    Thank you, Genevieve!

  15. I love my V Star. The only thing I didn't like is the bucking and stalling at low speeds due to the clutch. I purchased The Clevver at , and now it runs like a charm. I love my V Star!

  16. Love my 950, but after an hour ride, the seat is a killer. I sat on the back as a passenger also, not comfy. I would not call this a tourer because comfort is not there. Nice ride for local, and a passenger will do for local rides under 10 miles. Windshield tpo short for touring as well.

  17. Having enjoyed my 950 for several months, I must admit it's the best ride and look in a bike I've had in 46 years of riding. I've owned many bikes (BSA, Triumphs, Harleys and a Buell) and by far this is the must comfortable, responsive ride I've had to date. Makes me feel like a 18 year old again (sure as hell beats Viagara for the thrill).
    Salute Yamaha!
    P.S. Great web site!

  18. I am 5-feet-2 and have a 28-inch inseam. My starter bike was the '00 V Star Custom 650. I then moved to the '01 V Star Custom 1100. I loved both bikes and had Mustang seats on both. It raised the seat height but this only gave me infrequent trouble on the 1100.

    The 1100 was recently totaled. I was excited to see the 950 Tourer on the Yamaha Web site. Other than engine guards, it had everything I was looking for and the seat height was even lower than the 1100. When I tried one out, I was crushed to find that it was too wide for me to sit and have both feet reach the ground with any knee flex left.

    The specs indicate that the 950 is more than 4 inches wider than the 1100. The entire bike is wider, not just the handlebars. I don't know that a cut-down seat would work since the frame is wider too and as I mainly take longer rides. I wouldn't want to be limited to what I would consider a stock seat.

    I just wanted to share this with the other vertically challenged types like me.

  19. I read your article and was totally amazed how you covered the story about this motorcycle. I have read lots of other reviews and have felt I did not get the whole story. This may be the most accurate review I have ever read. I presently own a 800 Kawasaki, but I am looking into this 950 Yamaha. I would like a bike with fuel injection, belt drive, floor boards and mag wheels and, by the way, I am 56 years young. Thanks again!

  20. I purchased the Yamaha 950 Tourer in black cherry in Feb. 2009. I am a beginner rider who finished the motorcycle safety course in March 2009. I opted for this size bike because every biker told me that if I selected a smaller bike, I would be looking to upgrade within a year of riding.

    I have been riding for three months and I am completely satisfied with the 950. Your article is very informative and provides a very accurate picture of the ride for this model.

    Although I still get a little nervous in tight turns because of the bike's weight, I am happy I selected this bike. I believe in the long run with more riding experience, I will be extremely happy with my selection.

  21. After several months of research, I bought the 950 Tourer in Liquid Silver. This article was one of several that influenced my decision. I am a novice rider (took the safety course last August) and was looking for a bike that a novice rider could handle, but big enough for the highways. (I live in the country near a small town and I'm at least an hour from the closet city so 90 percent of my driving and riding is on the highway. I also need to keep up to my husband on his V Star 1300.)

    I have had her out three times and love the 950! She is so easy to handle and maneuver, yet feels very stable at low speeds. I have four miles of gravel to ride on before I reach the paved highway and she feels so solid on the gravel. I also find her very forgiving while I learn how to handle her. The ergonomics are perfect and I have no problems with vibration. She rides really smooth.

    I know Genevieve recommends a smaller bike for novice riders (as she did in this article), but if I can handle this bike an experienced rider will love her!

    I love the lockable saddlebags – lots of room. I have the shortest windshield and find it cuts the wind well. I prefer to look over the windshield (not through bugs and rain) so the height is perfect. I'm 5 feet 5 inches. Although I don't have experience with other bikes to compare her to, I am so happy that I chose this 950 for my first bike. I can't see that I will ever need anything bigger down the road (no pun intended!). Now I just need to get out there to put on the miles and gain experience.

  22. Great article. I have checked the Internet and cannot seem to find any comments about how the bike handled at 120-140km/hr (70-80 mph) and how much reserve power there was at these speeds. Most of my riding is at highway speeds. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

  23. Just bought this bike. Love it! Review was accurate and helpful. I am 5 feet 11 inches, 230 pounds and found the bike to be comfortable even for us bigger people.

  24. I completely enjoyed your review. I took delivery of a new Liquid Silver 950 Tourer to replace my 1998 V Star 650 Classic. I will take my new ride out on the weekend and see what he feels like. His name is “NEXX” as in my next bike but who knows, he may be my last. I am a fit 53-year-old who started riding in 2007. In two seasons I put on somewhere around 18,000 kms on the 650.

  25. I just purchased a V Star 950 Tourer in the red. I am so excited and can't wait to pick it up from the dealer, especially after reading this article. We still have snow here and gravel on the roads so the bike will have to stay at the dealers for a couple more weeks until I can bring it home.

    My previous bike was a Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 Low. I've only been riding for a year and the Sportster was a great bike to learn on. It was a nice bike for riding around town but no good for long rides at highway speeds. It was very uncomfortable and vibrated too much for my liking. My legs, feet and butt got very sore very quickly and I didn't like the mid-range foot pegs. I'm sure I will enjoy the forward foot controls, floorboards and a lot less vibration. Reading this article makes me want my V Star 950 even more. I will be sure to comment again once I've ridden it, hopefully soon. Thanks WRN for keeping us up-to-date on the latest motorcycle information.

  26. Great review, I found it very helpful. I’m 5 feet 11 and 240 pounds, a larger guy in great shape but not too tall. I would like a bike that’s like easy to handle both around town and for a weekend trip to the mountain. Although I could manage a larger bike I see no real need to do so. I really don’t want to work it, just want to enjoy it. I would love to hear how a big guy age 40 or above feels on this bike but haven’t found a review yet. I would also like to hear how the wind drift compares to other larger bikes per the normal wind suck from big rigs etc.

    The greatest value I know per having a big bike is the ride and a lower wind suck factor but they will work you a bit more around town at slow speeds. The brakes compare well to most models of this size and type. How did they do per heating in the mountain? Did they hold up or was cooling required?

    Great job, loved your comments. I have read comments from others that were also on your test but they were a good 50 pounds lighter than I. Thanks again!

  27. I just came back from the Montreal motorcycle show. I went with my mind set on a Suzuki Boulevard M or C50. When I saw the V Star 950 I fell in love. It fits me like a glove and looks amazing. (I'm 5 feet 5 inches 30 inch inseam.) And now reading your article I'm convinced it's the bike for me.

    Thanks for the informative review. I'll tell the salesman when I buy mine that he owes you a part of his commission!

  28. Finally had a chance to ride the V Star 950 and Vulcan 900 Custom. I really wanted one of them to fit me “out of the box.” Neither did. Of course I'm coming from a Virago 250, and I am 5 feet 5.5 inches with about a 30 inch inseam. I found the forward controls on both challenging.

    Of the two, I would say the Star was the better fit: lower seat height and more narrow seat at the front. Overall, there would be less I would change over the Vulcan. Which introduces my questions about the 950:

    1. Can the floorboards be replaced with pegs and/or be moved back to a more mid-forward position. The shift was just too forward for my comfort, and my foot even slid off when down-shifting a few times because I had not stretched out enough. Made me feel it could be trouble in a panic stop. Ultimately, I particularly could not get my left foot back enough on the board to be comfortable because the heel shifter was in the way. My shoe size is only 8.5. All this quickly created a pain in that thigh.

    2. The super-wide handlebars almost made me feel like I had less control. While I wasn't in a place where I could test it through twisties – it made me wonder how much you could really lean on them. Is it a big deal to replace the bars and would that sacrifice much handling/performance that Star has built in? Though I've not ridden it, the Star 1100 feels the most like “home” to me when I sit on it…all things considered. But I keep hearing rumors that it's on the way out and they've never updated it's technology. Plus I hate laced wheels.

    Thanks for the great review!!!

  29. Very good article. I bought my first road bike in 2006 which was a V Star 650 Classic. I liked it very much until my wife wanted to go on longer rides. The 650 with two was a little hard on the bottom after awhile. Then it happened. Went to my local dealer just to look at what was new and I saw the 950 Tourer and I knew then I wanted it. It looked good and it came with the bags and windshield.

    At the time I did not know it was a new product and then after I bought it I found out I was the first one to buy a 950 Tourer from this dealer (Should get a discount or something), but they told me to give them feedback on how it was operating and what I thought about it for the next few months

    So far I love it. Eat your heart out Harley-Davidson You can keep your overpriced machines. I'm happy that someone is finally looking out for Mark the Rider…ME. Thanks Yamaha. Good job!

  30. Enjoyed reading your review of the Star 950. Recently read an article that the valve adjusments are kind of short at 4000 miles. I'm 5 feet 7 inches with a 30 inch inseam so it was good to hear comments from people who aren't tall. Really impressed with your honest, straight forward comments. I think I'll wait till the 2010 model comes out though just to see if there are mechanical problems with the first year run. By the way, I always like seeing women doing what I have enjoyed for so many years. Thank you so much for your review.

  31. You guys did a great job covering the V Star 950. I have been looking at bikes now for the the past seven months since my 2007 Harley Sportster 883 has been giving me problems. I've checked on every cruiser bike and came across a few I liked. The deals fell through at the time I was ready to buy so I was back at square one. Still looking I came across the new 950 in a showroom and thought, wow! This is better than the Sportster and a brand I can trust having owned a Yamaha back in the 80s.

    The price is great and the fit was perfect for my body size, 5 feet 3 inches. So after careful consideration I am thinking that leaving an 883 and going to the V Star 650 would not make any sense. So on 2/9/09 a day after my 49th birthday I will be picking up a new V Star 950, a black beauty to add to my collection. I have a 2007 Honda Rebel which I love and the gas mileage is something.

    Thanks again for your honest research on these and other bikes out there. You ladies are awesome. Keep up the good work.

  32. Did not see this bike at the bike show in Jan 09 but found a cover page feature review in Cycle Canada Jan 09 two weeks later. Was at Envy Rides to get a new visor for my helmet, fell in love with the bike and got a great deal, but didn't know much about this new bike. Your article made me feel better about this new purchase.

    I hope I didn't get a chick bike (ha ha ha) but I am 5 feet 10 inches and have a 31-inch inseam. Your article makes it sound perfect for me and you can't beat the price.

  33. Just stumbled upon this site looking for a Star 950 review. You know, do the homework before you buy thing, and wow!!, what a great site you guys have here.

    Your review of the Star 950 was very insightful and HONEST, unlike those found in magazines where every bike is a winner. I was looking at that model for myself for this coming season, though I wasn't sure if the bike would fit me. We are the same height, with the same inseam. I will definitely be giving this bike some serious consideration.

    Thank you for your contribution to riders everywhere! Please keep up the good work.

  34. This is the best article I've read regarding the Yamaha V Star 950. The combination of Genevieve's reporting and the great pictures give the best in-depth details on the features, ergos, and rider impressions that I've seen on the Web or read in the motorcycle mags, with most of those articles also originating from the same north Georgia ride.

    I'm considering this bike, along with others all the way up to the Road King Classic, as a next ride this spring. There are a lot of appealing characteristics, such as the clean styling, price, gas mileage, use of regular gas, fuel injection, belt drive, and big bike size that make the V Star 950 a real contender for a weekend, as well as a long trip cruiser, and a bike that, in my eye, definitely competes with the larger displacement engine cruisers like the Road King.

    This bike may be a very sensible option in these uncertain economic times. I'm thinking a nice custom set of pipes, a la the V&H 2-1 pipes designed for the Yamaha Raider would really set this bike off, hint hint V&H! Thanks for the great job reporting this. It was a nice surprise to find the article!

  35. Your article was very helpful. I ride a Kawasaki Vulcan 500 and have for two years and am looking forward to getting a bigger bike. I have been trying to decide on the Vulcan 900 or the Yamaha 950. I was able to try both today at the International Motor Cycle Show. The Vulcan 900 seems a bit bulky, wide and heavy. The Yamaha 950 seemed perfect. My big concern is the scraping of the floorboards also. My husband has the Vulcan 900 and scraps his floorboards when going into gas stations and driveways. I guess that's a problem with the floorboards. Thanks so much for the review.

  36. I think I was salivating the entire time I was reading this article. When I first found out that Yamaha was making a 950 model I almost fainted. I have a Honda Rebel 250cc and love it, but within my first year I was itching for something bigger and after looking at several bikes and riding several other bikes I fell in love with the 950 at first sight. My friend has a Suzuki Blvd M50 and it's a great bike, but the tank feels like I have this big monstrocity between my legs and the contouring of the 950 tank is a much better fit and I feel like I have more control of the bike than I did riding the Suzuki Blvd.

    The dealership called me two weeks ago to say that the bikes were in and I rushed right over to look at them and again, I was salivating! 🙂

    This article is an extremely in depth pros/cons article that is very well written and greatly appreciated. Thanks so much. It made me want this bike more! I've got the 950 bug, too!

  37. I received my Christmas gift early, the V Star 950 Tourer. My first bike was Suzuki Boulevard M50, but I had a accident in June avoiding an accident happening in front of me. After riding this bike (V950) I feel the difference in weight, and feel I can control this bike much better than the Suzuki.

    I was nervous riding home from the dealer. It looked so big. I practiced at the Yamaha dealer to get the feel of the bike and within 20 minutes I was comfortable enough to take it on I-10. The ride home from the dealer is 27 miles. I've never used a heel toe shifter before so I was also nervous about that, but after riding home I don't know how I ever rode without one. I love it!

    The weight of this bike seems to feel lighter. The only problem I have is that my husband rode behind me in the truck and told me that I was not going 60 mph. I am 5 feet 2 inches and when looking at the speedometer it looked like I was doing 60 mph. That is the only complaint I have about the bike. Yamaha might think about moving it [the speedometer] up more or angle it a little bit more to improve the view. Love this bike. Thanks for the review. Had a similar experience.

  38. The foot controls, are they forward? I have a short inseam and forward controls are too far forward. I can't wait to check this bike out!

  39. The 2009 V Star 950 is my dream bike. Since reading your article and viewing a couple of video reviews, I am going to eventually own this model. What a beautiful bike! In the coming spring, I am going to take a new rider course to learn how to ride on my own. There is a cycle dealer here in town that offers courses. I can't wait to learn.

    My whole life has been spent on the backseat of motorcycles. I will probably start out with a smaller bike (as you suggested) to build my confidence up but will ultimately be the owner of a 2009 V Star 950. I definitely have the V Star 950 bug!

    Genevieve, thank you so much for the valuable information you share on your Web site. I've really enjoyed gaining more knowledge. The layout of the Web site is very user friendly. Thank you!

  40. I can't wait to see this bike in person. Just dissappointed with two items:

    1. Everyone who has tested it says the floorboards touch down way too easily in even the slightest of turns.

    2. The (stock) windshield is the shortest of the three they sell and is too short for most, so plan on adding another $200 to the price of the Tourer for changing out the short stock windshield to the medium height one.

  41. In cases in which the clutch is a bit far from the handle and, thereby, difficult to pull — are there any mods available to remedy this? I bought my boyfriend's old bike because he gave me a great deal. however, I have rather small hands.

    1. There are ergonomic levers like the ones on the V Star which are wider and flatter thereby providing more surface area in which to grab the lever. There are also easy-pull clutches available, which make pulling in a stiff clutch easier. Often this set-up allows for the lever to be closer to the grip as well.

  42. Glad to see you enjoyed the ride. I've been waiting for this article, and you basically told me what I already knew. Stick with the 650 until I build a little more confidence. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

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