The folks behind the Yamaha sister brand didn’t think so. And since Star’s bike-loving media relations department tends to run more to the closet nerd side of The Force than it might let on while astride the company’s slick cruisers, a plan was put in motion to ride some 450 miles from the firm’s Orange County headquarters to the home of Lucasfilm in the Presidio of San Francisco.
I was able to tag along for the tour and to test out the 2012 Stratoliner Deluxe, one of the biggest and best-equipped touring motorcycle in the Star line. The Stratoliner’s 113-cubic-inch air-cooled engine and Twin-Bore electronic fuel injection creates a smooth, confident ride on cross country highways, urban freeways or city streets.
While other manufacturer’s heavier touring motorcycles render a rider not much more maneuverable than a small car, the aluminum frame of the Stratoliner leaves it maneuverable enough to lane split when our Star Wars-bound trip snagged traffic in Los Angeles and south of San Francisco.
The ample, lockable, hard cast side bags are life savers – especially for riders who don’t want to be brudened during long miles under a heavy backpack.
On Star’s recent full-line ride near Atlanta, I didn’t get the chance to ride this specific model – though I hopped between multiple bikes throughout stops in the Appalachian foothills. The Stratoliner is a big, silver streak of a motorcycle, with a brawny fairing, an ample seat and a tapered rear construction giving the bike a retro look from behind.
I maintain that the most important feature of a touring bike is and always will be the seat. On a ride of 100 miles or more, your arse, lower back and inner thighs are going to give you trouble. It’s unavoidable on any cycle. That’s why even veteran riders break up long rides into manageable bites.
Still, the best designed saddles minimize and delay that cramping and discomfort longer. The wide, low-slung seat of the Stratoliner Deluxe made the 400+ ride manageable and less than tortuous. Did my buttocks refuse to speak to me for a couple hours after each long stage of the ride? Yes. But we made up sooner than when we rode some other brands of touring bikes and any make of cruisers.
The other key element in judging a touring bike is the package of special features. Even for motorcycle lovers, long rides can drag on a bit. So, the AM/FM and Sirius Satellite Radio options are wonderful to have. There are tougher ways to make a living than by riding a motorcycle along the California coast and listening to Major League Baseball and NBA playoff games as the miles go by.
The Stratoliner also comes equipped with an iPod/iPhone connector and charging station that you can tap into as another music source. And the best part of all that sound packed on board? The speakers come with throttle-sensitive audio control. The faster you ride, the louder the music gets.
We probably looked a little out of place as the grumble of our Star engines pulled into the Presidio park and turned into the complex holding Lucasfilm, Lucasarts and Industrial Light and Magic.
The tour was by no means an official Lucasfilm promotion. The keepers of everything Wookie and Stormtrooper were simply kind enough to agree to a tour request after our long trek up the length of California. What’s on the actual tour is still considered top secret so future attendees can enjoy some surprises.
As for me, the Stratoliner Deluxe was enough of a pleasant surprise.