For what’s probably the second time this year, I looked over the Webalizer stats for WhyAskWhy.org and noticed that a majority of the visits from non-webcrawlers were for 2002 Yamaha V Star 650 Classic reviews. I figure I might as well give one instead of just occasionally mentioning the bike.
It’s my first bike so I’m not really sure how it compares to other motorcycles, so I’ll just describe myself and how it works for me. I’ve ridden it about 9 months now, and find that the less days between taking it out, the better I do. It also helps my skills if I occasionally take a trip longer than my usual 8 mile commute to work. That doesn’t happen too often.
I’m about 6’2″ when I remember to stand straight and range between 230 lbs on a great day, to about 249 lbs the last handful of months. I have full mobility aside from a self-inflicted wrist injury (anger management) years ago and my reflexes are decent.
Overall bike stats
I’ll list some pieces of info, but go here for the complete picture.
My bike was eyebrow-raising heavy the first time I started trying to move it about, but I’ve gotten used to it. The stock bike is about 545 lbs with a full tank of gas, but this one came with custom Cobra pipes so it’s a bit lighter than that. It’s still pretty heavy, but my height and frame allow me to keep up upright without too much trouble.
Engine power/Noise level
Around town, the 5 speed, 4-stroke 650cc engine has more than enough power to cruise happily up to around 55-60 mph without a lot of struggle. After that point, acceleration is noticeably slower, but doable. All of that said, this bike will do 80+ on the Interstate.
There is a perk to “hear me, see me”, but it also comes with its costs. After about 50-55 mph, the custom pipes are uncomfortably noisy and I’m reminded right away that I don’t dare ride without earplugs and a full face helmet. Since the pipes have had the baffles cut out, lots of popping occurs when using engine braking, and when warming the bike up via the choke. Overall, the noise level from this bike is an incentive for me not to take long trips, and to only take the Interstate (70+ mph) when necessary. Even with sub 70mph trips I’ll still get headaches from the pipes. More than once I’ve considered having a shop swap them out for the stock pipes.
That’s one thing this bike has down pat, vibration. Just like the noise level mentioned previously, anything after 50-55 mph and your rear-end is going to know it. When I first started riding, everything below my waist and above my knees would get numb from the constant vibration. This is also a likely source of headaches from long commutes. While I blame the Cobra pipes for some of it, the V Star engines are known for their vibration. It’s just part of it I guess.
I don’t dare crank up and go, even in the height of summer. This bike is cold-blooded and requires at least a few minutes of warm time. I’ve sometimes felt a bit envious of those around me with fuel-injection bikes, as they crank up and go in under 30 seconds. I’m not sure whether they should allow for more warm-up time, but most don’t. If I were to try that, my bike would stall, stall and stall again. It’s simply not an option.
In winter, several minutes are required. I usually go out and crank the bike with the choke on full, let it run for about 1-2 minutes and then set it to half-choke. I go back in and arrange my things that I’m going to mount to the sissy bar on the bike (backpack & lunch box) and after about 3-4 minutes more I turn the choke off and let it idle. I’ll then attach luggage (lunch box, bag) and start putting on my gear. By the time I get on the bike, it’s ready to go.
I’m 6’2″, so my legs need to be able to comfortably stretch out. I have foot boards on my bike, and not the pegs that a lot of bikes have. My legs fit comfortably on the foot boards, but due to the height of the boards, the bike itself (or perhaps something else), I end up with cramps in my hips if my ride is long. For my daily commute, it’s not too much of a problem.
The seat is stock, and with me being the second owner, it’s quite worn. I’m often tempted to invest in a nice custom seat, but most that I’ve seen are around $300+. That item has sat on the wishlist for a while. I don’t have a lot to complain about, as the passenger seat is like sitting on a board, one that vibrates and is compact enough that your cheeks hang off. Yay!
The clutch took a lot to get used to, and honestly I still goof up on occasion. The bike I originally learned to ride had a clutch that you barely had to let out before it engaged, whereas this one engages right toward the end. The bike stalled. A. Lot. It still likes to surprise me on occasion.
I usually get between 45-47 mpg, depending on how long I let it sit and how well I do at shifting the gears. As you might expect, the best gas mileage is on long trips where the speed doesn’t vary much. Even so, I’ll sometimes still get really good mileage even on short commutes if I shift properly.
It is a good starter bike, and if I were shorter and I removed the Cobra pipes and had stock pipes installed, I’d probably be happy with it long term. As it is, my budget doesn’t allow for an upgrade now, so I’ll have to wait a while. I’ll keep riding it for daily commutes and occasionally for longer rides, but they’ll be a rare occasion.
I hope that helps someone and if so, please be sure to leave a comment.