Oct. 15, 2007 – Star Motorcycles: Customization is king

With the introduction of the Raider, it’s understandable that much of the public’s attention has been focused on the newest member of the Star Motorcycles lineup.
But according to Yamaha, the Raider is just one example of how Star continues to develop motorcycles that provide consumers even more choices when it comes to both design aspects and customization.
The unique approach aims to separate Yamaha from its competition with the motto of “We build it, you make it your own.” It’s an approach that has allowed Star to capture a consumer base that is hungry for even more custom choices, and has the company busy working on new models for the future, including the possibility of introducing two motorcycles for 2009.
“We already have two models in our 1100 Custom and 650 Custom, so I think that (the Raider) is just another refinement of that,” said Kevin Foley, Yamaha’s street motorcycle media relations manager.
A one-of-a-kind cruiser
The Raider, which features a fuel injected 113-cubic-inch V-twin engine, a 210-section radial rear tire and a clean look, with wires run inside the handlebar and cables routed inside the steering wheel.
Add that to the custom chrome and other unique features of the bike and Foley says it’s a model that Yamaha thinks is the perfect answer to fill its high-end cruiser segment.
“As far as high end, I don’t know if you’ll see more products like the Raider, but we certainly have a large-displacement custom now that rounds out our lineup nicely. This bike has certainly been a turning point for Star as far as the high-end cruisers go.”
Foley says one of the biggest concerns that Star had was the public’s opinion of the Raider’s performance, which he notes has been very positive since the bike’s unveiling at Yamaha’s national dealer meeting this September in Orlando, Fla.
“We had an initial number for the Raider that we had hoped to wholesale, and that number has been accomplished, so we’re very comfortable with our goal,” he said. “We just had a press intro for the machine last week, and people are very impressed with how (the Raider) performs, which is what we were hoping for. We know the bike looks good, but the performance aspect is the most important aspect of that bike, and we’re happy to say the reaction from press and consumers has been great.”
Foley says consumers can expect even more from Star, with two models in development now that the company hopes to unveil in the near future, and even more bikes in the concept stages for potential release down the road.
“Star will not stop moving, and we’ll continue to evolve as a company,” he said. “The minute that we sit back and feel comfortable where we are in terms of our product lineup, that’s when you fall behind the curb in terms of competition, and it can take years to catch back up, both from a marketing and technology standpoint.”
New touring direction?
Part of Star’s evolvement might include the company’s touring line. Foley says he’s impressed by Victory’s introduction of the Vision and hints that some of the features of the Vision could be incorporated into a Star touring motorcycle in the future.
“I would like to see something comfortable in our touring lineup like the Victory Vision,” he said. “It’s kind of a custom full dress vehicle, so to speak, and I like that concept, of the utility plus the custom aspect, so I think that’s a very cool unit and I would hope that we could go in that direction.”
Foley says Star’s touring lineup continues to post strong sales numbers, with its sales either consistent with or outpacing the industry average for the past few years.
Fuel injected lineup
Another development Foley says is a major move for the company is the announcement of fuel-injected engines into the entire Roadstar lineup. The addition of fuel injection to the Roadstars leaves only a few V Star models still with carbureted engines, an impressive accomplishment considering the high costs that are involved when switching from carburetion to fuel injection.
“This was a huge development for us,” Foley said. “It’s a seven-figure investment, but the payoffs in terms of emissions, drivability, maintenance and other performance aspects are definitely worth the large monetary investment. Not only are the Roadstars easier to start than ever before, but the new fuel injection gives a rider great throttle response regardless of changing weather conditions and altitudes.”
In addition, Foley says the company made an effort this year to include fresh, new colors for its crusiers, something consumers have been asking for. The company also introduced new, more comfortable seats on both the Roadliner and Stratoliner.
“Again, we’re here to ensure our customers have as many options as possible when choosing their bikes,” he said, “and adding new paint colors, for example, is just another way of helping them purchase a bike that is tailored more for their needs. The more options we can provide the consumer with, the more they can gain a personal connection with the bike by customizing it to include some of their personality into the vehicle. That’s the great thing about Star motorcycles, that you really can make it to fit your style.”
So what can dealers and the public look forward to from Star in the future? Although Foley wouldn’t get specific about what the company has in store as far as new model introductions for 2009 and beyond, he does promise that any new products introduced by the company will continue to push the envelope in terms of innovation and design.
“We’ve worked very hard to build a strong market brand with our motorcycles,” he said, “and you can be sure that we’re looking to cement ourselves in the motorcycle market by continuing to offer the same strong style, customization and quality that the Star brand is known for. Our customers expect it from us, as do our dealers.” psb

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