Yamaha XV 1600 Wild Star review

Yamaha XV 1600 Wild Star review

Names are smoke and mirrors

It’s called Road Star in America, Wild Star in Europe. But it doesn’t matter, because the Yamaha XV 1600 is actually a Harley – even if only a copy.

What do you mean in Spanish again: “No, this is not from America” ​​and “No, this is not a Harley”? These are at least the most important answers you need on a test drive with the Yamaha XV 1600 in sunny Spain to answer the same questions to curious tank attendants, cashiers at the numerous toll booths or curious passers-by.

When asked why the XV 1600 is called Wild Star in Europe and Road Star in the USA, knowledge of Spanish does not help much. Even within Yamaha, the reasons for this are not entirely clear. What is clear is that apart from the lettering on the tank, there is no difference between the test machine from MOTORRAD and the official European version: XV is XV, and that means full capacity. 1602 cubic centimeters distributed over two huge, air-cooled cylinders. XV 1600 also means a feast for the eyes. Round, organic shapes, technically elaborate classic, the whole thing provided with exactly the right amount of chrome. XV 1600 is 335 kilograms of extremely nicely arranged mass.
Which is only noticeable negatively when maneuvering. Once on the move, even if only at walking pace, the Wild Star looks extremely good-natured. Well balanced, the 1685 millimeter wheelbase can be turned around corners with little effort on the wide steering antler. And the faster the load moves, the easier it is for the helmsman. The XV pulls its course precisely and with a stable track, whereby this assessment always applies from the point of view of a cruiser weighing almost seven hundred pounds. The Wild Star even takes it seriously when it comes to springs and dampers: pleasantly soft and appealing at the front, and reactions that are gentle on the intervertebral discs in the back during rough handling on the sometimes bumpy Spanish country roads.
And then this engine. A real gem of Japanese counterfeiting. From the outside it looks like the perfect replica of American tradition. At its core, however, its builders relied on modern engineering. Four valves per cylinder, double ignition, specially coated aluminum cylinders, hydraulic valve lifters, toothed primary drive, a countershaft via a chain and final drive via a toothed belt. What an effort in view of the modest-looking 65 hp that the MOTORRAD test bench attests to this 1.6-liter monster. In terms of liter output, the XV engine cannot even keep up with an ancient two-stroke Emme from the sixties.
But what does sheer final power mean when there is plenty of torque. For an impressive 141 Newton meters, the mighty XV crankshaft just has to turn 2500 times per minute. 135 Newton meters are already available at 1000 rpm. Guarantee for the proverbial thump from below. At least in the first three gears it is actually required. An unmistakable “clong” reports the frictional connection of the first gear, which the pleasantly smooth-running cable clutch can bring quickly, and off the load goes. Not brutal, but determined. Sovereign cruiser feel at its finest.
This flawless feeling is preserved until the third, always accompanied by a dull babble and the equally dull and calming vibrations of the thick Vaus. Only in the last two speed steps does the XV lose some of its fascination. No wonder, the fifth gear is geared up to XXX km / h. At a cruising speed of 100 km / h, this results in an engine speed level of around 2100 rpm. This in turn corresponds to an output of 40 hp, which has to cope with a vehicle weight of 335 kilos plus the weight of the driver or even the pillion passenger. You don’t have to be a math professor to be able to estimate the shockingly poor performance-to-weight ratio.
Unfortunately, it is said far too often: downshifts. Even winding country roads force the Easy Rider to do this rather uncool maneuver again and again – despite the imposing rocker switch and smooth gearbox. At 60 km / h, you need the third one if you want to avoid annoying jerking.
Although the brake system offers decent deceleration at “normal” cruiser speed, hands or feet must be applied vigorously beyond 100 km / h. After all, the XV is good for real xxx things, since a full brake application has to destroy a lot of kinetic energy.
E.So it is important to enjoy the uplifting view while you leisurely glide along. The huge, flashing chrome lamp, the wide handlebars, the expansive tank barrel and the beautiful speedometer integrated into it. A real high-tech component, by the way: ultra flat, with digital and analog displays. If that doesn’t seem too pompous, Yamaha has a variant called Silverado ready with a disc, leather pannier and sissy bar. However, instead of 19 990 this is recorded with xxxxx marks. You don’t need to know the Spanish word for “special offer” in this case.

Technology Wild Star engine

Modern engine construction behind a classic backdrop

The bumper as an extended arm of the camshafts below has been a case for technology historians and Harley riders since time immemorial. Is? Has been – since Yahama launched the Wild Star. Their consciously nostalgic layout leads straight to the philosophy of this machine: “Emotional spirit” – a charisma that arouses feelings – is supposed to embody it. According to project manager Mason Hashimoto, this requires a motor that is ready to perform at the lowest possible speeds. In addition, the 1600 was equipped with a huge crankshaft, the moment of inertia of which is ideally suited to help the engine casually over the pauses between the combustion cycles. With a stroke of 113 millimeters, the crank pins also offer the attacking connecting rods so much leverage that even mild breezes in the combustion chamber are converted into impressive torque. That the Wild Star engine generates just 40 hp per liter of displacement with four valves per cylinder , speaks for extremely moderate valve lift curves. Even with hydraulic valve lifters, very long bumpers and rocker arms like those on the Yamaha V2, no irregularities in the valve control are to be expected, especially since the rated speed of 4000 rpm is also very low. Speaking of low: The handle to the camshaft located below saves height, which benefits the tank volume. No savings have been made in the length of the engine block. A toothed chain drive downstream of the gearbox moves the output shaft to the rear and lowers its speed. In this way, the drive pulley of the final toothed belt could be chosen to be large, gentle on the material, and moved close to the pivot point.


Probably the best copy there has ever been. The negative sound in the word copy doesn’t quite do it justice. The XV 1600 is an independent motorcycle, with great technology in detail and a well-functioning chassis. But it is even more important that the feeling is right. You never feel out of place on the XV, you simply enjoy the calming throb of the production two-cylinder engine with the largest displacement to date. Only the long final translation demystifies the displacement giant and forces excessive shift work.

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