Yamaha XVS 650 Drag Star review

Test Yamaha XVS 650 Drag Star

Tastes like more

Yamaha brewed the XVS 650 Drag Star according to a new recipe with familiar ingredients: “Bigger is better”. Can be a little more than 535 cm3 displacement?

When Yamaha launched the XV 535 Virago in 1987, it was fully on the soft chopper wave.

The nimble V-Twin with cardan was accordingly well received by buyers. Since then, around 40,000 units have been sold in Germany. Many riders pepped up their XV 535 with straight forks, forward control systems and riser handlebars, with disc wheels, running boards, Indian fenders and Springer forks.
Admittedly, not every accessory cocktail shows good taste. Ten years after the introduction of the little Virago, Yamaha is pouring pure wine again for chopper riders: Because the true chopper rider knows – or at least suspects it: only bigger is really more beautiful. Outwardly showing hardly any similarities, a closer inspection reveals: The Drag Star packaging still contains the XV 535. The engine has been significantly redesigned, but is still essentially the indestructible XV drive. Drilled out by five millimeters and with a four millimeter longer stroke, the 650 70-degree V engine is now decidedly more powerful. The constant pressure carburettors, which have been reduced in diameter from 34 to 28 millimeters, also contribute to this. Although they reduce peak power, they ensure better filling of the combustion chamber in the lower speed range. This means that the Drag Star not only has a higher maximum torque with 51 Newton meters, it also achieves it with 2600 rpm at less than half the speed of the XV 535 with 47 Newton meters at 6000 rpm. At 3500 tours, corresponding to 80 km / h in fifth gear, the Drag Star-Twin with 22 hp already delivers almost 50 percent more than its XV 535 counterpart.
Therefore, Yamaha was able to translate the primary drive 8.4 percent longer, while the gear ratios and the angular drive of the cardan remained unchanged. Nevertheless, the XVS 650 has clearly gained traction. Accelerating sensitively in fifth gear at 35 km / h is no problem. From 45 km / h the engine can handle full throttle, and from 50 the Drag Star pulls away. The other side of the coin: The 650er lacks the agility at higher speeds that the XV 535 displays.
Vibrations are part of a chopper. And so Yamaha also tried to emphasize the typical V2 character in their new model more clearly. From medium revs, the Drag Star begins to tremble, precisely in the area behind which the classic highway and country road speed of 90 km / h is hidden – a speed at which the Virago is still very gentle. Between 90 and 110 km / h, the drag star’s vibrations drive through the limbs in the long run, if not the speed changes from time to time. Below and above, they appear inconspicuous.
Even if the Drag Star approaches the classic chopper ideal in terms of vibrations, a Harley sound should not be expected from it. Not only very quiet, but also equipped with a completely different beat, it only reminds of its ancestor XV 535.
However, everything that is not called an engine is completely different. Away with the press plate of the XV 535: The frame of the Drag Star is a classic double-loop tubular steel frame. The swing arm is not only a successful Softail copy, but also probably the longest swing arm in the world, because its swing arm bearing must sit exactly at the height of the front bevel gear set of the cardan shaft. This unique swing arm is sprung with a strut located above the engine according to the Yamaha cantilever tradition. With moderate uneven ground, the driving comfort is quite considerable. In very poor road conditions, however, the shock absorber seems overwhelmed by the heavy swing arm: the rear of the motorcycle rumbles roughly over bumps. On the other hand, the long swing arm has the advantage that the cardan drive has little chance of influencing the driving behavior. Even without complex levers, the Drag Star drives almost like a motorcycle with a chain.
The fork does a great job, and the disc brake in the front wheel is finally as effective and easy to operate as you would want it to be for a chopper. The huge drum brake in the rear wheel does not start to pull properly until after a very determined step, but it is completely sufficient for smooth gliding.
The drag star’s driving behavior is free of idiosyncrasy or bad manners. But the nimble handling of the XV 535 is a thing of the past. The geometry of the Drag Star chassis is much more extreme. The Drag Star therefore prefers to run through tight alternating curves with a healthy break than in an unhealthy hectic pace.
However, every attempt to drive the Drag Star around the corner a little more courageously is immediately stifled by the low inclination of the footrests. Sanded heels will be a hallmark of a drag star driver.
If you are more than 1.75 meters tall, you should also consider installing a forward control system. The sitting position is relaxed, but the footrests are a bit too far back for long legs. In addition, the wide tank drives your knees wide apart; the slim wasp waist of the XV 535 is a thing of the past. The steering and ignition lock of the Drag Star takes over the position of the previously common steering lock on the right of the steering head. And on the left under the driver’s seat, behind the chrome-plated lid, there is a storage compartment that can accommodate the on-board tools and a rain suit.
But with a sales price of less than 12,000 marks, even Yamaha has to cut back on the workmanship. So the side covers, the big bell over the front cardan angle drive and other parts are made of chrome-plated plastic. It looks quite nice, but in the case of the side cover it is very prone to breakage and will quickly lose its shine because it is easily scratched and cannot be polished up.
To remedy this, Yamaha offers a huge list of special accessories so that every driver can refine their Drag Star at their own expense – too long to even come close to being reproduced. Adding up the sometimes very high prices – for example, a pair of rear-view mirrors in ribbed teardrop shape is said to cost 538 marks (!) – the result was that the accessories for the “full dress”, i.e. all parts that can be screwed on at once, are worth it can add up to over 8,300 marks. For a drag star with all the finesse you can easily spend over 20,000 marks – if you want. However, those who limit themselves to the essentials can also use the series version of the XVS 650 Drag Star well served. After all, that’s the point of chopping.

My conclusion – Yamaha XVS 650 Drag Star (T)

As an upgrade motorcycle for XV 535 riders who would like to have a motorcycle that is more similar to the larger model, the Drag Star is the perfect choice. Everything about it is how you imagine a Harley Softail as a non-Harley rider, and in addition to the shell there is also a well-rounded core with the 650 engine. As praiseworthy as the possibility of refining a Drag Star with manufacturer accessories to your own taste is, I believe that its prices should be recalculated again. Because for these precious metal prices, the XVS 650 Drag Star is a class too simple. Michael Schäfer

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