Pros: Comfort, Price, Power, Stock Accessories, Size, Storage Space, Looks!
Cons: A bit top heavy, Lack of Rear Lighting
I had ridden a Vulcan 1500 Classic for six years and was ready to "move up". But there aren't many bikes that are a step up from Kawasaki's big Vulcan - at least not at an "affordable" price. I wanted something that was BIG (to accommodate my big size), and had a lot of "toys" and accessories, decent storage space, but still looked something like a V-twin cruiser. I looked at the Gold Wing and the Honda Valkarye Interstate. Both nice tourers, but I couldn't get used to the wide engine and small foot pegs on either. (I'd miss those massive floor boards on the Vulcan.) Harleys were out - not because there are anything wrong with Harley's. They're beautiful. But I just couldn't see sinking that much money into any bike.
Then I found a Yamaha Dealer with two "left-over" 2001 Royal Star Ventures on his showroom floor. I took one out for a test drive and I was sold! It had a BIG feel, with loads of comfort, including large "cushy" pillowed seats (since 2001), and the massive floor boards that I had grown to love so much on my Vulcan. Yet it was plenty powerful. (Same 1300cc V-four engine that is on the V-Max.)
The Royal Star Venture comes standard with a Clarion stereo system (AM/FM/Tape) that would rival those of the best luxury automobiles - plus an integrated CB radio, and C-bus plug ready to take a 6-disc CD changer (which I have since mounted in the trunk). The Dash is "retro style" with a digital needle style speedometer, clock, fuel gauge, and trip odometer. A nice feature that I like about the trip odometer is that when the fuel warning light comes on, it starts counting up all the miles since then, as a constant reminder for when you MUST stop.
This bike is a "looker"! Yamaha, in my opinion, has always been one step above the other Japanese cruisers when it comes to fit and finish - especially with their Royal Star line. And the Royal Star Venture is no exception. A lot of chrome - less plastic than on other Japanese bikes. Detailing is flawless. And somehow, all the lines just seem to flow beautifully together - even with those massive sized hard bags and rear trunk. If there is not enough chrome for your tastes, there are plenty of Yamaha and after market accessories available for this bike.
To be fair, there are a couple of down-sides to the new Venture. Not that they stifled my enthusiasm, but they do deserve a mention. For one thing, this bike is huge at over 800 pounds dry, and it can be a bit top heavy and unwieldy for a small rider, or one with short legs. You want to be able to plant both feet firmly on the ground when you straddle this big bike. It takes a little while to get used to the size and weight at parking lot speeds, but the cumbersome feeling easily disappears when you get the bike moving. Also the brakes feel just a bit soft for a bike of this size and weight. Finally, I was disappointed at the lack of lighting for the rear end - one tail light and turn signals are the only lights back there. No lighting on the trunk or hard bags. But you can solve this problem with after market options.
All said, the Yamaha Royal Star was the perfect bike for me. It's big, and easily accommodates my large size of 6'3", and 250+ pounds. The price was right, too. I picked up this 2001 left-over in May of 2002 for about $3000 under the current MSRP of $16,399. You get an incredible amount of "bike for the money" with the Venture. I've not regreted this purchase for one moment or one mile.
Only problem... The next time I want to "move up", it's hard to imagine a bike that will out do this one.