For 2018, Yamaha launched two all-new V-twin touring cruisers built on the same platform–the Star Venture luxury tourer and the Star Eluder bagger. Both have bold, muscular bodywork wrapped around a massive 113-cubic-inch, air-cooled V-twin, and they’re equipped with modern technology such as throttle-by-wire, riding modes, linked ABS brakes and full infotainment systems.
The Venture is designed for two-up touring. With no trunk and fewer bells and whistles, the lighter, less expensive Eluder is for riders who do more solo riding and prefer a leaner, more aggressive look.
We like the Star Eluder’s generous low-end torque, handling and touring amenities. But what’s a bagger without some customization? For years Yamaha’s Star Motorcycles tagline was, “We build it. You make it your own.” So that’s what we did…with some help.
We teamed up with Jeff Palhegyi, owner of Palhegyi Design, on a Star Eluder project bike. Known for his customized cruisers, vintage race bikes, flat trackers and more, Palhegyi has been involved with Yamaha’s product planning division for nearly three decades. The goal of this project was to enhance the Eluder’s functionality and style in a way that any owner could do in his or her own garage, and Palhegyi helped us make it a reality.
Watch the first video in our three-part series about this project to see what Palhegyi suggested we do to upgrade our Eluder:
For this project, we started with a stock Star Eluder in Raven (black) with the GT option package ($1,500), which adds GPS navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio (subscription required), CB radio and a security alarm. During the development of the Venture and Eluder, a full line of accessories was created and developed in tandem with the motorcycles. To add some functionality to our Eluder GT, we first dug into Yamaha’s accessory catalog.
Our first addition to the project was an Elite 801 Series helmet headset and connection cord to enhance audio quality and enable more functionality than Bluetooth alone. Made by J&M Motorcycle Audio, the headset and cord are available directly from Yamaha. Next we added more wind protection with a taller windshield and adjustable lower fairing wind protectors. We improved nighttime visibility with a set of LED fog lights and enhanced cold-weather comfort with a set of heated grips and heated apparel outlets for the rider and passenger, all of which are easy-to-install, plug-n-play items.
To add more comfort for the passenger, we added a quick-release passenger backrest (for aesthetic reasons we chose the short version), which has durable steel uprights with a black powdercoat finish. Yamaha also makes a matching luggage rack that attaches directly to the backrest, adding extra luggage capacity (the Eluder’s two locking saddlebags and several small fairing pockets hold a total of 72 liters). A perfect fit for the luggage rack is Nelson-Rigg’s 20-liter Day Trip Backrest Bag, and its black UltraMax fabric matches the Raven paint and other black finishes on our Eluder.
One of the Eluder’s key features is its ultra-low seat height of 27.6 inches, and the plush, heated seat has a rear bolster for lumbar support. In the name of both functionality and style, we replaced the stock seat with a Heated Dual Saddle from Corbin, which has a seating area covered with distressed leather in a Black Bomber Jacket finish (which looks dark gray), gray diamond-pattern stitching and matte-black vinyl sides. Whereas the heating for the Eluder’s stock seat is controlled through the infotainment system’s menu, the Corbin seat has an on/off toggle switch on the left side. We also added Corbin’s matching passenger backrest pad to complete the look.
Yamaha’s accessory catalog has many bolt-on parts to give the Eluder a custom look. We installed Yamaha’s billet brake pedal and toe shift lever (a billet heel shifter is also available, but we left it off to allow more room on the floorboard). Yamaha also offers a long list of billet covers and add-ons with a black-and-silver contrast-cut finish that are made by Arlen Ness. We installed speaker and instrument bezels, an upper handlebar clamp, muffler tips, a license plate frame and covers for the master cylinders, generator, clutch, cam and pulley.
Finally, we wanted to give the Eluder’s bodywork a custom look, but we wanted to avoid bold, garish paint or graphics. The Raven-colored Eluder and all of the black bolt-on parts are cohesive and understated, best appreciated up close than from a block away. To enhance the dark, low-profile look, Palhegyi suggested a vinyl wrap, which is popular in the automotive industry but hasn’t really caught on yet in the motorcycling world. A full wrap would cover up the glossy Raven paint, and the complex shapes of the Eluder’s bodywork made a full wrap impractical.
Instead, Palhegyi used painter’s tape to create a template for graphic panels that flow with the lines of the Eluder’s bodywork–on the fairing and front fender, on the tank, on the side panels and on the saddlebags. He scanned the templates and sent them to Cory Bender at BlacArt Creative Group, who converted the templates into vinyl adhesive panels with a dark metallic finish, a silver-and-red double pinstripe border and a few tastefully placed Rider logos. With great care, a soft-plastic spreader (to remove any air bubbles) and a blowtorch (to heat and set the adhesive), the panels were applied to the bike, giving it a one-of-a-kind look.
Creating and applying the vinyl graphics was the most time-consuming and difficult part of this project. Palhegyi’s team and BlacArt’s team are professionals, so unless you have experience with the vinyl application process we recommend working with a qualified installation specialist.
Watch the second video to see the installation process for our Star Eluder project bike:
That’s A Wrap
With the accessories installed and graphics applied, it was time to take our Eluder GT project bike out for a spin. From Palhegyi’s shop near San Diego, California, we went for a scenic ride on a cold, clear November day. The taller windshield and side deflectors kept the cockpit more calm and quiet, and the heated grips and seat helped keep the cold at bay.
The Comfort Cell foam in the wide, flat Corbin seat is firm at first but breaks in with miles, and we like the distressed look. The flatter pillion seat and quick-release backrest provide a more secure perch for a passenger, and the Nelson-Rigg bag is the perfect place to stash extra gear. Removing the backrest, luggage rack and bag, which takes only a few seconds, transforms the Eluder from a two-up tourer back into a low-profile solo bagger. Out in the sunshine the contrast-cut billet parts and metallic graphics look really sharp, boosting the Eluder’s curb appeal without going too far.
Scroll down for more photos and a complete build list with accessories, prices and resources.
Check out the final installment of our video series:
Build List: Accessories, Prices and Resources
|Genuine Yamaha Accessories (shopyamaha.com)
|Elite 801 Series Helmet Headset System by J&M Motorcycle Audio
|Elite 801 Series Connection Cord by J&M Motorcycle Audio
|Eluder Custom Windshield – Medium
|Touring Lower Fairing Wind Deflectors
|Touring LED Fog Lights
|Touring Heated Apparel Outlet, Rider
|Touring Heated Apparel Outlet, Passenger
|Eluder Heated Rider Grips
|Quick-Release Passenger Backrest, Uprights, Short
|Quick-Release Passenger Backrest, Docking Kit
|Rear Luggage Rack
|Touring Billet Toe Shift Lever
|Touring Billet Brake Pedal Cover
|Arlen Ness Signature Custom Billet Speaker Bezels
|Arlen Ness Signature Custom Billet Instrument Bezels
|Arlen Ness Signature Custom Billet Master Cylinder Cover Set
|Arlen Ness Signature Custom Billet Upper Handlebar Clamp
|Arlen Ness Signature Custom Billet Generator Cover
|Arlen Ness Signature Custom Billet Clutch Cover
|Arlen Ness Signature Custom Billet Cam Cover
|Arlen Ness Signature Custom Billet Pulley Cover
|Arlen Ness Signature Custom Billet Muffler Tips
|Arlen Ness Signature Custom Billet License Plate Frame
|Heated Dual Saddle
|Coordinating Sissy Bar Pad
|Day Trip Backrest Bag
|BlacArt Creative Group ([email protected])
|Vinyl Graphics (materials)
|Vinyl Graphics (installation)