An amply-padded 670mm high seat is comfy and lets shorter riders get their feet flat on the floor at a standstill. But weighing a hefty 293kg it’s not the easiest bike to paddle into a parking space, or to thread through town at walking pace. It’s well-behaved at cruising speeds and through country lanes, despite those long forks and 21” front wheel. It’s stable and doesn’t run out of ground clearance too quickly. Front and rear brakes are powerful for a chopper.
It might look traditionally air-cooled but the 72bhp V-twin lump, which makes 76ftlb of torque at a lolloping 4000rpm, is thoroughly modern, liquid-cooled and fuel injected. The smooth motor doesn’t disappoint, has lots of get-up-and-go, but the muted exhaust note is disappointing. Its five speed gearbox is slick but there’s so much grunt on tap, you barely ever move from fifth.
It might be basic but the XVS1300 Custom is well-built and has lots of nice detail touches, like the chrome and satin black finishes and the ‘Liquid Copper’ paintjob. You have to look really hard to see ‘Yamaha’ emblazoned on the XVS1300 anywhere, but look closely and you’ll see it written subtly on the engine cases and the back lip of the rear mudguard. A really nice touch is the way the speedo needle points straight up at 65mph, giving the clocks a cool symmetry when you’re bobbing along at American cruising speeds.
Compared to a custom-built chopper or a Harley, you get a lot of Yamaha bang for your buck.
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You don’t get a lot in the way of bells and whistles for the price. Choppers by their very nature are stripped down and basic. But Yamaha has a vast range of official XVS1300 accessories ready-to-go, including touring screens, custom wheels, belt drive sprockets, seats, engine guards, engine covers, luggage and backrests.