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2000- Yamaha XVS 1100 Dragstar Custom

Published: 05 August 2002

This is the sort of bike that is scorned by the " true " biker, he of the full leathers and full-face helmet. I used to be one of those, and always swore I’d never be caught dead on a cruiser, but now advancing age has made me rethink my attitudes. For many years I took great pride in riding the latest fast bikes, though to be honest they weren’t all that fast in days gone by, and it wasn’t until I was persuaded to have a go on a friend’s Suzuki Savage that I discovered the great benefits of this type of bike. The main one, of course, is comfort. Having been crouched over a Bandit for a couple of hours it was a great relief to sit back and relax on a cruiser, even if the handling took some getting used to.

So, after some thought, it was off to the dealership to see what they had, and I immediately fell in love with the Dragstar. Seemingly twice the size, and weight, of anything I had ever ridden before, it stood out as the biggest, blackest, shiniest beast in the showroom. I had to have it.

And that’s where the love affair started. The bike draws a crowd of admirers whenever I park, unlike anything else I have owned, partly thanks to the hours I spend polishing the thing, but I can’t complain, that’s what it’s for.

Riding it is different from the Bandit. Sit back on that huge great comfortable seat, rest your feet on the floorboards and enjoy the feel of a very torquey eleven hundred V-twin. It will cruise comfortably all day at 80mph or so on motorways, or throb through town, turning heads as you go. It will accelerate like a rocket when you want it to, so overtaking is a doddle. Car drivers get out of your way when they see you coming, I think they want to see what it looks like as you go past. And the riding position is ideal. I have ridden from Surrey to Derbyshire and back in a weekend and felt none the worse for wear at the end of it. Petrol stops every 150 miles give you a chance to stretch your legs.

I was surprised by the handling. Much better than the Savage (my friend has now also bought a Dragstar), it is, of course, not a patch on the Bandit. But that doesn’t really matter. You ride it in a relaxed frame of mind, and soon relearn how to take corners (look where you want to go…) at a leisurely pace.

I just ride for fun now, and the Dragstar is the most fun I have had on a bike for years.

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