New Bike Evaluation: 2012 Star Stratoliner Deluxe

TR3_3427Re_When an artist performs so spectacularly that he’s called out on stage to please the crowd again, it’s called an encore. It’s the same artist, doing what he’s famous for, but the crowd can’t get enough, so he obliges with more of the performance. That’s the way I feel about the 2012 Star Stratoliner Deluxe.

We loved the Star Roadliner and Stratoliner all along. I mean, what’s not to love about long, low, mega-motored cruisers/tourers that can take you down the road in comfort and style? Then along came the Stratoliner Deluxe, with its factory batwing fairing with sound system and color-matched hardbags, and we applauded it as well (July 2010). Star did the right thing again, in my opinion, giving us more of a good thing, with subtle refinements to the platform without taking anything away from the highway star that is the Stratoliner Deluxe.TR3_3515

The changes to the bike could be summed up in just a few simple sentences, but the way this motorcycle combines classy cruising with capable touring leaves me speechless. The looks of the new Strat D were only changed ever so slightly by the deletion of the lower front fender strut and the redesign of the tank emblem for a more modern look. Except for the conical signal lights, these two changes move the Strat away from the Art Deco styling it’s had since its release and closer to modern aesthetics. The new Stratoliner Deluxe is closer than ever to the moniker “Cadillac of Cruisers” that I used to describe the Roadliner.

IMG_3262A few utilitarian updates are also on the new model, such as a modified seal around the storage compartment lid on the upper center of the front fairing, which better protects your iPod, iPhone, and other small items, and the chrome speaker trim. But perhaps the best part of the touring refinements on the Stratoliner Deluxe is the inclusion of a motorcycle-friendly Garmin zumo 665 GPS mounted on a flip-down bracket. It’s loaded with features including navigation, Bluetooth, and Sirius/XM satellite radio (optional with subscription), real-time weather, weather radar, and traffic and road condition warnings. The GPS head pops off easily for secure storage and the bracket swings away so undesirable people won’t even know you have a desirable accessory on board. With the addition of the zumo, the Stratoliner Deluxe moves a little further away from stylin’ and profilin’, and more toward being a truly capable, luxury-touring mount.

These few simple refinements tell me Star is aware of the “don’t ruin a good thing” principle. And that good thing still motors along thanks to the massive 113″ V-twin (almost 1900cc) with massive torque producing power capabilities mounted in a clean aluminum frame. Machined cooling fin edges and copious amounts of chrome brightwork are a throwback to the age of luxurious excess and garner thumbs-up from many who see me riding it. Max torque is reached soon after idle at around 2500 rpm, with plenty of pulling power in reserve.


A huge, chromed 1-1/4″ handlebar, which carries the switchgear wiring on the inside, is connected to a massive 46mm fork front end. Combine that with 12-spoke aluminum wheels shod with modern tubeless radial tires: a 130/70-18″ front and a fat, 190/60-17″ rear that provide for excellent grip and a supple ride. A pair of 298mm floating front discs squeezed by strong monoblock calipers provide excellent feel and quickly bring the big Stratoliner’s speed down.


Creature comforts abound, such as massive floating floorboards, an adjustable heel/toe shifter, and a wide, sculpted seat for more comfort on long rides. While we eliminated the heel portion of the shifter with the MLMM8663addition of a genuine Star accessory shift pedal (see sidebar), the stocker serves the rider fine. Tank-mounted instrumentation requires you to take your eyes off the road momentarily to look down at the classically styled, clock-face gauge, which features analog speedometer, tachometer, and a fuel gauge, along with twin digital tripmeters and an odometer.

The Stratoliner Deluxe has served us well all year as an in-house press loaner; we’ve racked up over 5,000 enjoyable touring and commuting miles among the staff. It’s perfect for short trips or long hauls, looking elegant and riding comfortably the whole way. RB

Story by Steve Lita Photos by Riles & Nelson

To find out about some cool touring accessories we added onto the 2012 Star Stratoliner Deluxe, get the issue now on!