Always perform safety checks before attempting to ride a motorcycle.
A motorbike is a thing of beauty, and with the amount of smooth chrome styling on a Yamaha V-Star 1100, you’ll want to drive it properly and avoid putting scratches on it by dropping it on the hardtop. Riding a cruiser like the V-Star is slightly different from riding other styles of bike, and the power from the engine will take a bit of getting used to.
1. Get the appropriate safety gear in case of a misjudgment in riding. A Department of Transportation-approved helmet is a must, even if your state does not require helmets. Quite apart from keeping your head as safe as possible in crashes, a visor will keep the bugs out of your eyes. Also useful are protective gloves, sturdy boots and leathers. As any biker who’s experienced a fall or a crash will tell you, road rash is not pretty.
2. Learn check the bike for safety issues before riding it. The basics are tire pressure, oil, shaft and brake fluid levels, brakes, clutch and throttle. The V-Star has a shaft drive, so you do not need to know adjust a chain. Test the lights and turn signals by flicking on and off one switch at a time on the handlebars. The manual will give you the required specifications for routine checks.
3. Put the key in the ignition but do not turn it on yet. Twist the key from the locked position to allow the front wheel to move.
4. Sit on the bike and get a feel for the weight with both feet down. The V-star 1100 is a heavy motorcycle, weighing in at over 600 pounds, so this will take a bit of practice. When you are comfortable with the natural center of gravity of the bike, lift up the stand on the left-hand side with your left foot while keeping weight on your right foot. You will need to angle the bike over to the right slightly to give the stand room to move. Put both feet back on the ground.
5. Pull in the brake lever on the right handlebar to assess the braking power of the front discs. Put your left foot down and move the bike slightly, testing the brake pedal on the right-hand side with your right foot. This operates the rear brake.
6. Scoot the bike around until you are comfortable with the weight distribution, especially as your balance alters when using the brakes. Practice clicking through the gears. To do this, hold in the clutch lever on the left handlebar and use your left foot to press the gear lever down and up through the gears. Return the gears to neutral. In an open flat area, turn on the ignition by pressing the electric start button.
7. Pull gently on the throttle lever on the right handlebar when the bike is in neutral gear and listen to the engine. A very loud engine noise indicates that you need a gentler touch. When you are comfortable with the throttle, hold in the brake, pull in the clutch and click the gear lever down into first gear. Release the brake. Slowly release the clutch while simultaneously twisting the throttle very gently. The V-star may stall a few times while you get this process right, but always err on the gentle side of the throttle in case the bike gets away from you. Once first gear is mastered, try changing up a gear by pulling in the clutch while the bike is moving, releasing the throttle momentarily, clicking up into second and slowly releasing the clutch while twisting the throttle gently. Repeat this procedure for higher gears.
8. Practice riding around a deserted area until you get the hang of the multiple skills involved in operating the V-Star, and only go on the highway when you are ready.