Star Motorcycles are to become once more an established segment under the Yamaha brand.
It appears that house Iwata is trying to make these cruisers a bit more appealing to the new generations of riders.
At times confusing for some people, the name Star was brought forth by Yamaha in an attempt to put some distance between these bikes and their ostentatious Japanese background.
Of course, the aim of such a plan was to make people look at the Yamaha cruisers as an independent brand, somehow shaking off that `Japanese bike` vibe, and giving these machines a better chance to chew at the huge market share Harley-Davidson enjoyed.
Even though all three big Japanese builders, Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki, offer more advanced cruisers, they have never been able to pose a serious threat to H-D. Still, Yamaha's efforts paid off in another direction, that of the Yard Built machines.
It appears that Iwata will be trying to integrate some of the Yard Built mojo in their cruiser line-up. A successful undertaking, the Yard Built philosophy still has a lot of directions that can be explored and implemented into the cruiser design so that the new models might benefit from a form of `towing` effect, and that would be great for Yamaha.
It's hard to believe that Star bikes will be able to give the MoCo a run for its money, even after such a makeover. The only thing that seems to work against the Bar and Shield is the changing of their demographic, with the younger riders no longer being that interested in the same bikes that made the fantasies of their parents.
It's still uncertain whether Yamaha will drop the Star branding and go for a full re-integration of the cruiser world under the three tuning fork umbrella or will retain it and find a way to reinvent the name.
As a side note, it looks like brand separation works way worse in the motorcycle industry than in the automotive one. What carries on successfully as Lexus, Infiniti, Scion or Acura is not too much of a spectacular feat in the two-wheeled segment.
Honestly, we believe that Yamaha is making a smart move, and it would be even smarter just to let Star fade away slowly, while continuing to make cool cruisers.