In the early 2000’s there was just one Japanese manufacturer that was ahead of the pack for cruisers and that was Yamaha. The Yamaha Road Star Warrior 1700 was no exception.
It was a deliberate power cruiser released to tell the world that they were still ahead of the pack even in the world of performance cruisers.
The Road Star Warrior was a culmination of old school traditional styling from the original Road Star and modern performance cruiser power, this combination was intended to keep traditionalist’s happy while attracting a new audience at the same time.
Let’s get into the Warrior 1700, all the good bits, the bad bits and what they are worth today.
Yamaha Warrior 1700 Review
Prior to the Warrior was the Road Star first released in 1999, it was a classic looking big air cooled V-twin initially with a 1,602cc engine, but was upgraded to the bigger 1,670cc after 2003. Essentially the Warrior was produced to be the sportier, sleeker, more aggressive performance version of the basic Road Star.
Released with the 1,670c air cooled V twin the Warrior was there to mean business and wipe out competition on the road.
Performance cruisers were only just starting to find their feet in the market and a few years earlier these big muscle cruisers weren’t heard of outside of the custom motorcycle world.
A muscle cruiser was defined as being a motorcycle with a motor propelling the rider with an abundance of speed and torque give sport bikes a run for their money on the street. These V twin powered bikes weren’t built just for cruising around but to be modern brawlers competing with all bikes on the road.
The motor was the highlight of the Warrior, which on paper was a very simple air-cooled, 4-valve, pushrod engine, in reality however, it was what felt like a bottomless pit of power. This is one of those bikes that has enough torque to pull your arms out the sockets if you are not careful and controlled.
This increase in power from the original Road Star engine came from 2mm bore increase, new cylinder heads, cam profiles, and straighter intake ports. The Warrior received a two-section airbox that had 115% greater capacity than the earlier engine. This meant that the engine now had a lot more breathing room and a higher rev range of up to 5,000rpm.
The engine also had better finning for better heat dissipation and an air scoop that sent cool air directly into the rear cylinder. Overall, all this led to a 40% increase in power than the Road Star engine, including 80 horsepower at the rear wheel instead of the 55 horsepower.
There is enough torque to spin the rear wheel from a standstill if that is your thing and you want to burn some rubber.
Yamaha added on an absolutely huge exhaust, something that wouldn’t look out of place on a rocket, the sound from the machine gives the best of Harley’s a run for their money and then some.
The ECU was as modern as it got and increased the bottom-end power by closing one of the dual intake ducts when at low revs, this helped increase throttle response.
In terms of pulling off from a standstill, the torque is immense and will shoot you down the road, highways though are a little tricky as the power is there for you to cruise but it wants to keep going. I can hear you shouting ‘that’s not a problem!’, no it’s not but your arms won’t thank you as you struggle to hold on being propelled forward, we will get to more on the riding position shortly.
Below 80mph vibrations are minimal, instead you get a gentle reminder of the thunderous engine by a bit of a throbbing seat as the pistons move up and down. Above normal highway speeds, vibrations will kick in but even these are not too intrusive and it’s quite handy to remind you that your speed has picked up.
The other standout point about the Warrior was the lightweight aluminum frame. This was an all new concept from the design team. The frame consisted of aluminum tubing for the front downtubes and engine rails with aluminum castings for the rest of the chassis.
As a result of the alloy frame it was now significantly lighter than the Road Star, the Warrior also had a steeper steering head, all aluminum swingarm, shorter wheelbase and
The frame and chassis were also painted black as opposed to the chrome found on the Road Star.
Yamaha continued with the upgrades of the chassis, with Kayaba forks taken off the flagship sports machine, the R1. The rear suspension was taken off the Road Star but upgraded with better components to make it more effective and capable, making the machine easier for the rider to handle.
Also off the Yamaha R1 were the 2 piston calipers that were mated with 298mm discs.
In terms of styling you wouldn’t mistake the Warrior for anything else out on the road, it is what it is and holds its stance with a relatively skinny front wheel compared to the fat rear.
These days all black cruisers are pretty common along with all black modern retro’s etc. However, the all black, minimal chrome (exception of the exhaust) made the Warrior stand out and it was a sleek, speedy, meaty looking bike.
So with a chassis more suited to a speed demon like the R1 but powered by a thumper of a pretty old school V twin, how did the bike handle?
Firstly the engine is smooth as butter, so that makes for a calm riding experience, the gear changes are quite heavy but not particularly difficult or tiring. The brake and clutch levers however, are meatier than the Road Star’s which might make riders with small hands struggle a little bit.
The bike is at home in a straight line, the ride is balanced, comfortable and confident, at slow speeds like turning in a car park or performing a U-turn, things get a little tense with the bike leaning to one side and it isn’t light to hold up.
There is a light steering response, precise, point and shoot and the bike will propel you in the right direction. It might be a little slow to steer in the right direction but it gets you there and feels stable doing so.
Braking is much improved over the Road Star, light braking will slowly bring you to a stop and if you need to hammer the brakes in an emergency then the suspension absorbs the pressure without diving you forward too much and stops the bike.
When it comes to the riding position the pegs are set far forward, and there is a wide handlebar to hold on to, the seat is very low, this is probably the most traditional cruiser factor about the Warrior. If you were to be blindfolded and sit on the Road Star and Warrior one after the other with just the riding position to go on, there is little between them or many other bikes of the time.
As it is a typical cruiser stance this won’t put off riders who are used to this, but for new riders the ride might take some getting used to and doesn’t go out of the way to bring new riders into the riding style.
Now as for the passenger, significant changes would need to be made to accommodate them comfortable. Conditions are cramped and would be rather uncomfortable over any lengthy period of time.
Touring as a solo rider however, would be a breeze especially if you added in an aftermarket windscreen/fairing that Yamaha actually started to market at the time of the bikes release.
Let’s now look at how the Warrior performed upon it’s release and the reception it received by the press.
Yamaha Warrior 1700 Performance
On it’s release the Road Star Warrior was an exciting addition to Yamaha’s line up and the cruiser market as a whole.
Sport bike like performance, road star styling as a foundation, V-twin grunt, torque and competitive spirit to run against bikes like Harley’s V Rod and Kawasaki’s Vulcan. If muscle bikes were your thing there wasn’t much wrong at all with the Warrior especially compared with other bikes in the segment.
However, the Warrior couldn’t sustain its popularity long term, perhaps it peaked and it was time to step down, or perhaps it didn’t evolve quick enough with the market trends.
MCN’s review of their demo bike back in 2001 was summarised by this statement “I’d never before have considered owning a cruiser, but I had more sheer fun on this Yamaha than I can remember for a long time and I’m convinced I could get on just fine with this.”
Visordown’s Pro and Con summarising the Warrior:
Pro “A real sense of quality and a grunty, smooth engine”
Con “This will do nothing to convert you if you are a cruiserphobe”
Yamaha Warrior 1700 Spec’s
Engine and Transmission
Engine – Four-stroke, 48 degree V-twin, OHV, 4 Valves per cylinder
Capacity – 1,670cc
Bore x Stroke – 97 x 113mm
Compression Ratio – 8.3:1
Cooling System – Air-cooled
Induction – Two-bore fuel injection
Starting – Electric
Transmission – 5 speed
Final Drive – Belt
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame – Aluminum frame
Front Suspension – 41mm Kayaba inverted telescopic fork
Rear Suspension – Link suspension, preload and rebound adjustable single rear shock
Front Brakes – 2 x 298mm discs, 4 piston calipers
Rear Brakes – Single 282mm disc, 1 piston caliper
Wet Weight – 298.4kg
Wheelbase – 1,666mm
Rake – 29 degrees
Trail – 129.5mm
Height – 1,115mm
Length – 2,385mm
Width – 934.7mm
Seat Height – 715mm
Fuel Capacity – 15 Litres
Max Torque – 136Nm at 3,750rpm
Max Power – 80 horsepower
Standing 1/4 mile – 103mph
Why did Yamaha stop making the Warrior?
The Road Star Warrior was discontinued around 2010, and the reason was very simple, sales just weren’t high enough to justify it continuing in the line-up. As much as the performance cruiser title went in the Warriors favour initially, it didn’t continue to capture the audience in the way Yamaha would have needed to keep it going.
Riders could get their hands on an impressive sport bike or a traditional motorcycle cruiser, the market for a combination of the two just wasn’t all that big.
Yamaha Road Star Warrior Variants
There were two variants of the Road Star Warrior the base model and the Midnight Warrior.
Arguably the Road Star Silverado and Midnight Silverado were also part of the Warrior line as they shared the 1700 engine and same specs, but these were more traditionally styled like the original Road Star. Therefore the Warrior moniker is only attached to the base Warrior and Midnight Warrior.
Road Star Midnight Warrior
The Midnight warrior was blacked out, featured a studded black leather seat and other distinctive trim and components.
How fast is the Yamaha Road Star Warrior 1700?
The Yamaha Road Star Warrior 1700 has a top speed of around 120mph. Some riders have claimed to have seen 135-140mph but these can’t be verified.
How much is a used Yamaha Road Star Warrior 1700 worth?
In the UK a used Road Star Warrior is on average around £6,500 while in the US prices average around $6,000.
They have seen around a £4,000/$4,000 depreciation from when they were newly released, which is great for potential buyers; for the size and capability of this power cruiser these used prices are excellent value for money.
Buying a used Yamaha Road Star Warrior 1700
When it comes to buying a used Yamaha Road Star Warrior there are more models available in the market in the US than in the UK which opens up a potential buyers choice.
However, there are some key things to look out for across the board.
What to look out for with a used Yamaha Road Star Warrior:
There are lots of exposed metal/chrome parts on the Warrior so be sure to check for rust and corrosion even in all the harder to reach places.
Open up the fuel tank and check the inside for rust and this will give you an idea of whether the bike has been taken care of or not.
The Road Star Warrior is a big heavy lump so it is worth checking out the tyres. If the bike has been sat for a long period of time in storage, or ridden a lot of mainly highway then the tyres could be uneven and deformed which affects handling.
Ask the seller for any paperwork and service history, so you know that it has been cared for with regular service intervals etc.
Check for any oil leaks.
If the seller had made any modifications with an aftermarket exhaust or performance upgrades it is worth asking if they installed them or a mechanic did to ensure they are correct and in working order.
Buying a used Road Star Warrior is pretty risk free as they are reliable and solid with an engine built to stand the test of time. Should you need parts they are easy to come by and pretty affordable, servicing is also fuss free and cheap.
Summary: is the Yamaha Road Star Warrior 1700 a good bike?
Yamaha have a great track record with cruisers, probably the best of the 4 big Japanese manufacturers. I’m thinking the Yamaha V Star 1100 and V Star 650 from the 1990’s and the Virago from the 80’s, great bikes that paved the way for the Warrior.
The Yamaha Warrior is an awesome bike to consider on the used market today. Affordable, attractive, unique, powerful and fun to ride. Everything you could want in a cruiser.