It's true. I wasn't looking for a bike. This Midnight Star found ME.
I was actually searching Craigslist for some hifi speakers and a bike came up in the search. That led to searching more bikes and soon I'd plugged in a price range and up came several cruisers that got my attention.
Within a few hours I was riding my '01 Midnight Star home...
But before voicing my impressions I'll first provide some background and history.
As a teen in the late 60's I had a big brother who raced dirt flat track and motocross. His friends were all racers or motorheads with some of them riding the national dirt and road circuits. He bought one of the first Honda CB750's and we'd do speed runs 2-up on remote highways. One time he let me ride it home after dropping him off at a friend's place 30 minutes away. I was only 15 years old! What a blast. That bike was an animal back in the day.
Once legal, I practiced riding the street on his 175 Honda. I finally bought my own street bike and it was a rocket ship, the Kawasaki H2 750 Mach IV 2-stroke triple. That bike was ill handling and scary fast. For a lot of years it was the quickest production bike ever made. Mine was ported and polished with tuned expansion chambers (pipes) and you couldn't keep the front wheel on the ground under full throttle in the first 2-3 gears. It was a dream when passing cars at highway speeds but doesn't compare to today's sport bikes.
Here's a link (identical to mine except the pipes): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kawasaki_triple
After that I had several bikes off and on over the years, but in my 20's I began racing motocross. I raced Yamaha YZ250's in the 80's and had a lot of faith in the company. My close friends raced the national AMA Grand National flat track series. Bikes were part of the fabric of our lives.
I restored and flipped bikes for a while so I had several different brands and models. I bobbed a 920 Virago around 18 years ago which I really enjoyed. I used to seek out canyons on my Suzuki GS500's while living in Central California, scraping the pegs with my daughter on the back. Fun little bikes! I even had a 112 HP
Kawasaki GPz750 turbo which was pretty inspiring when the turbo really kicked in.
Here's the turbo Kawi (very similar to my bike): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kawasaki_GPZ750_Turbo
I eventually ended up with a Suzuki RF900R 'sport touring' bike after moving to far Northern California. More SPORT than touring. 135 HP and 160 MPH+ while weighing in at around 450 lbs. I absolutely loved that bike. But I eventually sold it before moving to 'a place with no canyons'. I was pushing the edge so much with that bike that I felt I needed to hit the track or stay off of it altogether before I ended up under a semi-truck, off the edge of some mountain, or fileting a deer or other animal with the front of my bike. I aged more than a few female riding companions while riding 2-up on afternoon runs through the California canyons...
Here are some pics (mine's the red one @ the Oregon coast and Crater Lake, OR):
I sold the bike but kept my Husqvarna TE610 dirt bike (loved that big single!).
So after that I went into cruiser mode because long hunched-over rides on straight roads aren't a lot of fun, especially with lower back issues. I wanted to sit my butt on a comfy seat and enjoy a casual sight-seeing ride. I was occasionally eying bikes while never buying one, going from Honda Goldwings to Harley Fatboys to everything in between, trying to figure out my true needs and desires, from single seated bobbers to full dress baggers. I actually bought a 50cc scooter for fun 2-up riding here in Las Vegas, where helmets, motorcycle licenses, registration, and insurance aren't required for 50cc scooters and mopeds (only a regular driver's license). That was fun for a while but the bike eventually just collected dust.
The cruiser bug was still lurking deep within so I'd occasionally look around for something. I'm not a Harley man, I've always had much more faith in foreign brands (and prices/value). I just wanted something that looked beefy while having plenty of power, keeping the Harley-envy peeps guessing while I rode by. In the meantime we'd bought a couple of BMW convertibles to address our open-air obsessions.
And that brings me to my Midnight Star. I was shocked to see in my advance research that it was rated at 'only' 62 HP, less than half that of my Suzuki RF900R. The 92 ft. lbs. of torque made up for it and I figured that any 1600cc bike had to have some serious grunt so I opted to take it further.
A primary interest in the Yamaha over the others that were available was the low 8k miles on the bike, in addition to its pampered condition. I loved the beefy look, giving it plenty of 'authority'. The bike was loud but had that deep thumping Harley-esque growl. I had no idea whether the hypercharger was stock or an add-on, as well as the pipes etc., but it just looked, sounded, and ran great.
As a side note, the owner only stood at around 5'-2" tall and this was his FIRST BIKE. He'd had it six months and said he didn't ride it much, LOL. NOT the bike to have for your first bike, due to weight alone if nothing else...
So I took the bike for a test ride.
Keep in mind that my Suzuki RF900R maxed out at 12,000 RPM
and made max HP at 10,000 RPM. A bike just didn't seem to be MOVING until the motor was really cranked up. So I grabbed a handful of throttle in the first two gears on busy Las Vegas streets, getting a great response but noticing that it almost felt like the clutch was slipping in the higher revs. What I figured out later was that I was breaking the rear tire loose in both first and second gear on the hot slick city roads! The bike had TONS of unassuming torque. I'm STILL getting used to how quickly I'm getting away from stop lights while leaving others far behind and the motor isn't really even revving when compared to my previous bikes.
So I quickly bought the bike and rode it home after several years going without.
The seller had picked up bags and a highway bar that he hadn't installed so I put them all on. I had to deal with some maintenance issues and upgrades. I wrapped the pipes after continual leg burns in the first week. I never had that issue with any of my previous bikes but here in Las Vegas summer heat we ride in shorts. The exhaust wrap has been awesome. I'm not all that big on tricked-out cosmetics or having the 'prettiest ride'; I'm more about the riding itself.
I LOVE RIDING THIS BIKE!! I'm more often 2-up than not so it's a real treat when riding solo. The bike has tons of power with no bad habits, other than hitting the rev
I'm still learning to trust the front end while cornering due to being used to sport bikes (it feels like it wants to wash out). Fuel mileage is a bit better than my RF900R. The fuel range is excellent. With my GS500's small tank I was looking for fuel every 100 miles, 120 max. I should now be able to run 250 riding solo after doing the tank filler neck mod, and we regularly run 200 riding 2-up right now.
The bike looks and sounds great. I thought I'd want to quiet it down but right now I highly doubt that I will. My only real 'upgrade' thoughts would be to buy a much newer cruiser because I'm already wanting to take some long interstate trips here in the west. I avoid rain riding however...
Hope you don't mind the length of this post but wanted to give some impressions from a guy who's owned a lot of bikes and done a lot of riding and racing. If I'm having fun on it while singing praises then you KNOW it's a great ride!!! An average outing for us is probably around a 150 mile afternoon run. Yesterday we ran 164 miles just to check the fuel mileage and fuel capacity after modding the tank filler neck, LOL. Don't need much of excuse to roll down the highway, and my other half is eager to tag along!
Now it's about future mods and upgrades. Looking forward to more!