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This page was last Edited Friday, 08 January 2016 11:56

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Hi there
I went to above web site and when you click on shoot out there is a section on 2007 power cruisers.Here they test in detail a few 2007 model power cruisers namely 2 American(HD and Victory) and 2 Jap cruisers(Kawasaki and Yamaha).

 Interestingly(and not surprisingly)the editor threw in a 5th bike which they always refer to as their "wild card ".Here they pay homage to the bike that started it all with a deservedly strong image for over 20 years.What they wanted to see was how a bike that was once the definition of power( that has hardly changed at all),would stack up against modern bikes with things like feul injection and usd forks.

 Many would scoff at the idea but according to the editor it was surprising how well the 20 year plus technology held up against the rest.

 In the discussion of their wild card the editor has the following to say:

-Long before the term "power cruiser " existed, Yamaha already made one way back in 1984

-Designers had a central theme "a V4 hot rod" and a job "well done"

-At the time no other bike looked or performed like it.

-It is easy to see why it has lasted as an icon of power  for over 20 years and spawning countless web resources and obtaining cult like status

-It deserves all the glory ever heaped on it.

-It has an instantly recognisable style.

-There is an unmistakeable sound and "this thing sounds deadly even before the throttle is twisted"

 Yes there were negatives too but remember they can be cured...beter radial tyres,braced frame and metal engine mounts,swing arm brace,fork clamps etc

 Read the entire article in
http://www.motorcycle.com/shoot-outs/2007-power-cruisers-shootout-13559.html .

 Finally all I can say is that even today there are an elite few bikes that can reach 120 horsepower at the rear wheel.A standard Vmax is capable of 115 hp at the rear wheel.With exhaust,air box and jetting mods it is possible to reach 120 hp.All the bikes in this power group are modern new technology bikes.The Vmax is still up there 23 years after its release....awesome.

 The Vmax is an emotion,a sensation a legend that is a high votage live wire.

Vmaximus maximus


Harley-Davidson V-Rod, Honda Rune, Kawasaki Vulcan 2000, Triumph Rocket III, Yamaha V-Max

What makes the ultimate cruiser? Performance? Style? Speed? Ride-ability? We kicked it into super-cruise with five hard-hitting, streetwise motorcycles from Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Triumph and Yamaha to find out. From the December 2004 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser magazine.

Flamboyant. Fast. Fun. The requirements were simple.

As we set off down Sunset Boulevard toward the sea and a day of adventurous riding, we couldn't help but notice the attention. Passing motorists swivelled their heads like Linda Blair at the height of her tenure with the devil when they caught sight of the V-Rod, Rune, Vulcan 2000, Rocket III and V-Max. These are all distinctive motorcycles—all lookers in their own right—but put them in one place and their flamboyance is suddenly amplified a hundredfold. Like a troupe of Vegas showgirls taking a shortcut through Sunday mass, the super cruisers cannot be overlooked.

It's an unlikely grouping, of course. Our premise for contrasting these bikes is both logical and emotive: All are long on horsepower and short on conventionality. These are the heavyweight cruisers that run 12 seconds or better at the drag strip. All are striking, conversation-stirring and undeniably interesting. And oh yes, fun.

As different as they are—especially when parked nose-to-tail with price tags fluttering—these bikes are also born for the same basic intention. It's not simply a contest of horsepower or style; each of these super cruisers is an exercise in individuality.

And Then There Was Horsepower

In 1985 Michael Jackson and Madonna had number-one songs. Ronald Reagan was president, the 49ers won the Super Bowl and a cold snap killed 90 percent of the oranges in Florida. It wasn't a very remarkable year, well, unless you count the Yamaha V-Max. Perhaps it wasn't the first muscle bike, but the hot rod's "V-Boost" mystique and outrageous (for the time) styling certainly got our attention.

Fast forward 20 years and the V-Max still excites—and still kicks tail, even when pitted against the most modern and sophisticated super cruisers. Thanks in large part to its light weight, none of the bikes in this comparison can beat its quarter-mile time of 10.87 sec. at 124 mph. The cruiser that comes closest is Harley-Davidson's V-Rod at 11.32 sec. at 114.85 mph. (See box for more times.) Another circumstance where the Yamaha reigns is value. At just over $10K, it cannot be matched as the most economical way to do your cardio routine on two wheels. Seems a small price to pay to confidently stare down every rider you meet. No one sneers at the V-Max. It's universally awed. A legend. Like a biplane pilot in mid-barrel roll, the V-Max pilot gleans complete admiration.

So, what's not to love about the Yamaha V-Max? Some dislike the look, especially the faux ram chargers, which have been debated for 20 years. It's not a tidy bike and it can't boast a clean, modern finish, but it does look the muscle-bound part. As one tester said, "The style is dated, but the kick in the pants is not." Max's biggest drawback is the fact that its chassis is not a good match for the well-fed V4's output. Steering is accurate and cornering clearance admirable, but in power-on cornering situations, the V-Max's frame flexes and torques noticeably, and the suspension is decidedly soft. When taxed, the bike's stock bias-ply tires break loose more often than you want them to, a kind of circuit breaker that keeps Max within its physical limits. Highly skilled riders might call the Yamaha's muscle car-like chaos charming, though they occasionally arrive from a fast ride just as pale as a newbie. Frame braces do help, and the addition of a fork kit and more progressive springs out back also aids stability.

Triumph's Rocket III is the horsepower king, with 132.4 ponies at a modest 6250 rpm. The lighter V-Max is second with 116.5 hp at 8500 rpm. But the V-Max combines weight and gearing advantages to make it accelerate harder.

So which of these bikes can best handle its high-volume power output? The Harley V-Rod is the most well-balanced package. It has a thrilling amount of power and a chassis and suspension package that's set up to handle it. The suspension is most often described as harsh, but the bike tracks well and doesn't wallow or bob, as cruisers with softer setups tend to do. Ground clearance, while not as generous as that traditionally offered by Harley, is acceptable on the V-Rod as well as on the Triumph. The machines quickest to drag are the Vulcan, and by far the more guilty, Honda's Rune. Out of the heavyweight contenders (the Rocket, Rune and Vulcan) the Kawasaki does the most admirable job balancing its chassis against the crazy torque of its huge V-twin. In addition to being the most predictable and manageable of the 800-plus-pound big guns, the Vulcan's fantastic brakes are also appreciated. The Rune and Rocket tip the scales in the power and pizzazz departments, too, though unlike the Vulcan, both can be a liability in tight cornering situations. Hit irregularities and these bikes come "unglued," as one tester put it. Of course, the super cruiser buyer probably won't be dragging knees on Sunday, right? The super cruiser buyer will probably use his machine for weekending, maybe for long-distance touring, and most certainly for blowing doors and minds.

Living Large

When it comes to power, all these machines have plenty. No slackers. The Rocket delivers the biggest rip right off the line, while the Yamaha's V-boost induction at 6000 rpm offers a just-when-you-thought-you-couldn't-go-any-faster punch. The V-Rod delivers smooth multilike power but does require using the revs for a full launch. Kawasaki's Vulcan and Honda's Rune provide the most civilized power, making it easy to choose between their mild-mannered or viciously fast modes, whereas the Rocket and V-Max provide a somewhat hastier delivery, and need micromanaging during delicate manoeuvres.

The Triumph also rules the torque chart, making a monstrous 141.0 foot-pounds at a mere 2500 rpm. In second, the Kawasaki 2000 makes 121.4 foot-pounds at 3250 rpm.

Some riders preferred the big, loping V-twin on the Kawasaki Vulcan for its nostalgic beat and smooth pull. Anyone will pick the loud, extremely sexy rumble of that bike's stock exhaust as a winning attribute. The V-Rod sound is likewise sexy, but not as strong.

Honda's incredibly sophisticated Rune offers a completely different engine feel and sound. Valkyrie riders won't be surprised by the futuristic whir and surreal smoothness of the inline six, but all new pilots will be blown away. If you're looking for something beyond different, the Rune is it. Collectively, we still love it, adore it even, but some efficiency factors do come up in such a comparison. For the Honda it is the suspension that shines a little less when ridden back to back with other bikes in the super cruiser category. Steering is light and accurate, but the rear suspension is tight, and combined with a shaft effect, it can cause the back end to skip over irregularities, especially in fast corners. One rider caught about six inches of sideways air after hitting a bump on a freeway off ramp. The huge bike landed like a train on tracks, however, not at all ruffled by the flight. Not only is the Rune by far the most expensive bike here, with a start price of $24,500, it is also the only bike without a shred of carrying capacity, which severely limits its usefulness. Still, if you want what everything else isn't, and you can afford it, we all agree the Rune is the way to go. Even hard-to-impress Elvidge is vying to own one.

Our riders ranged in height from 5 foot 8 to 6 feet and 135 pounds to more than 200. Except for the V-Rod, the super cruisers will work best for an average or above average size pilot. The V-Max, for example, needs a fairly long-legged rider, even though it's the flyweight of this group. The Rune and Vulcan have low seats, but the heft at parking lot speeds is a factor. In fact, all three heavyweights are made for an owner who is large—in both size and spirit. The V-Rod is the one bike in this group that is universally rider-friendly, though a seat change is in the cards if you want real comfort. And if you're under 5 foot 8 you might want to check out the Reduced Reach Footpeg Kit our unit was equipped with, which brings the bar and pegs closer to the rider. All testers preferred the stock setup, however, and felt the non original bar was too close, and only the shorter riders valued the closer peg placement.

Go Figure

While these bikes are undeniably interesting, they're certainly not for everyone. Also, we realize someone shopping for a V-Rod might not be at all smitten by the Rune. They are undeniably the power brokers, however, the celebrities of the cruiser set. Human nature makes us curious about their inner workings and personal habits. On the flip side, many of the bikes in this mix are real-world winners and not just fantasy fare. The Vulcan, for example, is as classically styled as a cruiser can get, and decently priced, too. It just happens to have the biggest production V-twin in history, which in our book also classifies it as exotic.

The Rocket and the V-Max are bikes we have long intended to compare. Both are brutish muscle bikes in both stature and engine performance. The V-Max, already a legend, has awaited a real contender for ages. Between the two, all but one tester found the V-Max is still king of the hot rod cruiser class. It's manageably sized, steers well and has great ground clearance and decent manners at everyday speeds. Plus that crazy V-boost still has us dithering 20 years later. It's also a hell of a deal at only $10,099. The Rocket, in contrast, is just a different kind of winner, and many will choose it for its "biggest" appeal and open-road capabilities. To date, Triumph has sold every Rocket it's made in the first run, even though it costs a pretty penny at more than $15K. The Rune, of course, is pretty exclusive and very expensive. But how could a buyer go wrong with this purchase? We're surprised at how many of these fantastic machines are still on dealers' floors. One factor, without a doubt, is that people need to actually ride the Rune to understand how incredibly valuable it is.

Our group of five fun-loving, style-savvy testers came up with a surprise "overall favourite," however. It's our practice to write notes directly after the group riding experience and hand them in, secret ballot-style. When the votes were counted, four out of five picked the V-Rod as best all-around power cruiser, the bike they'd jump on first. They cited good looks, nice package size, great engine, decent chassis setup and strong brakes as some reasons. However, almost all said they probably wouldn't buy the V-Rod if they were writing the check because of the almost $17,000 hit. Three of the four said they would choose a Yamaha V-Max for a more justifiable punch for the price ($11,099). One tester was a Rocketeer all the way, and would settle for no more, no less.

It doesn't really matter, we suppose, which of the bikes is bigger, baddest, best. What matters is that all these companies had the ingenuity and bravado to build such perfect beasts. Variety is the spice of life. And motorcycles are the main dish.


Thrill Per Dollar
1. Yamaha V-Max
2. Kawasaki Vulcan 2000
3. Triumph Rocket III

1. Triumph Rocket III
2. Yamaha V-Max
3. Honda Rune

1. Honda Rune
2. Triumph Rocket III
3. Harley-Davidson V-Rod

Best Everyday
1. Harley-Davidson V-Rod
2. Kawasaki Vulcan 2000
3. Yamaha V-Max

Testers' Picks
1. Harley-Davidson V-Rod
2. Yamaha V-Max
3. Honda Rune
4. Triumph Rocket III
5. Kawasaki Vulcan 2000


Evans Brasfield: Even with power cruisers, I favor balance over outright kick-you-in-the-gut performance. After all, the world does come with corners. In this grouping, the V-Rod provided what I felt was the best package of straight-line acceleration, cornering confidence, strong braking and good looks. I could use this bike for every role I could imagine—except, possibly, touring. Second in line, the V-Max is so dated it irks me. Still, I can't help loving it. A hellacious engine and decent ground clearance can make up for a multitude of sins. (Namely the flexy, sloppy chassis, dated tire technology and wimpy brakes).
Check Carl Tolbot's article  " RADIAL PLY TYRES ON A YAMAHA Vmax ?" at  "VMax Technical Tips"

The remaining three bikes pose a problem. I can think of several situations where I would love to ride these power cruisers, but they each have a tragic flaw that keeps them from being all-around performers. The Vulcan 2000 rocks off the line with that intoxicating V-twin grunt. Unfortunately, the party ends too soon as it ultimately runs out of steam. The suspension doesn't help, either. The Rune has the exhaust note and sci-fi look that is impossible not to notice, but its ground clearance and shaft effect limit the fun factor. The Rocket III was the shocker. I've been begging to ride this bike, and in any straight-line situation, none of the other bikes could touch it. I loved the engine's mechanical feel gnashing between my knees. Unfortunately, the Rocket III requires you to wrestle with it through any corner. Arrive at an unexpectedly tight corner and the results can be harrowing. It's one thing to build a bike that's more at home on the straight-and-narrow, but it's something entirely different to make one that only wants to go straight—even in corners.

Marc Cook: This was like dropping a whole box of Mentos down the gullet—refreshing in an odd, slightly minty, marginally overpowering sort of way. After a steady diet of big-inch V-twins, it was a real treat to ride these "oddballs." You know: a triple here, a four there, and a big lump of six right after that. The sheer goodness of all these configurations—now considered outsiders by those who claim to know the cruiser market—makes me wonder how much of the current fetish for big V-twins is the result of their superior performance and feel, or because they look, sound and feel more like Harleys.

On to the box score, then. Kawasaki needs to try again with an altogether lighter and more agile chassis, and Triumph did the best it could, considering the massive engine spanning the considerable daylight between the axles. Neither of these bikes makes me want to open my check book, though. I love the Rune's looks—and would give high marks to its performance had it more air between the footpegs and the tarmac—all the while willing to accept that for many it may be just too over the top. Fine. Styling is, and should be, a personal deal, just between you and your psyche.

Now we're down to the brothers V, as in Rod and Max. Yes, the Yamaha is a sentimental favourite, reminding me of being 22 again, when rock-hard bias-ply tires and a squirrelly chassis were the norm and the Max wasn't so far out of line as to be suicidal. Motorcycling has changed a lot in 20 years, but the Max hasn't. And I love it even more for it. Which leaves me good reason to consider the V-Rod the best of the bunch.

Andrew Cherney: "Remember. It's not a 'comparison,'" I kept telling myself as we played musical chairs with the most muscular bikes in cruiserdom for our latest road test. Truly, all the machines assembled possessed distinct personalities. It all came down to what flavour appeals to you.

The V-Rod acquits itself as a versatile performer, thanks to a high-revving motor and a manageable chassis. Alas, it's pricey and a bit weird looking. And the Rune is the definition of refinement. Still, it's basically a straight-line cruiser, and frankly, that gets old fast. Kawasaki's Vulcan 2000 is a powerful contender, with brakes that are easily the best in the bunch. But the riding position is a dud, and the styling leaves me cold. Meanwhile, howls of praise from my colleagues notwithstanding, I'm not gaga for the V-Max. Yeah, the engine has heaps of power. But the chassis is a nightmare, and "dated styling" is an understatement. Can we please move on already?

My vote is for the chest-pounding power and visceral thrill of the Rocket III. The torque is palpable, and for a bike this size, the handling is sure-footed. It may be too much for some, but as far as I'm concerned, it's a nice change from all the other cookie cutters out there.

Jamie Elvidge: What a ton o' fun. These one-of-a-kind super cruisers rock the house with their sprawling accommodations, mind-altering power and pulse-quickening looks. What's not to love, right?

Surprisingly, we all ended up choosing a bike we didn't expect to: Harley's V-Rod. (Well, except for Cherney, who's on the Triumph Rocket like a Rotweiller on rabbit.) That's not to say the Harley is my favourite, though, or the one I'd buy. I'm just saying it's the one that made the most sense for all-around usage, which is the only way to test motorcycles in a reliable and intelligent fashion. Truth is, I'd like to own one of each ...and then a few more. To look at the Rune might be enough. Just to be in its presence every day. But truthfully, I love to ride this bike, too. I find the Jetson-era smoothness and sound enormously enjoyable. In fact, I'm in line to buy a big, black Rune. But would I recommend it? Only if I knew you better and thought it was what you needed. The Rocket is another bike I adore. But again—while I'd own and love one—I don't know if it's for everybody. I met a gentleman in the Denver airport recently who asked if I thought it was for him. He was a big, strong man who had a long history of riding and touring. I said, "Absolutely."

Same with the Vulcan. It's the right bike for the right person. Someone who can handle the size and power and wants that heritage look. That's the long-winded way to say how I chose the Harley as über cruiser. It's a good, safe choice. A bike anyone can appreciate riding and owning.

Art Friedman: Yup, size does matter, and too much is too much. The Triumph, Kawasaki and Honda are all too massive to be fun for the all-around regime I require from a motorcycle. If I just planned to tour open highways, the Rocket might get the call, and if boulevard trolling were my sole interest, the Rune would be my ride of choice. But unless I had a fleet of bikes, I'd want something with a wider repertoire.

My favorite super cruiser is the V-Rod, which with a change to Harley's comfortable seat is a great all-around motorcycle. It is the most manageable bike here and by far the most fun to ride when the road isn't boring along dead straight. The pegs on this one also improve the ergos, though the handlebar doesn't. But at $17,000 and up, the V-Rod requires a high-performance wallet. Realistically, the V-Max is the super cruiser I'd buy. It's still the hardest-hitting cruiser on the planet, and with some of the thousands of dollars I would save from not buying any of the others, I'd make some upgrades, starting with the suspension and seat. Too bad Yamaha hasn't done it for me.


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2004 Yamaha V-Max
By Brian Korfhage

Coming up with interesting metaphors and similes for the Yamaha V-Max is like shooting fish in a barrel. I could go to the muscle-bound metaphor, the proverbial Arnold Schwarzenegger call. I could talk about back alley aesthetics and performance, all of which are true, but certainly not original, which in my estimation is a disservice to the V-Max. It is, after all, the quintessential bruiser cruiser intended to create folds in public roadways thanks to mind-boggling torque and acceleration. We should use the V-Max to describe disturbingly strong forces in nature, not the other way around.

In 2005 the V-Max celebrates its 20th birthday as the king of asphalt-shredding speed and power. What's remarkable is that it has gone largely unchanged for the last 19 years. Sure, there are bikes that have managed to hold a special place in the two-wheeled market place for long stretches of time, but as fast as technology advances, those bikes quickly get slapped with a retro label, and instead of being the toast of the town, they're admired for the antiquated style and performance and their impact at the time of their introduction. Not Mr. Max.

No, the V-Max has somehow found a way to tap into that Dick Clark-like vortex where aging doesn't exist. Well, that's not entirely true; the V-Max could use a little nip here and a tuck there, but what the tuning fork engineers were able to accomplish on their first try with the king of the quarter-mile is nothing short of spectacular.

For those with short attention spans and a lack of patience, we'll get the big question out of the way. Yes, the V-Max lives up to its reputation as one of the sickest quarter-mile machines on the market, despite its age. Twisting the throttle opens the door to an acceleration portal few casual riders should attempt. It's a little like when the Millennium Falcon goes into light-speed mode and the stars transform from tight dots to streaking rays of light, that's what Mr. Max does to the senses.

The funny thing about the Max is the amount of lore that it carries with it. Most know a V-Max when they see it, and even the most hardened bike vets will get a little twinkle in their eye when approaching Max. Everybody really wants to mount up and twist the throttle, but not all are sure they can properly tame the ol' steed.

The source of this metaphorical warp speed is a seemingly ancient liquid-cooled, 16-valve, DOHC, 70-degree V-4. For all intents and purposes, it's the exact same 1198cc engine that graced the '85 model and subsequently shocked the world with its straight-line performance. The Max might not seem like it would accelerate at nearly the same pace as today's superbikes, but it does, almost.

The burble of the V-4 is intoxicating at idle, and at speed its snarling mill begs for the rider to twist the throttle. I've ridden the Max a few times over the last few years, but this was a good time to flog it considering I'd recently tested the 2004 crop of liter bikes, the sickest set of tarmac-carving machines to ever grace the racing pavement. I expected it to pale in comparison, but it didn't. The superbikes do exhibit a little more acceleration, but lying down in the prone position hunkered behind a windscreen is one thing; twisting the throttle and accelerating at the same speed in an upright position with nothing more than a miniscule speedo to block the wind is another.

Wick it on and the V-Max accelerates quickly off idle like a high-powered Twin, but things really start to get interesting once the tach hits 6000 rpm. At that point Yamaha's "V-Boost" kicks in and rapid acceleration gives way to face-flattening speed. The V-Boost has been dubbed by some to be a myth, but truth be told, there is a little something extra in Max's innards.

At lower revs, the four 35mm downdraft carburettors have their own individual path to each cylinder. But once past 6000 rpm, a servo motor begins to open a butterfly-valve in the intake manifold between the cylinders, becoming fully open at 8000 rpm, allowing a pair of carbs smooth access to each cylinder bank of the V-4. Or so the theory goes. All I know is that the thing freakin' gets with the program at 6500 rpm and landmarks are transformed into kaleidoscopic blurs.

We expected big things out of the V-Max when we took it to the dyno at Hansen's BMW/Triumph/Ducati to ensure we got true numbers, like 200 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque, but instead we were disappointed with Yamaha's "muscle bike" and its paltry effort. Max torque only logs 76.6 lb-ft @ 6300 rpm. Moreover, the bike only puts out 70 lb-ft as low as 5300 rpm and continues that shameful performance all the way up to 6950 rpm, the heart of the powerband. The V-Max's horsepower numbers are equally disgraceful; it only cranks out 110.6 hp at 8200 rpm, cresting the 100-hp mark from 7100 rpm to redline at 9350. Too bad a twist of the wrist doesn't elicit any real response.

In all seriousness, the dyno numbers prove what a bad-ass this V-4 is, especially at 20 years of age. It pulls hard off the bottom, but once it hits that 6500 rpm mark it's on like Donkey Kong, nearly ripping the bars right out of your hands until redline. While the power on many bikes, like some V-Twins, lets up as the engine nears redline, the V-4 only gets stronger. The hard numbers indicate a slight decline at the top of the rev range, but in the real world it still feels like Mr. Max is trying hard to push you off the back.

To get a good launch from a stop doesn't take much clutching, but if you decide to do so you will almost certainly find the front wheel in the air. One would think that an engine of such mammoth proportions would require a ham-fisted stud to pull on a beefy clutch. Not so. A hydraulic clutch reduces lever effort to easy two-finger pulls, which makes the Yamaha a dragster in waiting. Moreover, the 5-speed transmission is still light years ahead of many of today's bikes that are considered front-runners in the power-cruiser category.

Acceleration does begin to taper off once the speedo goes past 115 mph, but at that point the rider is a bit more concerned with self preservation than more speed. The V-Max can haul ass, there's no question about that, but the rattling chassis can instill the fear of god into most mortal beings, and fear is ultimately the factor that had us backing off the throttle.

For all the ponies lurking within the V-4, you'd think the Yamaha engineers might try and improve the chassis and suspension so that the V-Max could realize its full potential on the road. Whether it's stubbornness to change a good thing, or simply the tuning fork logo laughing while the competition tries to beat a bike that has been untouchable for 20 years, not much has been changed since 1985.

The tubular steel frame cradles the V-4, but it's not exactly the most rigid chassis I've ever been on. At low speeds, the V-Max is quick steering and can be manoeuvred easily, but at cruising speeds Max is a little less steady. Break out of a straight line at high speeds and the entire bike seems to sway and contort as the heft of the engine and centrifugal force wrestle with the shaft drive for gravitational supremacy. Moreover, the spindly 40mm fork has a tough time holding up the 580 lbs pounds of Max when entering corners at high speeds. Get on the brakes and the front takes a dive like a Don King lackey. It's reasonably suited for moderate riding, but a bike this fast needs an updated fork for more assured corner entries and exits and stable handling.

Out back, a pair of dual shocks with adjustable spring preload and rebound damping do a fair enough job of soaking up real world bumps and undulations. We can live with the rear suspension, but that fork has got to go, which would improve handling abilities a great deal on the V-Max.

The adequate suspension supplies feedback at a manageable pace, but it won't exactly let you turn hot laps in the AMA Superbike series either. Certainly, this is the biggest area in need of attention on the V-Max. A more rigid chassis and an improved front fork would bolster handling at high speeds, which would unquestionably turn Max into a true streetfighter. Imagine this engine in a sportier chassis like the FZ1! Or if your tastes are more suited to the cruising genre, stuff that highly tuned V-4 into an updated cruiser frame and let her rip (no, the V-4-powered Royal Star doesn't count).

The chassis and suspension aren't the only aspects that need a little updating. To be perfectly blunt, the brakes aren't adequate to handle stopping duties on a bike with this kind of power. Sorry, Yamaha, I love a lot of things about this bike, but the dual 298mm discs up front and a single 298mm disc out back ain't one of them, especially for a bike that begs for triple-digit speeds. Lever feel is smooth and provides ample feedback to the rider, but the amount of grip applied by the caliper isn't enough. Even a stronger pull on the lever doesn't seem to want to stop the hurtling mass of metal and plastic. It takes a fist-full of lever and a foot-full of pedal to slow the mighty Max. Once again, adequate, but it could be so much more.

The seating position is pretty comfortable. There is a short reach to the bars and the seat is cushy while being just 30.1 inches from the ground. In normal conditions the narrow bars seem pretty cool, but when trying to muscle the bike in and out of corners, wider bars would almost certainly improve turn-in capabilities by providing more leverage. The seating position tends to put the pilot in the proverbial parachute position when the speedo needle starts to move clockwise. The chest and head start to collect massive amounts of air flow and it's evident the stronger the arms, the better your chances of surviving the wicked acceleration. Passenger accommodations are nice with a soft, comfortable seat and pegs that allow for a comfortably upright position. Moreover, the passenger is situated close to the pilot, which is a good thing considering a tight grip around the waist is an absolute necessity when hard on the throttle.

For real world riding, Mr. Max gets the job done rather well. The comfortable seating position and plush seat make for a pleasant ride around town and on back roads. Yamaha utililizes a counter-balancer to effectively suppress vibration throughout the rpm range, which is an excellent feature for those who enjoy getting their buzz from adrenaline and not engine vibration.

Information is relayed to the rider via a white-faced speedo which sits alone atop the bars as the lone source of wind protection, while a cluster of gauges resides further down at the top of the faux fuel tank. A small white-faced fuel indicator is accompanied by an equally small tach, while five idiot lights round out the information panel. Best to keep an eye on that gas gauge, as well, because we had to switch to the 4.0-gallon tank's reserve position after just 95 miles. Throughout the test our heavy-handed riders frequently logged under 30 miles per gallon while wringing the neck of the beast.

While the V-Max is certainly one of the most original bikes of all time, its most unique feature is trying to find the gas tank. Even if you know its location is under the seat, the odds of accessing the gas cap are about the same as getting struck by lighting the same day as winning Powerball.

The tank resides underneath the seat because the faux fuel cell is really just a cosmetic covering for the air box, fuses, and radiator overflow tank, all of which are easily accessible by unlocking the metal cover. Accessing the gas cap, however, requires the rider to push down on two levers behind the passenger seat. A center section of the seat pops open to reveal the gas cap.

Overall, the V-Max's 1980s styling is still unique and, in a sense, cool. The fake air scoops would be an aesthetic triumph if they actually worked. The rest of the bike screams '80s muscle machine, but in its own way it still works because the bike is so ridiculously powerful. As cliché as it sounds, the V-Max really does look like a bike that was developed by the same mind that spawned Road Warrior and Mad Max. In fact, it's a bike that is so intimidating to would-be draggers that other motorcyclists simply look and nod out of respect. Yes, even the H-D riders tend to check it out. You can almost see the wheels turning in their mind juggling the idea of what that kind of power must feel like.

For nearly two decades, the V-Max has converted a legion of hardcore fans, but many of them cry for an updated version. Rumors of a new Max have been circulating for the past several years, but the 2005 model remains the same machine they have been producing for the last 20 years. Sure, the '05 Max has updated anniversary graphics and red pinstripes around its rims, but it's the same bike pumping out the same face-flattening power as the 19 models before it.

For now it appears V-Max enthusiasts will have to wait with their fingers crossed for the long-awaited updated version, although I shudder to think what a new model might cost, as the current version with all of its ancient fittings still runs at a hefty $10,099. Regardless of its potential MSRP, a new Max with an updated chassis, suspension, and brakes would likely set the two-wheel world on fire.

Mr. Max isn't for everybody, but for those that know their limits and can temper their use of the throttle in a judicious manner, Yamaha's muscle machine is a must have for one simply reason: it's a V-Max. There certainly has never been anything like it, and as hard as the other manufacturers of the world try, there hasn't been a company that has managed to produce a straight-line machine with the same muscle-bound gravitas and icon status.

Yes, Mr. Max remains king of straightline performance, and as fast as the competition can produce challengers the V-Max continues to eat them up and spit them out just as quickly. Max is truly the yardstick by which all powerful motorcycles are measured.

back to TOP

Kevin Boon's  Opinion and Impressions
about the VMax he owned

Age: 6 years (J reg.)
Cost: about £4700
Insurance: about £800 p.a. comprehensive
Economy: about 20-40 miles/gallon
Good points: no need to change gear; explosive acceleration; comfortable at low speeds
Bad points: appalling fuel economy in town; difficult to keep looking nice; expensive to insure; scary in the wet

Few people would consider a VMax for commuting in dense urban traffic, but if money were no object I personally would be happy to continue doing it. In the real world, where we have to count the pennies, I found that the expense of running the VMax in North London traffic was just too outrageous. Not only is the fuel consumption dreadful, the tank is so small that filling up every 60 miles or so was not unusual. For me this corresponds to a fill-up every other day just for commuting. On longer runs the situation was a bit better: 100 miles to a tank of petrol was possible.

My VMax was a US-import model, which has a reputation for being unmanageable and scary. I think this is an exaggeration. Certainly a machine that can accelerate to 60 mph in less than three seconds demands respectful treatment. I am told -- but have no wish to verify -- that under full throttle it will spin the rear wheel while lifting the front off the ground. But I found that opening the throttle a small amount make it go slowly, while opening it more made it go faster; it's as simple as that. There were no occasions where I found it uncontrollable, but in heavy rain the tendency for the back wheel to lose traction required extreme caution. I suspect that the tread on my VMax was not as deep as it might have been, and a new tyre might have improved the situation.

The VMax certainly attracted attention, mostly of the open-mouthed variety. The size of the engine has to be seen to be believed. It sounds like a 'real' motorbike as well.

For urban riding, I found the VMax to be entirely comfortable. It was not as difficult to squeeze between rows of stationary cars as its size might suggest, and the upright riding position made for good visibility. The immense low-speed torque makes gear changes largely redundant, which is convenient around town. A further advantage is its ability to scare car drivers, sometimes to the extent of making them mount the pavement to get out of the way. I was also surprised by how infrequently car drivers though it would be fun to race me away from the traffic lights. Boy racers in their XR3s seem to think an 'ordinary' sporty motorcycle is fair game for a race. They're totally wrong of course; even a modest motorcycle would leave such a vehicle standing, but they don't know that. With the VMax, I think car drivers instinctively realise that there is no prospect of victory in this endeavour, and don't bother. Good job too, since in a straight line the VMax would render almost any other road-going vehicle a diminishing dot in the rear-view mirror. In my experience cornering was less of problem than many reviewers seem to think; providing you throw the VMax into a corner it will get round respectably quickly. I don't suppose it would be much competition for a real sports bike on a twisty road, but this not often a problem for me.

The VMax has a good number of chromed shiny bits, and the standard of finish is not that marvellous. Keeping it looking good requires continuous attention and a lot of elbow grease. This, combined with the appalling fuel economy, finally convinced me to sell it. Which is sad.

 Kevin is a broadly-educated engineer and software developer, with nearly twenty years' hands-on experience in the electronics, medical and education sectors, and some management experience with a strong academic background, including degrees in engineering and law, and a PhD in biophysics.



Performance Motorcycle Comparison: Triumph Rocket III Vs.  V-Max

Big guy versus bad guy. Performance cruiser motorcycles head-to-head. Triumph's new 2053cc Rocket III triple meets the 2005 Yamaha 1200cc V-Max V-4.

As Triumph started leaking hints and concept photos of the outrageous new Rocket III a certain feeling of deja vu settled over the hallowed Motorcyclist offices. We recalled the launch—and we do mean launch—of the amazing Yamaha V-Max 20 years earlier.

The V-Max was the first real power cruiser, with a monstrous 145-horsepower, V-four motor crammed into a surprisingly nimble, shaft-drive chassis. Back then, it was the most outlandishly powerful production motorcycle we'd ever seen. After our first rides, we all came back mumbling to ourselves as if we'd just crawled out of a plane crash.

The V-Max created a whole new class of machine; motorcycles that were incredibly belligerent and exceedingly fast, but not aimed at any kind of sanctioned racing. It was a street racer, designed and executed not just to transport its rider physically, but emotionally as well.

Since then, the Harley Phenomenon made the V-twin the Official Engine Of The Cruiser Class—though no production V-twin of any size has threatened the modern triples or fours.

Triumphant Entry

Now, Triumph has rolled out its own power cruiser—the Rocket lll. It is the biggest-displacement mass-production motorcycle ever created. If you're looking for competitive motorcycles, there's only one. The V-Max was astounding when it was unveiled. And it has done an astounding thing in the intervening years—it has survived, even thrived, essentially unchanged. Yamaha is rolling out a 20th-anniversary model as we write.

Bad-Ass? Or Half-Ass?

Big is big these days. For better or worse, size has replaced speed as the holy grail of power-cruiser design. And size is where the V-Max and the Rocket III differ most. At 2294cc, the Rocket III's inline- triple is almost twice as big as the V-Max's comparatively revvy, 1198cc V-four. Can the V-Max get anywhere as a pint-sized underdog?

The Rocket III project began five years ago. At first, Triumph envisioned it at 1500cc, which grew to 1600cc, then 2000cc, and finally this gargantuan 2294cc lump. The idea wasn't more power: the Triumph Daytona's across-the-frame triple makes nearly as much horsepower from 955cc. It was done to give customers (especially Americans) what we want: swaggering, Harley-belittling size.

Back in the Reagan Administration, we thought the V-Max's 62.9-inch wheelbase was pretty close to that of a Top Fuel dragster's. But at 66.7 inches, the Rocket makes Mr. Max seem positively stubby.

When the V-Max hit the streets in '85, Yamaha bragged that it carried the "biggest tire available on a production motorcycle." That rear tire was a 150/90-15—almost the same size as the 150/80-R17 Metzeler front tire on the Rocket. On its rear is a new "biggest-ever," a 240/50 R16 Metzeler. In fact, the rear tire is so huge, you get the feeling that you could step off and leave the bike standing there, sans sidestand, like a square-tired dragbike.

The Rocket III may be big, but in town it's The Big Easy. The engine, for all its mass, is mounted so low in the frame—and chassis geometry is so well sorted—that the Rocket is surprisingly manageable at low speeds. It makes all kinds of torque right from idle, and the clutch is so smooth and predictable that one feels confident and secure within seconds.

All Ahead Full

But what about that engine, you ask? From about 11 rpm, it pulls like the anchor winch on the USS Forestall, and just keeps on going to its 6250-rpm redline. It's amazingly smooth at lower revs, and while it tends to thrash a bit as it approaches redline, it's never less than civil. It doesn't respond with the explosiveness of the V-Max, to be sure. The V-Max comes on its cams—and the V-Boost, two-carbs-feed-each-cylinder intake system—at a relatively stratospheric 6000 rpm, after all, and keeps winding to nearly 10,000 rpm.

But the Rocket has the relentless pulling power today's cruiser riders seem to crave above food, shelter and sex—OK, food and shelter. Let it pull out of corners from 2500 rpm, or keep it spinning for even more Viper-humiliating thrust—the choice is yours. Either way, there are few machines on the road that can match its irresistible urge, or its inimitable sound—somewhere between a Chris Craft speedboat and a big-block Chevy.

The glorious V-Max V-four, of course, also has a terrific engine note. If you've ever stood near the Christmas tree while a Top Fuel drag car does its burnout, you know exactly what the V-Max is saying at every stoplight..."C'mon, c'mon, c'mon."

At the strip, reality confronted our raised expectations.

The Rocket is an 804-pound motorcycle, after all, making 132 horsepower at the rear wheel. And with its ECU (slightly) neutering power delivery in first and second gear, it was not significantly faster than a V-Max.

While prerelease hype suggested it might be the quickest and fastest straightline motorcycle ever, there are in fact other Triumphs that will give the Rocket III a run for its money. That said, a best quarter-mile run of 11.27 seconds at 119.92 mph remains a very impressive achievement for such a huge motorcycle.

Where does that put our beloved, if aging, V-Max? Way back in '85, our test bike ran a 10.67 at 128.1 mph, and we've seen similar times over the intervening 20 years. Changes have been limited to a bigger fork, a slightly quieter muffler, better brakes and a succession of paint schemes. In the interests of scientific honesty, we admit that our last V-Max strip session actually put the V-Max a gnat's eyelash slower than the Rocket, with a 11.30 at 119.84 corrected run. The two monsters were essentially equal from zero to 60—the V-Max was a couple tenths faster to 100 mph, and the Rocket fired from 60 to 80 mph about half a second quicker. We know that many standard Maxes have gone quicker and faster. And of course, there's a 20-year stockpile of go-faster parts available for V-Max addicts—which they can afford, since the basic Max sells for almost five grand less than a Rocket.

Still and all, the Rocket III makes even gnarly, twisty roads lots of fun; you just take your fun a little slower in the corners than you would on, say, a V-Max. The Yamaha is taller, lighter and more responsive—all in all, it feels like the Rocket's more excitable little brother. Its relatively short wheelbase and taller chassis let you go faster. Where the Rocket paws the ground, the V-Max paws the sky, and that's one of the reasons for its legendary status.

A comparison of these two bikes' handling comes down to a stiff, modern chassis limited by cornering clearance versus a dated cycle capable of leaning over a little further. The V-Max chassis is decidedly flexy compared to the more modern Rocket, and its short swingarm and under damped rear shocks let the rear suspension extend whenever it's asked to handle a lot of torque...which means about every five seconds.

The narrow, bias-ply tires are also less than confidence-inspiring, despite providing enough grip to let you drag various hard parts on the pavement. The net result is that through the bends, the V-Max can walk away from the Rocket. But neither bike is designed for this foolishness—a fact that becomes very evident when you reach the first decreasing-radius switchback.

The Rocket crushes Mr. Max on longer, straighter rides. First off, the Yamaha only holds four gallons of fuel, giving you a nervous 90 miles before the under seat tank goes on reserve. The Rocket carries a full 6.6 gallons, giving it a real 200-mile range; the V-Max might be faster for short sprints, but on a 500-mile day it'll be left behind at the pump. The Rocket also wins in the luxury department—its seat is wider, softer and more comfortable, and its ergonomics hold up better as the miles roll on. The Rocket has the classic wide-armed, wide-legged, big-guy cruiser riding stance. The V-Max position is much more distinctive; with your hands relatively close together and your feet right under your haunches, you feel like Toby Maguire on Seabiscuit. And the V-Max's oddly rounded saddle doesn't work for long-haul touring.

Where the V-Max does work is on the streets of just about any city you can imagine. Where the Rocket's ample mass, ultra-wide bars and splayed-leg riding position make one hesitate to attack congested streets, the V-Max's narrowness and explosive power turn short-haul commuting into a tire-smoking, license-shredding bachelor party.

Style Over Substance Abuse

We can jaw all day about the function of these two-wheeled manhood enhancers, but how they look is at least as important as how they work. The V-Max set a new mile marker for manly styling cues when it debuted, with its art-directed V-four, mantislike tank scoops and hunched-vulture profile. And to truly succeed, the Rocket III will have to be seen as equally nasty if it expects to set the new standard.

For all our overanalysis, the Rocket III is an unambiguous hit in the innocent eyes of the general public. Just as the V-Max did when it hit the streets in '85, the Rocket III gets about the same positive reaction as a healthy, uninhibited coed on Girls Gone Wild.

Sorting It All Out

In many ways, the Rocket III represents not a competitor to the hallowed V-Max, but rather an evolution of it. The Yamaha was a sensation for three reasons: it looked great; it was crazy fast and felt it; and it worked as an urban assault vehicle. It was beautiful, crazy and smart, all at the same time. But like most of the Motorcyclist staffers, the idea of the perfect power cruiser has become bigger, slower and more deliberate with age.

The Rocket III is no less of an engineering achievement—but for an audience that wants more than sheer blistering speed. Size, sound and show are everything to today's cruiser riders, with actual velocity relegated to fourth place at best.

We applaud Triumph for its vision, for its determined execution—and for its sheer corporate courage. Like the V-Max before it, the Rocket III may have changed motorcycling forever.


The V-Max's styling screams "hot rode," and the V-Boost intake system injects a surge of power as revs climb.

After riding the Rocket III, the V-Max almost feels like a 120-horse pit bike. The Max's flexy-flyer chassis, smallish brakes and bias-ply tires are objectively obsolete, but that rumbling, snarling V-four is just as intoxicating as it was twenty years ago. The V-Max's riding position is closer to a modern standard's than a typical cruiser's, with a short reach to the bar and pegs and a good spread between heel and palm.

The V-Max is, save for a brutal seat, comfortable. The tachometer rides atop the tank.

Trading grunt for revs, the Yamaha acquits itself extremely well considering the age of its design and its relatively puny displacement.

Off the Record

Age: Frequently
Height: Barely
Weight: Patiently
Inseam: 30 in.

Even before he took the name Muhammed Ali, Cassius Clay was a brash, colorful, trash-talking loudmouth. His Olympic gold medal almost automatically made him a contender for the heavyweight title. The reigning champion, Charles 'Sonny' Liston, was Clay's antithesis: a sullen, mob-connected thug with the hardest punch in boxing. At the weigh-in, he predicted that he'd knock Clay out in the second round, if not sooner. The bookies seemed to agree, making the champ an 8-1 favorite.

When it came time to compare the brash, over-the-top Rocket 3 with the long-reigning power cruiser champ, I felt the same way. "Sure the Rocket is big and a media darling," I thought "but the V-Max'll knock it out." And in a straight fight - on the drag strip or between traffic lights, for example - the Yamaha can still outpunch the Triumph. Riding the 20th Anniversary V-Max reminded me why this two-wheeled thug has so many fans. But...

I'm not damning the Triumph with faint praise when I say this: the Rocket simply works better than the V-Max as an all-round motorcycle. And let's face it: the bruiser-cruiser class is all about attitude. People shouted "What is that?" from crosswalks, gave me the thumbs up from cars; one rider on a Honda 919 stared so long he almost crashed. That's why the Rocket 3 is the new champion in this category.
Is it the next V-Max? Ask me again in 20 years.
—Mark Gardiner 


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