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This page was last Edited Saturday, 07 July 2018 14:43


Birth & History
In 1983 the idea was born to create a motorbike that would be the embodiment of the classic American V8 hotrod muscle car. Mr Max first had its debut at the US dealer meeting in October 1984 and was targeted for the 1985 season to be sold in the USA first. The V Max was like nothing ever seen before. The styling was radically different from anything seen at the time and coupled to this was the power and acceleration unheard of in production bikes. Consequently the V Max became the highlight of the US dealer show. After the release of the V Max a face-off was held over a quarter mile between the Max and the fastest production V8 muscle car of the time, namely the AC Cobra. The V Max won. 


The Ionic Ultra Bike
Sir Alan Cathcart wrote this in his oct 2008 Road test article about the New 2009 Vmax:

Its iconic V-Max ultra bike, first launched back in 1985 and only removed from the Japanese company's lineup in 2007, after an almost unparalleled 23-year production run in basically un­changed form as the ultimate Big Boy's Toy. The 100 000 - plus examples built down the years (40,000 of them sold in Europe, of which 12,550 were in France alone) have engendered fantastic loyalty from Maxisti around the globe, creating a whole sub-cult of worshippers at the V-Max altar, all eager for the second coming of their two-wheeled deity.

Concept & Design
The concept was simply put "to build an American hotrod". In this regard the V Max is the most American of all the Japanese bikes and the designer's goal was to build the strongest bike with a V4 engine. To this end the V Max was the embodiment of a V8 muscle car. It was designed from top to bottom as a unique design and not a are not made only for rally times! Get the copy of any motorcycle that existed at the time. The Yamaha project team spent one month in the USA designing and refining the concept on paper until they had a design sketch of what this motor­ bike should look like. Thereafter design­ers flew back to Japan to present the concept drawing for production.

Ed Burke the designer.

V4 & Boost - 145 bhp
With the external design in place Yamaha set about to find a suitable engine. Yamaha had designed a liquid cooled V4 engine for the Venture Royal, however its power was in the low to mid range. From the outset everything on the V Max was kind of fighting for space. Trying to cram a huge V4 engine into the space provided was a difficulty on its own. The engine power was pushed to 100 horsepower and designers found it difficult to go beyond the 100 horsepow­er mark. Turbo charging was even con­sidered to reach the required horsepow­er. Designers at Yamaha then figured out V-Boost induction, which gave an unex­pected high gain in horsepower. Instead the engine now pumped out 145 horsepower. With performance of that level many parts like the drive shaft had to be improved and beefed up to improve their durability. All the American (the California model included) and Canadian model V Max motorcycles are fitted with V-Boost induction. Certain of the Japanese and European models do not have V­Boost. Even without V-Boost the engine is awesome. It is easy to tell if V-Boost is present by simply switching on the igni­tion and listening to a whining sound as the V-Boost servo motor opens and clos­es.

Further Design Issues
Many further problems had to be solved as the designers progressed further in an attempt to handle the increased horse­power .The perseverance of designers through trial and error paid off and the entire package was specially built to with­stand all the stresses created by a 145 horsepower engine. Since the V Max had such an eccentric style components did not fit in the" normal place". The exter­nal design could not be changed and all other aspects had to be accommodated within this design. The idea was to show as much of the 70-degree V4 engine and still keep the original design of the entire bike as originally envisaged .V Max made a huge impression at the US dealer show in 1984 and received high evaluation from the media all over the world. From 1985 it officially started sale in the USA. Mr Max is still in produc­tion in 2005 and celebrates this with a special edition 20th anniversary model.

Changes in 21 years?
How much has the V Max changed in twenty years? Well, very little in fact. From 1988 and onwards models the spoked aluminium front wheel was replaced with a dished aluminium wheel. From 1993 the front fork tubes were changed from 40 mm to 43mm tubes, the front disks were changed and instead of single pot dual callipers the V Max was fitted with two pot dual callipers. In 1996 the paper type oil filter was replaced with a metal spin on type filter. No real changes to write home about and conse­quently all the other V Max parts are exactly the same irrespective of which country it was sold in. The phrase "grey product" does not feature here-spares and parts are always available. Yes there were different colour schemes but the V Max is essentially the same motorbike released in 1985.

Mr Max is about as subtle as a sledge­hammer .The V Max fully fuelled up weighs approximately 288 kg. Not light compared to today's 150 kg one litre sport bikes but then again Mr Max is a big cruiser. The V Max accelerates 0-100m in under 3 seconds. It can do a standing quarter mile in under 11 seconds and by that time will probably be close to 200 km/h. The top speed of the V Max is 240 km/h. Yes top speed is not as fast as the modern 300km/h sport bike, how­ever if you consider that the Max is a naked cruiser with entirely no aerodynam­ics, weighing 288 kg and fed by 1984 technology carburettors, it is more than enough to give the rider an exciting straight up in your face adrenaline rush. Above performance is from standard fac­tory models with no change or perform­ance enhancement afforded to it since it has come from the factory. Since its rise to cult bike status there is an entire indus­try of go faster parts and accessories available for the Max. Check the internet and you will be amazed by all the after­market spares and particularly all the V Max owners associations all over the world. There are literally replacement and customising parts for everything. The V Max motorcycles that have been tuned and massaged have been known to push more than 200 horsepower and 1/4 mile times of around seven seconds.

Cruiser that corners ?
One should however never forget that Mr. Max was designed and conceived as a straight-line hot rod cruiser. The V Max combines the looks and image of a cruis­er with kick-ass performance. Mr Max was never intended or designed to com­pete with sport bikes around a race track. V Max is an adrenaline rush straight line hotrod cruiser, however it is no slouch around corners though. It is possible to corner the V Max hard enough to scrape the foot pegs and its lean angle is arguably better than any cruiser that comes to mind. That being said the Max corners like a raging buffalo and fast hard cornering is not recommended for the faint hearted. With a V Max do not ever expect sport bike cornering and handling, however it corners surprisingly well. With the V Max you get what you see- a big bad cruiser that has power and acceleration. V Max is no pre­tender - it has the performance to back it's looks- plenty show and lots of go !

Uncivilised brute power?
The V Max can be ridden like a slow lazy laid back cruiser in the most satisfying manner, with the roaring growl of the twin mufflers playing sweet V4 music in your ears. Town cruising and commuting is particularly easy and the V Max is very agile through traffic .Even loaded with a pillion passenger and luggage Mr Max does not run out of power and speed. The V Max also handles steep up hills as though they are level roads. On the other hand an angry V Max will proba­bly pull not only a caravan, but also the car towing a caravan!

Maintenance parts and service.
The V Max is an easy motorcycle to main­tain and keep in tiptop condition. Mr Max is built like a fortress and the machine can withstand hard labour with no engine and drive shaft problems. The drive shaft requires hardly any maintenance. Everything about service and mainte­nance is very easy and can be done by any person who has even a slightest tech­nical ability. The d-i-y motorcycle owner will have the most satisfying experience maintaining and servicing the Max. The carburettors can also easily be stripped, serviced and repaired by the d-i-y owner. Spares and service parts are readily avail­able locally. I know of several 1988 mod­els that work hard and do not even sweat a drop of oil. The V Max is old school in the sense that it is well engineered, easy to maintain and designed to last for ages.

Been there-done that!
For those that believe that the HD V Rod (born in 2000). HD Street Rod (to be released in 2006) and the Triumph Rocket III (born 2004) are entirely new and innovative concepts consider the follow­ing.
(Performance Motorcycle Comparison: Triumph Rocket III Vs.  V-Max.)

The V Max concept of a big, hot rod/ street rod / muscle rod cruiser, is a more than 21 year old design and concept that has remained unchanged and in produc­tion for 21 years. Aforementioned motor­bikes are newcomers to this particular concept and reflect each manufacturers answer to this segment of the market .When the V Max hit the streets in 1985 there was nothing like it in production bike form. Even after 21 years the Max is arguably still the fastest accelerating production hot rod cruiser .Mr. Max is undoubtedly the longest lived hot rod cruiser and its performance will still be awesome, even in 21 years time. 

Unchanged 21 year oldproduction bike and technology ??
Why has the V Max remained unchanged for 21 years and why is it still in produc­tion? The answer probably is that Yamaha got the concept right the first time. Proof of this is the 21 years of enduring V Max enthusiasts in the USA and all over the world .Mostly bike fans favour a certain brand name manufactur­er and there are so called owners associ­ations reflecting various models within a brand name. The V Max enjoys the same status on its own even though it is one of the many models under the Yamaha brand name. If above reasons are not enough then consider that with the Max you will always have a desirable collectable and a classic icon. The historic fact is that Mr Max is the original bad boy hotrod cruiser. It may be admit­ted that Mr Max is not perfect-there is room for improvement and that is what technology is all about. In general new technology is great however the Max was so far ahead of its time in its con­cept , styling and performance that it has endured to the extent that it has. If you are someone who loves your new tech­nology then be prepared to purchase a new motorbike every year because next years model will always be better-that's how technology works right? With the Max you will not be left with an outdated concept - its unique styling (and perform­ance) will ensure that. Now that is staying power second to none. The V Max still shows no intention of ageing or retiring- I guess someone forgot to explain to Mr Max that after a few years in production a bike is sup­posed to become old and outdated! Old V Max's never die - they get customised and go even faster!

Mr Max is alive, long live king V Max!

Carl Talbot. (Pietersburg)


2004 V Max Features & Benefits


·  Liquid-cooled, 1198cc, DOHC, 16-valve, 70° V-4 engine has no equal in its class, pumping out tremendous, hard-hitting power to make it the ultimate quick-accelerating, high-performance king.

·  Patented Yamaha “V-Boost” induction, a power-boosting variable intake system, force-feeds massive quantities of fuel into the cylinders via a servo-controlled butterfly valve at 6000 rpm and above.

·  Specially designed high-lift camshafts ensure ample acceleration at lower rpm, helping to further broaden the already awesome powerband.

·  Specially tempered crankshaft and connecting rods help harness the powerplant’s chart-topping performance and stand up with greater durability to the unparalleled power.

·  Smooth-shifting 5-speed transmission puts that massive powerband to the pavement with one purpose: maximum acceleration all the way to redline.

·  Hydraulically activated diaphragm-type clutch delivers precise clutch performance with lighter pull.

·  Four huge, 35mm Mikuni downdraft carburetors ensure seamless, lightning quick throttle response.

·  Low-maintenance shaft drive provides ultra-smooth performance that’s virtually lash-free.


·  Low-slung styling helps reduce seat height to 30.1" for low center of gravity and better- balanced handling.

·  Stout, 43mm front fork features 5.5" of travel and air-assist adjustability that allows the rider to fine-tune suspension characteristics to his riding style and size.

·  Dual rear shocks feature 4-position rebound damping and 5-click spring preload adjustability for ultimate versatility and performance in varying road and/or riding situations.

·  Fat, 6” rear tire mounted on solid disc wheel hooks up with the asphalt for maximum traction.

·  Dual 298mm front discs with 4-piston calipers and single 282mm rear disc brakes reel in Mr. Max with outstanding stopping power and light, one-finger feel.

Additional Features:

·  Underseat fuel tank helps lower bike’s center of gravity and provides space for large-capacity airbox located above the carburetors.

·  Fuel reserve switch is conveniently positioned on the handlebars.

·  Trick-looking Matte Black with Brushed Aluminum stripe finish on fuel tank and fenders combine with massive-looking faux air intake scoops to give the V-Max the perfect “street rod” look and feel.

·  Wide, thickly padded seat and plush passenger saddle with grabrail adds exceptional comfort to the incomparable excitement.

·  Compact speedometer unit keeps cockpit clean and simple and offers easy readability of tripmeter/odometer and neutral, high beam, turn signal, low oil and low fuel indicator lights.


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