Buying used: Yamaha V-max
American and Japanese collaboration has produced a few iconic motorcycles over time, including Yamaha’s VMAX. Conceived by a Japanese designer in a US studio, the original series was based around the then giant but mild (66.2kW/90hp) Venture V-four touring engine.
Inspired by street drag racers, the crew pumped up the power to 106.6kW (145hp) in original form (it was later toned down a little) while shoe-horning the much angrier monster into a relatively low and tiny package.
Launched internationally in 1985, and a few years later in Australia, the bike won a reputation for being fast in a straight line but less than elegant around corners. The lightly-sprung and damped suspension was partly to blame, though the substantial weight and performance played their part, too. They were nevertheless great fun and hugely popular with customisers and anyone with an abbreviated inside-leg measurement.
By 1993 the company decided to tidy up the chassis a little, fitting beefier front forks and brakes along with a few other tweaks. The difference was noticeable, though the VMAX would never be mistaken for a butterfly.
This one is a good example of the breed and a great reminder of just how big the grin factor is. Twist the throttle and it shoots at the horizon, while the weight is carried low enough for it to be easy to flip on its ear at the next turn. From there it demands a little respect.
I’ve seen owners ride these things very quickly and have never had a complaint with them ridden at anything resembling a reasonable pace.
This 1996 machine has a little under 58,000km on the clock, which is nothing for one of these engines. They’re robust, partly because you’ll rarely find a place to run it at full noise. In most circumstances, even when travelling quickly, you’re really just riding a wave of midrange torque.
The powerplant is matched to a light clutch and accurate gearbox, while the chassis raised no complaints.
Its cosmetics are complete and in good nick – not concours, but could be got close with a little detailing.
It reminded me just how much motorcycle you get for the money with these things. It’s a lot, and great fun.
Stafford Motorcycles in Melbourne has it in stock, priced at $7000.
– Great value
– Lots of performance
– A heap of fun
– Average handling
Type: Liquid-cooled, four-valves-per-cylinder, four-stroke V-four
Bore and stroke: 76mm x 66mm
Compression ratio: 10.5:1
Fuel system: 4 x 35mm Mikuni downdraught CV
Type: Five-speed, constant mesh
Final drive: Shaft
CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEAR
Frame type: Twin-loop steel
Front suspension: Conventional 40mm fork, air assist
Rear suspension: Twin shock, adjustable for preload and rebound
Front brakes: Twin 292mm discs with four-piston calipers
Rear brake: 282mm disc
DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
Dry weight: 262kg
Seat height: 764mm
Fuel capacity: 15lt
Max power: 103Kw (140hp) at 7500rpm
Max torque: 118Nm (86.9ft-lb) at 7500rpm
Price: $7000 (rideaway)
Test bike supplied by: Stafford Motorcycles, Melbourne