Thursday, 23 May 2013

Bike of the week - Yamaha VMax

In 1985 a motorcycle star was born the Yamaha VMax.  It was designed in California by an Englishman called John Reed whose commission from Yamaha was to design the ultimate muscle cruiser.  When it appeared in 1985, with a power package based on the Yamaha Venture Royal V-4 Tourer engine, it was greeted with delight by the press and was voted bike of the year and best cruiser of the year to name but a few of the accolades which were showered upon its muscular shoulders.

Butterfly effect

The Yamaha VMax was designed with modifications made to the Yamaha Venture engine with the compression ratio raised to 10.5:1.  The V-Boost system was added, which worked by opening butterfly valves in the intake manifold gradually to match rising engine speeds, prompted by the ignition system.  The V-Boost system which adds 10% to the top power rating of the base engine, is operated by a small black box which sends a computed signal to a servo motor which pulls a wire to open the butterfly valves. The valves are fully open at 8000 rpm.

Sold both in Japan, the land of its birth and abroad, the VMax has been around ever since 1985 - perhaps the greatest indication of its popularity and success is its longevity.

To the Max

The VMax was notable for its amazingly quick acceleration, but also criticised for poor handling especially on corners and its soft suspension.

This first VMax was built, virtually unchanged, from its inception in 1985 until it had a small revamp in 1993 when it got a larger diameter fork which helped to stabilise it at speed and prevented drift.  It also got four -piston brake calipers and improved brakes- very necessary to slow this big beast down.  After these improvements, afficionados felt that the VMax was close on perfect!

Very few motorcycles which have stood the test of time have had so few changes made to them but up until 2008 Yamaha operated the principle that if it ain't broke don't fix it and left the magnificent Vmax well alone.  Finally in 2008, after only a few tweaks in the last twenty odd years, Yamaha decided that the VMax could do with a little update, and released a new model in 2009.

Ally Pally

The new VMax had an aluminium frame and an all new V4 water cooled engine.  As for its former Achilles heel of mushy handling that was a thing of the past and it now had fully adjustable suspension, a slipper clutch and anti-lock brakes.  The new version put out 200 hp and was equal to the challenge of any other muscle bike out there.  The designers at Yamaha had pulled it off and had managed to build an updated bike which kept the VMax distinctive cool look while also looking modern - in fact it is so cool that it is the star of the film Ghost Rider so get its autograph if you see one!

This Vmax owner below has many tales of VMax joy  - how he effortlessly burned other lesser bikes off at the lights, how people came up to talk to him because his bike was so amazing, how when riding it from London to Brighton he filled the tank when he left and then had to fill it again just before he reached Brighton - 50 miles to the gallon - eek - I could go on...

One of our Wemoto staff who used to own one says:

"It has a 60 mile range if you use revs=boost, and it handles well in town but wobbles a bit over 90mph. Neat little petrol tank sits under the seat. Great bike!"

If you get one you can look this cool!

Chips with everything?


The updated fuel injected VMax no longer uses the V-Boost system which came on the original VMax but uses Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake or YCC-I.  This system was originally invented by Massimo Tamburini and it was first seen on his MV Agusta F4 Tamburini (it is called the Torque Shift System on Agustas) It works with airhorns inside the airbox which are lifted by a servo acitvated at 6.650 rpm to open up the airway underneath thus shortening the length of the intake system from 150mm to 52mm.  This system first appeared on a Yamaha in 2006 on the YZF-R1.


Yamaha went chip happy on the new VMax with the Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle (YCC-T) which was also a new addition. The throttle cables are connected to a throttle position sensor and a new G.E.N.I.C.H. computer which operates the butterfly valves, the EXUP valve in the exhaust and the other components involved. The YCC-T computes the input of the sensors and calculates the best throttle position, ignition advance, EXUP valve and injection time - one day it will even ride itself you might think!

Although the VMax is not exactly a snip to buy, it’s perhaps one of the highest quality production motorcycles made today, and, in a straight line, it is probably still one of the fastest!

If you have or have had a VMax we would love to hear your take on it so drop us a comment and let us know about yours!


1 comment:

  1. Yamaha Vmax is most liked for its massive engine and brawny looks. Yamaha VMAX has dominant 1679cc V4 engine with transistor controlled ignition system and 5-speed multi-plate slipper clutch. Overall this a very good bike.
    Yamaha Vmax