The Yamaha V-Max Is The Most American Bike Japan Ever Made

The Yamaha V-MaxIf you had to show a visitor from another planet a motorcycle that would serve to explain what a motorcycle was, you could choose the Yamaha V-max over any Harley-Davidson. It’s been in production since 1985, it’s always been in the discussion whenever anyone mentions the greatest muscle bikes ever produced. The original Yamaha V-max had a 1,198 cc four-cylinder engine. The designer understood that while the displacement was high, it didn’t have the kind of horsepower he wanted to make what was essentially the equivalent of a two-wheeled American muscle car.

They considered turbo-charging the engine, but they began to wonder if the rider would be able to straddle the engine with all that iron on the frame. They decided on an innovative carburetion setup that acted like two carbs dumping fuel into each cylinder when the RPMs got high enough. This boosted the horsepower from about 90 to over 120, which made the Yamaha V-max one of the fastest street bikes you could buy at the time. It was an instant hit. For more information, visit The-Bike-Buyers.

Other Muscle Bikes Followed Soon After

Other manufacturers soon followed suit. Both BMW and Harley-Davidson began making muscle bikes with 1,200 cc engines. Honda soon made a version, and the muscle bike design became the most common form of motorcycle sold in the United States for many years.

The latest version of the Yamaha VMAX continues to up the performance ante with a massive 1,679 cc V-4 engine that produces almost 200 horsepower to the rear wheel. That kind of power comes with plenty of weight. The Yamaha V-max weighs 683 pounds with a full tank, and gets about the same gas mileage as a minivan. The bike has a 62-inch wheelbase and huge rear tire, which makes it more likely to be seen on the open road than trying to make its way around a city street. Of course going to the grocery store isn’t the purpose of the Yamaha V-max.

Beefed Up to Go, and to Stop

The current Yamaha VMAX has a beefed up fork that’s designed to counter wobble at high speed, and it also allows the bike’s brakes to keep up with the bike’s weight and power effectively. The suspension is very soft, but the manufacturer has kept the front from diving under hard braking. This is partly because the compact design of the engine allows it to be placed further back on the bike than competing models.

While the Yamaha V-max looks like a traditional roadster, some of that is window dressing. What looks like the gas tanks hold an air filter and other components, and the actual gas tank is under the seat. The ram scoops on the sides of the tank aren’t fake, but they don’t ram air, either. The engine is now fuel injected, and the tubes are simply for the bike’s horn.

A Sedate Kind of Outrageous

The original designer of the Yamaha V-max said that he wanted the bike to look outrageous, and it certainly does. It’s a sedate kind of outrageous, however, and it’s still selling well almost 25 years after its original introduction. Many other designs have come and gone during that period, but somehow the outrageous Yamaha V-max has become the regular style for muscle bikes the world over.