Vmax epic release in Canada

If you’re a baseball fan, you may remember the Bash Brothers – Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco – who played for the Oakland A’s in the late 1980s. In their prime, these two routinely belted 40 home runs per season out of the park, and helped propel the A’s to a World Series title in 1989.

McGwire ended his career with the lowest at-bats-per-home-run ratio in baseball history, and Canseco was the first player to join the 40-40 club (40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a single season). In terms of raw offensive power, they had few equals. When it was later revealed that this was thanks to performance enhancing drugs, it was kind of disappointing but, still, these guys put on a show and were exciting to watch. When they were on the field, you never knew what was going to happen.

If it’s not too much of a stretch, these days we have the motorcycle version of the Bash Brothers: the new Yamaha V-Max and Suzuki B-King. These are two of the most powerful motorcycles money can buy and come with explosive power and performance.

They’re muscle-bound, formidable, and about as subtle as a kick in the pants. Hop aboard, and you never know what might happen.


Completely restyled and re-engineered for 2009, the V-Max is described by Yamaha as «the intelligent monster,» and has, depending upon who you talk to, anywhere from 190 to 197 horsepower.

Its 1,679-cc V-4 engine is chock-full of engineering highlights, including electronically variable intake runners, variable air intake, four-into-one exhaust, electronic fuel injection, and a slipper clutch. All housed in a platform that wouldn’t look out of place in a Mad Max movie. The V-Max has been around since the original Bash Brothers, and even back then, in 1985, boasted some 140-plus hp.

At 310 kilograms, the V-Max is not a particularly light motorcycle. This is a fairly typical weight among cruisers and the V-Max is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a sport bike.

Nor is it a cruiser in the traditional sense. The V-Max is kind of hard to pigeon-hole. Always has been.

With in-line acceleration on par with a Formula One race car, it won’t handle the corners as well as, say, a Suzuki Gixxer 1000 or Kawasaki Ninja, nor will it give you comparable braking. This is a muscle bike, with enough power to shred the rear tire and loft the front end in a heartbeat.

Definitely not for beginners. Even Yamaha acknowledges that the V-Max has, and I quote, «a significant level of power and performance.» In other words, stay away, new riders.

The V-Max starts at just under $22,000.


Equally formidable is the Suzuki B-King, which gets its estimated 180 hp from an in-line, liquid-cooled, transversely mounted four-cylinder engine that is also used (in a different state of tune) in the Hayabusa sport tourer, itself long regarded as the fastest production motorcycle on the market.

The B-King, which Suzuki is tagging as «the ultimate street bike,» is slightly lighter than the V-Max and lacks its variable intake runners but, like the V-Max, has a huge airbox and ships a tremendous amount of air. It starts at $14,999.

Also like the V-Max, the B-King can get you into trouble in the wink of an eye. This is not a finely balanced, race-bred sport bike, but a big brawny street bike that is kind of clumsy at low speeds.

As a rider, you need to give it lots of respect and your full attention if you want to talk about it at the end of the day.

It’s not a bike for amateurs or novices and most riders will never fully exploit its performance potential – at least, not on the street or within the law.

This has special resonance for Toronto riders, who face hefty fines, punishment and impoundment of their ride if they’re caught violating speed laws.

If you’re clocked at 150 km/h, for example, on a 100 km/h highway, goodbye motorcycle. And both the B-King and V-Max are just getting started at 150 km/h.

Which brings us to the main question: What is the point of these two bikes?

Two words: bragging rights.

They’re not the only high-powered bikes on the market, of course. BMW’s K1200S is good for about 160 hp; the new Benellis boast at least that much, as does the Suzuki GSX-R 1000 and Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-14, which develops between 160 and 170 hp, with a 215-kg dry weight.

With the exception of the Beemer, however, these are racing bikes, with appropriate braking and cornering abilities. You could take any one of them out of the box, put it on the track and be competitive.

The B-King and V-Max, well…

But park either one outside your favourite hangout, and there’s no question about who’s riding the big dog.

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