Popular Mechanics take on the Yamaha Vmax

Front View of VMAX with air intakes clearly dominant


The motorcycle horsepower wars


have been raging since the very first Yamaha V-MaxEnzo was born in 1984 (as an ’85 model). Back then the V-Max was rated at 145 hp—an astonishing number for the 80s. In many ways, the V-Max was the very first muscle bike. Yamaha paused production of the iconic power cruiser last year so it could focus on building a meaner-than-ever, all-new Max for 2009.

Its bulbous bodywork, jet-like air intakes and sculpted titanium exhaust canisters make the 2009 V-Max appear ready to battle with the most aggressive two- (and four-) wheeled hot rods. Armed with a 1,679cc V-Four and boasting a better power-to-weight ratio than that of a Ferrari , the Max uses everything from variable length intakes to an Exup exhaust valve and a slipper clutch to lay power to the pavement. The claimed crank output is awesome, at 197.4 ponies and 123 lb.-ft. of torque. A compact, 256 x 56 pixel organic electroluminescent multifunction display echoes the deep functionality of the Nissan GT-R’s Playstation-inspired instrumentation, and can be configured to display everything from throttle valve opening angle to intake air temperature. The large shift light just above the tach looks very much ready for the dragstrip.

An all-new aluminum frame and swingarm help negotiate all that power, and 320mm and 298mm ABS-equipped wave-type disc brakes should provide strong stops after fierce high-speed runs. At $17,990, the V-Max won’t be cheap, but with production limited to only 2,500 units for 2009 this refreshed and reinvigorated hot rod should put plenty of smiles under the helmets of a few lucky enthusiasts. —Basem Wasef

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