Get the Max
Indulge in Yamahaõs original bad boy
Bikes like the original V-max don’t come around very often. Which is why, although now over 30 years old and with performance since bettered by virtually all big bikes, the monster Yamaha retains a cult following.
The first 1200cc V-max (it was succeeded by an all-new, 1700cc, premium-priced model in 2009 which is actually called the VMAX) was very much a one-off – or, at least, that was the idea. Conceived as a USonly machine, inspired by US V8 hot rod cars and ‘bridge racing’ bikes, and sketched out by Yamaha USA in California, it’s about as American as a Japanese bike can get.
Best of all, though, the V-max truly was a mouldbreaking hot rod. With the novel V-boost system helping it produce a truly shattering 145bhp, the Max accelerated (and to a large degree still does) like little else. That, and its unique style and huge presence explains its enduring appeal.
The icing on the cake was its exclusivity. Available in the UK only as a grey import until 1991, and once officially available (1991-1994) only in neutered, 95bhp form, good, full power Maxes remain exclusive and interesting.
And, at under £4k, they are solid, upright and even reasonably versatile – if you can live with the infamously wayward handling and, by modern standards, weak brakes. Their appeal is enduring – so much so that it won’t be long before prices start climbing.