This strange ven­ture

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - V-max -

THE STORY OF the un­veil­ing of the first V-max at ayamaha dealer meet­ing in Las Vegas in October 1984, and the waves it caused world­wide, is well doc­u­mented. So, too, is the journey of its devel­op­ment team to cre­ate such a ma­chine: a request for a US hotrod ri­val to Honda’sv4 Magna, and the in­spired trans­for­ma­tion of theven­turev4 to power it.

In the early ’70s Yamaha, along with all the Ja­panese ‘Big Four’, were fren­ziedly ex­plor­ing all man­ner of dif­fer­ent en­gine con­fig­u­ra­tions and per­for­mance pos­si­bil­i­ties.

One keyyamaha project at the time was the devel­op­ment of a high per­for­mance four-strokev4 1000 to counter the success of Kawasaki’s Z1. Ini­tially un­der­taken by its race depart­ment, this re­sulted in the un­veil­ing at the 1977 Tokyo Show of a pro­to­type 90-de­greev4 racer called theyzr 1000 or OW34 com­plete with liq­uid-cool­ing, fuel-in­jec­tion, double over­head cams, four valves per cylin­der and a claimed 135bhp. How­ever, be­cause of the con­tin­u­ing success of rac­ing two-strokes, the project stalled and was trans­ferred toyamaha’s road depart­ment where it gained the 001 des­ig­na­tion, shaft drive and the hope of be­com­ing a ba­sis for a Yamaha road en­gine for decades to come.

Things changed again in 1979 when Honda re­vealed its revo­lu­tion­ary, oval-pi­s­toned, four-stroke NR500 GP racer.anx­ious to cover all pos­si­bil­i­ties,yamaha reignited the OW34 racer project, de­signed a new, 500cc ver­sion (now dubbed 001A) and, in the pur­suit of max­i­mum power, ex­per­i­mented with ver­sions with five, six and even seven valves per cylin­der.this fi­nal ver­sion, dubbed 001V, is said to have pro­duced 125bhp at a heady 18,000rpm.

Alas, due to the fail­ure of Honda’s NR this 500 V4 never raced (al­though as­pects of its multi-valve tech­nol­ogy would resur­face on 1985’s five-valve FZ750).AS for the road-go­ing V4, that fi­nally sur­faced in de­tuned, 72-de­gree, 1200cc form asyamaha’s ri­poste to Honda’s hugely suc­cess­ful Gold Wing – the Xvz1200ven­ture, al­though in this spec it was only pro­duc­ing 90bhp.

Af­ter all that, in 1981 a se­nior-prod­uct plan­ner atyama­haamer­ica, Ed Burke, was asked to de­velop a new ri­val for an ex­pected new wave of Ja­panese/amer­i­canv4 power cruis­ers.the first of these was from archri­vals Honda and of­fi­cially un­veiled in two forms the fol­low­ing year: the 750cc, liq­uid-cooled, 90-de­greev4-pow­eredv45 Sabre (thevf750s in Europe) and thev45 Magna power cruiser. In ’83 Honda fol­lowed those up with the 1100ccv65 Magna which, in the US, quickly be­came the bike to beat. V4s were sud­denly the en­gines of the fu­ture.

With­out the budget for a clean-sheet de­sign and yet mind­ful of its pre­vi­ous per­for­mance V4s, Burke looked to the im­mi­nent Ven­ture’s

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.