Solid en­gine, iffy brakes

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - V-max -

De­spite its huge out­put the liq­uid-cooled, dohc, 16-valve,v-four is gen­er­ally solid (if not bul­let­proof) – al­though there have been some prob­lems recorded con­cern­ing its small-end bear­ check, start it up and, when in first or sec­ond gear un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion, release the throt­tle and lis­ten for a slight rat­tle.


The stan­dard brakes are dis­tinctly un­der­pow­ered, par­tic­u­larly on the pre-’92 mod­els. Sen­si­ble im­prove­ments in­clude us­ing braided steel brake lines and EBC double HH or Ferodo pads. More in­volved and ex­pen­sive im­prove­ments in­clude switch­ing calipers, with R1 ‘blue-spots’ and Har­ri­son Bil­let be­ing pop­u­lar.


Very early (pre-1987) US ex­am­ples were re­called to have a gear­box mod­i­fi­ca­tion, as these mod­els de­vel­oped a fault where the bike could jump out of sec­ond gear when un­der heavy ac­cel­er­a­tion. All mod­els since then had the stronger gear­box, al­though it’s not un­heard of for the same fault to de­velop un­der re­peated hard use.


The of­fi­cially-im­ported UK bikes be­tween 1991 and ’96 came in French spec­i­fi­ca­tion, mean­ing that they were re­stricted to 100bhp by not hav­ing thev-boost sys­tem fit­ted. Hav­ing it fit­ted ret­ro­spec­tively is hugely ex­pen­’re best off get­ting ei­ther a post-’96 ma­chine or an im­port.


Sus­pen­sion and handling has never been thev-max’s strong suit but it can still be im­proved. On pre-’93 ex­am­ples with the 40mm forks, stiffer springs are a straight swap

Be sure about what you’re buy­ing. Pre-’93 bikes have weedy two-pis­ton calipers while early of­fi­cial Euro­pean im­ports (1991-’96) were re­stricted to 100bhp – quite a dif­fer­ence from US bikes which have a claimed 142bhp (at the crank). Even Ja­panese mar­ket ma­chines were re­stricted via the speedo (to 113mph) and are tricky to der­e­strict.


As with most Ja­panese ma­chines of the era, thev-max’s reg­u­la­tor/rec­ti­fier of­ten packs up

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