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xBhp Rides and Reviews the Yamaha VMAX
Photos: Sundeep Gajjar/ Sunny
Text: Sandeep Goswami/ Old Fox
“Power corrupts. And absolute power corrupt absolutely”, wrote Lord Acton in a letter to Bishop Creighton adding hence that great men are almost always bad men. I wonder what else the staid and proper Lord Acton would have written had he sampled the VMAX on a drag strip then. V MAX is ‘Max’ in every sense of the word, both within and without the motorcycling lexicon. Yamaha had introduced the drag-strip king way back in 1985. The Yamaha Star VMAX, with its huge 1198cc V-4 put 140 PS on the rear wheel. A true muscle bike in every sense, which even the best of V-8’s couldn’t wish away at drags. The VMAX ruled and became the only motorcycle to be featured as a legend (at the Guggenheim Museum) while still in active production.
The 2009 VMAX comes with such Olympian lineage. 25 years is a long time in modern day technological terms but absolutes and superlatives still remain relative. The present day VMAX retains the king’s crown and how. Just one quick twist of its throttle in first gear will let you know what it takes to rule. Its 1679cc liquid-cooled V-4 churns out 200 PS (at 9k RPM) and 167 Nm of torque (at 6.5k RPM) at the crank. Even at 310kg wet, this low geared hunk of metal is so powerful that the rider cannot even twitch his right hand without getting a sledge-hammer punch up his butt. Though electronically limited to a top speed of about 225 kmph, it is about how it gets to that speed which matters. And it does so with devilish brutality.
Yamaha has not skimped on any technological bits and farkles on this prodigious motorcycle. The list starts at things like YCC-T (Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle), the YCC-I (Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake), the EXUP (Exhaust Ultimate Power) Valve, six-piston radial brake callipers straight off the YZF R1 coupled with a pretty effective ABS, a new diamond frame made from cast and extruded aluminium that uses the engine as a stressed member and a very stiff aluminium swing-arm that lets this shafty behave like a chain-driven bike. The fuel injection is pretty well sorted out, whatever your gauge of ‘violence’ in acceleration might say to that. It is just that this bike needs an entirely different mind-set and control grading than other bikes, even those that are equally powerful in specification.
On your first ride on this Hulk, please make sure you’re upright, pointed straight ahead with ‘plenty’ of empty tarmac between you and the nearest obstacle and that you’re very gentle with the throttle. This fat lady just likes to take off with a bizarre and grotesque quickness that is literally breath-taking. But whatever those brutish ‘power’ attributes, it is a very civilized motorcycle in every other sense of the word. Every other. The clutch is light and precise; the gear shifts come with a sure and firm click, vibrations are almost non-existent at normal cruising speeds and the throttle response is more than instantaneous bordering on the telepathic.
The VMAX is a big bike, a fact all the more accentuated by its huge almost 5ft long wheelbase. This length might make wheelies difficult but it does impart that much needed straight-line stability to this lightning fast locomotive. And helps the rubber put down those massive doses of torque without spinning. Though there’s not much you can do to help avoid leaving streaks of rubber down the straightway when taking off with that adrenalin rush in mind. In the same vein, the rider needs to be extra careful exiting turns as the rear does have a strong tendency to spin away at the least carelessness with the throttle inputs. Downshifts are relatively carefree stuff, what with that excellent ramp type slipper clutch.
The bike looks beautiful in a very ‘machine oriented’ manner. It’s a more engine-less frame kind of a motorcycle, all rippling muscle and granite hard features. The instrument console is a two-way split, with the digital speedo/analog tacho and a bright shift-light on the round console above the headlamp and the secondary display on the fuel tank that incorporates a clock, odometer, dual-trip meters, gear position, coolant temperature, intake air temperature, throttle grip angle, a fuel gauge as well as distance-to-empty mileage countdown.. The head-lamp can only be termed adequate as no amount of lighting up front can make you safe enough on a bike that fast and powerful at night. There’s one grouse though and that’s the absurdly low range provided by the 15 ltr fuel tank which needs a top up every 150-175 odd kms.
The VMAX sits at the top of the ‘power-cruiser’ category of motorcycles. In fact it actually defines the category and lords over it at the same time. This is a bike that makes any and every after-market performance enhancement stuff totally redundant. It already has more, much more than you can bite and chew. The VMAX in stock is enough to make you smile and scream in sync, from the same mouth that is. Yours.
An interview with Mr. Shyam Mehta – the man who rides a Yamaha VMAX to work!
What brought you in the world of Superbiking?
The skepticism about Superbiking or for that matter any other field is a deadly enemy of self-development. Surely this is no age for the skeptic, because it is an age in which we have seen more & more exciting fields uncovered, than that had been discovered & seen in the past in India. Truly this is the time of illumination & unfoldment.
So I said to myself (Against the wishes of the family which gradually melted away off course), let me take a plunge in this wonderful & exciting world of superbiking.
And to be absolutely honest with you, I am so happy to have taken a plunge, because I feel to have unlocked the gate that leads to the secret power which is stored up, within all of us.
It has brought me the thrill that has made all past discoveries pale into oblivion by comparison.
Yours first bike and its experience with it?
The first bike was way back in 1985 when I brought an Enfield Bullet for Rupees Sixteen Thousand.
Then I bought a Yamaha RD 350 which was considered to be super bike of that era. Then came a long vacuum as far as biking goes.
Got intrigued when I came across a group of riders on the Delhi-Jaipur Highway and went to pick up a Hayabusa from the Showroom. Enjoyed it for a couple of months. The Hayabusa is undeniable in terms of design & technology. It has been there since so many years and has gained this iconic image which it so richly deserves.
It was the Hayabusa which got me introduced to my new set of beautiful friends & as on a date I continue to ride with the same group, the FRMC.
Something attracted you to the Yamaha V Max over your first bike, what was it?
Hayabusa Gs X1300 R is an amazingly powerful & comfortable bike and it was hard to bid farewell to this one.
The riding position was not as comfortable as it should be for me probably because of my size & weight, the seat was near prefect but the slightly leaning forward posture took its toll on my wrist and sometimes back on long hauls.
I decided that I will be simply happier sitting upright rather than hunched over the bars.
There can be no one bike made for all, is I guess what I am saying.
Then I laid my eyes on the V Max. This encounter was at the Auto Expo 2010.
Your experience with the V Max so far? Likes and dislikes?
The sheer presence of the VMax took my breath away. It was such a stunner – OH My God! It was the interpretation of motorcycling’s iconic muscle bike. It was like artillery with a set of angry muscles waiting to receive a command so that it can shoot out and spit fire. It bursts with energy even at a standstill. I just got sold, in the bargain; the Yamaha India made their first sale of the V Max!
On the road again, this bike is fast, brutally fast. The 1679cc V four mill pumps out a rear tyre destroying 197 horsepower. The first crack of the throttle & you feel you have a loaded gun to ride; it is an exercise in responsibility.
The engine besides the looks is the USP, the chassis is impressive too. The brakes are as strong as the engine and are equipped with the ABS System. The confidence level while riding this machine is very high because you feel that the bike is an extension of your body and it gives you what you expect out of it, with no time lag.
Perfection cannot be improved is what I have to say.
Finally, what do you do when not biking?
While, I am not biking my time is absorbed by my other passions, which is to breed, raise & exhibit pure bred dogs. I would like to share with you here that I have bred Boxers in India, who have finished their Championship Titles in USA & Canada and have ended up their showing careers by becoming International Champions. This tantamount to creating history in the Indian Kennel World since this feat has been accomplished by no one since the inception of the Kennel Club of India, this is now 106 years old.
My kennel situated in Gurgaon, is the home of more than a dozen American Champion Boxers who are show stoppers and I have been bagging the titles of the “Number One Winning Boxers” in India for more than eight years. I am also the elected President of the Indian Boxer Club which is the only National Breed Club for Boxers and is affiliated to the Kennel Club of India.
I am on the verge of getting my International All Breed Judging License, which will entitle me to judge dog shows in over 47 countries worldwide. This will hopefully get me even more friends overseas in due course, so I am anticipating great expectations in the near future from my judging career.
In order to support my expensive hobbies I need to work! I run an extremely successful business house with 2000 plus employees in India. Ours is a Multinational Company with a presence in 50 countries. Me and my brother are the stakeholders in this MNC for the manufacturing, sales and Marketing operations here on pan India basis. We currently have the second largest capacity plants for manufacturing of energy efficient Compact Fluorescent Lamps and LED lamps in the country under the brand name of Energetic (Energetic India)
Engine type: 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valve, V-type 4-cylinder
Engine Cooling: Liquid cooled
Bore & Stroke: 90.0 x 66.0 mm
Compression ratio: 11.3:1
Maximum power: 147.2 kW (200 PS) @ 9,000 rpm
Maximum torque: 166.8 Nm (17.0 kg-m) @ 6,500 rpm
Lubrication system: Wet sump
Fuel system: Fuel injection
Starter system: Electric
Clutch type: Wet, multiple-disc diaphragm spring
Ignition system: T.C.I
Transmission system: Constant mesh, 5-speed
Final transmission: Shaft drive
Primary ratio: 1.509
Secondary ratio: 3.082
Gear ratio-1st gear: 2.375
Gear ratio-2nd gear: 1.810
Gear ratio-3rd gear: 1.400
Gear ratio-4th gear: 1.115
Gear ratio-5th gear: 0.935
Fuel tank capacity: 15 litres
Oil tank capacity: 5.9 litres
Front suspension: Telescopic forks, Ø 52 mm
Front travel: 120 mm
Rear suspension: Swingarm (Link-type suspension)
Rear travel: 110 mm
Caster angle: 31°
Trail: 148 mm
Front brake: Dual wave discs, Ø 320 mm
Rear brake: Single wave disc, Ø 298 mm
Front tyre: 120/70 R18M/C (59V)
Rear tyre: 200/50 R18M/C (76V)
Length: 2,395 mm
Width: 820 mm
Height: 1,190 mm
Seat height: 775 mm
Wheelbase: 1,700 mm
Minimum ground clearance: 140 mm
Service weight: 310 kg