Previously known as Yamaha V-Max, now called Star VMax, this is one cruiser that means serious business and it is as advanced as we never even thought it was possible to get. We recently go the chance to test ride the beast so here is the full review. Check it out!
Star Motorcycles couldn’t have found a better way to redefine the performance cruiser concept than with the 2009 VMax. They have taken an industry icon and multiply it by ten. The results would normally be overwhelming for anything else out there, but not for the VMax: 200 hp and 167 Nm! It’s all coming from the revolutionary 1,679cc, 65-degree, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected four-valves-per-cylinder, DOHC, V4 engine that now implements supersport bike features such as the Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake and Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle. Throttle response is instantaneous and no matter at what speed you’re riding, in what gear you’re in, this thing will go like no other ever before it.
Star sticks to the five-speed tranny in order to exploit all of the power and torque coming from the massive engine both on straight portions of road (or should I say on the drag track) and curved ones. The slipper clutch is also a supersport model feature and further deepens our opinion that Star actually saw this as a competition bike during development and built it as such.
It is amazing that the chassis is even capable of dealing with those kinds of performance figures, but it does. The engine and cast aluminum frame were designed as a single unit with the engine mounted as a stressed member of the diamond frame. Also, the engine is positioned as close to that front wheel as possible for good mass centralization resulting in sharp handling and great high speed stability.
The fully adjustable suspension and Brembo brakes with a 320mm wave-style dual front disc and a 298mm rear one are also a good reminder of YZF top-notch performance, but they claim this is actually a cruising motorcycle. But have things always been this way?
Yes. In the 1980s, Yamaha was set to create the ultimate muscle cruiser and their vision came to live together with the launch of the first V-Max in 1984 as a 1985 model year. The bike quickly gained notoriety as being incredibly fast accelerating and, from what we’ve come to realize, it was just the beginning. The engine was a 1,197cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, V4 delivering a mind blowing 133 hp at 8,000 rpm and 90 ft•lbf at 7,500 rpm while the gearbox was a five-speed unit. With bold looks to match the incredible performance, the V-Max had started his era.
Apart form a fork upgrade in 1993, the Yamaha V-Max carried on without important changes and, to be quite honest, it didn’t even needed any. Top notch built from the very first year of fabrication and managing to maintain that rhythm up until 2007 had to say something. But it did more than that…it turned it into a legend.
The 2009 Star V-Max stands as proof of the fact that history is being rewritten. Hope there won’t be any repercussions for the motorcycle industry.
The modern day VMax loses nothing from his ancestor’s charm and exerts that very same magical attraction as that did in the early days. It does it by retaining the general muscle bike design as well as the characteristic styling cues of the original model. The gas tank’s dimensions are enhanced by the presence of the iconic aluminum intake covers which are actually handmade, just to give an example.
The 2009 is a massive and radical approach towards a category which misses competitors, but that’s another story. Measuring 94.3 inches in length has got to say something good about road characteristics. Impressively, only the wheelbase measures 66.9 inches and if we’re still at it, what an aggressive pair of 18-inch wheels!
But most importantly about the VMax is what sits between the wheels, a black covered threatening V4 engine that doesn’t mind giving a clue about the rush that it is capable of providing. The four-into-one-into-two-into-four exhaust system with Exhaust Ultimate Power valve looks more like a pair of rocket launchers, perfectly suitable for the Vmax.
The naked bike-like headlight is very aerodynamic and behind it, riders will be introduced not only to an instrument panel, but also with a luminescence multi-function display that looks pretty fancy.
Wide and nicely curved, that rear fender looks like contrasting with the sharp design of the seat, but maybe that’s just me.
Color available for the 2009 Star VMax is Intense Black.
There haven’t been invented the words to describe the rush that you get when riding the Star VMax and we don’t even wish for that to happen. Swinging a leg over the 2009 model year is like entering into a totally new dimension in motorcycling, something you’ve never again experienced and wish to keep it for yourself. Without being selfish at all, I will have to confess that the 200 horsepower engine isn’t for nothing. Acceleration is at a level way above what a human being’s mind can conceive so the rider does require a little bit of getting used to.
It is recommended to treat it as a cruiser in a first instance and the bike will do very well both in masking the enormous performances that it is capable of and being quite comfortable. That doesn’t mean you won’t be opening the throttle from time to time, but that’s only to worm up the tires, especially that 200mm rear one. I like to think that the VMax gradually invites you to open up the throttle more and more when going out of corners, but that’s probably just my routine. Still, I recommend this to become yours too, especially when riding this monster of a bike. A cold tire and a widely opened throttle can mean disaster simply because rolling burns are easily pulled out without even making use of the clutch. Can you imagine the torque of that engine? Incredible!
Any open stretch of road becomes a rider’s very own drag course and with a slipper clutch and five-speed gearbox, there’s nothing to stop a rider from getting faster and faster on any portion of road that he usually travels on. It sounds unhealthy, but Star Motorcycles designed the latest VMax to suit the riding needs of experienced riders who thing they have seen it all. The balance between horsepower and torque is ideal and with ingenious MotoGP-like features such as the YCC-T and YCC-I, all a rider needs to do in order to go like a bullet is just open up that throttle. It doesn’t matter in what gear you’re in or the speed you’re cruising at this thing goes like no other.
Riding at speeds that won’t disappoint any supersport rider does show the need of a windscreen that Star offers in their accessory range, but the VMax isn’t bad a t all without it either. Also, if not keeping a constantly opened throttle, the ergonomics – which are similar to the ones of the previous generation model – are quite permissive and not at all demanding on the old timer’s bones.
You can’t have it all and the VMax does seem to be moderated by tight curves more than high-end sportbikes are, but riders enjoy catching up during the straight road portions. This involves a lot of braking and the Brembo master cylinders make their presence felt on the 320mm front, respectively 298mm rear brake discs. The three-position ABS gives an extra feel of safety. We did have it intervene even though there was no emergency. We simply proceed like when testing the brakes of a car: choose a wide opened road, keep the vehicle at constant speed and suddenly hit the brakes. Well, except the suddenly part because there were a lot of trees in that area and the bike is pretty expensive as well.
For average sized and weighing riders, the standard suspension setting are very good. The bumps are easily absorbed and the machine remains stable under hard acceleration, but especially braking. Still, tune-ups require no tools so that’s good to know.
Overall, the 2009 Yamaha VMax is as good as those designing it intended and way better than anyone considered it can get.
At $17,990, the Star VMax is not only destined to experienced riders, but to those with deep pockets as well. That’s a manufacturer’s advantage for delivering a unique product and also the customer’s only reason to second think the buying.
If you’ve just come off the latest VMax, it feels like a dream come true, but as you think back at the experience you’ve just lived, it actually makes you wonder how you survived. Definitely not for the faith hearted!
Engine and Transmission
Type: 1679cc liquid-cooled 65° V-4, DOHC, 4 valves/cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 90.0mm x 66.0mm
Compression Ratio: 11.3:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel Injection with YCC-T and YCC-I
Transmission: 5-speed, multiplate slipper clutch
Final Drive: Shaft
Chassis and Dimensions
Suspension/Front: 52mm telescopic cartridge fork w/oxidized titanium coating. Fully adjustable preload, compression and rebound; 4.7 in travel
Suspension/Rear: Single shock w/remote reservoir and remote adjustable for preload, compression and rebound
Brakes/Front: Dual 320mm wave-type discs; radial mount 6-piston calipers, Brembo® radial pump master cylinder
Brakes/Rear: 298mm wave-type disc, single-piston caliper and Brembo® master cylinder
Tires/Front: Bridgestone® Radial 120/70-R18 59V
Tires/Rear: Bridgestone® Radial 200/50-R18 76V
Length: 94.3 in
Width: 32.3 in
Height: 46.8 in
Seat Height: 30.5 in
Wheelbase: 66.9 in
Rake (Caster Angle): 31.0 in
Fuel Capacity: 4.0 gal
Fuel Economy: 27 mpg
Wet Weight: 683 lb / 685 lb (CA model)