Not For The Faint Of Heart

The VMAX has been around a while, either under Yamaha directly, or under Yamaha’s made-in-the-U.S. cruiser line, Star Motorcycles. The 1,679 cc engine houses mad performance with more than adequate power and torque to give the VMAX plenty of ’go’ and the big, dual six-piston calipers up front give it plenty of ’stop.’ The 2018 VMAX comes dressed to impress, so let’s take a look at what the Tuning-Fork company has in store for us this year.

Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha VMAX.

Design

2016 - 2018 Yamaha VMAX
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There are undeniable strands of cruiser DNA in there, but the sportbike genes are dominant, and the bike seems to flaunt that half of its mixed heritage.

Much like the GSXR family from Suzuki, the VMAX holds a special place in my heart as the second bike to scare the crap out of me, and the first bike engine I grew to hate. Just to clarify, I didn’t hate it ’cause it’s a bad engine; not at all. I hated it ’cause at MMI it was our timing exercise model, and you had to turn it over 32 times to get everything aligned properly. That said, had I not been recently snakebit by my gixxer trip, I probably would have killed myself on a friend’s VMAX, but even riding cautiously it almost got away from me.

Mad Max is the first thing that comes to my mind when I spy one of these brutes coming at me. Functional air scoops on both sides of the tank form the shoulders that give it that distinctive Crouched-Bulldog, Hidden-Gazelle look. While I still have a hard time seeing this ride as a cruiser, that is exactly how the factory categorizes it, an assertion backed up somewhat by the relatively-relaxed rider triangle that encourages an upright riding position. The handlebars have very little pullback to them, so there is plenty of room to lean into the acceleration, and the saddle scoop is nice and deep to contain your butt when you roll it on.

It’s kind of an odd bird, the VMAX. It looks like it’s having an identity crisis. There are undeniable strands of cruiser DNA in there, but the sportbike genes are dominant, and the bike seems to flaunt that half of its mixed heritage.

Chassis

2016 - 2018 Yamaha VMAX
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The combined 12 caliper pistons up front add up to a tremendous amount of braking power, so for once I am really glad to see ABS, 'cause this bike definitely needs it.

An all-aluminum chassis forms the bones with a cast-aluminum diamond frame and swingarm, and an extruded subframe to keep things nice and light. The fuel tank rides under the seat where it keeps the center of gravity low, and adds to the feeling of control-ability at low speeds, but I seriously question the wisdom of having to wave a gas hook over the seat at every fill up.

Massive front forks add to the all-up-front look of the VMAX, and the 52 mm, right-side-up forks float the front end on 4.7 inches of travel. The forks come with the usual preload and rebound/compression damping adjustments, and they combine with the 31-degree steering head for 5.8 inches of trail. A monoshock springs the swingarm, and it comes fully adjustable through a remote-mount air reservoir.

The brakes come loaded for bear with a pair of 320 mm, wave cut discs up front and a 298 mm disc in back. Dual Brembo calipers bind the front wheel with six-pot, opposed piston calipers, and a single-pot Brembo grips the rear. I won’t lie, the combined 12 caliper pistons up front add up to a tremendous amount of braking power, so for once I am really glad to see ABS, ’cause this sled definitely needs it.

Frame: Diamond
Suspension, Front: 52 mm telescopic cartridge fork w/oxidized titanium coating. Fully adjustable preload, compression and rebound; 4.7-inch travel
Suspension, Rear: Single shock w/remote reservoir and remote adjustable for preload, compression and rebound; 4.3-inch travel
Rake (Caster Angle) : 31 degrees
Trail: 5.8 inches
Brakes, Front: Dual 320 mm wave-type discs; radial mount six-piston calipers, Brembo® radial pump master cylinder
Brakes, Rear: 298 mm wave-type disc, single-piston caliper and Brembo® master cylinder
Wheel, Front: Cast 18M/C x MT3.50
Wheel, Rear: Cast 18M/C x MT6.00
Tire, Front: Bridgestone/BT028F G 120/70R18
Tires, Rear: Bridgestone/BT028R G 200/50R18

Drivetrain

2016 - 2018 Yamaha VMAX
- image 713754
The Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake (YCC-I) takes a page from MV Agusta's book as a means to shorten the length of the intake at high rpm, a feature that helps bring the powerband on a little sooner, with a little more oomph.

Now for the beating heart; the liquid-cooled, 102 cubic-inch (1,679 cc) powerplant. Truly a chunk of engine, it comes in a V-four configuration that fills the wide frame completely, and it’s anything but a boat anchor. The official word from the factory is 123 pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm, some 10-pounds greater than the daddy of this engine family that came out in ’09. I have no official word on horsepower yet, but if I had to guess, I would say it’s somewhere around the same 175-pony mark as the ’09, or at least in the neighborhood thereof.

A number of interdependent systems contribute to this power. Yamaha uses its own version of a ride-by-wire system with the Chip Controlled Throttle (YCC-T) rather than a mechanical throttle cable, which treats the actual throttle-grip position as more of a guideline, than an actual rule. This allows the engine and throttle to work in harmony for smooth transitions and power delivery. The Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake (YCC-I) takes a page from MV Agusta’s book as a means to shorten the length of the intake at high rpm, a feature that helps bring the powerband on a little sooner, with a little more oomph.

Slipper-clutch technology provides some safety during aggressive downshifts, and makes for an easy pull at the lever. A five-speed tranny sends power to the rear wheel via drive shaft, all geared to control the awesome power of the engine.

Engine Type: Liquid-Cooled 65-Degree Four-Stroke V-Four, DOHC; 16 valves
Displacement: 102 cubic inches (1,679 cc)
Bore x Stroke: 90.0 mm x 66.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.3:1
Maximum Torque: 123 Pound-Feet at 6,500 rpm
Fuel Delivery: Fuel Injection with YCC-T and YCC-I
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: Five-speed, multiplate slipper clutch

Price

2016 - 2018 Yamaha VMAX
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Price and performance both seem to place this ride in the “upgrade” category, and would make a good ride for someone with some experience looking for a second -- or even a third -- ride.

You can ride off on a VMAX for $17,999 with a one-year limited warranty, but only in Rapid Red for 2017 or Matte Raven Black for 2018. Price and performance both seem to place this ride in the “upgrade” category, and would make a good ride for someone with some experience looking for a second, or third, ride.

Warranty: One Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Color:
2016: Galaxy Blue
2017: Rapid Red
2018: Matte Raven Black
Price:
2016: $17,990
2017, 2018: $17,999

Competitor

2016 - 2018 Yamaha VMAX
- image 734834
2016 Ducati Diavel Carbon
- image 650374
Though the fuel tank hump on the Diavel sets it apart visually from most other bikes, intake scoops on both rides fatten the front ends, so both look like sprinters crouched at the blocks.

Since the VMAX is technically a power-cruiser, I went with another brutally strong cruiser, this one from Italy; the Diavel Carbon from Ducati.

Though the fuel tank hump on the Diavel sets it apart visually from most other bikes, intake scoops on both rides fatten the front ends, so both look like sprinters crouched at the blocks. Both rider triangles are set up for a mainly upright riding posture, and should be comfortable around town and on long, open stretches.

At 162 ponies and 96 pound-feet of torque, the Testastretta engine on the Duc falls a little short of the 123 pound-feet from the VMAX, but it does come with a whole battery of electronic goodies that are on par with, and maybe superior to, Yamaha’s gizmos.

Last year, the Diavel went for $20,995, and I imagine this year will be close to that. That leaves us with the VMAX rolling in almost 3k cheaper, a significant amount for such similar performance and style.

He Said

“The VMAX is still a bully of a bike, as it has always been, and I’m glad to see Yamaha stay faithful to the original look rather than try and pull it to either the sport or cruiser side of the spectrum. Hopefully the price will act as something of a firewall, because this is by no means a beginner’s bike, and should only be contemplated by seasoned vets.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "One thing right off the bat that I’ll mention is the foot position. The pegs seem high and back under your butt, which promotes that forward lean of the aggressive rider posture, but also puts the pegs in the way when you go to put your feet down. Maybe because I’m short and I need all the clear space I can get is why I notice it. I don’t have the available inseam to bow my legs around obstructions when the seat height is 30 inches. I also wonder if I had to dab my foot, it might get caught under that peg. It might be a non-issue for you long, tall folks, but these are things I think of. Also, the big bulge of the scoops gives you a place to hook your knee, depending on your body proportions."

Specifications

Drivetrain:
Engine Type: Liquid-Cooled 65-Degree Four-Stroke V-Four, DOHC; 16 valves
Displacement: 102 cubic inches (1,679 cc)
Bore x Stroke: 90.0 mm x 66.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.3:1
Maximum Torque: 123 Pound-Feet at 6,500 rpm
Fuel Delivery: Fuel Injection with YCC-T and YCC-I
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: Five-speed, multiplate slipper clutch
Final Drive: Shaft
Chassis:
Frame: Diamond
Suspension, Front: 52 mm telescopic cartridge fork w/oxidized titanium coating. Fully adjustable preload, compression and rebound; 4.7-inch travel
Suspension, Rear: Single shock w/remote reservoir and remote adjustable for preload, compression and rebound; 4.3-inch travel
Rake (Caster Angle) : 31 degrees
Trail: 5.8 inches
Brakes, Front: Dual 320 mm wave-type discs; radial mount Six-piston calipers, Brembo® radial pump master cylinder
Brakes, Rear: 298 mm wave-type disc, single-piston caliper and Brembo® master cylinder
Wheel, Front: Cast 18M/C x MT3.50
Wheel, Rear: Cast 18M/C x MT6.00
Tire, Front: Bridgestone/BT028F G 120/70R18
Tires, Rear: Bridgestone/BT028R G 200/50R18
Dimensions:
Length: 94.3 inches
Width: 32.3 inches
Height: 46.9 inches
Seat Height: 30.5 inches
Wheelbase: 66.9 inches
Ground Clearance: 5.51 inches
Minimum Turning Radius: 137.8 inches
Details:
Fuel Capacity: 4.0 gallons
Fuel Reserve: 1.0 Gallon
Recommended Fuel: Premium, Unleaded
Fuel Economy: 27 mpg
Wet Weight: 683 Pounds / CA model 686 Pounds
Maximum Load: 419 Pounds
Warranty: One Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Color:
2016: Galaxy Blue
2017: Rapid Red
2018: Matte Raven Black
Price:
2016: $17,990
2017, 2018: $17,999

References

2016 Ducati Diavel
- image 671862

See our review of the Ducati Diavel.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: yamaha-motor.com, ducatiusa.com

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