Yamaha Vmax full test


Finally free: the V4 in 200 hp, it is faithful to its reputation ?

200 hp at 9000 rpm, 166 N.m at 6500 rpm, 310 kilos, € 20,999

A slap. A big cleat. A good big slap. A masterful slap. A big fat pie a la Bud Spencer.

Full test of the Yamaha Vmax

This is what bikers get in the face when they discover the first Vmax in 1986. Because the Vmax shakes up the codes. Admittedly, there is already the Honda VF 1100 C of 116 hp (1983) and the Kawasaki Z 900 Eliminator (105 hp in 1985), but the Vmax goes further in displacement, power and design thanks to a pencil stroke. which will become legendary and have a more assertive identity.

The Vmax adds a layer of symbolism and God knows symbolism is important. Because even if our damn motophobic country sets up the iniquitous law of 100 horses, the Vmax promises 145 thanks to the V-Boost, a magical appendix that resonates like a reactor. And then, it is worn by the boss of Yamaha at the time, the omnipotent JCO, who does not hesitate to pose in the press on his handlebars, in a suit, without a helmet, in Ray-Ban and on the rear wheel. (o tempora, o mores!)

Do we not have all the ingredients for a myth here? Don’t think about it: the answer is yes !

The Yamaha Vmax

It does not matter whether the machine is overpowered given its dynamic qualities; In fact, it was at the end of the 1980s that the motorcycle world began to create truly convincing chassis. Because this character trait strengthens the aura of the machine. It pushes hard and whoever manages to tame it will emerge in a halo, because even if the fight will have been brief (consumption is already gargantuan and autonomy ridiculous), it will necessarily have been intense..

From 1986 to 2004, the modifications of the Vmax will have finally been rather minimal. In these parsimonious evolutions, the 1993 vintage is to be marked with a white stone, since the road holding progresses (it was not difficult) with a bigger fork (43 mm instead of 40), ditto for the brakes (discs 298 mm instead of 282 mm).

The return of the Vmax takes place at the end of 2008, but this time in the form of a 1649cc V4, with ABS, variable admission and reservation via a website. Times have changed !

Yamaha Vmax front

To paraphrase a well-known political slogan: "Vmax is now!" ". Because like so many other machines, the Vmax has been talked about for 30 years, but only now can we taste all its flavors. And going from 100 to 200 horsepower changes everything, doesn’t it? Moreover, the Vmax is not Euro 4 approved and will no longer have the honors of the Yamaha catalog in 2017 and that is enough to extract us more than a small tear of sadness. So it makes a little window of fire to surround the monster and wonder if it really lives up to the legend. Because yes, the Vmax is now !



Like the Mini and the Fiat 500, the Vmax has succeeded in its reinterpretation in modernism. And just like the other two icons, she’s grown, put on weight, stretched all over the place and some would even say she bloated a bit. Nonetheless: she retained the essentials. The pencil line is immediately recognizable.

Yamaha Vmax from behind

The constitutive elements of the identity are all there: the large brushed aluminum side scoops which cover the majestic V4 on each side, the large central counter (now topped with a shiftlight and we will see that it is far from useless in this full power version) and the instrument console (now digital) on the false tank, the “trumpet” exhaust outlets, everything is there. And as a bonus: impeccable manufacturing quality and high-level surface treatments. In this high quality universe, the annoying detail comes from the rear light which, with its coarse LEDs, seems to come straight from a Seat Ibiza tuning (pleonasm).

Yamaha Vmax speedometer

In the saddle

Before getting in the saddle, you will have to take out of your pocket a strange ignition key, long and with a voluminous rounded base. The kind of thing that is no longer allowed to bring on an airliner today (you have to be able to hurt someone with it), but that is sure to end up punching your pockets.

The Vmax is intimidating, but is easily approached. Its saddle height is reasonable, at 775 mm, but it remains relatively wide. The side scoops spread the knees, the large speedometer sits in front of you and the digital central console which welcomes you with a "Time to Ride – This is Vmax" before displaying the trips, the water temperature, the gauge gasoline and the gear engaged, proves, as before, illegible unless you take your eyes off the road.

The scoops of the Yamaha Vmax

As you move the Vmax on its kickstand, you realize that it weighs its weight (315 kilos with full tank – and there isn’t a lot of gasoline) and that the steering is quite heavy. And be careful: by moving it, the side stand can go up in its housing. Distrust, because once the ship takes shelter ….

In the city

If a V4 is naturally less flexible than a 4 in line, the 1649 cm3 of the Vmax can be stroked at around 2000 rpm, in third, not far from the legal authorized speed. The Vmax remains a long and heavy machine, but ultimately not that complicated to handle, once you feel that the center of gravity is just below the rider’s seat. Thus, a small movement of the basin allows you to take it in all serenity in our congested towns (reader of Gueret or any other quieter locality, this sentence does not concern you).

Yamaha Vmax in curve

The small blow to take, it comes more from the management of the gas / clutch couple. Because if you want to go full throttle, the Vmax is made for that: 200 millimeters wide rear tire and long wheelbase make it, unsurprisingly, a real dragster. No, the difficulty is when you want to ride cool. Because the clutch bites on a fairly short delta at the lever and, given the potato of the machine, we quickly end up with too much gas, even if only 3 millimeters. And since the big V4 has little inertia when letting go of gas, this can lead to a few jerks when you want to start smoothly.

Another observation during a test carried out at the end of August and under a beautiful heatwave: the V4 heats up in the city, this is normal, but without reaching alarming proportions.

On motorways and main roads

Yamaha opted for a gearbox that only has 5 gears, confident in the reach of the big V4. And with good reason: in fifth, the unit only spins just over 3000 rpm at 90 km / h and 4500 rpm at 130 km / h. We are then 5,000 from the red zone. There is margin !

I had, in the past, tried the Vmax 1700 in 100 hp (but never the 1200, alas!) And I had already kept the memory of a beautiful mechanical generosity, able to make the rear tire spin when the ‘we exceed at 120 km / h on the motorway and in the rain. There, the difference in power between the free and restricted version is felt from 3500 rpm, with times on the last report which already hold the catapult even at fairly low speeds. Going to play with the top of the tachometer forces you to relocate to a circuit (the favorite biotope of a Vmax, we can imagine!), Or in Germany, or, even better, on a German circuit !

Yamaha Vmax on road profile

In these more welcoming places, you can inquire about accelerations that take your breath away: the 2nd goes up to 140 km / h in the blink of an eye, the 3rd sends up to 185 km / h in the blink of an eye, time to resume its breath and you, on the handlebars, you start to hang on to the flag-like branches in high winds. If you insist, the fourth sends over 220 km / h and to be honest, despite a titanium professional conscience, I couldn’t go and test the limits of the fifth as our small company has not yet opened the subsidiary company dasrepairediemotorrader.de.

On pretty well-paved biroutes, stability at legal speed is obviously no problem. And higher either.

On departmental

As we have seen, the Vmax is first and foremost a good acceleration capacity. There is the art and also the manner: the muffled rumblings of the engine reminiscent of the rumblings of a large American V8, at low and mid-speed, the same generosity over the entire range of use, the astonishing liveliness (given the size of the pistons) and the extra power at the top of the tachometer, we must admit that this engine is downright enjoyable in addition to pushing harsh !

Yamaha Vmax on the road

This definition corresponds to that of a dragster, so we will have understood, even without having gone to high schools, that it is better to sacrifice the entries of the curve to favor the exits. Because, in terms of handling, if the Vmax is no longer the flying sausage of the beginnings, one should not expect miracles either: the chassis remains relatively healthy and predictable, but the front is heavy and lacks precision. , while the rear suspension and gimbal dislike bumps at all and freeze on acceleration. In short, a Vmax, it must be respected !

Yamaha Vmax on small road

Cycle part

Classic, but also solid on this Vmax. Indeed, the frame is in aluminum and no longer in heating tubes as on the generation 1, while the telescopic fork (not inverted) demonstrates a solid diameter of 52 mm, in addition to being adjustable. At the rear, officiates a single-rod shock absorber. The travel is 148 and 110 mm respectively, which, at the rear, is a bit tight.


Gone are the first generations of Vmax which did not brake! This opus is well equipped in this area, with a consequent device, entrusted to two discs of 320 mm at the front and a solid disc of 298 mm at the rear. ABS is reasonably calibrated for a machine of this weight.

Admittedly, we are not there in the feeling nor the effectiveness of a true sportswoman, but taking into account its weight and its power, the braking is more than satisfactory, with in addition a fork which takes well and which does not. do not provide too large movements of the plate. In any case, I never got scared during this test because of the braking..

Yamaha Vmax wheel

Comfort and duo

In this area, let’s say that the Vmax is average. The saddle appears thick and generous, we will discover in use that it is relatively firm. The driving position is not uncomfortable in itself, although some will find their legs wide enough at the scoops, but it is not too "custom". The big headlight has the merit of deflecting the air flow a (very) little bit, but you can still feel its action. As for the passenger, his fate will be linked to the determination of the pilot: full throttle, he will do what he can to hang on so the accelerations of the furious V4 will do anything to unseat him. In more reasonable cruising mode, it will be much better, except on small roads where the rear suspension remains very dry, in compression as in rebound..

Yamaha Vmax saddle

Consumption / autonomy

A big V4, it is necessary to drink it and the Vmax, since its origins, deserves its reputation of thirsty. During this test, all the consumptions recorded oscillated between 8.5 and 10 l / 100 and it is possible to do more. With almost reasonable use, even without using more than just the engine’s resources, it is safe to count on a good 9 l / 100. The digital fuel gauge is quite precise, but it is in the small window located on the "tank" and therefore difficult to read. The real tank is under the saddle and the small size of its housing limits its capacity to 15 liters. It is accessed by a small lever located (or rather tucked away) at the bottom left between the saddle and the rear fender and which moves the large bead of the rider’s seat forward. If you lend your Vmax to a friend without informing them of this, the refueling will turn to the IQ test! Or the abandoned motorbike on the side.

Yamaha Vmax under acceleration


In the culture of American mobility, the Muscle Car holds a special place. A big V8 of at least 6 liters turns the rear tires into smoke signals at the slightest blow of gas from a car (with massive and masculine lines, no other frills) which does what it can to stay on the asphalt because of its rigid rear axle.

The first strength of the Vmax is to have taken all the elements of this culture and to have been the first credible Muscle Bike. His second is to have gone through the decades without the myth fading, because the Vmax does not need to be justified. Everyone knows it is, her looks don’t lie about her abilities and she always commands respect.

Its third strength, finally, is to have evolved into a cohesive package, with a strong personality, without departing from its villainous side. This beautiful object remains, despite the weight of the years, captivating to observe, fascinating to detail, possibly relatively soft to drive, but still surly to tease, in the deep growls of its V4 full of character. And it grows with the fire of god. So long, Vmax, we will miss you.

Tire tracks

Strong points

  • Sensational V8 engine
  • Mythical motorcycle
  • Driving pleasure
  • Build quality
  • Accelerations that lengthen the arms
  • Instant replay…

Weak points

  • Requires a little coolness when attacking on a small road
  • Saddle closes in the long run
  • Consumption / autonomy
  • Limited rear suspension
  • Very low speed gas / clutch metering
  • Front axle heaviness
  • The ignition key that cuts holes in jeans pockets

The technical sheet of the Yamaha Vmax 1700

Test conditions

  • Itinerary: 500 km and one week of use in Paris and two walks in Chevreuse
  • Motorcycle mileage: 1000 km
  • Problem encountered: in 3 months, it leaves the catalog. That’s short to save 20,000…

Competition: Triumph Rocket III, Harley-Davidson V-Rod, Ducati Diavel

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2 thoughts on “Yamaha Vmax full test

  1. It is clear that in a few years we will have recreated the 400 cc displacement..

    More versatile than the 250, thanks to their superior power, they can do everything.

    Because for the moment apart from the ninja the other 250 moderately appreciate the highway because of a deficit of ten horses.

    What shocks me the most about this Inazuma is its weight.

    Whether it is for young drivers or old ones who take back 200 kg that is a lot, especially since the ninja is only 172 so it is largely doable.

  2. Salvation !

    – 8 kilos more than the Ninja300 (172/180)

    – 30 km / h less (180/150)

    – 13 hp less (39/26)

    A very noticeable difference between the sufficient

    and the too fair AMHA (being in dab to hold the 140

    on the motorway or to hold the 120 on 2×2 lane in




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