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DaiGwy Vmax

Ever since the launch reports of the Vmax, I wanted one. Its V4 1200cc engine was like no other on the market either before or since. From an Engineers perspective it was always going to produce big Torque but the reports of the V-boost doing wonders for the top end made it the object of desire for many years. Eventually, in March 1992, I could wait no longer and my FJ1200 was traded in for the US import I had found in my local Yamaha dealer in Bournemouth.

The next day it was back in having the gearbox fixed having jumped into neutral from second gear at 80mph. It had missed the US gearbox component recall and was fixed free under warranty. During the test run after the gearbox fix the mechanic gave it some wrist and broke the drive shaft! – Impressive. So eventually it came back fully sorted and mad as a snake.

If you’ve never ridden a Max, it is a highly recommended experience. A Vmax has character in abundance and is so easy to ride compared to many other bikes. The huge Torque curve makes it a pleasure to ride at any speed in any gear, town or country.

Much has been written about the Max’s dark side. I find that while there is some truth in the reputation, it is not all the bikes fault. If you ride a 262kg cruiser the same you ride a 180kg sportsbike and expect it to respond the same you will not only be sadly disappointed, you are likely to come a serious cropper.

The best way I've found to ‘hustle’ a Vmax on twisty A roads is to shift your weight right forward and ride it Motocross/Supermoto style. The downside of this is you will actually feel the forks flexing beneath you. Time for some White Power USD forks.

The biggest mistake you can make on a Vmax is cornering but not realising you are at the point in the rev range where the V-boost kicks in. Suddenly there are 40 more horses urging you forward and the bike simply takes off at a tangent to the corner. Apart from that it’s fine!

Anyway here are a few pictures from my years of Vmax ownership. The bike was a standard US spec machine, quite an early one with a frame number about 4000. I have modified a number of things over the years but always tried to keep the original raw Vmax look. I saw a bike with a chrome top cover in Bournemouth once and from then on there was no going back.

March 1992 as imported to the UK from the USA


New rear wheel added April 1994


I toured around France in 1994 to try out the new wheel and had a fantastic time. It wasn’t until I got to the Pyrenees that I even realized that the cooling fan actually worked.


TT 1996 – A week of thrashing around the island was a dream come true. I’m still not sure how I survived Mad Sunday.


After the TT in 1996 I moved to South Africa so the Max was boxed up and shipped out.


Now I was able at last to get all the bits I had gathered for 2 years together for a full strip down and rebuild. Lots of Chrome and Red highlights with a White frame. Nice.


The new front end consisted of White Power Forks, an Astralite Racing Wheel, YZF Discs and Billet-6 Calipers.


Taking shape thanks to Anthony at Linex Yamaha Johannesburg


Finished South African style


Returning to the UK in 1999 meant a few tweaks were needed and not least of which was the re-jetting needed as Johannesburg is at 6,000 ft altitude. Up there the atmosphere is thinner and has 20% less oxygen. So a Dynojet kit and a lot of messing about later I eventually took the bike to PDQ with a long list of things to do where Larry and the boys did their stuff. A key objective was to cure the leaking forks – nothing obvious could be identified as the cause, of course. The constant weep of oil onto the brakes was becoming tiresome and Larry was eventually able to identify hairline cracks in the fork knuckles through which the oil was gradually seeping. Replacements were eventually found in Belgium and I was very happy to have her back, better, stronger, faster. Lots of updated bits from later models for reliability were added at that time and most recently some BT 020 tyres that really are confidence inspiring.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Take care out there.

David Gwyther
DaiGwy Ltd


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