Call it a cruiser if you want, but the 2009 VMax has the power and torque numbers to steal the lunch money from a few of the literbikes if they aren’t careful.
With the sound of military helicopters buzzing San Diego Harbor in the background, it was all hands on deck of the historic USS Midway for the unveiling of the 2009 Star Motorcycles’ VMax. An eclectic mix of motojournalists, Yamaha execs, and Star reps congregated around a makeshift white screen as the visceral thrum of V4 power whetted our appetite, tantalizingly heard but not seen. A nebulous of spent rubber filled the air as test rider Mike Ulrich clenched the front brakes taught while twisting a handful of throttle as the screen slowly raised. Applause rang out as Ulrich left a black streak on the flight deck of the historic aircraft carrier, then disappeared in his own cloud of smoke. And with that, a legend is reborn.
For fans of the bad boy of power cruisers, the 2009 VMax should not disappoint. Star was careful to keep key defining elements, like what Star Motorcycles Product Planning Manager Derek Brooks described as the power flow expression created by its big body size and huge intakes. Team that with the continuation of a cruiser-oriented, comfortable upright riding position to go along with a feeling of amazing acceleration and power, and you’ve got a motorcycle that rings with VMax familiarity. But don’t be mistaken. This VMax will flat out smoke its predecessors, and shoots a parting shot across the bow of Suzuki’s B-King.
The pulse of the new VMax is provided by a 1679cc liquid cooled V4 with a claimed 197.4 hp and 123 lb-ft of torque. That’s not a typo. We’re talking almost 200 horses. In a ‘cruiser.’
“Originally, it had an even larger displacement, but that would have required even larger air intakes and a longer chassis,” Brooks said.
The 16 valve DOHC monster mill has a 90x66mm bore/stroke with lightweight forged aluminum pistons and fracture split connecting rods. The camshafts are both chain and gear driven, utilizing chain for the intake and a gear mechanism for the exhaust. This allows for a narrow valve angle and for a generous 11.3:1 compression ratio.
Besides providing the power, the engine also serves as a stressed member of the frame, and Star aimed to maintain the V-boost character of the original mill. When asked, Ulrich confidently stated that it makes power like no other production bike he’s ridden. This straight from the mouth of a man who’s had the privilege of riding it already on the street and track. When asked if he’d layed down a 9-second quarter-mile on it yet, he just smiled and shook his head.
To unleash the formidable amount of acceleration, the 2009 VMax has been equipped with Yamaha‘s YCC-T chip-controlled throttle opening up 48mm throttle bodies to go along with a YCC-I chip-controlled intake. The intake system has switchable funnel lengths from tall (150mm) to short (54mm) at 6650 rpm. Response of the fly-by-wire throttle system is said to be instantaneous. Until we hike a leg over one, we’ll take Star’s word for it.
Putting power to the rear is a five-speed transmission. It also has a hydraulically-activated ramp-style slipper clutch to keep downshifts as smooth and rider-friendly as possible. The shaft driven powertrain is completed by a 4-1-2-4 exhaust system with slick titanium muffler canisters. The system is also equipped with a 3-way catalytic converter with an oxygen sensor to go along with an exup exhaust valve.
The chassis has been updated with a redesigned cast aluminum main frame. It also has a CF die cast extruded aluminum subframe. Stabilizing the front end is a 52mm telescopic cartridge fork with oxidized titanium coating. It is adjustable for preload, compression and rebound and has 4.7 inches of travel. The top triple clamp is cast aluminum while the bottom triple clamp is forged.
Big titanium cans complement the overall muscle bike appeal of the 2009 VMax. The rumble coming out of the pipes ain’t bad, neither.
Stopping power on the front is courtesy of dual 320mm wave-type front discs. This includes a Brembo radial pump master cylinder and a radial mount Sumitomo 6-piston front brake calipers. With the claimed horsepower numbers, a top-notch setup like this is mandatory, especially since the bike tips the scales at a claimed 683 lbs. That’s a lot of mass traveling at high velocity.
The tail end is anchored by a linked-type monocross rear suspension. The single shock, like the front fork, is adjustable for preload, compression and rebound, and has 4.3 inches of travel. A single 298mm wave-type disc helps bring the action to a halt with the use of a Brembo master cylinder and an Akebono rear brake caliper. Besides their functional purposes, the wave-style discs add to the bike’s aesthetics as well. The new Velocitus Maximus stands apart from its predecessors additionally by being equipped with ABS.
To keep tabs on your cruising speed, the 2009 VMax has a round dial speedo, tach and indicator lights mounted on the handlebars. But mounted on the tank is a virtual onboard computer. Dubbed the organic electro luminescence multifunction display, it’s got staple functions like an odometer, clock, dual trip meters, fuel gauge and gear position indicator. It also tells you coolant temp, mpg, intake air temp, throttle valve opening angle, has a stopwatch and a countdown indicator. This definitely isn’t your 1984 progenitor. It’s a breed apart.
No longer solely a concept bike, the new VMax is now a reality. If you like what you see, you’d better act fast because Star’s only making 2500 2009 models.
Even though the 2009 VMax is imbued with tons of lightweight aluminum, there’s already a sweet assortment of carbon fiber accessories available that could help shave off even a few more pounds. This includes CF fenders, intakes, and top and side covers. Riders looking to go the distance will be interested in adding the factory-made saddlebags and tail pack and maybe even slapping on the touring windshield.
The VMax has already achieved iconic status. The 2009 VMax will only consolidate its legend. If you like what you see, you’d better act fast, because the bike is a limited edition. Star Motorcycles is only making 2500 of the 2009 version, so whoever can dole out the $1,000 customer deposit first gets dibs. The order period is June 4 through October 31, but I don’t see them still being available come October. Even with a $17,990 MRSP, the VMax has a devout enough following who will gladly pay the price to be the proud owner of this limited edition motorcycle.
In our profession, it’s not often that you run across a motorcycle makes you forget to breathe momentarily when you first see it in person. The 2009 VMax is such a bike. With in your face styling, breath-stealing power, and a redesigned chassis that should keep the power to the ground, the new VMax will be a hit. To borrow a line from famed Cajun chef Justin Wilson, ‘I ga-ron-tee’ it will be a winner.
*Check back next week for video footage of the new VMax and the San Diego intro aboard the USS Midway. Also make sure to check out the Star VMax in action on the manufacturer’s website – 2009 Star VMax
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