Roland Sands wanted to streamline Yamaha’s VMax to ‘match the crisp delivery of the engine’ for his VMax Hyper Modified project. (Below) The bulbous tail section of the stock VMax is gone, replaced by this trim custom unit matched to a bullet seat and an undertail exhaust.
Yamaha’s VMax established a cult following almost immediately following its debut at the Las Vegas dealer show in 1984. The 1200cc V4-powered land rocket has been the terror of many a drag strip since. It remained pretty much unchanged for 20 years before a re-designed VMax with a 1679cc liquid-cooled powerplant emerged in 2009. Still, Yamaha engineers made an effort for the bike to retain as much of its original character as possible, keeping the VMax’s shaft drive and big intake scoops on the sides of the tank intact. And while the basic architecture of the VMax has withstood the test of time, Yamaha EU commissioned three world class custom bike builders to work their magic on the iconic power cruiser for the 2011 EICMA show.
Frances Ludovic Lazareth, Germany’s Marcus Walz and America’s Roland Sands were the chosen three. The trio had a limited time to put their projects together and the end result still needed to stay true to the original, but being the professionals they are, each pulled it off in time for the Yamaha VMax Hyper Modifieds to make their debuts in Milan.
Marcus Walz of Walz Hardcore Cycles acknowledged the VMax’s “cult bike” status and sought to highlight the performance of the motorcycle. Walz’s alterations are probably the most subtle, opting to run high performance exhausts, custom wheels, and swapping out the fenders, which smoothed out the bulbous stock rear section. One of the coolest things Walz did was install see-thru clutch and derby covers so you can see the internal workings of the bike. Lazareth’s customizing job also holds true to the bike’s original lines. Lazareth did swap out the intake scoops for even more industrial-looking units with big, hexagonal exhaust cans to match. He trimmed down the fenders, both front and back, and also cleaned up the bulky tail section. A new radiator with a small chin scoop and a cool new headlight system give his interpretation an even more aggressive-looking front end.
Ludovic Lazareth’s Hyper Modified VMax features even more industrial-looking intake scoops matched up with big, hexagonal exhaust cans.
Roland Sands gave the VMax Hyper Modified the most drastic changes, at least aesthetically. In typical Roland Sands fashion, they stripped the bike down to the bare bones to see what its best features are before building it back up. Of course, Sands chose its powerful V4 engine as one of its best traits, so he wanted the build to showcase the vaunted powerplant. He dramatically reconfigured the rear end with what appears to be a carbon fiber, café racer-style hump. Removing the stock fender, license plate holder and turn signals cleaned up the tail section so much, at first it appears that he stretched the wheelbase with a new swingarm, but it’s not. Ditching the stock cans for an underslung stainless steel, 4-into-1 exhaust also plays a big part in the cleaned up tail section. Sands didn’t dig the signature big intake scoops too much so he trimmed them down to smaller custom-cut units which hug the tank more. He also relocated the gas tank to an aluminum belly tank located below the swingarm. Clip-on Renthals match the café racer theme created by the recreated tail while new brakes and a small chin scoop complete the transformation. After that it was off to Chris Wood from Airtrix to apply the custom paint.
It’s cool to see what three highly respected custom bike builders from three different scenes did within the same platform. It’s funny to see that all three made cleaning up the tail section and swapping out exhausts a priority. The one constant none of them messed with is its arm-stretching V4 engine. Apparently the pros know a good thing when they see it.