YAMAHA V-MAX (1991 - 2004) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Annual servicing cost: £180
Power: 140 bhp
Seat height: Low (30.1 in / 765 mm)
Weight: High (578 lbs / 262 kg)

Prices

New N/A
Used £5,100 - £15,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Mad Max. There, that tells you everything you need to know about the Yamaha VMX1200 V-Max, an ill-handling, raw powered Rottweiller of a motorcycle. The full power 140bhp model is the only one worth having, so skip the early 90s UK spec models with a feeble 95bhp.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
2 out of 5 (2/5)

The Yamaha VMX1200 V-Max handles like a drunk office girl on a photocopier...and is just as dangerous. The frame seems to flex, the back end squirms under the engine's power and the front end loads up with the Yamaha VMX1200 V-Max's substantial 280kgs wet weight under braking. In a word, scary.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

The Yamaha VMX1200 V-Max has a beautiful, almost liquid power delivery from just above tickover, with a crazed step up in poke from about 4000rpm as the V-Boost fuel charge system kicks in. The Yamaha VMX1200 V-Max motor puts a grin on the face of the most jaded speedfreak. It punches you in the guts with its sheer torque.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

You can turbocharge the motor, add nitrous, almost anything really and the V-4 lump will take it. The Yamaha VMX1200 V-Max's chassis is the weaker half of the motorcycle by far and as it was designed to race the strips of California, the V-Max can suffer if ridden too often in British rain. 

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The Yamaha VMX1200 V-Max is a cult machine and good used examples go for very decent money. Many are customised and feature mad performance tweaks. The V-Max was never a big selling motorcycle when brand new, so supply of original examples will never meet demand, prices will keep rising. Don't bother buying a restricted early 90s UK model. Find a Yamaha V-Max for sale

Equipment

2 out of 5 (2/5)

The Yamaha VMX1200 V-Max's 15 litre fuel tank can run dry in 90 miles, the pillion seat is really just a bum stop for the rider and the brakes and suspension are indifferent, even by 90s standards. Apart from a few cosmetic tweaks Yamaha did almost nothing to develop the V-Max throughout a near 20 year lifespan. Bit poor frankly.

Specs

Engine size 1198cc
Engine type 4 stroke, V4, 5 gears
Frame type Steel cradle type
Fuel capacity 15 litres
Seat height 765mm
Bike weight 262kg
Front suspension Preload
Rear suspension Preload
Front brake Twin 282mm disc
Rear brake 290mm disc
Front tyre size 110/90 x 18
Rear tyre size 150/90 x 15

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 35 mpg
Annual road tax £96
Annual service cost £180
New price -
Used price £5,100 - £15,000
Insurance group 15 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage

Top speed & performance

Max power 140 bhp
Max torque 117.7 ft-lb
Top speed 160 mph
1/4 mile acceleration 10.9 secs
Tank range 100 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

1986: Yamaha VMX1200 V-Max launched in USA.
1991: Restricted version arrives in UK.
1996: Full 140bhp version of the Yamaha VMX1200 V-Max appears in UK.
1999: Cosmetic upgrade with `carbon look' bodywork.
2004: Yamaha VMX1200 V-Max discontinued in UK.

Other versions

None.

Owners' reviews for the YAMAHA V-MAX (1991 - 2004)

5 owners have reviewed their YAMAHA V-MAX (1991 - 2004) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your YAMAHA V-MAX (1991 - 2004)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Equipment: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Annual servicing cost: £180
4 out of 5
22 April 2021 by DeWayne

Year: 1999

The looks alone will get you talking with strangers, let alone other bikers. 4 into 1 exhaust sounds like big block race car. so many options for performance its unreal. The only down side is the bike goes twice as fast as it stops.

Ride quality & brakes 3 out of 5

The bike is alot of fun to ride.riding with your buddies or bouncin town to town awesoime, short rides are okay any more than 4hrs at a time gets uncomfortable.

Engine 5 out of 5

i have so much more than the stock unit, i love my V4..

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Mine is a 99 people every where mistake it for a new model it has held up amazingly well. Has never broken down or left me sit. never had to work on it except for upgrades

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

The aggressive look and sound is always a head turner.my favorite has to be the 3 stage V boost control I added, and the 4 into 1 exhaust.

5 out of 5 Max fun
18 April 2020 by Graham waterfield

Version: 1200

Year: 2004

Annual servicing cost: £50

A real handful of a bike sometimes scary always exciting ,been very reliable quite cheap to maintain and run,owned it around 12 years still love it .

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Bike at its best on medium distance journey.can be surprisingly practical,can easily go 2 hours or until need fuel without needing a break.

Engine 5 out of 5

Closest thing to the excitement of an old two stroke with the 5000rpm powerband.very flexible engine ,efforless overtaking with out changing gear.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Only the usual wear and tear items ,only fault has been the starter clutch coming loose, which is a common fault of the factory not locktitn the bolts properly .

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Oil and filter approximately £ 30

Equipment 4 out of 5

For what it's intended for,little needed loads of parts available if you want to customise or bling it up,a screen is useful if you want to do motorway journeys.

Buying experience: Private ,when it was 2 years old .

5 out of 5
20 November 2017 by Mitchell DuBois

Year: 1996

The best feature of this bike is that everyone who is into bikes will come up to you and smile and have a comment or story about a vmax.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

The brakes need extra hand pressure than most to slow down this bike. The factory seat is not an all day sit and ride type of seat.

Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

Having v-boost is my favorite feature of this bike. It sets this bike apart from all other naturally aspirated bikes. The Yamaha wind screen is a very nice accessory for this bike.

Buying experience: Very nice private purchase. Vmax is one of the few buyer / seller situations where the seller is jealous of the buyer for the purchase. The person I purchased my bike from is keeping my information so he can check with me later to see if he can buy it back.

4 out of 5 Great Used Bike
04 February 2017 by John E Lincoln

Version: 1200 (140 hp)

Year: 1998

Annual servicing cost: £300

Enjoy the seating, Upright standard. I'm 6ft 1in and it's comfortable. Bought it used 5 years ago with a Corbin seat, so comfortable (though removing the gas cap through a flap and hole in the seat is annoying. Weights 620 lbs wet, so harder to upright if tipped, but have done it myself (I'm 74 yrs old). I agree with the previous comment that the bike is what you make it. I enjoy it and would recomend it to a friend who is a responsible rider. Otherwise it could get someone in trouble. Also had to add an aftermarket smaller windshield (about $50.00 USD) to prevent "parachuting" at highway speeds.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Brakes are not up to the engine power, but adequate. I only ride for 1.5 to 3 hours and at that no problems. I use it as an all around bike, my only one. No problem with pillion due to power. Will need to replace back shocks (replaced front springs with Progressive shortly after buying due to diving during breaking).

Engine 5 out of 5

Great, smooth powerful engine, modded from Yamaha's Venture.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Bought this with 26K miles on it and have added another 25K in 5 years. Had to replace the stator, possibly due to low oil level / cooling problem. Was a year ago and no problems since. Only tires, normal wear as I don't ride over aggressively.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Costs for set of tires and oil/filter change. Each done yearly. See above also. Costs have been low so far. Just replaced a clutch switch.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Added stiffer front fork springs, saddle bags, and a mid-size windshield. Use Shinko Toruing tires for compromise between handling and longevity.

Buying experience: Bought used from a Yamaha dealer. Paid less than advertised base on blue book at time. V-max's tend to hold value - cult following.

5 out of 5 OLD RELIABLE
18 November 2007 by murphit

Having owned and ridden my Max for the last ten years in all conditions, including snow and ice, I find that comments of bad handling to be misplaced. Understand and respect what is under you and the machine csn return fast safe rides. No I'm not a slow rider, I use the Max to the Max. Reliable, fun, respected by others, reputation justified, only down side is the quality of finish, but with some effort this is easy to overcome. I still look for a replacement for the Max but fail to find a machine that has the ability to come close to it's stance, torque, power, and all round suitability. I have ridden 350+ miles in a day and enjoyed every mile, and still walked normally when I got off. My missus when a pillion passenger does not have to perch on a pad high above me. Basically it's as mean as a junk yard dog, and it's rear end dangely bits.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
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