Yamaha VMX1200 V-Max (1991-2004)
Few bikes have a bigger cult following than Yamaha’s original, 140bhp V4 hotrod. Created especially for and launched in the US in 1985, no bike had as much straightline presence (even if its behaviour through the turns was somewhat marginal) so much so that it became a UK grey import fave. Officially imported from 1991, albeit initially in emasculated 95bhp trim, finally deleted in 2004 and superceded by the all-new (and far pricier) 1700 in 2008, good ones are highly prized to this day.
What you’ll pay today £4000-£6000.
But should you? Cult bikes don’t get any bolder or bad-ass.
Fast but initially flawed V-twin was demonised due to flighty handling caused by a combination of a punchy delivery, sharp steering geometry and an over-worked rotary rear shock. Though swiftly cured, its reputation never recovered and along with its beam-framed R brother was prematurely discontinued. Today it’s known more for its 125bhp motor, macho image and distinctive style.
What you’ll pay today £1900-£4900 and climbing.
But should you? A fast-appreciating modern classic with a devoted following.
Half-faired sports-tourer (or, more accurately, street sports) version of the Italian firm’s original RSV1000 superbike was a failure in its day. With the 997cc twin detuned to 118bhp, a unique twin-beam frame and more sober styling it lacked its sportier brother’s punch and pizazz. Today, however, its exclusivity, classy spec, quality and durability, real world performance and timeless good looks have earned it a strong following.
What you’ll pay today £1700-£3200.
But should you? A bargain-priced Italian sportster for connoisseurs.
Last and biggest of the retro-roadster fours was also by some margin the best – which made its premature culling due to emissions regs a shame but also ensured its popularity and growing cult status as a cult buy. Beefy 1402cc motor produced a creamy 105bhp and class-dominating torque. Today it’s a prized used buy.
What you’ll pay today £3200-£5500 and rising.
But should you? Hugely big and classy – if you can handle its size.
In the late 1990s, the Japanese targeted Ducati’s classic V-twin. But while Honda had the FireStorm and Suzuki its TL1000S (see above) V-twins, Yamaha produced the 900SS-alike TRX, but with a re-engineered, 270° crank version (to make it feel like a V-twin) of the TDM850’s parallel twin.
What you’ll pay today £2000-£3000.
But should you? An SS without the hassle. Rare, decent value, effective and charismatic.
Honda Bros 400/650 (1988-92)
While Britain received the dull Revere version of Honda’s 650cc roadster V-twin, Japan, the US and more got the more sporty Bros. With a perky, flexible engine and decent twin-spar chassis, it handles well, is impressively made and durable and is perky and fun enough to develop a grey import trade. Decent ones can still be found.
What you’ll pay today £800-£2700.
But should you? About as straightforward, pure and fun as bikes get.
Monstrously-motored behemoth is built around a unique, 2294cc, inline triple and has come in a variety of guises from classic roadster, to bagger to semi-streetfighter but all are about the car-like engine and the bike’s sheer scale. Utterly unique and draws crowds wherever it goes.
What you’ll pay today £7000-plus.
But should you? British, decent value and definitely stands out.
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