Story and Photos by Mad Mac 9/29/04
Be sure to click on the small pictures on this page for larger pictures and a different perspective. Whether you own a V-Max or not, there are some tips here for buying, riding, maintaining and customizing motorcycles.
In this view, you can see the Galfer stainless steel over-braided hydraulic lines I installed for the clutch and brakes. Not only do they look cool, but SS lines eliminate line expansion and provide better brake and clutch control. That is why racing motorcycles use them.
The "Old Man," Don Smith, famous among V-Maxers, rebuilt my front forks, replaced the oil seals and installed 1-3/8 inch lowering blocks and Race Tech Series 90 springs. This really improved the handling.
I did a bit of subtle customizing using mostly imagination and some spray paint. For example the reflector bracket behind the seat was gray plastic. I shot mine semi-gloss black to contrast with and accentuate the sensuous curve of the aluminum grab rail. If you think you know your V-Maxes, click on this picture to see if you can tell anything else that is different. Then look at the pictures below.
You would never guess this custom trick in a million years. I used a file to remove the black from the corners of the three vestigial fins on each cylinder jug and square them up. You don't really notice it, but I think it gives the engine more depth.
I removed the Vmax emblems from the side covers, the top half of which had been bright aluminum and shot the covers semi-gloss black, then re-applied the Vmax emblems. Now, the chrome Vmax emblem contrasts dramatically against the dark background.
The original covers over the V-Boost valves were bright, chrome-plated plastic and, in my opinion, detracted from the scoops. Some V-Maxers simply remove the plastic covers but I sprayed mine semi-gloss black and put them back on. I did not want anything to compete visually with the scoops.
Yamaha put black plastic covers on the sides of the V-Max radiator. A reflector and a small, aluminum trim-piece adorned each cover. The amber reflector is probably not a bad idea, but I thought the aluminum strips unattractive. Underneath those strips I discovered small vents molded into the plastic covers, which I thought looked good. I peeled off the aluminum strips and cleaned off the gooey residue with Goof Off.
The single biggest change was removing the black paint from the lower half of the scoops. Light sanding provided the natural, brushed-aluminum look that I wanted. I was careful not to rub away the "bones." To my way of thinking, this shaded the scoops, provided more definition and made them look larger and rounder. The V-Max scoops are favorites for customizing with polish, paint, powder coating or chrome plating.
The V-Max starter cover and clutch cover have a 6-pointed design with a circle around it milled in bright aluminum. These were not appealing to me and seemed distracting, so I removed and painted both of them gloss black to match the engine case. The picture to the left shows most of the changes I made.
If you are not familiar with V-Maxes, this is what mine looked like before I customized it. Note the black lower-half on the scoop, the bright chrome V-Boost cover between the cylinder heads, the aluminum strip under the reflector on the radiator side cover, the aluminum upper half of the battery side cover and the six-pointed design on the starter case cover.
At 20 and 40,000 miles, I had major service done by K.S. Cycleworks in Katy, including valve adjustment and carb synchronizing. It was under warranty then, so I wanted to get the recommended service. Almost no adjustment was required either time. The bike is still running strong and getting good gas mileage now, so I have not taken it in for major service again, but I did replace the spark plugs, fuel filter and stuff myself at 60,000 miles.
In 2003, I rode this bike 6,200 miles from Houston to Glacier National Park on the Canadian border, down the Pacific Coast to Los Angeles and back to Houston. I wrote an article about the trip that you can read at California or Bust. An excerpt of the article was published in the American Motorcyclist.
The point I want to make here is that I would not hesitate to climb on this V-Max and repeat the ride again. This bike, carefully ridden and maintained, should be good for another 60,000 miles. It's ready to ride.
By the way, here in Houston there is an active V-Max Club with monthly rides, regional rallies and tech clinics. So, if you are interested there is plenty of support and activities to help you enjoy your "new" V-Max.
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