First Ride: 2008 Yamaha V Max

Jon Urry sends us back his impressions of Yamaha's eagerly-awaited 200bhp musclebike

Corners...the new VMAX loves 'em

IT'S BEEN twelve years in the making but Yamaha has finally launched their new VMAX. Has it been worth the wait?

Having sold over 100,000 machines over the old model’s 16-year reign, Yamaha took their time with the new model to ensure they got it spot on. And finally, now it's here, the beast feels absolutely perfect.

Yamaha claim the new VMAX motor makes 200bhp with 123lb.ft of torque. Impressive stuff. So what's it like? It will hold top gear (fifth) right down to 1,500rpm but will pull cleanly and smoothly right up to the (restricted) top speed of just over 130mph. It's an almighty two-wheeled nuclear powerhouse that makes the old Max look downright lame. V-Boost? What's that?

But this ain't no top speed gun, no siree. It's a quarter-mile, tarmac-rippling weapon that'll anihalate anything else on the road. Wheelie merchants will be a little disappointed and it’s longer than the old bike, with more weight up front, so despite being considerably more powerful it’s never going to head perpendicular to the line of flight.

But what you lose in show you get in go. The new VMAX leaves darkies like no other beast on the road. Bang out the clutch in first, pin the throttle and leave huge black lines at will. It's an absolute hoot - if an expensive one, which even I can master.

Unlike the old model, the new VMAX also handles. It’s still a big old bus, but the MAX held its own on the twisty smooth roads of San Diego, giving sportier machines a run for their money. Ground clearance is limited, but as you'd expect, this ain't no racebike. My only slight issue was that the forks got quite upset when you throw in a few bumps going into a corner, but the VMAX has fully adjustable suspension so I’m sure this can be sorted, and it only really happens if you are pushing hard.

But the smile's soon wiped from your face when you look at the price tag. £16,000 is a big chunk of anyone's money even if this is a premium bike with premium components, as Yamaha put it. And if you're thinking of haggling down the price at your local dealers then forget it; Yamaha say the price tag is fixed, and it will never drop. Reflections of their V-twin super-flop the MT-01? Let's hope not.

Price aside the VMAX is a worthy successor and continues the great VMAX name with style, huge power and tons of street presence. Those who have put their money down won’t be disappointed come November.