2009 Star V-Max Review/Test –

21 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2009 Star V-Max Review/Test –
Suzuki B-King Final Prototype

2009 Star V-Max Review/Test

This is a follow-up to our quickie ride story posted just one day after sampling the bike at its world press introduction in San Diego County. Here we delve deeper into the details of the exhilarating new VMax.

Now sold under Yamaha’s Star Motorcycles banner, engineers grappled with the concept of a rebirth of a legend. Star is positioning the new VMax at the edge of the expressive/aggressive personality of the modern cruiser category. As such, they use terms like hot rod, muscle, power and respect to describe what the VMax represents.

To make sure Star was hitting its target audience, they conducted extensive market research with focus groups. Owners of the previous generation (which have an average age of 45-plus years) insisted a new version should have improved handling, increased power, a better riding position and continued use of shaft drive. And they were adamant for Star to use a V-Four engine and keep the V Boost!

A larger, more powerful engine was always going to be necessary, especially after the arrival last year of the Hayabusa-powered Suzuki B-King. An all-new V-Four (see sidebar below) was created, achieving Star’s goal of reaching the 200-horsepower mark.

Bringing the VMax into the 21st century required enormous improvements to the flexi-flyer steel chassis of the old bike, so they threw it out and created an aluminum frame that uses the imposing engine as a stressed member for added rigidity. But getting a long, shaft-driven chassis to handle up to Yamaha’s standards proved to be the most challenging aspect of the new bike, causing a delay to the bike’s introduction until they got it right.

The production version of the chassis consists of a cast-aluminum perimeter-style frame and new alloy swingarm. The subframe is made from Controlled-Fill cast-aluminum sections and extruded-aluminum. The chassis’ geometry is closer to cruiser specs than sportbike numbers, with a 31.0-degree rake, 148mm of trail, and a 66.9-inch wheelbase. The previous model had sportier geometry: 29.0 degrees, 119mm, and 62.6 inches, respectively.

Suzuki B-King Final Prototype

This latest Max is about an inch wider and 3.7 inches longer overall.

It all adds up to a machine with immense visual punch. The VMax’s crowning accents are the aluminum air intake scoops that are now functional. The scoops are hand-polished to a fine luster (taking 40 minutes each!) then are clear-coated for an enduring shine.

What appears to be a fuel tank is really just a cover for the non-pressurized airbox and a place to mount a digital info panel that includes a clock, dual tripmeters, fuel gauge, gear indicator, coolant temp, mpg, intake air temp, throttle angle, stopwatch and a countdown indicator. Its electro-luminescence display is said to be clearer and faster than LCD. While the info panel is placed too low to be easily seen while riding, the giant muscle-car-like tachometer is in full view and is augmented by a shift light placed prominently alongside.

Upon firing, the VMax settles into a steady but menacing rumble. The V-Four, with its contra-rotating balance shaft, is quite smooth, but a rider never forgets there is something substantial reciprocating between the knees. A blip of the throttle reveals a fairly heavy flywheel effect, as revs don’t soar as quickly as smaller, sport-oriented engines.

The Heart of the Beast


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