2009 Star Motorcycles VMax Preview

A thrill ride beyond compare!

story by Kevin Duke, Photograph by Nelson & Riles, Alfonse Palaima, Created Aug. 22, 2008
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The 2009 Star Motorcycles VMax is ridiculous! Itís ridiculously big and itís ridiculously overpowered. But more than any of that, itís ridiculously entertaining!

As I sit here in the afterglow of a mind-numbingly thrilling ride through the backroads of San Diego County, it feels as if my arms are an inch longer than they were this morning. Iím stupefied by the bikeís 200 horsepower and its gargantuan size, making Mr. Max something akin to a cartoon caricature. But at the same time Iím wishing I had a few more hours of asphalt-churning, tire-melting, passion-building time in its saddle.

Our ride on the 2009 VMax was nothing short of exhilarating!

Think about this: The Maxís 197 crankshaft horsepower is more than what is in a Lotus Elise, and thatís a 2000-lb car that does 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds! With the VMaxís 684-lb wet weight, itís easy to anticipate a ridiculous (thereís that word again) sprint to 60 at least 2 seconds quicker!

Some people are wondering how this new Max stacks up against the iconic old Max that was introduced way back in 1985. Well, itís not only in a different league than the wobbly framed original, itís in a whole Ďnother universe. In place of a spindly steel-tube frame is a carefully tuned aluminum chassis. And you can forget the Thompson Twins-era brakes, too, as this new Max has massive rotors front and rear that are assisted by anti-lock braking control. 

Itís new from the ground up, but there is no mistaking the í09 VMax for anything else on the planet.

Visually, the VMax is quite impressive, and not just because of its imposing size. The former modelís faux air-intake scoops have been replaced with functional ones made from real aluminum, and Star reps tell us they are hand-polished in a process that takes 40 minutes each! Youíll also find stylish and unique master-cylinder reservoirs for the hydraulic clutch and Brembo radial-pump front brakes. Not easily seen in photos is a sweet but understated black-cherry metallic lurking in the paintwork.

Thereís a lot more here than just a retro homage to the former VMax. An aluminum frame keeps the chassis stiff and relatively light, and a sportbike-inspired slipper clutch eases downshifts. Suspension is fully adjustable at both ends. The DOHC 1679cc V-Four is endowed with Yamahaís YCC-T ride-by-wire throttle control and variable length intake tracts. The 4-1-2-4 exhaust features an EXUP power valve and titanium-skinned mufflers.

The gargantuan engine emits a burly V-8-like rumble. Thereís enough power and flywheel effect to pull away from a stop from idle, and it pulls like a nitrous-equipped locomotive from as low as 2500 rpm. Torque flows via a driveshaft to its massive peak of 122 ft-lbs at 6500 rpm. With that kind of punch, the 200mm rear tire has no choice but to spin up and smoke at full throttle in low gear. It also leaves long darkies in second gear! My day in the VMaxís wide saddle (which is more supportive than Obamaís health-care plans) consisted of more tire-smoking corner exits than Iíve had in my entire riding career!

The 65-degree V-Four is a monster, both in terms of size and power. Duke, not so much. VMax owners will want to strike up a friendly relationship with their tire supplier.

Not just a straight-line runner, the Max surprises with its cornering competence, too. While not anywhere close to being called flickable, its stiff chassis and beefy 52mm fork allow for quicker transitions than expected. Footpegs drag when ridden aggressively, but thereís more available lean angle than you might anticipate.

Star has limited production of í09 models to just 2500 units, and theyíre already more than halfway there. The first customers should receive their bikes in late October. Pony up $17,990 to get your own personal thrill ride.

Stay tuned for our full ride report next week!

Related Reading:
2009 Star V-Max Preview
2004 Yamaha VMax Review

1996 Musclebike Shootout

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