This isn’t the gun…it’s the bullet…
The Yamaha V-Max is one of the greatest muscle bikes in history. At its introduction in 1984, it was the fastest-accelerating production motorcycle ever made, a 600-pound beast capable of ripping through the quarter mile in just 10.8 seconds. V-Max was a ground-pounder, a fire-breather. Power came from a liquid-cooled, 1198cc V4 with 145 horsepower, 90 lb-ft of torque, and “V-Boost” butterfly valves — good for a 10% power increase over the base engine. The riding experience was nothing short of extraordinary. Said Cruiser magazine:
“Throw a leg over the stepped saddle, point Yamaha’s V-Max in a safe direction and pull the trigger. It might be smoking now but this isn’t the gun — it’s the bullet.”
Straight-line power was the bike’s only real strength. The V-Max was criticized for being overweight, softly-damped, and ill-handling…until Madrid’s Nitro Cycles got their hands on one, that is.
Says founder Antonio Testillano: “We are a family moved by the fuel.” Antonio takes his inspiration from race bikes, so it’s no surprise that lightness and improved performance are top priority for any Nitro Cycles build. This ’99 V-Max was no exception:
“Our aim is to make our bikes lighter and faster. That’s why we decided to turn this heavy custom bike into a “lightweight” one.”
The result is a lovely, leaner and meaner V-Max that appeals to us so much more than the near 700-lb, second-gen “VMAX” introduced in 2009. Below, we get the full story on this build, along with photos from Diego Bermudez of Revival of the Machine.
Yamaha V-Max Restomod: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
We are a family workshop based in Madrid, Spain. We grew up loving motorbikes — we have high octane gasoline in our veins! We opened our workshop five years ago due to this passion… We must try it, why not?
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
1999 Yamaha V-Max 1200.
• Why was this bike built?
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
I always get my inspiration from classic and modern race bikes. Our aim is to make our bikes lighter and faster. That’s why we decided to turn this heavy custom bike into a “lightweight” one. In this case, I got inspiration from drag bikes, Harley custom bikes, and classic race bikes.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
We changed the original front suspension. The new Hayabusa one puts the bike nearer to the road and improves braking with 3-piston calipers. We had to relocate the cooling system for correct functioning.
The rear suspension had to be shorter, too. We chose a tailor-made Hagon nitro. The rear wheel is wider than the original one, so we had to modify the swingarm to achieve a perfect fitment.
We wanted to give the bike a modern touch with LED technology for the lights.
We have installed a Nissin clutch and brake master cylinders.
Obviously, this is a V-Max, an iconic bike…and we can’t remove the side air intakes that give her a muscled look.
We modified the frame to make it shorter, and gave the rear wheel a huge presence.
The rear seat has been designed and built in fiberglass, shorter than the original one. We modified the gas tank to relocate the gas intake in the rear seat and to give her a racing touch. The thin custom seat give her a fluid shape.
We completed the bike with high quality components: motogadget speedo and end bar turn signal, Rizoma brake and clutch fluid reservoirs, grips and mirrors.
The paint job is a classic design…we combined white and black pinstripe.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
We call it “W-Max.” We already had a powerful motorbike…what we had to do was improve the weak points, and we think that we achieved this, so that’s why we doubled the “V”. This Max will beat the original one for sure.
• How would you classify this bike?
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I am very proud about the whole project… but, probably, the frame, gas tank and rear seat.