Old-school V4 muscle meets 21st-century style…
Introduced in 1984, the original Yamaha V-Max was the ultimate muscle bike, a two-wheeled hot rod boasting an 1198cc liquid-cooled V4 that made a pavement-buckling 145 horsepower and 90 lb-ft of torque. At the time, it was the fastest-accelerating factory street bike ever produced, running the quarter mile in a shade under 11 seconds — half a second quicker than the Honda Magna 1100.
The V-Max had been conceived by a small team of Yamaha engineers who holed up for 30 days in a California design studio with the single-minded mission of developing the strongest V4 motorcycle ever:
“The bike would come together as part of that most American of formulas, which has worked for everything from muscle cars to .44 Magnums to Mack trucks: Shoehorn big-ass horsepower into a strong, simple frame, dispense with all bells and whistles, and don’t add an ounce of anything unnecessary.” —Motorcycle Classics
The numbers were simply mind-blowing at the time, especially from a machine that looked more like a big drag bike than a fairing-clad race replica:
“Like the Vincent Black Shadow (ask your gran) or Kawasaki H2R of its day only much, much harder to handle. In 1985 it blew everything away because even though most of us had already decided that fairings, clip-ons and knee sliders were the future, it didn’t stop us looking at the photos of this unbelievable, unavailable motorcycle that claimed 40 percent more horsepower than anything else out there.” –Bennetts
For those fortunate enough to swing a leg over the saddle and crank the throttle on this V4 roadster, it was an experience not soon forgotten. A butterfly valve attached to a small motor opened as the engine revved past 6,000 rpm, allowing the fuel mixture from the twin banks of 35mm carbs to flow into a single chamber feeding all four carburetors — aka V-Boost.
“This is a bike built for the moody loner. No factory repli-racer resplendent in rainbow hues … no weekend offroading with the kids. The V-Max is all about wicked attitude in spades, anti-social behavior and burning up the other guy in stoplight to stoplight races. The V-Max was a hooligan bike a decade before the term existed.” —Motorcycle Classics
Enter our new friend Chris Scholtka of Germany, a full-time firefighter who builds bikes in his free-time under the moniker Motocrew. Chris actually spent 15 years racing in the country’s national motocross championships until a bad crash and serious back injury caused him to change directions:
“I stopped racing and started a new life. I found my luck at customizing bikes, especially in the cafe racer style. And now I build bikes from time to time…”
The ’96 V-Max you see here is actually his second custom V-Max build. His first, a ’98 model nicknamed the “Urban Tracker,” was featured on Bike EXIF. Says Chris:
“This one the ‘Urban Fighter’ — it’s a little more mundane than the ‘Urban Tracker,’ but in no way quieter!”
The bike has an FZR1100 front end, upgraded rear suspension, a hand-crafted custom subframe, Motogadget lights, stainless steel exhaust, Motocrew’s own frozen grips, and more. Below, we get the full story on the build in Chris’s own words, as well as more gorgeous shots from photographer @kylefx.
Yamaha V-Max 1200 Custom: In the Builder’s Words
So I’m a free-time bike builder; I just build stuff for friends. Most of my time is spent working as a firefighter in Cottbus, a city of 100,000 people located 100 km between Berlin and Dresden.
The bike stuff started with a PW50 at the age of five. I rode for 15 years in the national motocross championships, but after a bad crash and an injury to my vertebrae, I stopped racing and started a new life. I found my luck at customizing bikes, especially in the cafe racer style. And now I build bikes from time to time…
This 1996 V-Max is the second V-Max I’ve built. The first was the “Urban Tracker,” a bad boy V-Max with a little flat track touch to it, and this one the “Urban Fighter” — it’s a little more mundane than the “Urban Tracker,” but in no way quieter!
I swapped in an FZR1100 EXUP front end and a YSS rear shock system for better handling. The whole rear section is hand-crafted in steel by me. The Koso headlight out front with a Hookie Co. cover and the lights are from Motogadget. My personalized frozen Motocrew grips are also on it.
The exhaust was done by me with 55mm stainless steel pipe.
I think the “Urban Fighter” and the “Urban Tracker” are completely different than other V-Max builds — short, loud, and almost black 😉
Follow the Builder @motocrew.caferacer
Photos by @kylefx