The original Yamaha V-Max remains one of the most beastly two-wheeled production bikes ever conceived, a 145-hp V4 cruiser that could blast down the 1/4 mile in a shade under 11 seconds. Unlike a sportbike, where you’d find yourself hunched over the tank like a horse jockey, your boots on the rear-set pegs, your body crouched in an ideal position to absorb the face-melting acceleration forces, the V-Max kept you in an upright position, threatening to tear your arms from their sockets.
“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.” –Cruiser
The bike was developed by a small team of Yamaha engineers with the mission of creating the most powerful V4 motorcycle known to man:
“Back in 1985, some bright spark in their R&D department stripped half the weight off their 1200cc V-four Gold Wing-aping full-dressed Venture tourer, tuned up the engine and gave us the craziest, least practical motorcycle we’d ever seen that looked like it was styled by Batman.” –Bennetts
The V-Max’s insane straight-line performance was matched only by its woeful inadequacies in the handling department. But then, that potentially lethal combination of high power and poor handling gave the bike a mystique not unlike the triple-cylinder two-stroke Kawasaki “Widowmakers” of the 1970s. And in the tradition of the V8 muscle cars of yesteryear, stoplight-to-stoplight is what matters most — and here the V-Max reigned supreme.
Enter our new friend Gonzalo from Argentina’s MotoRockers Garage, who started building/fixing his friends’ bikes out of his home garage and found his clients growing until he needed to open his first speed shop.
“In 2020 I knew it was time to push the shop to the next level, so I moved to a bigger garage, bought the necessary equipment, and nowadays we build our own parts. We have a machine room where we fix engines and a paint room also. We can modify, fix, and customize any bike from end to end.”
The bike you see here is an ’88 V-Max built for a client who had an idea of the colors he wanted, to which Gonzalo and crew added their own style and American muscle bike inspiration. Built over a one-year period, this V-Max has a modified subframe, custom tail, handmade saddle, relocated fuel system, handmade inox silencers, custom paint sprayed in-house, and tons of custom accessories — many of them fabricated in the shop. When we asked Gonzalo if the bike has a nickname, we weren’t too surprised at the answer:
“Not officially, but it’s THE BEAST for us. It’s the biggest bike we have ever built.”
Below, we get the full details on the build and more gorgeous shots from photographer Jony Paz (@jony.paz).
Yamaha V-Max Custom: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I have always been a bike lover, so I decided to start building them about four years ago, in 2017, in Mar del Plata, Argentina. It all started in my home garage, fixing my bike and making some arrangements to my friends’ bikes. At first it was a hobby but then it turned into business. One year later I realized I had more and more clients who wanted me to modify their bikes, so I made a move and officially opened my first speed shop, where I could have more space for bikes and also sold accessories, clothing, and original parts.
In 2020 I knew it was time to push the shop to the next level, so I moved to a bigger garage, bought the necessary equipment, and nowadays we build our own parts. We have a machine room where we fix engines and a paint room also. We can modify, fix, and customize any bike from end to end.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
Yamaha V-Max 1200, 1988.
• Why was this bike built?
This bike was built as a customer project. We started in February 2020 and finished it in January 2021.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Our client had an idea of the colours he wanted for the bike, so we took that idea, added some references from American muscle bikes, and finally included some inspiration from our own style.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Paint, chassis modification, fuel circuit relocation, handmade inox mufflers, handmade upholstery, and lots of custom accessories.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
Not officially, but it’s THE BEAST for us. It’s the biggest bike we have ever built.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
A really, really powerful sensation. And the sound, it’s so loud. Sounds like a racing car.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
We spent lots of hours designing and manufacturing the rear part of the bike, but it was totally worth it.
Follow the Builder
Photographer: Jony Paz (@jony.paz)
Do you sell any parts for Yamaha 1200 Vmax??. I like the Kawa, where did you put the battery??
How does it handle with the forks being that high in the tree? I am working on my 85 Vmax at the moment and love what you did with the air equalizer up top along with the braided line.