2009 Yamaha VMAX - Tech Talk

The new 2009 VMAX has just hit Indian shores. We take a look at the advanced technology at work behind the scenes in this mean mother of a bike that makes it an even bigger monster than most supersports bikes.

Back in 1985, when big-block V8 muscle cars dominated the drag strips, Yamaha decided to capture the essence of such cars and translate it to two wheels.
The result was a radically styled 1.2-litre V4 engine motorcycle pumping out 140 PS of power called the V-Max that captured the imagination of motorcyclists everywhere and was the very epitome of a drag bike - a simple chassis, lots of horsepower, fast in a straight line but not really designed to corner.
Even though the V-Max has seen a few improvements over the years, the overall bike has remained virtually unchanged through its 23-year production run. But what was mind-blowing in the 80s became pretty paltry in the 21st century. So come 2008, Yamaha decided to do away with the old and bring in the new, and the all-new VMAX which they brought out is sheer automotive excess. More cubic capacity, more horsepower, more torque, more speed, more stopping and vitally lots of cutting edge technology to make all this possible. We explore all this new technology on the new VMAX that actually makes its predecessor look mild in comparison.
At the heart of the 2009 VMAX is an all-new 1,679cc liquid cooled 4-stroke DOHC V4 engine which runs the same 66.0mm stroke as its predecessor, but now runs a bigger 90.0mm bore on each of the four cylinders. The biggest change in technology in the new VMAX's engine is the switch to fuel-injection over the carbureted setup of the old 1,198cc mill. The end result is an engine that produces 200 PS of power and 166.8Nm of torque. To cope with the increased power outputs, the VMAX's engine now uses forged aluminium pistons and Fracture-split (FS) carburized con rods. Weight reduction and mass centralization is the new mantra here, with use of lightweight materials wherever possible. The engine also receives a healthy dose of Yamaha's G.E.N.I.C.H. (Genesis in Electronic engineering aimed at New, Innovative Control technology based on Human sensibilities) engineering philosophy that uses technologies like YCC-I (Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake) and YCC-T (Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle) which have been successfully implemented on the Yamaha R1 over the last few years.

The YCC-I system is designed to vary the intake funnel length to give an optimized intake pulse that best suits the prevailing engine speed. In very general terms, a long intake passage tends to improve low to mid-range torque while a short passage helps at higher engine revs. In the VMAX, when the engine revs climb over 6,650rpm, electronic servomotors make each intake funnel separate instantly, creating a shorter intake measuring only 54mm, which enables the massive V4 motor to deliver even stronger performance from the mid-range right through to peak rpm. YCC-T on the other hand is a fly-by-wire system which using high computing speed assesses the engine's running conditions every millisecond and factors that into the equation along with the amount of throttle input from the rider to optimize the amount the throttle bodies need to open. This allows for instant throttle response at any engine speed along with the desired torque curve in all conditions and also prevents the engine from bogging down should the throttle be snapped open too quickly.


Another innovation with the VMAX's engine are the new 4-valve compact pent-roof combustion chambers which along with the introduction of an ingenious new camshaft drive system save a lot of space in the cylinder heads. Yamaha's engineers have designed an all-new system in which the intake camshaft is driven by a chain, while the exhaust camshaft is driven by a gear mechanism. This innovative combined chain and gear cam drive minimizes the pitch between the intake and exhaust camshafts, which in turn permits a much more compact design. Despite a 40-percent increase in cubic capacity with the new engine, the smaller head and narrower V-angle of the cylinders (65-degrees), the new engine's width is approximately the same as that of the old one and overall height is only 6.5mm more. This helps centralize the engine's mass as well, improving overall handling characteristics of the new VMAX.

Just like its predecessor, power to the rear wheels is sent through a shaft drive system. But the new VMAX's system has been made much slimmer and more compact, while reliability has been dramatically improved. Among the other race-bred technologies to make their way on to the new VMAX is a slipper clutch, which prevents rear wheel lock up when downshifting rapidly. The new 4-1-2-4 exhaust system with short upswept mufflers not only sounds and looks fantastic, it also features a 3-way honeycomb catalyser to reduce exhaust emissions and meet stringent EU3 regulations.

The old V-Max was known to be a terrible handler and was designed only to be fast in a straight line. Now this might have been acceptable in the 80s when drag racing was huge, but it definitely won't fly with the modern, discerning motorcycle buyer. So this new VMAX comes with a completely new advanced-specification aluminium frame which has been designed to deliver high levels of handling performance.

The new diamond-type frame features an immensely strong yet lightweight structure that is made up from a variety of gravity-cast, CF die-cast and extruded aluminium sections. This innovative new design incorporates gravity-cast components for the main frame and pivot assembly, while the rear frame is made from a range of Yamaha's exclusive CF die-cast parts and extruded parts which are welded together. This combination of these different types of aluminium, each with a different rigidity level, is one of the major factors in achieving the desired balance of rigidity. And by incorporating the V4 engine as a stressed member - using cast-iron mounts at the front, the centre of the V bank and at the top and bottom of the crankcase - the overall chassis rigidity balance is further enhanced.

On the suspension side, the new VMAX features 52mm telescopic forks at the front are all-new and have been designed to deliver a smooth ride with neutral handling characteristics. To top it off, the front suspension is fully adjustable for preload, as well as rebound and compression damping, allowing riders to customize the ride to suit their own requirements. Steering geometry has also been adjusted to better improve the bike's cornering abilities and give it easy, neutral handling. The rear suspension is a link-type Monocross system which is, like the new front forks, is fully adjustable. The new VMAX is equipped with a hydraulic remote adjuster for preload setting, while a remote control dial beneath the tandem footrest adjusts the compression damping. Another remote control dial beneath the left-side swingarm allows easy adjustment of the rear shock's rebound damping.

Of course, a bike that has so much power as this new VMAX needs brakes to match. And for exactly that reason, the new braking system on this bike is one of the most sophisticated and powerful designs ever seen on a Yamaha motorcycle. Dual 320mm diameter wave-type discs with radial-mounted 6-piston calipers and a radial-type pump in the master cylinder are incorporated for excellent stopping power and braking feel. The rear features a massive single 298mm wave-type disc as well which comes with a pin-slide type single-piston caliper. A newly-developed linear-controlled hydraulic ABS system complements the brakes and enhances control over a variety of road surfaces and in varying riding conditions. The hydraulic control system is activated by a linear solenoid valve which prevents wheel lock-up during braking, allowing the rider to experience smooth lever action and achieve effective braking on different types of road.

This mean machine is by no means designed to take on the race tracks on the world. But keeping in spirit with the muscle cars from which the original V-Max took its inspiration, this new bike, aided by a plethora of new technologies is all set to carry on its predecessor's legacy into the 21st century.

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