1997 Yamaha VMAX
This bike is a blast to drive. The designers of the V-Max envisioned an American Hot Rod on two wheels. They nailed it, for sure!
I spent hours researching bikes online during the months of June, July and August of 2011. Tooling around on the old XS400 that summer had given me the bug to get something bigger, faster, and more comfortable. I wanted a new bike, but didn't have the money. I put my 66 Impala up for sale on Craigslist but didn't get any decent offers. I wasn't going to give that away, so I thought about saving up some money. BUT the deals here in upstate NY are in the fall, not the spring, so I did something that I haven't done in over 2 decades: I asked mom and dad for a loan. 3,500 dollars later, I narrowed my choice to 3 different V-Maxes, each one at least 90 minutes away.
On Monday, September 5th, I checked out a 1997 V-Max out by Conesus Lake. Funny, I almost didn't go look at this one thinking that I'd never get it for the right price. Yet this would be the bike I'd eventually buy.
On Tuesday, I looked at an 85 (first year)
near Syracuse. Only 8,500 miles. The owner graciously offered to
let me ride it. My first time on a Max. It was a blast. The bike
was all stock with the exception of a 4-2 Jardine. Cosmetically
it was a little rough (paint faded, chrome pitted, surface rust).
Mechanically it seemed very good. He wanted 3500, firm. After a
quick stop home I headed in the opposite direction to West
Valley, NY (about 45 minutes past Hamburg) to look at an 89 with
31,000 miles. Very well kept. New tires, nice windshield,
backrest, Corbin seat. Stock exhaust (very quiet). The tallest of
the bikes I've sat on. After a 400 mile day I was back home at
My impression was that I really liked the 97 that I looked at on Monday the best. It sat the lowest and sounded the best. Lots of upgrades and 15k miles. A tad nicer cosmetically than the 89. (I ruled the 85 out since the owner was so firm on his price.)
But he was asking 4500.
I called the owner of the 97 first thing on Wednesday. I told him about the bikes I had looked at and that it was between his bike and the 89 in West Valley. I liked his the best, but not for 4500,so I offered him 3500. He immediately rejected the offer saying that he can't go any lower than 4100. I thanked him and replied that he has helped me make my decision. I can't do 4100 so I would give an offer on the 89. Then I call the owner of that bike and we negotiated at 2950.
What happens next?
I get a long text from the guy with the 98; he's trying to talk me into 4k now. I call him back, explaining my situation, telling him that I could eek out 3600 but no more. But I have to know right away as I have an agreement with another seller.
Phone rings 20 minutes later. He says, in light of the economy he will take my offer and that "I'm getting a heck of a deal at 3600." He also told me that in the spring he turned down 4k as he was asking 5k at the time.
I then contacted the owner of the 89 Max and bent over backwards apologizing for what happened and backing out of our (non-binding) verbal agreement. Thankfully, he understood.
After picking the bike up on Thursday, and riding it home with no windshield, I figured that I needed a full-face helmet I looked online for some good prices. Nothing for less than 65.00. I checked Craigslist. There were two listed for sale within my price range. One was already gone and I never heard back on the second one. So I thought, "Why not post an ad myself?" I put up an ad saying I needed a decent full-face helmet ASAP for 40.00 or less. Less than 30 minutes later a guy on his lunch break calls me offering me a nice Nolan convertible (full-face to 3/4) for 30 bucks! I had the helmet within the hour and love the fact that I can wear it as a full-face or open.
Within the first week I tweaked a few things here and there. After my riding boots kept getting caught in them (almost fell over at a stop sign) I replaced the billet driver's footpegs with the original factory pegs. I installed the fly screen (and bought a full face helmet!).
1997 V-Max purchased in September, 2011 with 13,200 miles.
I've since done the following:
I know that the stage 7 kit with slip-ons isn't ideal for performance, but it sounds great and I don't know if I'm up to spending a grand for a 10-15% gain.
Some pictures and a 4 minute video . . .
A montage of some
pictures I took right after
Here's a picture
I took in front of the old
Same as at left but from a different angle
A nice pic in
front of the historic Clarkson
Same as left but from a different angle
A nice side shot in the green grass
Next to the
historic Clarkson Academy Schoolhouse
Close up shot
Vertical shot featuring the fire escape
Here's a nice low shot looking up from the grass
One more from a different angle
Here's an updated video taken on
Some bikes I've owned in the past
The bike I bought in High School, my first-ever motorcycle: 1975 Honda CB 750 F (super sport). The pic on the right is a stock photo for comparison.
Sometime in the mid-1990s I bought a very nice 1975 Kawasaki KE100 two-stroke enduro (stock photo below). The bike was really too small for me, but the price was right and I did get some off road desert riding in. I basically gave it away to a needy son of a friend. He painted the entire motorcycle black and trashed it. :-(
In 1998 a friend offered to sell me his 1981 Yamaha XS1000 Midnight Special. It had 7k original miles and was bone stock down to the black chrome pipes. This bike was near showroom condition. We lived in Chandler, AZ at the time and had a condo with outside covered parking (no garage). I kept the bike covered, but the heat and dust did remove some of that new bike shine. At the time I had a 1970 Ford Maverick (302 V8) and then acquired a 1966 Impala. Sold the Maverick and the Yamaha shortly before we moved to Rochester, NY in the Fall of 2002. A guy from CA bought the XS sight-unseen and sent a freight truck out to pick it up. He had on just like it when he was in his 20s and wanted to revisit that experience. They are hard to find in the shape that mine was in. I wonder if he still has it?
Late 2009 I received this 1982 XS400 Heritage Special from some good friends as a Christmas gift. I wish I had taken a few before pictures of this bike before I started to work on her. The previous owner had the bike for 20 years and put about 4k miles on it during that time (less than 13k total miles when I got it). The first pic, for comparison, is of a very nicely restored 1982 XS400 LJ. The bike I inherited, while in good shape, was nowhere near as pristine as this one. But rather than bring her back to original condition, I turned it into a rat bike. I removed the air filters from the air boxes and reconnected them without the enclosures allowing for better air flow. I removed all the badges, including the 'Yamaha' on the tank and the 'Heritage Special' adorning the side covers. I covered the indentations in the tank with stainless flaming eagles. To stay on track with the de-badging I filled the Yamaha imprint on the cases with liquid steel. Both cases were then sanded, primed and painted flat black. I also added some shorty shocks and modified the exhaust (wrapped straight pipes). She sounded . . . interesting. It was a light and nimble bike that ran great after I rebuilt and jetted the carbs.