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History of the 1st Generation V-Max

Pre 1984: The mighty V4 was an adaptation of the long running Venture Royale engine. To read more about the development, click here to read a Yamaha Design Cafe article I can no longer find on the YDC site.
1984: The V max was created and introduced to the public in October. At the time, the V-Max sported the world's largest production-bike rear tire. It was a V-rated 150/90-15 with a V-pattern tread. The 1985 model was the only year the "V max" was pressed into the side covers. 
1985: Aimed at the modern American Hot Rodder, the 1985 model V-Max was introduces to the States. 

Here is a press snip:

"Horsepower. America's four-wheeled hot rodders have loved the stuff for years. Until now real power's been the exclusive property of guys with blown vee-eights and hemi heads but at last there's a two-wheeled equivalent to the big-inch vee-eights street rod. Enter the V-MAX."

I have also noticed they did not have rear view mirrors present for 1985 photo shoots.

1986 A new 3D emblem added and the rear wheel was updated. Aside from color changes, these two items will remained unchanged until end of this versions production in 2007. The foot pegs are also revised. The 1986 model was introduced for Europe in France, it was absent the V-Boost mechanism. For the States, this model brought the following changes: The diameter of the V-Boost tubes was increased from 30 mm to 32 mm. The non-DOT approved exhaust canisters are corrected to be compliant. 
1987 models are hard, if not impossible, to acquire in the States. The European model received an updated front wheel that remained unchanged until end of production in 2007. Black air scoops, side covers and tail lamp mount. Canadian models were produced with a chromed instrument cover. 2nd Gear problem received attention for the first time

1988 the front wheel was updated and remained unchanged until end of this versions production in 2008.

 

1989 The valve covers have a gold tone added to them.

1990 model brought a drastic change to the ignition system. The ignition was changed from a 4 pickup analog style to a single pickup digital electronic ignition. The flywheel was changed as the number of magnetic ignition events went from 2 events to 6 events. The starter went from a 2 pole motor to a 4 pole motor. The wire harness was changed to accommodate these upgrades. Back to aluminum color for air scoops. Introduction for Japanese domestic market.
1993 had some fundamental chassis changes. Fork tubes diameter increase from 40 to 43 mm. The "air joint" equalization tube was removed. It was equipped with new brakes: the front brake rotors were increased in diameter from 282 mm to ventilated- drilled front brake discs of 298 mm. The front brake calipers were also upgraded to the 4-pot system over the previous 2-pot system. An upgraded more powerful generator was also added. Metzeler tires instead of Dunlop.

1996 A redesigned engine block which incorporates a spin-on oil cartridge type oil filter element. The engine was reported to have a new style connecting rod. A new larger finned voltage regulator was adopted. Oil drain screws at the bottom of the fork tubes was eliminated.  A rubber plug added to the bottom of the lower triple tree. The rear drive housing changed slightly. The casting was machined down an additional inch at the axle nut area to accommodate a shorter axle. The assembly included a larger diameter and thinner washer with a lock nut. Black was added to the wheels, air scoops, exhaust system and fork outer tubes. A helmet lock was added to the left rear frame area.
1998 Back to chrome exhaust system

1999 Back to polished wheels and fork outer tubes. Carbon Fiber look for fenders. The shift segment which fastens to the end of the shift drum was upgraded.  Early models would have pins falling out because bendable tabs retained them. A dropped pin prevented you from being unable to shift/downshift from certain gears depending on which pin(s) fell out.  In '99 they changed it to a single piece to prevent this.
2001 Carbon Fiber paint scheme was introduced on the tank cover. New fork seal guards are added to the lower fork legs. There are slight changes to the forks damper rod and bolts.
2003 The engine block was slightly redesigned. The script on the speedometer, tachometer and temperature gauge was changed. The paint scheme was a matte black with 2 silver stripes adorning the tank.
2005 is the year of the 20th anniversary of the V max and the motorcycle presented with a new flamed paint scheme and a numbered anniversary badge to the tank of the 2005. The 3D emblem had a red underlayment added. The wheels are back to black and this is the first year for the wheels to have pin stripes. The engine block was a dark matte graphite
2006 brings a new Raven/Shift Red Flames color scheme. Bottom is blacked on the scoops. The engine is still matte black and the side covers are black and the 3D emblem is still sporting the red underlayment. Production of this version of the V-Max ended 2007 with this paint scheme.

Youtube Video of A Nightmare on Elm Street 5. Move to 2:00 minutes into the movie to see a V-Max!

If you see some that needs correcting or want to add colors or additional info, e-mail me.