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Archive for May, 2008

May 27, 2008

Vmax, The Legend

The development story by Yamaha Product Manager, John Bayliss


It took a mere 10.30 seconds for the 1985 V-Max* to roar into the record books and the hearts of motorcycle adrenalin junkies around the world. A 130 lb drag racer by the name of Jay Gleason a.k.a. “Pee Wee” set the motorcycle world on its ear with his incredible ¼ mile run aboard a pre-production V-Max. Some cried foul because they felt the “pre-pro” machine was a “ringer”. In a blink of an eye, the V-Max legend had been established, much to the dismay of other manufacturers around the world.

In May of ‘85 the cries of foul were silenced when Cycle World magazine brought a production V-Max to the Bayland Raceway in Fremont, California and after a few shake down runs Mr. Max ripped through the ¼ mile at amazing 10.62 seconds with a trap speed of 129.87 miles an hour … with the mirrors still in place! On this occasion, the rider was 4-time US national drag racing champion Dale Walker who weighed in at “portly” 170lbs. By comparison, the legendary muscle cars of the early 70’s such as the Hemi ‘Cuda or big block Camaros were running ¼ mile times in the high 12’s to low 13 seconds range. The “King of Acceleration” had been crowned, be it the two wheeled variety or four.

How was the legendary V-max conceived? The story goes that a small group of Yamaha Japan staff members witnessed a “bridge race” over the Mississippi River while on a fact finding mission in the US. The bridge was 400 meters in length, and the competitors would start at one end of the bridge and race across to the other. Upon seeing this spectacle, discussions immediately ensued at the California head quarters of YMUS and senior planning guru Ed Burke began researching the market feasibility of a motorcycle that embodied the ideal of the American V-8 muscle car. First on the agenda was to find a suitable powerplant. The engineers in Japan had already been working on a V-4 engine for the Venture Royal touring bike. The problem was this engine only produced about 90 hp. Believe it or not; they considered the possibility of turbo charging the engine to get the required power but that was short lived. Then the idea for “V-boost” was floated. The premise being that at a certain rpm (6,000) two carbs would feed fuel to one cylinder. The resulting horsepower improvement was impressive. With some continued tweaking, the engineers bumped the power up to an amazing 145 ponies. As an extra bonus, the V-4 engine layout created an intoxicating exhaust sound that sounded like hot rodded big block V-8. As the engine progressed, the focus shifted to styling. The designers at GKDI in California wanted the engine to be the focal point of the V-Max and the concept of “engine maximum, body minimum” was born. The resulting design was totally unique in the market and V-max as we know it was born. The V-max was debuted to the world in the fall of ‘84 at the US dealer meeting; it would be a new model for the 1985 season.

The combination of power and unique styling plus Mr. Gleason’s historic ¼ mile time, allowed the new V-max to take North America by storm. Sales took off in the US and soon the rest of the world began to hear the rumblings of the V-max legend. In 1986, the V-Max hit the shores of France and eventually conquered the rest of Europe. What had started out as a model designed for the American public, had become an icon of acceleration around the world.

There was some talk about making a smaller V-max but it never happened. There were a small number of minor changes to the V-max along the way including new dish type wheels in the 80’s. In 1990 the ignition system was updated85_vmax_3_600.jpg and in ’93 the fork size was increased to 43mm while more powerful 4-piston front brake calipers were installed. Twenty four years later… “the rest is history” as they say.

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May 20, 2008

It’s Spring!

…So now what??

Carolyn HayTIME TO GO RIDING! Haha. Yes. It was a long winter, longer than usual since I had only owned my 2007 R6 for not even 3 weeks before I had to consider winter storage. I know, how unfair?! Believe me when I say I felt worse for my friends, haha, I think I wished for warmer days all too often.2007_yzf-r6_blue_2.jpg

And now they’re here! Time to celebrate! Dust off those motorcycles, get them road worthy, and go get lost somewhere. Being that this is my first motorcycle and the first time I’ve ever taken one out of storage, I asked a few experts what process I should be going through to ensure I’ve covered the basics. So I thought I’d share with you.

01-installing-battery.jpgCharge the battery. If you followed storage advice, then you pulled your battery like I did in the fall when you put it away, keeping it charged over the winter months.

Check the tire pressure. Tires are in good condition? Free of cracks? How’s the pressure? Ensure they’re set to correct spec (don’t forget, there are 2 specs, one for solo and another for two-up riding, see your owners manual).

Adjust chain tension. Adjust, not tighten (always remember to check your owners manual for correct spec) and lube your chain. Spray chain lube on the inside of the chain so it can “fling” through!

Check the brakes. Make sure both your front and rear brakes are working properly to avoid any “dragging” after they05-brake-cleaner.jpg have been applied and released. It’s also a good idea to wipe off the surface of disc brakes with contact/brake cleaner and a rag prior to testing.

Check all cables for smooth action, especially the throttle cable, prior to hopping on and riding off into parts unknown (or even the local gas station)!

03-checking-fluids.jpgCheck the oil. So, you were clever and followed storage advice from your owners manual, sweet, so all you have to do is make sure the level is good! If you didn’t, then get cracking and change that oil. See your owners manual for how-to or take it your local Yamaha dealer. Take a look and ensure all other fluid levels are good; coolant level (if your engine is liquid cooled); brake fluid levels (if you have hydraulic disc brakes). If the fluid is very dark or “muddy” in appearance, it’s time to change it.

Check the fuel. You should have topped up and stabilized the fuel in the fall, and if you did, the carbs should be fine. If02-remove-exhaust-plug.jpg you didn’t then open the gas cap and take a sniff, if it smells like varnish your bike may be hard to start and may not respond to the throttle – which means they may need to be disassembled and cleaned. Make sure your fuel petcock is open, if you have one. And remove any tape or rags etc you may have used to cover your airbox, before attempting to start.

seal.JPGFinally, do a walk around and thoroughly inspect your bike, pay close attention to things like fork seals keeping an eye out for any leaks.

I know. A long list isn’t it? Well, it only felt that way at 9am last Friday when I went to pick up my bike. But I took my time and made sure I looked everything over. Knowing it was my first ride in 6 months I06-finally-riding.jpg spent some time to get my “sea legs” back. I rode easy and only went out for an hour keeping a close eye on the road surface which still had loose sand in places from winter maintenance.

How about you? Got any good first ride stories yet?! 🙂 Cal


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May 13, 2008

Season’s Change –Understanding your battery

Power to the people???

The long winter has ended and motorcycles are uncovered and dusted off ready for a new riding season. You check the oil, hit the button and..click, not much happens. The battery has died. Maybe it can be recharged? If it is a conventional lead/acid battery (the type with yellow or red caps that can be removed and translucent case that lets you see the acid level), you may be able to recharge it with your trickle charger if it has not become too sulfated.

Sulfation is the crystal formation of sulfuric acid salts on the battery plates and is usually seen as a white deposit inside the case. It forms if the battery charge becomes low or if the plates are exposed to the air due to low acid level. The sulfation affects the activity of the affected lead plate area and the battery begins to lose life.

bat1.jpgMost modern motorcycles have Maintenance Free (MF) batteries which should more correctly be called Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) type. These are identified by having (mostly) a black case and no easily removable caps. They are called MF because it is not necessary (or advisable) to check the fluid level inside. The fluid is installed when the battery is first activated and becomes absorbed by a special fiber material (similar to blotting paper), which holds the electrolyte against the plates.

The main advantages of this type of battery are greater power for smaller size, slower self-discharge, tougher against knocks and vibration and reduced chance of spill. But these advantages come with a cost. The recharging of a discharged MF battery must be performed with special equipment. The MF battery plate will start to sulfate very quickly after discharge and this resists the electrical voltage from a regular charger. To get the charge into the battery, the voltage must be raised until the sulfate salts become broken down by electrolysis. It may take 18 or 20 volts to break through the resistance, but when it does break through, that voltage will quickly cause the plates to become hot. The heat can distort the plate and damage it or it can dry the electrolyte from the AGM. Therefore it is important to lower the voltage again to prevent the damage. Once the battery begins to accept the charge, we must keep constant amperage flowing to completely recharge the plates.

Your automobile charger will not vary the voltage sufficiently, nor will it maintain constant amperage but will usually lower the amps as the battery resistance to charge increases. (In conventional batteries, this increased resistance indicates the battery is nearing full charge).

Most quality repair shops for motorcycles will have an automatic constant amp charger which will recover a discharged MF battery but keep inbat2.jpg mind it can be a long process requiring at least a day and possibly longer. But even if you go to the parts counter and buy a new battery, it will still require an initial charge on the same automatic charger. Give the mechanic time to do his job. His charger probably cost him in excess of $600 and he made that investment to provide you with proper service.

And ask your dealer about a storage charger that you can connect to your battery while your bike is in hibernation to prevent the dreaded click”….



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