Yamaha V-Max vs Triumph Rocket III

The Yamaha (or Star Motorcycles, as I guess we’re calling that branch of the company now) V-Max has been the archetypal hooligan/power/super cruiser since its debut in October, 1984, at the dealer show in Las Vegas. In 2010, we’re so jaded about “superbikes” and whatnot, that it’s hard to remember sometimes, just what a revolutionary–and frightening–machine that 1985 V-Max was. There were professionals who were frightened of the thing back then.

Many years–and several generations of engine power upgrades–have passed since then, but after a bit of an absence, the V-Max returned in 2009, with the original 1200cc V-4 replaced by a monster 1700cc V-4, with a claimed output of nearly 200HP.

But, Triumph’s response to the V-Max is the 2300cc triple of the Rocket III.  With the largest motorcycle engine in regular production–the Boss Hogs notwithstanding–the Rocket III is no slouch in the musclecruiser category.

Now, Motorcycle USA has tested these two bikes head-to-head. At the end of the test, the difference between the bikes–aside from the much lower price of the Rocket III–really is a tale of the Dyno.

Triumph Rocket III Roadster vs. Yamaha V-Max: The difference is in the Dyno.  Simply choose your preference: torque or horsepower
Triumph Rocket III Roadster vs. Yamaha V-Max: The difference is in the Dyno. Simply choose your preference: torque or horsepower

With its much higher torque and low RPMs, the Rocket has grunt to spare, starting below 1,000RPM.  The V-Max, on the other hand, requires a more sportbikey riding style, dragging the power out of the high-RPM horsepower.  Either way, these bikes have tire-shredding, front-wheel-lifting power to spare.

Europe’s Top Bikes

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Our cousins in The Old Country love motorcycles as much as we do, but they don’t love the same motorcycles, apparently.  The French automotive magazine MotoRevue has released their list of top five motorcycles in Europe, and, as you might imagine, they’re quite different from the Motorcyclist picks of the year I wrote about a few days ago.

Three Italians–the Ducati Streetfighter and 1198, and the Aprilia RSV4–head the roster.  One Brit bike, the Triuph Speed Triple, makes the list. And the 2009 Yamaha Star V-Max rounds it off.

Apparently, our European cousins are speed freaks.  But then, they tend to have speed limits that are a bit less stodgy than those on this side of The Pond.

2010 V-Max Released

Yamaha’s Star brand of cruiser motorcycles has announced that the new, monstrously powerful 2010 V-Max is on sale as of today.  Sporting a 1679cc liquid-cooled 65° V-4 engine putting out 200 Horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque , the V-Max is the 800-pound gorilla of cruisers.

There’s a downside to this power, though.  27MPG fuel efficiency off of a 4-gallon tank means a refueling stop after less than 100  miles, unless you want to push it.  And the handling, while reportedly improved over the pre-2009 models, is still less than optimal.  So, no touring or twisties for this beast, just simple hot-rodding.

There’ve been no changes to the V-Max from 2009, except the new Cherry red paint.

Motorcyclist’s 2009 Picks of the Year

The mavens at Motorcyclist magazine have announced the winner of the award for 2009 Motorcycle of the Year, as well as their other picks.

Motorcyclist's Motorcycle of the Year: 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1
Motorcyclist's Motorcycle of the Year: 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1

The bike picking up the top award this year is the Yamaha YZF-R1.

Modern sportbikes are engineered so close to the edge of the performance envelope that we’re conditioned to expect incremental changes: a shaved pound here, an added pony there. It’s almost unimaginable that any sportbike could surprise us with a novel riding experience that realigns our understanding of what a liter-class sportbike is, and what one can do. The 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 is exactly that sort of bike-which is why it’s our Motorcycle of the Year.

Other notable picks include:

Ben Spies as the Motorcyclist of the year.

The Kawasaki ZX-6R as the best sportbike of the year, closely followed by the Ducati 1198.

The Ducati Streetfighter as the Best Naked Bike, followed by the Harley Davidson XR1200 Sportster.

The Kawasaki Concours14 as the year’s Best Touring Bike, followed by the Harley Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide.

Best Adventure Bike honors go to two BMWs, with the F800GS in the top position, and the R1200GS Adventure in second place.

The Best Dreambike is the Aprilia RSV4, with the BMW S1000RR as the follow-on.

Best Bang For The Buck goes to Kawasaki, with the ER-6n as the winner, and KLX250SF as the second-place finisher.

For Best Cruiser, Motorcyclist goes strictly for muscle this year, with the Star (Yamaha) V-MAX ruling the roost, and the Harley Davidson V-Rod Muscle in the supporting position.

Best Dirtbike is the Husaberg FE450; second best is the Honda CRF450R.

Best New Technology is the Honda Combined ABS system, followed by the Ducati Traction Control.

And, finally, the Best New Product honors go to the Gopro Motorsports Hero Wide Camera, with the Bazzaz Performance Z-FI Traction Control taking the runner-up position.