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September 13, 2007

Vmax4…ever

I had an interesting comment come in on the ‘FX Nytro Fuel Capacity post from V-Max Forever. He has over 20,000 miles on his Vmax4 and he reminded me of my experiences on several of the big 4’s. How many 15 year old snowmobiles are still going strong with a die-hard owners posse, complete with their own exclusive, web-site? I have seen this in motorcycles where a particular model will attain ‘cult’ status within a group but I can’t think of any other sleds that have carved quite the niche that the Vmax4 has.

The Vmax4 has special meaning for me as a Yamaha product manager. It was the first project I got to work on from concept right through to production and what a project it turned out to be. Kenny Takada was the lead development engineer or, as we refer to the position, ‘project leader’. He had a strong background in motorcycle and a whole bunch of new ideas he wanted to develop with this new sled. I remember the first sessions of ‘sketch checking’ the concepts. We were way out there compared to the ‘wedgey’ styling of the day. One thing that I really thought cool was

the original headlight which had triple beams, two of which were pointed off to the sides of the trail and were ‘switched’ by the steering system, only illuminating when turning in the direction of the beam. This was to give a lighting function much like the original Phazer with the handlebar mounted headlight, alas we had to abandon based on cost issues. We decided to build an all aluminum chassis to save weight (no Skidoo didn’t invent that concept 😉 ), this included the bulkheads and much of the linkage but the eye-opener for me was the aluminum skis. At the time nobody was using plastic for OE skis, we kicked it around but there were concerns over the properties relative to ultraviolet rays. We didn’t know if they could become brittle in time and crack (or worse) so we opted for the next best thing, aluminum. I had recently moved from the mountains of BC and was aware of a new trend out west. Some guys from the oil patch in Alberta had discovered a plastic material used for lining steel so products wouldn’t corrode, stick or abrade especially at sub zero temps. Soon after a couple of after-market companies started making ski, belly-pan and running board covers out of the stuff to reduce the drag of sticky snow. Ekholm Enterprises out of the Okanagan valley was one of the first to employ the new UHMW plastic, which has become the ‘norm’ for many snowmobile applications. I pushed hard for a plastic base for the new skis and Kenny made it happen but you know, I’m still not sure if pink should have been our first color of choice or was that ‘fuscia’… doh! 😉 . There were many firsts on the sled but the big news was the engine which I believe is the reason there are still a bunch of them still running around today. The idea of gearing two twins together and using 90 degree timing with small bore flats slides went beyond anything we expected. Toe_16.jpg keep the drive line alive,  a new secondary was designed. As it turned out, it was this new secondary that would prove to be our Achilles in extracting the maximum performance. The center to center of the clutches required a new longer drive belt which introduced the friction reducing ‘top cog’ design common on most new sleds these days.

We hosted some special testing in Canada during the spring of 1991. Our QA division (quality assurance) needed to find some good sea level snow and ‘volunteers’ to assist them in confirming final specifications using a special pre-production sled.

A pre-production sled differs from a prototype where the latter is generally hand fabricated using sand-castings and other time consuming, expensive, one-off processes for early testing where a pre-production is built using die-cast and other parts from the same tooling to be used in mass production. The pre-pro sleds are assembled as close to final production as possible, carefully monitored, tested and disassembled under a microscope before final approval is given to go into full production but I digress...

Tim Chelli, our newly appointed national service manager and myself were asked to join the testing team near Mont Joli, Gaspé QC. When we were all done, the engineers offered us a great opportunity to allow some VIP media guys to ride the sled prior to its formal introduction. (This was before the ‘sneek peek’ events so common today). I asked March Maeda if he would set up the sled for maximum performance and was shocked at what he did. He removed the brand new drive belt and dug one of the old testing belts out of a box destined for Japan quickly installing it on the sled. He explained that the new belt required about 1200km to break-in and produce the best speed as he dusted off his hands and walked away. I was stunned, up until then most sleds were doing pretty good to get a1000km out of a V-belt without loosing performance or smoking them entirely.

It took a very brief phone call to Mark Lester at Supertrax who was heading for the airport before I could hang up the phone. Another old friend of mine was quick to respond, Rollie Faille tech writer for Motoneige Quebec magazine (and ambassador for the Lanaudiere region) got there before the Lester’s. I recall looking over my shoulder as we were leading Rollie out onto the trails, just as he happened to drop the pre-pro into a huge sucker hole surrounding a power pole. All I could see was a vacant sled ghost-riding towards me with some flailing arms and legs behind it. No damage done but a couple of days later I received the call that Rollie suffered a heart attack upon returning home. I sent him a get well message with the comment I was hoping the Vmax would have made a strong impression on him but this was not what I was expecting. That same snowmobile now resides at the Bombardier Museum in Valcourt Quebec, one of only two Yamaha’s on display (the second being an 84 Phazer) to be recognized by Skidoo as benchmark sleds in the industry. Merci Pierre.

There are a lot of Vmax stories that come to my mind, Tim Bender in corner three at Valcourt on the factory F-III, hit the afterburners in one of the most dramatic race finishes I have ever seen… Rick Cannon from Roller-Rooster on his turbo charged Vmax4 on a quiet sunlit lake at 9000rpm, what a sound… the frost bite I received on my face, riding for the original US brochure and video photo-shoot in Alaska… Wally from Sudbury performing an insanely long water-skip through a rocky gorge in the eerie moonlight while we watched from the cliffs above… Waldy Pietrowski bank turning the big sled through a long, deep, uncut meadow in his perfect style for the film cameras of Curt Peterson and Snowmotion 1… Pulling the trigger on the new 800 up the Denali Hiway at first light and watching the speedo climb rapidly into triple digits… Man I hope it snows somewhere soon. Thanks for the memories Vmax Forever.

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40 Responses to “Vmax4…ever”

  1. DoktorC says:

    My favourite V4 memory was travelling to Marilla, New York (as seen in Snowmotion 1) to see the grass drags in ’93. I’ll never forget Bruce Schrader (driving for Bender Racing) launching on everyone. The sled pulled to the left, he got out of the gas, straightened the sled then just pulled everyone out the end with his fist in the air. What a great day to be a Yamaha fan!! That “retired” ’92 V4 was also the very first big sled I’d ever ridden…it was SO smooth..kind of like a jet plane. Arm straightening smoothness lol. Thanks for the memories!

    Yo Doc… U R most welcome…I well remember that sled and a couple of set-up sessions on same. In your case it may have had a little something to do with a future drag racer..no? cheers cr

  2. Vmax4Power says:

    I still remember the first time that I saw the new 1992 Vmax-4 750 in person, needless to say it was so awesome that I had to buy one, thankfully I still lived at home and could afford the $8499.00 price tag!

  3. lyle weber says:

    To date these are still one of my favorite sleds. i have owned 5 of them over the years and now haven’t owned one since 2000. I now drive the new 4 strokes RX-1 and now the attack. I am always on the lookout to buy a premium v4 and when it does come i am not sure how i am going to tell the wife why i need that old sled sitting in my garage just to have as a keepsake

    Well now Lyle you might try finding one the same color as your RX-1, hopefully she won’t notice it… 😉 cheers cr

  4. Stephen Burdick says:

    I have to say, I was bit by the bug, and have one of the 1992 sleds……… Check my website if you are interested in seeing some pics. WAY COOL HISTORIC SLED!!!!!

    Thanks

  5. Yamahaalltheway says:

    Lyle, you should look for one of Pat Haucks old race sleds, he painted some of them up blue with strobe graphics – it would blend right in with your RX-1, your wife would never know.(LOL!)

  6. 791cc'sofpurepower says:

    Very interesting article!
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us,
    do you have any other tid bits of information to share that the typical Vmax-4 owner would not know about?

    There are lots more where that came from, I’ll have to dig into my filing cabinet and scan some old pictures, then pick some brains, glad you like the nostalgia… cheers cr

  7. racer7x says:

    Awesome reading !! I look forward to see some of the nostalgia you have also. I would like to thank you for the link back to my site at http://www.vmax4.com .
    Thanks again,
    Dean
    aka racer7x

    Enjoyed my first visit to your site, (I’ll be back) looks like a great crew on the forum board, thanks for your efforts! cheers cr

  8. brock norris says:

    Hi CR;
    Yes the best memory of the Vmax4 had to be at the OSRF race in Owen Sound when Team Bender showed up unannounced and proceeded to eliminate all of the competion pulling
    112 MPH on the straight of a 1/2 mile ice oval on his Formula 3. Seeing Bruce and Tim download the racepac data and show me that there was still ‘Lots Left” just gave the underdog Yamaha camp some pride and bragging rights. The sound of 2 of these 4 bangers screaming down the straight sure brought the crowd to its feet. Then Monday morning we see the Globe and Mail with the pic of our Exciter on the front page of the sports section passing the #11 Skidoo for the win in B stock . Some memories just don’t let go of the pride we had in the Team Yamaha camp .
    Lets see how did it go again ?
    – Think ! Go Fast ! Then Turn Left !
    Maybe we better dust off that GPX and get ready to go to Valcourt this winter for that vintage class.!!!!
    Some things just never leave your blood.
    See Ya Chris

    Thanks Brock, that was one heck of a weekend alright. Was it you who had the ‘turn on lubers’ right after the ‘think’ part? 😉 cheers cr

  9. Bruce Hildred says:

    CR.. Good artical, it brought back a lot of memories. I remember a Yamaha Tour semi that had a pre-production Vmax-4 and all the goodies at 4Seasons Yamaha in Fort Mac like it was yesterday.

  10. Ike says:

    Great reading!

    I got bitten by the the V-4 bug long ago. I searched almost 8 years for the 800 ST version. Now, after 3 seasons of owning it, it still gives me shivers down the spine when I start it up. Got to love it!

    I´m also member on the Vmax4.com site. Great bunch of guys there.

    Ike

    Thx Ike, looks like I am going to have to write another piece on the Vmax4 based on all the positive comments I have received and read over on Vmax4.com…. cheers cr

  11. Pete Sm2 says:

    Hey CR,
    I have to admit one of my fondest memories was playing on your V-Max 4 up at Eagle lake. Yeah the one you had the quad pipes on and all those Bender goodies. Well after all these years its fess up time, might not remember switching sleds with my stock Max-4,I think you stayed back to wrench on a sled that a tree jumped in front of..well while pinned wide open (on your sled)across that powder covered lake, I lightly gripped er…. seized it to be exact , sat on that sled for about a hour in the pitch black Haliburton night waiting for it to cool down. I finally got it running brought it back and parked it in front of our cabin ..strange thing..the next day the same thing happened to you too…but worse !..Sorry bout that,man

    Well now after 15 years you can finally have a good nights sleep… cheers cr 🙂 🙂

  12. Wilf Jost / The Wolfman says:

    Great reading.. I’ve been involved with the big four since we delived the first lot back in ’92. They’ve given me many great memories and I’m still making new ones with my current Max, but I especially enjoy shredding the new sleds with an old dinasaur.

  13. Ike says:

    Hello CR!

    I was just wondering did Yamaha use other brand sleds as a comparison when developing the Vmax-4 (or any other Yamaha model)?

    We had rumours and news last season in one of our finnish snowmobile magazines that Yamaha or BOSS racing was interested of buying the LYNX PPS rear suspension system for their open mod sno-X sled? Any of theese thing true? Or can you comment in any way?

    Ike

    Hey Ike,Yes we definitely purchase competitors models for evaluation and study (and they also do the same). Generally when a new sled is developed there are targets established early on (handling, acceleration, bump stability, etc). We often choose a similar model either one of ours or a class leader to be a ‘3’ out of ‘5’ and benchmark from it in many categories.
    I remember using an evil handling Mach 670 and a Wild Cat 700 during Vmax 4 testing and I’m sure their was an Indy in there somewhere.
    It is quite possible one of the snocross programs would have acquired a Lynx skid for use or evaluation. This would likely have come from YMENV, our importer for European market or one of their subsidiaries. Over here a Lynx generally hangs out in trees and drops onto unsuspecting prey.. virtually unknown cheers

  14. Ike says:

    Thank´s for the info! Great to get some insight of how theese great sleds were developed.

    And a another question :

    do you know how many Vmax-4´s were build during 92-97. And if you do, can you tell how many in each year. I know the 97´s are rare, but how rare? All the guys over Vmax4.com are asking the same thing once and a while.

    Let us know!

    Ike

    Don’t have that number at the tip of my tongue but I’ll try and find out 4 U all cheers cr

  15. yamajeff17 says:

    I am curious on the V-Max 4’s for the last year of production 1997-How many did the factory produce? Also and more importantly (for personal reasons) how many were produced then released in the USA then Canada? Love my V-Max 4’s…thanks yamajeff17@hotmail.com

    I’m looking into that for you Jeff, Ike also wants to know the same data. I’ll include it in an upcoming post.. cheers cr

  16. Gorkon says:

    I ride an Attak now, kept my SRX mountain cause I loved it, and my 93 750 is sold to a fellow that I ride with. I love the Attak, but every once awhile my old 750 goes roasting past me and I always marvel at how freakin cool it sounds and looks as it goes by, and then freak when I realize that running it down is a problem! I put ten thousand trouble free kilos on that old 750 and loved nearly every moment. I want it back! Reading this reminds me of how much. Thanks for the read and the info. G.

  17. Ike says:

    Chris, I´d like to thank you for your great info on how things happen on Yamaha. Consumers don´t always get see how everything is made + how much effort it takes to come up with a new sled.

    If you want to see Vmax4´s in action , just make a search on Youtube “Vmax-4” and you get some videos what are posted there by several members of the Vmax4.com forums. What a great way to find out how people ride in different ares over the world.

    Ike

  18. Rick says:

    Great story. I have a 97 vmax-4 that I bought brand new. It has been a good sled minus the rear suspension and track failure problems. I was wondering if Yamaha ever tested a vmax-4 engine with power valves, turbos, or any other mod? I would also like to now how many of the 97 vmax-4s where built. i have bugged Yamaha in California a couple of times with no results.

    We never tested the engine with power valves, we were very aware of aftermarket turbos but YMC never purchased one to my knowledge. One thing I found interesting, I saw some dyno engine testing in Japan being performed with only 2 cylinders installed. They were able to get the durability results using only two jugs which was much faster for disassembly / reassembly…

  19. Kevin Brown says:

    Thanks again for the great information.
    Ever since i first saw a V max 4 i knew i just had to have one. I bought a 94 soon after. It was not in prestine condition, obviously owned by a person who had no respect for such a fine piece of equipment. I have had fun bringing it back to original condition & i cant think of another sled that i would have invested the time. Some people i know go on & on about its weight /speed etc. You know if you have to ask why , then you just dont get it. This sled is reliable, plenty fast for me & has the coolest sound & look of any sled i have ever seen. I swear when ever i start it up i get weak in the knees. Damn i love that thing. I cant think of ever letting it go
    Kevin from Ont canada
    Very cool Kevin… obviously you DO get it!!… cheers cr

  20. True Blue says:

    My 94 Vmax-4 is a awsome sled and the engine is bullet proof. Yamaha did a top notch job in building these engines. If you own one of these marvels you are lucky and with all the info you can get from the “Vmax 4 site” these thing should be around for a long time to come yet.

    Great article !!!!

    True Blue

    Thx TB, the other marvel is the quality, passion and dedication of the owners.. guys like you! cheers cr

  21. Fridrikur says:

    very nice to be able to read about the start of the V-Max 4. It’l be a true classic, like jeep, Beetle and Jaguar E

    Had a V-max 4 ST some year ago, bought it brand new. Sold it after 5 seasons (Big big mistake) and learned to ski (very funny, but nothing compared to the roooar from a 4 cyl. in line 2 stroke). Sold my 2006 Apex Mountain last week, and bought a V-Max 4 MountainMax instead, just for the fun: and perhaps to make a blueprint version, but I´m a bit tempted to install a turbo.
    Are there any place to order spares via internet with a speedy and reliable service?
    Are there anywhere, where u can get productiondates etc. just by typing in the number of snowmobile?

    Any good sites, where I can good tips for tuning the V-Max 4.


    My only complaints for the V-Max 4 is the lifetime of belt (max. 500 Km, even shorter, when I play on the mountains).

    Uses a lot of gasoline, only 100 km on one tank og 38L.

    Any clues on how to correct these 2 errors?

    4ever V-Max4

    Fridrikur
    in Nuuk Greenland

    Hey Fridrikur, the best place to start for all things Vmax-4 is this web-site. Great bunch of guys and an excellent resource. You should join as a memebr to get full access… I wouldn’t recommend putting a turbo on it however, for the cost and reliability you would be much better advised to boost a 4-stroke… cheers cr

  22. Don Trout says:

    Were the production numbers ever posted for the 1992 thru 1997 Vmax4. I seen the question was ask but I never saw the answer. thanks.

    I did post some production numbers in response to the question a while back, it’ll be in the archives… cr

  23. MrVmax-4 says:

    Let’s keep this topic current, the Vmax-4 was way ahead of it’s time and still rocks the house!!

  24. ILIVEFORSNOW says:

    This sled is still a force to be reckoned with!

  25. al larson says:

    we do have some vmax4 racers who have spent 70,80,000 dollars racing these sleds and setting new speed records and will continue 2 do so because the sky is the limit with these motors its only how far u want 2 go and how much u want 2 spend and most importanly is they are bullet proof so when u build one its not going to blow apart like our competitors .v max4 ruels what u goin 2 say when ur buts kicked by a dinasour lol

  26. al larson says:

    try this for size a vmax4 1725cc its on utube for all 2 see by quadzillas from vmax4.com spent many years researching ways 2 make more power out of these engines and he comes up with a turboecharged on the dyno at 340 hp then puts it on nos and makes 540 hp and 310 ft lbs of torque a nother sled which i,ve been involved in a pro stock 1000 vmax4 runs 660 in 4.9 seconds and has room for improvement on that time.

    holy cow! cr

  27. IDREAMOFSNOW says:

    FYI: http://www.vmax4.com/vbulletin was hacked and all information lost.

    That is horrible news, you folks had a treasure with a wealth of information. I can’t understand what anyone would hack the site for. Hopefully some data can be recovered and the membership will help pick up the pieces. Please let me know how things work out.
    cheers cr

  28. Paul says:

    I own a red 97 V MAX4 800,YAHOO,I am forty now,and every time i ride the rocket ,”i feel like a teen again, now you can’t replace that feeling,or the sled.I love it still,and it is still like new and people see it and just can’t believe it.Hey it has 12500 km on it to,neeeever had to touch the motor ever.

    Hey Paul… that’s very cool kinda becoming akin to owning a classic muscle car…. 69 Mustang GT for me… cheers cr

  29. Portmeister. says:

    Great Article, I was fortunate to have been on “Team Bender” when the sleds were being built by Tim,Rick Bates, & the rest of the team @ the shop in Colden,N.Y. the memories from all the testing &races will never be forgotten. One incident that stands out in my mind was the Brainard Race.( one of the first races for the V-Max 4) I was standing with a couple of the race guys from Valcourt, when Timmy came down the backstretch he was flying (around 112) everyone else was running aroung 98. One of the guys from Valcourt just said “Holy S***) look at him go. That about summed it up. Traveling around the Country with Tim and the rest of the Team was a great experience, his commitment & the work he put into that project was unbelievable. But, he did make those Sleds fly, him & Mike Sackett generated alot of memories for a bunch of sledders.

  30. PSIPOWER says:

    Update: http://www.vmax4.com/vbulletin is up and running on a new server with a new owner.

  31. yamahalvr says:

    I owned a new V-Max 4 every year from 92-96, they were GREAT sleds and i was very fortunate to have been able to afford them. They were fast and way superior to any sleds the other manufacturers had. They were great in deep snow as well as on the trail, as you can see by my handle i am still a YAMAHA rider, i switched to Yamaha from Ski-Doo in 1977, SRX was the name, at that time i was a service rep for Bombardier but participating in the Snow-Goer evaluations i got to ride the new SRX and was convinced they were far superior to our products. I have never looked back and still ride Yamaha sleds.

  32. Eric Anderson aka CaptJager says:

    I took over Vmax4.com from Dean (racer7x) after the hack problem (as of 11-26-08). I have restored the entire site and forums back without any loss of data. The site and the forums are up and running full tilt now that quadzillaracer just went 162.406 mph in 1000 feet at a sanctioned NSSR event.

  33. Kenneth says:

    I love my 4 cylinder, I didn’t really know what I was buying when I got it. I was looking for something beigger than my vmax 500 I already had. The first time I had that 750 out my mouth dropped almost to my knees. I had driven some fast sleds before, but this was incredible. The smooth delivery and top end speed was awesome. I had a passenger on it the first night out and spun the track at 70 or 80 miles an hour. I was instantly hooked. A friend of mine had just bought an ’05 f7 and thought they would eat my “old” sled. Lol, maybe for 50 feet, and me without studs. There isn’t much that compares to a 2 stroke 4 cylinder working the way it should, it’ll put a smile on your face every time.

  34. Lakeshadow says:

    My stock 97 does 118 day 121 nite.

  35. ultramotorsports says:

    i also have a 94 vmax4 i just purchased, good thing for the hump at the back of the seat, many riders would of been laying face down in the snow behind the sled when they lay into the carbs on it, sounds incredible,pulls like nothing ive ever rode, just one mean looking sled to boot, micro racing in the summer,crusing my 70 cuda and my pro street fastback cuda in the spring and now the sled in the winter, perfect circle

  36. kyle johnson says:

    i could use a little help and or advise for my 92 v-max (i would never give up my sled)

  37. mike.harris says:

    my friend just got one with 2082 miles 1995 v4 800 mint showroom

  38. Lyle weber says:

    I own 2 96 max 4s now one with only 600 miles on it,, recently purchase a 750 also. It is a sickness . All my buds around this part say I’m crazy . Maybe I am

  39. Brad West says:

    Hi CR. I was reading Brock Norris comments about when Bender showed up at The Georgian Cup race in Owen Sound.
    My company was the Co Sponsor along with Molsons that year. I sponsored the F 111 race that Mike Sackett won on the V-max 4. Benders would not start so he missed the final. I am looking at the picture of Mike and myself in the winners circle along with his sled # 91. Great memories, I had bought a V-max4 in 93 and kept until 97. I just found a mint one on Kijji so now I have another.

    Very cool, thanks for checkin in! cheers cr

  40. Nick says:

    I am just got a v max 4 92 and love the sound and power, it’s awaome just need to get the carbs set. If anyone has tips for yearly maintainence let me know rhnaks


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