Urban Tracker: A V-Max for a mixed martial arts enthusiast

Custom 1998 Yamaha V-Max by Motocrew
We love subtle, understated style on custom bikes. But we also have a sneaking regard for machines that are aggressive and in your face—the two-wheeled equivalents of Rage Against the Machine at 120 dB.

This Yamaha V-Max is one such machine. It comes from from Motocrew, a spare-time but slick operation run by firefighter Chris Scholtka and based just outside Berlin, Germany.

Custom 1998 Yamaha V-Max by Motocrew
“We started with the original model V-Max with 1,197 cc, a 1998 bike,” says Chris. “The goal was to build a ‘badass’ bike to suit its owner, who is a soldier and a mixed martial arts fighter in his spare time. A perfect match with a V-Max, I think!”

If you’re thinking the V-Max had a custom vibe right out the box, you’d be right: US-based project leader Akira Araki had help with the styling from custom builder John Reed, an English expat.

Custom 1998 Yamaha V-Max by Motocrew
The original V-Max had its detractors, but it was also unique and something of a cult hit: it was sold virtually unchanged between 1985 and 2007. With a 70° V4 pumping out around 140 hp (in most markets), a stock V-Max could demolish the quarter mile in just under 11 seconds.

The chassis and suspension could barely cope, but that didn’t stop some journalists from foaming at the mouth, entranced by the hot rod vibe.

Custom 1998 Yamaha V-Max by Motocrew
Chris has fixed the suspension issues by grafting on a set of Yamaha FZR1000 forks—from roughly the same era as the V-Max, but leagues ahead in performance. “It gives the front a slightly wider look and better handling,” he says.

“The fork swap was easy: it’s just new bearings and shortening the tubes by a centimeter. And the brakes fitted, plug and play.” New YSS shocks help settle the rear end, and there’s a fresh set of Shinko 777 rubber to … well, keep the rubber on the road. Shinko themselves, we’re told, have given Chris the requisite slip of paper to keep the German TÜV inspectors happy.

Custom 1998 Yamaha V-Max by Motocrew
The engine was in good condition, so Chris has simply given it a service and installed a new clutch to cope with the enthusiasm of its owner. After all, the V-Max is hardly underpowered. “It’s a powerful engine with a lot of torque, and an aggressive look,” says Chris. “The matt and gloss black finish is my favorite color combination.”

The mighty fake ‘tank,’ flanked by intakes, is a V-Max signature so it remains. But the back end is new, crafted in metal by Chris himself. The original cruiser-style seat is gone, and Chris shaped up a new perch, retaining access to the real under-seat gas tank via the standard levers. A local friend upholstered the pad in black Alcantara.

Custom 1998 Yamaha V-Max by Motocrew
For a modern custom touch, Chris has used a Husqvarna front number board with an LED headlight flushed in, and chunky new foot pegs. Motogadget supplied the mirrors and turn signals, and there are fresh new Domino grips on the bars.

To amp up the stealth factor, Chris got the tank, new rear end and ‘intakes’ painted in a mix of gloss and matt black by a friend. He handled many of the other parts himself—like the frame, triple trees, engine, swingarm and wheel rims.

Custom 1998 Yamaha V-Max by Motocrew
“I’m calling it the Urban Tracker because, if you can handle it, you can ride it flat track-style around the streets,” says Chris.

The only problem right now is the very basic and illegal exhaust system. “The exhaust is temporary, for the shoot, because the German laws are stupid. They make it simply impossible to build a good-looking exhaust for the V-Max. But I’m onto it…”

Motocrew Instagram | Images by kylefx

Custom 1998 Yamaha V-Max by Motocrew