Sharp-eyed regular readers, who saw the Chelsea Bridge pictorial we ran in issue 97, will no doubt have recognised the spectacular V-Max on the cover of this issue.
That was the opening paragraph when this pictorial appeared in issue 101 of The Rider’s Digest back in January 2006. It was the first edition of the magazine I was responsible for and I was determined to create a splash so this sensational streetfighter was an absolute godsend. Readers who have come to the magazine more recently will recognise Eddie from a couple of issues ago when he turned up as our Image of the Month – Ed
On the warm evening in July when I took the original pictures, there was such a crowd around the spectacularly customised streetfighter that it was difficult to get close enough to speak to the rider properly, let alone to take the kind of pictures that would do it credit. Consequently I finished the article with: “(and if you Mr. Owner/designer/rider really are the big Rider’s Digest fan you assured me you were, please get back to me so I can do the pictorial your bike really deserves).”
Fast-forward three months to the end of October and I’d just about given up on hearing anything. I’d resigned myself to the fact that the next time I saw the V-Max it was likely to be on the cover of one of the glossies, when Roger rang to pass on a message. Rob (the owner/designer/rider) had been out of the country but as soon as he returned and saw the copy of the Digest with his photo and my plea in it he was as good as his word and got straight on the dog & bone.
At noon the following day I was standing outside a high brick wall in Kensington, waiting by the double iron gates of a massive detached mansion as I watched a man who was built on the same sort of scale as the house, lumbering along the path towards me. Handshakes out of the way, Rob took me in through a giant door to reintroduce me to his pride and joy.
Yeah, that’s right, the bike was parked inside the house! Can’t say I blame him. If I’d spent the best part of £60K building an absolute stunner of a streetfighter, I think I’d be reluctant to leave it outside, exposed to the worst the weather and the nasty men with bolt cutters and Transit vans could throw at it. And this bike is such a looker, I really couldn’t understand why it hadn’t already appeared in one of the glossies.
Over a cuppa, Rob told me he had taken Eddie to the Ace on Streetfighter Sunday back in August. He had been approached, but he hadn’t cared for the fella’s attitude. Besides Rob had already given some thought to magazines, and come to the conclusion that his bike was so beautiful and so thoroughly perfect in its own right, that the last thing it needed was a half-naked woman to cover part of it. As a long time reader of the Digest, Rob was well aware off our position regarding using women as props, so we both agreed that our brief meeting at The Bridge had been a result all round.
Did I mention that Rob is big lad? The V-Max is a pretty hefty bike but as he wheeled it around, rolling it from here to there to satisfy my various photographic whims, he absolutely dwarfed it. So I wasn’t in the teeniest bit surprised when he told me that he works as a bodyguard, because Rob’s precisely the sort of brick shit house you tend to see accompanying Madonna, P Diddy and the like. Although he has worked with various celebrities, most of his clients are rich Arabs, which explains why a regular Rob from Bromley, had sixty grand to throw at a bike and why he’s living in a £20m house (he’s house sitting the empty place to protect it from squatters while the middle eastern owner who used to live there, decided what to do with it).
As I worked my way around Eddie, happily snapping him from every angle, Rob gave me a brief history. Back in 1997 he was working out and when he took a V-Max for a test ride, he decided that it had the muscle to match his physique, so he chopped his Exup in and rode the US import away. By the time he’d owned it for a year, he’d read a lot about Larry at PDQ (www.pdq1.co.uk 01628 667644) because apparently he’s an absolute V-Max God and knows everything there is to know about them. Rob started by changing the 15” wheels for 17 inchers, then added Billet six pots front and rear, before replacing the noisy but ineffective Superttrap with a complete Hindle 4 into 1 system.
All the paintwork was a bit scabby so Rob started by having the engine and frame powder coated. He was looking for a respray when he discovered Toxic Art (www.toxicart.co.uk 07984 644486) and the idea of creating Eddy became an expensive, but incredibly tempting reality. During the 6 months it took to get the artwork done, he had the engine upped to 1,300 complete with trick con rods, 41mm flat side Mikunis and everything else he needed to up the power (at the rear wheel) from 129.7 to 161.3 and boost the torque figures from 84.7 to 98!
The rear Dymag isn’t a standard size, so it had to be custom made, as was the swinging arm; and when you add in the cost of wavy brakes and the 280 x 18” tyre, the rear end alone cost about eight and a half K. The finishing touch, which guarantees a crowd at any night meeting are the slightly evil neons fitted by Olly at SRD Racing (07791 217615).
After I’d taken every picture I could I imagine, I walked over to where Rob had been watching me work. “You know what? Sometimes, like now, I look at it from here and think: ‘Fuck me, that’s the bollocks!’” He sighed in the manner of a man who has looked at the object of his affection with fresh eyes and been reminded once again, just how spectacularly beautiful it is. “Which is why I built it. It wasn’t done for show. It was done so I’d look at it and say, ‘I can’t fuckin’ wait to get out on it!’”
Can there be any better reason to own a motorcycle.
Big thanks to Rob for his time, patience and good humour.