Top 10s

Get your scoot on... The Top 10 BEST Maxi Scooters of 2020

Maxi-Scooter sales are soaring as 'essential' transport during isolation. As we head for another lockdown, now could be the perfect time to buy one - but which is best?

Once upon a time the word ‘scooter’ conjured up images of Lambrettas and Vespas or, at best, 50-125cc pizza delivery loons. 

But ever since Yamaha’s introduction of it’s ground-breaking, twin cylinder sport ‘maxi-scoot’ – the TMAX 500 in 2000, the world’s been a very different place.

That machine, with a dedicated 500cc twin-cylinder engine and sophisticated sports chassis delivered not only genuine 100mph cruising ability and impressive, non-wallowy handling through the twisties but also roomy, luxurious comfort and luggage capacity that’s more in-keeping with a two-wheeled car.

Yamaha TMAX vs Honda X-ADV Review | Visordown road test

It also inspired a whole new class – the ‘Maxi-scooter’. Honda’s now defunct 600cc Silver Wing followed in 2001, Suzuki’s biggest Burgman yet, the 650, in 2002 and there’s been a steady stream of ever-more sophisticated, slick and sometimes larger maxi-scoots ever since. 

While function over form largely majors in these segment, scooters have never been more popular in the UK, in part due to their essential nature for some during the lockdown period, 

So what is the BEST Maxi-Scooter money can buy right now?

For simplicity, we’re restricting ourselves to 400cc machines here, as 300cc machines are more in the ‘Midi’ class. But of the ‘Maxis’, here’s our current pick of the crop…

10. Kymco Xciting S 400i (from £5599)

Kymco may not be as well-known or glamorous as the major Japanese brands or the likes of BMW but the Taiwanese company has been producing quality, competitive scooters and bikes for over 20 years.

The Kymco Xciting S 400 (yes, cringe name) is the smaller of its two current Maxi-Scooters, has recently sharpened up styling and quality detail touches such as mobile connectivity, LED lights and an adjustable screen. It also produces a respectable 35bhp with decent comfort and underseat luggage space. 

Admittedly, it’s not quite in the same league as bigger, more flashy options from the likes of Yamaha and Suzuki, but it’s a decent year-round commuter, ticks most of the boxes anybody needs from a Maxi-Scooter and, best of all, is by far the most affordable.

9. Suzuki Burgman 400 (from £6499)

Although Suzuki’s massive, ‘Winnebago-on-two-wheels’ Burgman 650 is now sadly no more, the 638cc, 54bhp parallel twin first being introduced in 2002 before recently being deleted from its UK like up for failing to meet the latest EU emissions regulations, you CAN still get the 400 version. 

Although powered by a smaller, single-cylinder motor producing ‘only’ 30bhp and with significantly smaller all-round proportions, much of the Burgman Maxi-Scooter’ experience remains. Besides, the 650 was ridiculously big and far too much of a handful for many… 

Last updated in 2017 the 400’s now lighter, sportier and more manageable, its revamped motor is Euro4 compliant, has slightly bigger wheels for extra stability and improved handling (the front went from 14 to 15ins) and is reasonably equipped. 

There’s sufficient luggage space both under the seat and via two ‘cubby holes’ in the fairing inner for most, it has proven durability and reliability and is pleasingly cheap to run. You could do much worse…

8. Yamaha XMAX 400 *(from £6348)

… and Yamaha’s latest XMAX 400 proves you could also do better, too… The ‘junior’ version to Yamaha’s flagship TMAX 500 was first introduced in 2009 in 250cc form, but seeing as it’s since grown to a 400 (in 2015) and has also been joined by a 300cc version (in 2017) we reckon it just about qualifies for inclusion here. 

Last updated in 2018 with improved styling, equipment, revised handling and a tweaked 33bhp engine, the idea is to have much of performance and enjoyment of its bigger TMAX brother but in a more affordable, accessible package.

Plus, with better performance than the equivalent Burgman, slightly more nimble handling thanks to a shorter wheelbase not to mention lots of TMAX style we think Yamaha has achieved just that. 

Although not maybe a true Maxi-Scooter, the XMAX 400 delivers most of the experience that anyone actually needs, is a great all-round commuter and, crucially, is almost half the price of its top spec big brother. What’s not to like?

7. BMW C400 GT (from £7390)

No one would have imagined that German touring specialists BMW would make a name for themselves as a scooter manufacturer but when it comes to Maxi-Scooters, with the requirements for touring-style luxury, comfort, equipment and distance ability, its recent 400 and 650 scooters have proved them a perfect fit. 

The 650s came first, see below, in 2012, with slightly smaller, 400cc versions from 2018. The ‘sporty’ C400X arrived first, in 2018 followed by the GT in 2019 with revised bodywork which includes a more weather protective screen and comfier seat to go with its 34bhp single-cylinder motor. 

Some have criticised its slightly weird styling, premium price and smaller luggage capacity compared to its Yamaha and Suzuki rivals, but on the upside the BMW’s performance and handling is pretty much up to par, it’s undeniably a quality product with a prestige badge and its spec and range of options, including typical BMW heated seat and handlebar grips, is nothing less than what you’d expect from the German firm. 

The GT, depending on what you want, may not quite be the ‘best’ 400cc maxi-scoot – but it’s certainly the classiest.

6. Kymco AK550 (from £8899)

The Taiwanese firm’s latest and greatest scooter is also its biggest yet and puts it in direct competition with the very best in the maxi-scooter class – and, on the whole, it acquits itself well. Introduced in 2018 it uses an all-new, liquid-cooled, 550cc twin producing a respectable 53bhp complete with two useful, switchable riding modes – Rain and Dry.

The substantial chassis is roomy and comfortable and the long wheelbase and big 15in wheels means its stable at motorway cruising speed. It’s even got proper, four-piston, radially-mounted Brembo front brakes of the sort you usually only find on sports bikes! 

The spec is pretty good elsewhere, too: there’s an LCD dash, mobile connectivity, and an adjustable screen and heated grips as standard. On the slight downside, it’s slightly cumbersome, its mechanicals aren’t as proven as some and the badge and dealer network aren’t as well-known and reassuring as offerings from Yamaha, Honda or BMW, either – but it is an awful lot of Maxi-Scooter for the money!

5. Honda Integra (from £8899)

Now we’re starting to get into the realm of the luxurious, radical tech or even plain wacky Maxi Scooter – or in some cases all three! Though slightly blandly styled (it is a Honda after all!), the Integra is one of the most technologically interesting of the whole breed. 

It was first introduced way back in 2012 alongside the then equally-new NC700S and NC700X roadster and adventure-styled motorcycles. All were based around the then ‘New Concept’ (hence the name) family of middleweight twins, which introduced Honda’s radical, clever and effective automatic DCT transmission. 

The result, in this context at least, is a 745cc, twin cylinder, 51bhp maxi scoot, with two fully automatic modes (Drive and Sport) and one semi-automatic mode where you can switch up and down through the gears via up and down switches on the left bar. 

With a twin beam frame and big 17in wheels, handling is far more bike-like than most scoots, quality is typically Honda good and it’s economical, too. On the downside, there’s no underseat luggage compartment, it’s not as up-to-date as some and it’s a little bland but it is far better value than it used to be…

4. BMW C650 Sport (from £10,370)

Even though they’ve now been around since 2012 it still seems a little odd to think that BMW is a maxi-scooter manufacturer. The originals debuted at the London Olympics as the C600 Sport and C650GT, which was a little confusing in itself as both shared the same 647cc, twin cylinder engine made by Kymco which produced a healthy 60bhp and basic chassis. 

The Sport had smaller bodywork and a sportier riding position and, with decent suspension and brakes and a claimed 108mph top speed lived up to its billing. Both were then revised in 2016, the Sport getting sharper styling, the correct 650 name, uprated suspension, new clocks and silencer. 

The result is a more than capable, sports-orientated maxi scooter with plenty of classy details, reasonable practicality and an options list as long as your arm. 

On the slight downside, some plasticky details such as flimsy cubby holes annoy and badge and dealer experience aside, it offers nothing more than most rivals, yet still at a premium price. Yes, it’s not as pricey as the latest TMAX, but it’s not quite as good, either.

3. BMW C650 GT (from £10,670)

We’re ranking the GT version of BMW’s Maxi-Scooter 650 above that of its Sport sibling here simply because, slightly dubious and bulbous styling aside, it offers pretty much everything the Sport does but with extra practicality and comfort. Like the Sport it was originally introduced way back in 2012 based around a Kymco-built, 60bhp parallel twin. 

Where the GT differs from the Sport is by having larger, more protective bodywork including electronically adjustable screen, a slightly more relaxed, comfortable riding position and more generous underseat luggage space along with two inner fairing cubby holes. 

Some may argue it’s not quite as lithe and nimble as the Sport, but there’s not that much in it. Mild updates came in 2016 by way of added traction control and detail changes (although it didn’t get the complete restyle the Sport benefitted from) but in truth it didn’t need much. 

While on the upside, although never cheap, its relatively static price while Yamaha’s TMAX has continued to creep up, means it no longer seems quite as expensive as it once appeared. 

Sure, £10K+ isn’t cheap, and if you go mad with the options list it’ll quickly be higher still. But the GT is a genuinely capable, classy and practical maxi-scooter with no problems and all the prestige you could want.

2. Honda X-ADV (from £10,349)

Maybe we’re mad for ranking the X-ADV second here, if only for the bold brilliance of its design, but we’re certainly not as bonkers as Honda were for putting this unique ‘adventure scooter’ into production in the first place. The A-ADV debuted in 2017 and immediately caused a sensation by being an ‘adventure-touring-scooter’ when the rest of the world was completely unaware there was any demand for one. But daft as that sounds, it actually works – and is hilarious fun, too. 

It’s based on the already clever, DCT-equipped Integra but with a higher stance thanks to longer travel, off-road suspension and 17/15in, semi-knobbly-fitted wire wheels. There’s also all-new, aggressively styled bodywork. 

While updates came in 2018 by way of revised electronics including a Gravel button designed for off-road use. And you know what? It works. It’s idiot proof yet entertaining enough on road, largely thanks to its decent Honda ergonomics, adequate 54bhp and brilliant DCT system. 

Yet it’s also (mildly) capable off-road, too, and worth it for that alone when people see you riding a ‘scooter’ across a field. Yes, true practicality is diminished slightly and the X-ADV has neither the luggage space nor weather protection of its Integra sibling but for our money, it more than makes up for it with its wacky, fun style and genuine ability.

1.

 Yamaha TMAX 560 (from £10,321)

The machine that started the whole maxi-scooter trend gets our top honours here. But that’s in no way because of any rose-tinted nostalgia, nor ignores the fact that the latest example, at nearly £12K in top spec trim, is the priciest of the breed by far – instead it’s simply because it’s so damn good. 

In a nutshell, the TMAX remains so damn good because it started off a quantum leap ahead of everything else and, through consistent revisions and updates, has remained there ever since.

This latest, introduced in 2020, raises the bar yet again. Enlarged from 530 to 562cc, the impressive parallel twin is now fully Euro5-compliant, produces an A2-friendly 47bhp yet is still good for a class-leading 115mph and benefits from two riding modes, Drive and Sport. 

The chassis is better yet, with a twin spar aluminium frame, inverted forks, single rear shock, 15in wheels and proper four-piston radially-mounted brakes, all providing class-leading handling and road-holding. 

There’s refreshed, sharper styling, decent comfort, swish new clocks, LED lights and more. In short, for a maxi-scoot, the TMAX has it all (even if its luggage space is a little on the paltry side). 

If it isn’t, Yamaha will also sell you the top-spec Tech MX version, at a whopping £11,771, which also has heated seats and grips, electric screen, cruise control and adjustable rear suspension. My, haven’t scooters come a long way…
 

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