Top 10s

Top 10 maxi scooters review

A decade ago we laughed at them. Now there are several quite good ones and the joke's on us.

THIS list might simply have been the 10 maxi scooters. Excluding three-wheelers, we're not sure there are many more than that on the market.

No matter. Here's our rundown, in reverse order, of the best super-dooper heavyweight step-thrus.

Honda NC700D Integra

The Integra is the least scooter-like scooter in our list, with a chain drive and the same frame and chassis as Honda’s NC700 motorcycle range. Honda markets the Integra as a scooter, so we’re giving them the benefit of the doubt, but you could call it a motorcycle with leg shields. As such, it lacks some of the key benefits of a scooter. The under-seat compartment is too small for any kind of motorcycle helmet, and the Integra is not a step-thru - you have to swing a leg over it. But it’s competitively priced and technologically sophisticated. Where other big scooters have continuously variable transmission systems, the Integra has a six-speed automatic gear box using Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission, including twist-and-go and semi-automatic modes. With its higher centre of gravity and bigger, 17-inch wheels, it handles like a motorcycle. You might expect that to make it better than the rest. In practice the Integra is…  how can we put this delicately? Dull. ABS is standard.

Price: £7,699 OTR

Power: 51bhp

Read or add to our owners' reviews of the Honda NC700D

Piaggio X10 350 Executive

Piaggio’s biggest current maxi scooter (three-wheelers aside), the X10 350 offers a reasonable 33.3hp from the 330cc single-cylinder engine, and its light, at 200kg dry. That helps it accelerate as quickly as bigger scooters. It will cruise at over 70mph and do over 80 flat out. There’s 52 litres of under-seat space, although whether two helmets will fit in there depends on the helmet brand. It’s comfortable, provides very good weather protection with that huge front end, and has combined ABS and heated grips as standard. Plus it only costs £5,291, half the price of the BMW C 650 GT Highline. It might be higher up our list if only it had a bit more go. 

Price: £5,291

Power: 33.3hp

Read or add to our owners' reviews of the Piaggio X10 350 Executive

Vespa GT 300 Super

Is it a maxi scooter? With a 278cc single-cylinder engine, limited under-seat storage and the windscreen a £91 option, we admit it’s borderline. But it looks really cool, wears the badge of the world’s best known scooter marque and has ‘Super’ in the name. So we’re sold. With a claimed top speed of 82mph, it’s not going worry an SRV 850, but will cruise happily at an indicated 70 and accelerate briskly enough to overtake.  It handles well, with good stability at speed, it’s full of Italian charm, and at £4,291 on-the-road is the cheapest model in our list by a mile.

Price: £4,291

Power: 22hp

Sym Maxsym 600i ABS

The Sym Maxsym 600i, new to the UK for 2014, beats the competition black and blue in one key area: price. At £5,999 on the road, it’s nearly three grand less than the Burgman and four-and-a-half less than the BMW C650GT Highline. That’s enough money to buy a second bike, say a KTM Duke 390 or Suzuki SV650, for fun when you’re not commuting on the scooter.  The Maxsym 600i is light for a maxi scooter at 238kg, although no power figure has been released for the 565cc single-cylinder engine. As a 2014 model, it’s obviously something of an unknown quantity, but Taiwanese firm Sym is building a reasonable reputation for reliability. There doesn’t seem to be any major issues with the smaller Maxsym 400i, introduced in 2011. Sym is also currently offering a four-year finance deal on the 600 with a £99 deposit and monthly payments of £157.50. It has to be worth a test ride before spending more.

Price: £5,999

Aprilia SRV 850

You get the impression the creators of this machine were focussing too much on whether it could be made and not enough on whether it should be. An 838cc V-twin engine in a scooter sounds like a fantastic idea to a schoolboy. In practice, there’s a reason other maxi scooters are parallel twins. It leaves space for an under-seat compartment, a key argument for having a scooter in the first place. In the SRV 850, there’s a cylinder in the way, and the compartment you get is tiny. It also feels all of its 249kg, where other big scooters feel deceptively light because of their low centre-of-gravity. It has too-soft suspension and doesn’t handle. All that said, it’s the world’s fastest production scooter in a straight line, with a genuine 114mph top speed. And all motorcyclists are still school kids at heart, aren’t they? ABS is a £300 option. 

Price: £8,432 (£8,732 with ABS)

Power: 76bhp

Read or add to our owners' reviews of the Aprilia SRV 850

Honda Silver Wing

Sometimes a model that hasn’t significantly changed for a while can be one of the best buys in its class, because the price has stayed low. Honda’s Silver Wing is a perfect example. With updated and new maxi scooters hitting the market, including Honda’s own Integra, you could almost forget about the Wing. But you’d be wrong to. It remains a very good package, with 55 litres of under-seat storage – more than the Burgman – 49bhp from its parallel-twin 582cc engine, excellent weather protection, a reasonably low weight of 238kg and ABS as standard. And the best part is it only costs £6,649 on the road. For a Honda.

Price: £6,649

Power: 49bhp

Read or add to our owners' reviews of the Honda Silver Wing

Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive ABS

The much-underrated ‘Burger Van’ is in fact a highly accomplished machine, and competitively priced for a maxi scooter, with electric screen and heated grips and seat all included in the standard £8,932 price. All common preconceptions about it are wrong. It is fun. It can filter, thanks to the electric folding mirrors. It does handle, at least as well as anyone could reasonably expect a 277kg step-thru to, and better than some motorcycles offering similar comfort. Hello Honda Deauville. It’s got two twist-and-go modes – ‘Drive’ and ‘Power’ – and in the latter feels surprisingly brisk. There’s also a semi-automatic mode using buttons on the left bar to make clutch-less gear changes. Three (count them) glove boxes, a 12-volt power socket and 50-litres of under-seat storage make it incredible easy to live with. It loses out to the C 650 GT because it doesn't have quite the same air of class about it, the engine purrs rather than growls and it threatens to get a bit wobbly in high-speed turns. It is cheaper though. It's also one of the most economical big scooters, achieving 57mpg to the C 650 GT's 51. Try one before buying the Beemer. ABS is standard (there’s a clue in the name). The latest, 2013 version has been criticised as having heated grips and seat which don't get hot enough. There's also the smaller Burgman 400 to consider. 

Price: £8,932 OTR

Power: 54bhp

Read or add to our owners' reviews of the Burgman 650 Executive ABS

BMW C 650 GT

The C 650 GT has the same engine and chassis as the C 600 Sport but feels completely different, with more leg room and considerably more bulk. It’s not sporty but it’s the classiest-feeling maxi scooter on the market, with an electric screen that glides and tilts. In Highline form, with heated grips and seat, it’s the most luxurious. Unlike some maxi scooters, its parallel twin engine produces a bit of a growl, reminding you there’s some internal combustion going on in there somewhere. BMW says it has the largest storage capacity in its class. In reality, despite having less outright volume, the Burgman’s under-seat compartment is better shaped to easily accept two open-face helmets. Still, the C 650 GT is like a VIP tour bus with a toilet and a V10 engine. ABS is standard.

Price: £9,795 OTR (£10,545 for Highline)

Power: 60bhp

BMW C 600 Sport

The C 600 Sport is more powerful and faster than our top-ranked TMAX (below). Not quite as engaging to ride because of its extra bulk (it weighs 249kg to the Tmax’s 217), it still runs the Yamaha a close second as the most fun you can have on a maxi scooter. It’s also better equipped, with a manually adjustable screen (the TMAX’s requires tools) a power socket and a clever expandable under-seat storage compartment, providing space for one full-face helmet in transit and two while parked. That’s the theory. In practice it takes BMW full-face helmets but struggles to accommodate some other leading brands. The Highline version comes with heated grips and seat for an extra £750. That’s one expensive warm arse. ABS is standard.

Price: £9,495 OTR (£10,345 for Highline)

Power: 60bhp

Read or add to our owners' reviews of the BMW C 600 Sport

Yamaha TMAX

The TMAX tops our list for the best reason any motorcycle or scooter can top any list: it’s the most fun. Not fun compared to other scooters; fun full-stop. There’s a more immediate throttle response than usual from twist-and-goes, accompanied by a gratifying bark if you get the optional £790 Akrapovic exhaust system. It’s nimble and light for a maxi scooter, at 217kg. The bars are angled like a sports bike’s (but so low they may foul your knees if you’re a lot over six foot). It’s not the most economical (52mpg), practical or fastest maxi scooter in a straight line, but it’s beautifully balanced and addictive to ride. It is the closest thing there is to a genuine sports scooter. With 45.8bhp from the 530cc parallel twin engine, it’s also suitable for A2 licence holders. Unlike most of the others in this list, it doesn’t come with ABS. Yamaha also makes a younger brother to the TMAX, the X-MAX 400, as well as the Majesty 400.

Price: £8,699

Power: 45.8bhp

Read or add to our owners' reviews of the Yamaha TMAX

Have we missed anything? Let us know. We're all ears.

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