The Top 10 ultimate ‘Maxi-Scooters’ you can buy – ever!

With Yamaha rolling out the new 20th Anniversary TMAX this week, we thought we'd take a look at the best Maxi-Scooters you can buy

2021 TMAX 20th Anniversary

THE unveiling this week of Yamaha’s new of TMAX 20th Anniversary, a commemorative model celebrating, obviously, the 20th anniversary of Yamaha’s world beating ‘maxi-scooter’ got us thinking: what other ‘maxi-scoots’ have there been, or even still exist, which rival the ‘Mighty ‘Max’?

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After all, although the first TMAX in 2001 revolutionised the very idea of ‘super-scooters’ 20 years ago by separating its transmission and swing arm to create class-leading, semi-sports handling, it wasn’t the first big 400cc+ scoot – and it’s also by no means the last. Over the years since big scooters have steadily become increasingly popular with even the likes of BMW becoming involved while for 2021 there’s even more additions to the class, not least from Honda with its Integra-replacement, the new Forza 750.

So, before we get to ride the new TMAX and Forza, there’s an obvious question – what other ‘maxi-scoots’ have there been and what are the like? Here’s out pick of the best, in chronological order, and what you can expect to pay…

2001-2014 Honda FJS600 Silverwing, £2,000–4,400

When originally launched way back in 2001, before even the TMAX, the Silverwing was the biggest scooter available. All-new, with a fuel-injected, 583cc parallel twin producing 48bhp and costing a pretty hefty (at the time £6,999) it was smooth, versatile, practical, well-equipped and well-built. On the slight downside, the TMAX, when it arrived soon after, immediately proved a far better, more secure handler, while the Burgman 650 the following year out-did it for space, comfort and motorway cruising, leaving the Silverwing neither one thing or another, limiting sales and ultimately leading to it being dropped in 2014 as Honda by then had also introduced the novel 700 Integra. As a used buy, however, it’s often overlooked so reasonable value and, if you don’t want the ultimate in terms of performance or handling remains a decent and durable all-round buy.

2002-2018 Suzuki AN650 Burgman, £2,500-7,000

First introduced in 2002, the big, twin-cylinder Burgman, although finally deleted from its UK line-up in 2018, retains a deserved reputation for being the biggest, plushest – and heaviest – super-scooter of them all. Launched in 2003 as a flagship model to Suzuki’s Burgman scooter family (125, 250 and 400 models already existed), the twin-cylinder, 638cc machine was big (weighing a whopping 238kg), had masses on under seat storage space, with 54bhp and masses of comfort and big screen protection made light work of motorway cruising and with a big, car-style dash, was better equipped than most, as well. With massive grab handles and a pillion backrest it was luxurious for pillions, too. On the slight downside this also makes for the most cumbersome of super scoots and its handling can get a touch wallowy and imprecise when pushed hard. Updated into the even better specced Burgman 650 Executive in 2004, it got a full makeover in 2013 with prices rising to around £9K. It remains a solid, used buy today, although you do need to watch for corrosion underneath.

2002-2006 Aprilia Atlantic 500, c. £2,000

Another short-lived, semi-anonymous ‘super-scooter’ offering. Launched at the height of Aprilia’s ambitions to take over the world in the early 2000s (along with the RSV, Futura, Caponord, Falco and more, before falling into financial ruin and being taken over by Piaggio in 2004), the Atlantic was powered by the same 37bhp 500 single as Piaggio’s X9 and as such was slightly underpowered compared to the Japanese, slightly bland, with few stand-out features and, certainly in the UK, also lacking the sort of dealer network, spares availability and backup as the Japanese, either, all of which combining to hit sales. That said, it’s a reasonable enough and pleasant offering when considered in isolation and did reasonable in Italy if less so in the UK. Although updated in 2005, a continuing lack of success led to its inevitable deletion soon after Piaggio’s take over it’s now rare as a used bike in the UK – we found just one of offers, for £1,999.

2005-2016 Piaggio X9/X10 500, £2,700-4,250

Italian scooter giants Piaggio were fairly late to the maxi-scooter class when it introduced its X9 500 into the UK in 2005 and, in truth, it never really caught up. Although a decent enough performer, the original X9 was distinguished most by having a ‘mere’ single cylinder engine when all of its Japanese competition used bigger twins. As a result, although in isolation a more than adequate all-round commuter, it was overshadowed by those bigger rivals. Fully updated to becomes the X10 in 2012, the Italian offering gained slinky new styling, a flashier dash with LCD panel, electric rear suspension, three storage compartments plus a large under seat one with ‘courtesy’ light and more. Unfortunately, it was still ‘only’ a 41bhp single so simply lost out on speed (to the TMAX) and size and comfort (to the Burgman). If that doesn’t matter, however, it’s a quality all-rounder.

2007-2010 Gilera GP800, c.£4,000

If you fancy not just the biggest, most powerful, fastest and probably oddest maxi-scooter of all, look no further than the short-lived 839cc V-twin GP800.

Powered by the CVT-equipped engine from the Aprilia Mana 850 automatic roadster, but without that bike’s manual mode, the bold and brash GP800 is like little else big, rigid, fast (for a scooter) – and expensive. And it was mostly for that final factor that the GP800 wasn’t a success. Yes, it was more punchy and better handling than most – it even had Brembo brakes – but the Gilera was no more practical, quite heavy and offered no advantage as a commuter. Shame really, as the concept was outrageous. Used examples, especially in the UK, are also now rare, with few dealers – we could find only one currently for sale, at £3,000.

2012-2020 Honda Integra 700/750, £3,500-£7,500

Here’s a slightly left-field one you’ll have to be quick to snap up new as for 2021 it’s being replaced by the 750 Forza. Launched in 2012 as the scooter variant of Honda’s all-new, ‘New Concept’ DCT-equipped trio (the others being the NC700S road bike and NC700X adventure-styled bike). As such it was a motorcycle/scooter hybrid with motorcycle style 17inch wheels for decent handling plus scooter ergonomics and style based around a low revving, car-derived, ultra-economical 51bhp 670cc parallel twin. In truth, it works impressively well, almost being fine-handling and fast as the TMAX and also featuring Honda’s brilliant, semi-automatic DCT gearchange. On the downside, however, it wasn’t a true ‘step-thru’ like most other scoots, lacked their underseat luggage space, was fairly bland-looking and expensive, too. Besides, the two other NCs did all of that as well in a more bike-like design. It was uprated to 745cc/54bhp in 2014 but in reality little had changed and while the NC750X proved a Europe-wide best seller, the Integra suffered by comparison, hence the new Forza 750. As a quality, used buy, however, it’s worth a look.

2015-2019 Peugeot 400 Satelis, £3,500-6,000

Not to be confused with the leaning three-wheeler 400 Metropolis, the Satellis, introduced in 2015, is the French-branded but now Indian-owned scooter specialist’s biggest offering, although in reality it’s arguably a more ‘midi’ than ‘maxi’ scoot. It’s powered by a decent enough, fuel-injected, water-cooled motor, but being just a single and displacing only 399cc, the resulting 39bhp is dwarfed by some rivals and particularly those from Japan. Nor has it any particularly outstanding qualities in terms of specification, comfort or style. All that said, however, the Satelis is decent enough, pleasant looking, performances and handles OK and has all the right bits in all the right places and, from as little as £3,500 for an example just a few years old, can be cracking value as well.

2018-current Kymco AK550, £5,500-8,900

Up-and-coming, Taiwan-based commuter and scooter specialists Kymco significantly upped their game when they introduced its range-topping AK550 in 2018 as a successor to its previous maxi-scoot, the Xciting. A 53bhp twin cylinder motor puts it pretty much on par with the best from Japan and elsewhere, it’s got an impressively high spec including heated grips and adjustable screen as standard, and it goes and handles well, too. In fact, there’s very little to criticize which, perhaps, is to be expected when you learn Kymco also built Kawasaki’s re-badged 125 and 300cc scooter offerings until recently and also provides the engines for BMW’s latest maxi-scooters. Instead, the only thing to mark the AK550 down is the Kymco badge and fairly limited choice of dealer which, when you’re paying nearly nine grand for a maxi-scooter, most would probably prefer to be better.

2012-2020 BMW C650GT, £4,300–10,300

BMW shocked the world in 2012 when the luxury, large capacity motorcycle specialists introduced its first ever scooters in 2012 and, in truth, we’re still getting used to it now. Initially two 650cc machines were launched (something confused slightly by the odd decision to call the sport version the C600 Sport. Both used Kymco supplied 647cc, 60bhp twins, which were more than a match for most, with quality inverted forks, twin discs, decent luggage space and more. But it’s the plusher, slightly larger C650GT we’re picking out here. Updated in 2015 it’s good looking, effective and desirable, although struggling slightly to stand out from the Japanese. In fact, the main area where it does is price, costing over £10k before being deleted due to Euro5 at the end of 2020. Never a huge seller, used values, however, can be pretty tempting, with three-or four-year-old examples available from around £5K, not bad for a swish commuter wearing a BMW badge. Besides, if you still want a new BMW scooter, the slightly smaller C400X and C400GT are still available.]

2001-current Yamaha TMAX, £4,000-12,000

The original TMAX ripped up the super scooter rulebook when it was first launched in 2001, primarily for its combination of then zesty, 40bhp, twin cylinder performance and, even more so, class-leading handling thanks mostly to a proper monoshock rear end, with the engine/transmission no longer action as the (heavy) swing arm. Never cheap, it was enough to be a big success, particularly in France and Italy, leading to a series of updated, improved models, first to 530cc 46bhp form in 2012 then, in 2020, top 560cc and 47bhp. The result – slick, sophisticated, fast, easy handling, practical and classy, remains, almost without question, THE benchmark super scooter and a true icon of modern motorcycling worthy of Yamaha’s new commemorative edition. One word of warning, though. Never cheap, this latest, limited edition TMAX Anniversary (just 560 are being built), with carbon bodywork, heated seat and more, costs a whopping £14,699, or almost THREE TIMES that of Yamaha’s perfectly effective XMAX 300, while even the standard TMAX now costs £11,999. That’s a hell of a lot of money for a scoot – no matter how ‘super’ it is…