Long-term review: Yamaha TMAX

Long-term review: Yamaha TMAX

Call this a moped?

THERE’S a crime-wave sweeping London which you’ve probably read about if you’ve been anywhere near a newspaper recently.

You probably share my outrage at the ‘moped muggers’ who seem to think they can get away with anything.

And also possibly some of my irritation at the press for calling them ‘moped muggers’ when they don’t ride mopeds.

Mopeds are less than 50cc; the muggers seem to prefer larger-capacity scooters. They are (perhaps unfairly) linked to the 530cc Yamaha TMAX, as evidenced by a vigilante leaflet which someone stuck on a noticeboard at the Ace Café asking riders to go ‘TMAX hunting’ with ‘Jack Th’ Lad’.

Calm down, Jack. We’re not all thieves. I’ve got one as a long-term test bike for the year.

The association seems unfair because the robbers aren’t fussy. They like scooters for their ease of use and the TMAX just happens to be probably the best, so obviously they’ll take it if they can.

Here’s why:

  • It’s fast. Snap open the throttle of even a big twist-and-go from standstill and automatic CVT transmission typically takes a moment to wake up. Only once rolling does it catch up and respond with full power, as though it’s been busy with something else and you caught it by surprise. I remember a Suzuki Burgman 650 feeling exactly like this when I last rode one, in 2013. But the latest TMAX, updated for 2017, does not. Whack the throttle fully open at the lights and the initial response feels incredibly strong for a twist-and-go. In damp conditions I thought the back might spin-up. It didn’t but I’m sure it was close. It quickly seems to give you the maximum 39lbft of torque and keeps delivering it all the way to an indicated 60, 70, 80mph. Counting in my head, I’d put the 0-60 time at around six seconds, so still way off even middleweight motorcycles but also way ahead of the traffic. The 45hp parallel twin is likely to deliver a top speed of a smidgeon over 100mph.
  • It’s extremely easy to operate. All you need to do is keep the throttle open. An arrangement of gaffer tape could do it.
  • It handles. Obviously some steering will be required sooner or later but that’s almost as easy, with the small, 15-inch front wheel aiding rapid changes of direction. The TMAX has always been one of the sharpest handling maxi-scooters. The big seat, the footboards and the riding position ensure you don’t have quite the same relationship with the tyres that a motorcycle gives you, but the TMAX isn’t so far off that standard as most. At 216kg it’s a lightweight by maxi-scooter standards. The Burgman 650 is 60kg heavier.

Model tested: Yamaha TMAX

Price: £9,599

Engine: 530cc liquid-cooled DOHC parallel twin

Power: 45hp at 6,750rpm

Torque: 39lbft at 5,250rpm

Wet weight: 213kg

Read part two of my Yamaha TMAX long-term test.

Read Visordown's Yamaha TMAX DX first ride.

And the Yamaha achieves this while delivering almost as much convenience as it’s heavier rivals. There’s space for one full-face helmet and bit more under the seat, while the biggest maxi-scooters allow for two.

The screen isn’t electric but is adjustable to one of two heights, a job requiring an allen key, five minutes and a bit of knuckle chafing when I did it. The highest level provides shoulder-height wind protection for an average-sized rider.

Comfort levels are high, although I pushed them to the limit on a long ride earlier this week. Even the wide seat and ample leg-room - enough to stretch your legs out a bit - are not enough to make 400 miles painless.

Equipment levels are higher than ever, with the new version equipped with traction control and a keyless ignition.

With the fob in your pocket, you just press buttons to turn the ignition on and off and lock and unlock the seat and petrol cap cover. Apart from the convenience of it, it could complicate matters for anyone trying to relieve me of the vehicle.

Of course I’ll be taking more precautions. I’m getting a tracker fitted later this week, and I plan to record with my helmet camera constantly on my commute into London, so if it draws the attention of any scrotes I’ll be have the footage to show you.

You never know, it could get interesting.

Model tested: Yamaha TMAX

Price: £9,399

Engine: 530cc liquid-cooled DOHC parallel twin

Power: 45hp at 6,750rpm

Torque: 39lbft at 5,250rpm

Suspension: Front – USD fork, 120mm travel / Rear – Monoshock with preload and rebound damping adjustment

Brakes: Front – Twin radial-mount calipers and 267mm discs / Rear – Single-piston caliper and 282mm disc

Seat height: 800mm

Fuel capacity: 15 litres

Weight: 216kg (wet, full tank)