Yamaha Yamaha TMAX long-term test week 14: it’s not just transport

Yamaha TMAX

It’s also the simple pleasure of riding


AS a day-to-day transport solution, nothing beats a maxi-scooter, and the TMAX could well the best one. But it’s not just transport. It also delivers the simple joy of riding.

That thing that we all felt the first time we turned the throttle of a twist-and-go moped, or whatever it was we started on. The pleasure of motorised propulsion on two wheels.


For me it was a Honda PX50, aged 16 in 1988. You don’t see them around much anymore because they weren’t really built to last. Despite their off-roady styling, a few ploughed fields were enough to make them literally fall apart, which is what happened to mine. I thought I might have killed the last one.

Until a couple of weeks ago, when I saw one in my local bike shop and took this terrible photo of it with my phone. How much did he want for it? A couple of hundred quid. I dithered (they are actually pretty crap). When I went back again a few days later, it had been sold, for £300.

Instead of turning for home, I carried on riding, on the TMAX. I went to Brighton seafront, just like I used to go to Southend seafront on that PX, and with the same motive: I’ve got a bike, so let’s ride.

Not fast, necessarily. You don’t have to go fast to enjoy riding. I couldn’t on the PX.

Recently, on the UK launch of the BMW K1600 B, I was standing by a corner chosen for a photo with some other journalists, when some motorcyclists came around the bend on their KTMs.

One of the motorcycle journos said to another: “It’s funny how everyone thinks their bikes are exciting but some people have a different idea of what exciting is.”

The other one replied: “Yeah, like it’s exciting just to own one,” and they both laughed, at the passing riders, for going slowly, as they saw it.

I thought, ‘Who’s out of touch, you or them?’ Simply owning and riding a motorcycle is exciting.

After Brighton, I turned and rode the TMAX into the South Downs. Twisting the throttle and enjoying the scooter’s 39lbft – but not constantly going as fast as possible. Just riding, in comfort, feet on boards, legs almost straight, tall screen keeping flies out of my teeth in my open face lid, nice scenery all around.

That’s why I like big scooters: because they are a brilliant transport solution and fun. A bike will always be the choice if you do want to go as fast as possible, to feel maximum connection with the machine and road. But if you just love riding for riding’s sake, and maybe want to be able to pick up some shopping on the way home, nothing beats a bike scooter.


This isn’t my first TMAX. I had the original one as a long-termer when I worked on another publication back in 2001.

My girlfriend and I rode to Ibiza on it, with a top box and throw-over panniers. I remember thinking: why does anyone bother with big tourers. With the under-seat compartment, we have almost as much luggage space on this and we’re probably just as comfortable.

Since then I’ve come to suspect what you probably already know: that this comparison is bollocks.

I confirmed it when I rode the TMAX for two-and-a-half hours to the launch of that K1600 B, the latest addition to BMW’s flagship tourer range. I arrived feeling tired. Ten minutes on the K1600 and I felt refreshed.

Maxi-scooters are comfortable for the commute but not in the same league as dedicated tourers.

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 parts one and two and three of my Yamaha TMAX long-term test.

Read Visordown's Yamaha TMAX DX first ride.