BUT I WILL make a case for the TMAX’s excellent handling; it’s the best handling scooter I’ve ever ridden. It’s super stable in corners and where a lot of scooters suffer from a vague front end when ridden enthusiastically, the TMAX DX and its Dunlop Sportmax Roadster tyres managed to deliver an assured front-end feeling that has more in common with a bike than a scooter. It’ll be interesting to see how it fares against the Honda Integra, which is basically a bike dressed up in scooter clothes.
It’s handles with a deftness and lightness that had me recalling the changes Yamaha have made to the 2017 model to make it less hefty on the scales. The 77mm shorter exhaust silencer undoubtedly plays its part, as does the new lighter frame and lighter wheels, which save a claimed 9kg.
The new 40mm longer swingarm might not be too much of a weight saver but it certainly helps with how stable the TMAX feels when it comes to railing round corners with gusto. The rear also felt comfortable without being saggy or wallowy, as I sometimes find on scooters and the rear shock is adjustable for preload and rebound damping.
The new model is unfazed with being chucked from left to right in rapid fashion. Compared to most other big scoots I’ve ridden, will happily handle more aggressive riding before the feedback it gives starts to become vague and nervy so it’s as fun and capable outside of the city as it is coursing through the heart of it.
Stability and composure is ably aided by suspension that handles the TMAX’s weight well, while allowing for sporty riding. It’s slightly altered from the previous model – in the front there’s a 41mm USD fork, with a different damper spec to match the overall weight reduction, while the rear has a motorcycle-style linkage and horizontal shock. The result is a plush connection to the road, and good composure at speed – although expect the centre stand to touch down if you’re really going for it en route to a meeting. The suspension can get flustered by bumpy roads taken at speed, but other than that, there’s nothing to complain about.
The TMAX’s twin radial front calipers and 267mm discs, and rear single-piston caliper and 282 mm disc complete the sacred trinity of handling, going and stopping. The brake setup offers plenty of power and good feel through both levers and during a day punctuated by some occasionally rapid riding, the brakes never failed to deliver. It would be nice to turn off, or turn down the level of ABS at the rear, as squeezing the rear brake lever often resulted in a stern pulse through the lever, and of course, difficulty in doing skids.
Along with the good feel from the brakes, there was good feel through my arse as well, or rather, my bottom felt good thanks to the TMAX’s comfortable seat. It’s not as luxurious as the sumptuous saddle on the BMW C650 GT, but it’s good, although a slightly taller lumbar support would make all the difference on long haul rides.
Comfort continues in the leg area too. I might not have the longest legs in the world but could fully extend them and had plenty of room to move them about as I wanted. The ride position is typical of a maxi-scooter – legs wide, arms fairly wide to meet the wide, well positioned bars and an upright seating position. It’s comfortable at all speeds and makes the bike a doddle to handle, irrespective of whether you’re slowing picking through a traffic jam or flying through a fast sweeping bend.
There’s also abundant space under the seat – enough for a full-face lid or two open face crash hats. With a full-face lid in there, you’ll also be able to stow some shopping. Under the right switchgear there’s a glove box with enough space for a phone, wallet, keys and fags (if you’re still hard enough to smoke) but it’s a bit awkward to open. It’s the only thing on the TMAX that feels poorly designed and a little piece of rubber on the outside for purchase when opening it would solve the problem.
The new TFT display, sandwiched between the speedo and rev counter, is clear and easy to read and the buttons on the left switchgear to control the screen, heated bits, ride mode, and display fuel consumption, trip meter etc work in an intuitive fashion. Traction control is really easy to set and operate. I’d like it if the menu scrolling buttons were a bit closer to the outside of the switchgear, so I didn’t have to move my hand to an unnatural-feeling position to use them.
Other tech-based goodies on the TMAX include the TMAX connect feature – the TMAX features a telematic control unit which pairs with an app that’ll alert you if the bike moves when it shouldn’t be, record ride data, remotely cut the ignition and a whole load of other useful stuff. The app is free and simple to use. Subscription is free for the first year and you don’t need the app for it to operate as an anti-theft device.
And if your TMAX does get targeted by some scumbags, there’s always the chance they’ll get defeated by the centre stand, which locks into place when the bike is locked. There’s also the hope that they’ll abandon the bike due to the amount it beeps; it chirps incessantly when you unlock it, if you try to start it with the stand down, if you touch it inappropriately. By the end of the day’s test ride, I’d started to find it irritating – although I did a lot of button pressing buffoonery during the day as I got to figure out what I could/couldn’t do with it while it was locked/unlocked, etc.
I’ve no doubt the TMAX would tell me off less frequently once I’d become really familiar with intricacies of its electronic system. But would I want to spend more time with it? Yes. The new TMAX DX is a maxi scooter that's a mix of comfort, luxury and city savvy mixed with perky performance and it proves that two-wheeled transport can have a bit of attitude.
Model tested: Yamaha TMAX DX
Engine: 530cc liquid-cooled DOHC parallel twin
Power: 45hp at 6,750rpm
Torque: 39lb/ft 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)