Posted: 12 Oct 2012
If Yamaha’s latest TMAX is good enough for Grand Prix legend Giacomo Agostini then the TMAX should be good enough for anyone with a full bike licence. Shouldn’t it? The answer is yes… and no!
There’s no denying the TMAX acts more like a motorcycle than a scooter. But then it’s got a lot of competition in the same stable as a maxi-scooter and so has to be good.
Stability isn’t an issue on the TMAX; now that the lightweight alloy wheels are 15-inch front and rear, the steering is light without being twitchy over ruts and other tarmac deformations. It’s also worth noting the suspension is compliant without being overly squidgy. Put it like this, you don’t lose too much feedback from the tyres even though there’s a good deal of plastic and seat padding that soaks it up.
Where Yamaha has gone to town is the way the twin-cylinder engine is bolted rigid and low within an aluminium frame that can be described as a work of art, or the Forth Bridge of motorcycling chassis. This frame keeps everything tightly in place, even the new aluminium swingarm.
With the twin-pot, four-valve engine capacity now up to 530cc and everything within finely honed – including the revised fuel injection – the TMAX is no slouch from the off. In fact it’s an eye opener when given a full fist of throttle. This initial burst of drive stays with you because the revised CVT drive neatly slips into the next ratio for seamless drive. It’ll only be an experienced rider on a 600cc+ sports bike that’ll get the drop on you from the lights.
Life on the TMAX seat is a comfy place to be. New bar position and redesigned seat doesn’t drop the rider into a semi-slump for a back-aching ride. There’s not a great deal of windrush to hit the rider because Yamaha has done its sums with bodywork and aerodynamic styling. The fairing screen is also two-tier adjustable to keep us shorties and those lucky long-legged folk happy.
Styled to be modern and sharp, it is funky looking by blending maxi-scooter frontage with race-replica lines. But ask any fan of Yamaha TMAX what they think and most will say it isn’t a patch on the original 2001, sharp as sharp hooligan XP500 TMAX. Guess everything has to grow up at some point…
None of us would complain if Yamaha dished one out free of charge as they have to Agostini. But the fact is Yamaha want us mere mortals to pay £8k-plus for a scooter! For many of us this is too pricey a pill to swallow. Urban mobility is one thing, but in our book, for the price, the TMAX needs to achieve 200mpg and be capable of setting lap records on a Sunday afternoon. Good as the TMAX’s suspension, brakes, engine and frame is, it ain’t that good.
+ points – surefooted handling, sweet engine delivery
- points – competent motorcycles are cheaper, styled to please rather than admire
Power: 46.5bhp, 38.6ft lbs
Kerb weight: 217kg
Seat height: 800mm
Colours: Grey, white, silver, black
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