Yamaha’s new MT-10SP and eagerly anticipated R6 may be grabbing all the headlines, but this is Yamaha’s most important bike of 2017. Since the launch of the TMAX in 2001, Yamaha have sold over a quarter of a million units in Europe alone, making it their best-selling bike to date, and arguably their most important bike ever. Yamaha still have the largest market share in the maxi-scooter market, but as sales have dropped slightly in recent years, and with Euro4 adding further pressure, Yamaha have released an all-new model.
Available in the UK as two models, a standard bike and the range-topping DX (there is an SX in other markets which sits between the two), we’re concentrating on the DX, which is likely to be the bigger seller. We’re in Cape Town, South Africa and have had the opportunity to try everything from fast city commuting, to mountain passes and even some light touring. And the overriding impression is that the TMAX has come of age.
Yamaha’s executive scoot has always been the sportiest of the bunch, a favourite on the continent by some margin, but now the TMAX has matured. It’s 9kg lighter than before, they’ve moved the weight further forward in the new chassis, revised the steering head, there’s new suspension and the swingarm is 40mm longer. The £10,699 DX model tested even has an adjustable rear shock.
The handling is impressive, too – even when ridden way beyond its design brief. At times I had to remind myself I was on a feet-forward automatic scooter, it was that good.
I’d estimate it’s still the sportiest of the big scooter world, but now it has improved luxury with heated grips and a heated seat, and you can even personalise the heat settings via the new menu functions. There’s a new TFT dash panel and switchgear, cruise control, larger electronic screen, keyless ignition, power modes, even central locking – and most importantly you can get two open-face crash helmets under the larger and more comfortable seat. The excellent traction control (which can be switched off) keeps the wheels in line, while the ABS assisted brakes are really impressive, and not too intrusive. You might think traction control isn’t needed on a large scooter but I managed to activate the TC a few times in sandy car parks, and on our slimey, manhole cover splattered and gravel-strewn roads it’s an invaluable safety net.
The 45bhp parallel-twin also gets ride-by-wire for the first time, a new exhaust and lightweight carbon fibre final drive belt. On the DX model there are two power modes to choose from, T for Town and S for sporty. They produce the same peak power; you’re simply changing the throttle response and character and there is a noticeable difference.
With the electric screen fully up, feet forward out stretched, flick on the cruise control and sit back and enjoy turbulence-free touring. The parallel-twin is strong enough to propel the TMAX’s 216kg beyond an indicated 100mph, and stability is impressive for a 15inch wheeled scooter. But in the real world set the cruise control to 80-85mph and it will sit there all day in comfort on par with similar priced conventional tourers, if not better.
At the start of the test I thought anyone willing to spend over £10,000 on a scooter must be mad, but having put the new DX through its paces, I’m a convert.
The new TMAX is a significant step forward over the old model. The new styling is eye-pleasing, and the changes have improved its practicality. It’s not only an excellent scooter, it’s also an excellent motorbike – capable of persuading even the most traditional of bikers to step-thru into the feet-forward world.
Yamaha TMAX - Technical Specifications
Yamaha TMAX DX, £10,699, (as tested £10,850, with back rest and base £148)
Base model TMAX, £9399
Engine: 530cc (68x73mm) liquid-cooled, two-cylinder parallel twin.
Power (claimed) 51bhp @ 6700rpm
Torque (claimed) 38ftlb @ 5200rpm
Weight 216kg (kerb)
Tank capacity 15l
Frame: Aluminium ladder
Seat Height: 800mm.
Suspension: front 41 conventional front fork non-adjustable, single rear shock adjustable for pre-load only.
Front brake: 2 x 267mm discs with four-piston caliper.
Rear brake: 282mm rear disc with single piston caliper. Plus cable-operated handbrake.
Colours: Blue or Black (liquid darkness)
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