Buried beneath its boomerang-shaped bodywork is a twin spar aluminium frame, which is the secret to the TMAX’s motorcycle-like handling. It also wears upside down forks, a single rear shock (preload and rebound adjustable on the top spec Tech Max), 15in wheels and four piston radial brakes.
That’s all unchanged for 2020, but suspension gets stiffer springs at each end and revised damping, giving the Yamaha even more poise and sharper steering for when you’re feeling racy (never underestimate the speed of a well ridden TMAX), but for cruising and around town its comfortable, light steering and easy to ride.
Wheels may only be 15in, but standard issues Bridgestone Battlax SC tyres give 'big bike' levels of grip and confidence, especially on cold and wet tarmac.
Everything about the TMAX is big-for-a-scooter, from its engine, speed, price tag and physical dimensions. Weighing 220kg, 4kg more the 2017-19 model the Yamaha isn’t heavy or difficult to manage at any speed, but it’s long and wide, which can make it a leg-splayer for rider and pillion.
For 2020 Yamaha has slimmed down the tail section and seats. It’s slightly easier to get feet down at a standstill, but it’s still a broad old bean. On the flip side the big seat and spacious riding position gives the TMAX a sense of palatial robustness that sets it apart from regular scoots, but with all your weight centred on your coccyx and arms and feet stretched forward, back pain can set in on long motorway rides.
Increasing capacity seems to be the way manufacturers are hitting their Euro5 emissions targets without sacrificing power and the TMAX motor grows from 530cc to 562cc. Power is up 2bhp to an A2 licence-friendly 47bhp and torque boosted by 6%.
The parallel twin also gets bigger intake valves, new 2mm wider forged ali pistons, con rods, camshaft, a lighter crank, improved cooling, new throttle body, injectors, air filter and a twin cat Euro5 exhaust. CVT gearing is tweaked for stronger acceleration and a lower rev cruising speed. Yamaha claim 10% better fuel consumption and a couple more mph top speed.
One of the joys of the TMAX and what makes it so exciting for a scooter is that it doesn’t hang around. It’ll top 115mph and has enough get up and go to win most traffic light Grand Prix. The 2020 model is subtly crisper and more urgent on the throttle, but still smooth at cruising speeds with friendly throttle manners in traffic.
The TMAX is screwed together with the same love, care and attention as any of the Japanese firm’s motorcycles. It’s robust and won’t let you down, but ridden in all weathers some bolt heads and exhaust welds can show signs of rust – a general Yamaha trait.
Lots has been said about the price of the TMAX, but when you look at the level of motorcycle-like equipment and performance you get for the money, it doesn’t seem so bad. Oil services are every 3000 miles, so you’ll be seeing your dealer more than you’d like and insurance generally isn’t too scary, unless you live in London.
The top spec Tech Max takes over from the current DX with a November 2019 launch cost of £11,649 (£10,199 for the base model) and comes with the same array of bells and whistles: two power modes (Tour and Sport - the only one you actually need), an electric screen, cruise and traction control, heated grips and seat, keyless ignition, ABS and a multi-function digital display.
Up front, new LED indicators are the biggest change, but the rear seat unit has been sharpened and the rear LED tail and stop lights are formed in a T shape. In addition to the official accessories available, Yamaha will also sell you Sport Pack, which includes things like a tail tidy and smaller screen, an Urban Pack with extra storage and Winter Pack featuring a 'scooter blanket' to keep you warm and dry in the winter.
For such a beast of a scooter it’s a surprise to find space for just one full-face lid under the seat – not great for two-up trips.
An immobiliser, steering and centre stand lock make the TMAX as secure as any motorcycle and who wouldn’t use extra locks, anyway? A subscription tracking app, which is free for the first year, will alert you the second it’s tampered with, too.
The base model now comes with more standard equipment including the locking centre stand, keyless ignition, rider modes and traction control, but historically most TMAX owners go for the top model, which on a PCP deal, adds little to the monthly payment.