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Longterm test: Yamaha Tmax

Published: 18 November 2001

Being fairly liberal-minded, I do my best to understand the actions of other people. Even when they seem completely unreasonable, I exercise caution before judging them. I may not have all the facts. There may be mitigating factors I’m unaware of.

But occasionally I witness an act so mindlessly destructive that the simple fact it’s been committed is the only fact I need. There is no possible defence for such pointless, vindictive behaviour. And I’ll never understand the reason for it – assuming there is one.

I’ll never understand, for example, why somebody slashed the seat on my Tmax while it was locked up outside my flat. I froze when I saw the zig-zag incision as I was putting on my lid and gloves to ride to work and stared in disbelief. What had the perpetrator gained from it other than the knowledge that in a matter of seconds they’d transformed a pristine £6000 scooter into something secondhand and nasty-looking?

I stuck my fingers into the split and realised the scum responsible had dug the knife deep into the foam underneath. Then I pulled them out again quickly, remembering stories about razor blades embedded inside vandalised seats.

The worst part was, I’d been just metres away from the mindless piece of filth who’d done this, blissfully unaware, probably watching TV inside my flat. I found myself wishing I’d looked out the window at the right time, or that the culprit had given himself away by making too much noise. This was the bike that had transported me, girlfriend and a shed-load of luggage to Ibiza for a holiday in August. It had survived that without so much as a hint of trouble, serving us faithfully without complaint, only to be damaged by some pathetic waste of fresh air outside my own flat.

As Vincent Vega put it after getting his car keyed in Pulp Fiction: " I’d give anything to catch ’im doin’ it. It’d be worth ’im doin’ it, if I coulda just caught ’im. " My sentiments exactly.

Actually, it’s not entirely true the Tmax survived the Ibiza trip unscathed. You see, whoever slashed the seat isn’t the only low-life I’d like to catch. Another one forced the steering lock when the scooter was chained to a lamppost outside a hotel in Mantes, France, with a chain big enough to anchor a passenger ferry. God knows what the brainless berk hoped to achieve by bashing the handlebars back and forth until the steering lock broke.

Other than that, though, the 3000-mile round trip went without incident. The Tmax, replete with Givi top box, soft panniers, pillion backrest and an Autocom stereo and rider-to-pillion intercom, provided almost all the co.mfort and practicality of an estate car, and still saved us hiring a scooter to get around in the sweltering temperatures of Barcelona and Ibiza.

My girlfriend complains about spending any more than 10 minutes on the back of most bikes, so taking her was like having a built-in whingeometer to measure the Tmax’s comfort and weather protection. It hardly registered. In fact, for most of the trip she was fighting to stay awake. Which just goes to show that even an intercom can’t guarantee stimulating conversation.

Out of 16 days away, we spent eight riding from Calais to Barcelona and back, three in Barcelona itself, three in Ibiza after catching an overnight ferry, and two in Spain’s Tossa de Mar after sailing back to the mainland.

Once petrol and ferry crossings had been added up, it would almost certainly have been cheaper to fly. But we didn’t choose to ride there to save money. The trip wasn’t just about getting to our destination. It was about Le Mans, Clermont Ferrand, Narbonne, Orleans and all the other places we saw in France en-route.

If I add the cost of fixing a steering lock to the bill – £185 including fitting – the scooter definitely won’t have been the cheapest way to get to Ibiza and back.

But I can live with a broken steering lock. They’re useless anyway – a token effort on the part of manufacturers which a determined grandmother could overcome. The fact that any would-be thief – in this case probably a drunk French one – is able to break it bears that out. I’ve never relied on it and never intend to, so the fact that it’s gone is of absolutely no consequence.

What is of consequence is the £52 I’ll have to find to get the Tmax looking presentable again. That’s the price of a new seat cover, including fitting

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