Yamaha NMax first ride

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Yamaha's new NMax is the latest to join the 'Max' family of scooters, but it's not a sporty job like the T-Max or X-Max. It does have variable valve timing (a first for a scooter) but really it's a more sensible/practical take on 125cc urban transport, with the added bonus of standard ABS. Again, that's a first for a 125 scooter.

VVA (variable valve actuation) doesn't instantly make this a cut-price Ducati Testastretta DVT. The NMax uses a simple two cam lobe system that switches between low and high engine speed lobes at 6000rpm.

But it does appear to work, giving punchy acceleration from low speeds, the power gradually building with speed. It's certainly quick enough for the urban streets this scooter is designed for. Yamaha claim a top speed of 100km/h (62mph) which is pretty modest for a 12bhp 125. We didn't get the chance to check that, but wouldn't be surprised it proves a little faster.

But to be honest, the USP of this scooter, for the sort of first-time buyers Yamaha is aiming at, is the anti-lock brakes. They're not linked, but worked well on the dry but cobbled backstreets of Lisbon, where Yamaha launched the scooter. They add an element of security, which any novice commuter will welcome. 

The NMax handles pretty well too – the suspension is nothing special, but 13-inch wheels and a longish wheelbase make it nippy enough without being twitchy. It can slip through gaps and round corners  with ease, just what you want from two-wheeled city transport. 

It should be cheap to run too – Yamaha claim 107mpg (we managed 108) with servicing at 4000 miles – and at £2599 it undercuts the best-selling Honda PCX by 100 quid. The Honda has stop/start and uses less fuel, but doesn't have ABS or variable valve timing. The NMax will be in Yamaha dealers at the end of this month.

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Peter Henshaw

By Peter Henshaw