2015 Yamaha TMAX
The average American male has problems, apparently. As I blithely motored past a supersport on the California Interstate, and later a cruiser, both riders visibly bristled, and briefly tried to keep up. I was in a hurry, but neither rider could keep my scooter in view for very long. I was aggressively splitting traffic, but part of the reason was the ease with which this particular scooter could reach triple digit speeds.
Those two male riders may have questioned their manhood, even though the same circumstances would have gone unnoticed had I been aboard a superbike. Scooters seem to do that to a fair number of American motorcyclists.
• Single lens LED taillight provides excellent visibility, extended service life and uses less power than conventional bulbs.
• Immobilizer ignition system is designed to reduce the possibility of “ride away” theft. This system must recognize the “coded ignition key” in order for the unit to start. If the immobilizer ignition does not recognize the key (or a theft’s screwdriver or other type of “jimmy tool”) the bike will not start even if the ignition is turned or forced into the on position. If the system does not recognize the correct coded ignition key, the ignition system and starter will not function.
• Adjustable front brake lever
• Special 525 lightweight O-ring chain is used to reduce weight
• Steering lock
• Lightweight aluminum side stand and chain adjusters
• Lightweight low maintenance sealed gel-type battery
The new TMAX gets a larger, more powerful 530cc parallel twin, together with inverted front forks and (for a scooter) very serious brakes. Radial-mount, four-piston calipers squeeze dual 267mm discs up front. A single disc does the job out back.
Other changes include revised bodywork up front, new mirrors and instrument panel. The new headlights are very bright LED units.
A “Smartkey” has a proximity sensor that allows you to turn the TMAX off or on, and lock it. A 12V outlet is standard.
Riding the new TMAX is a blast, and immediately reminiscent of the older model. The CVT transmission efficiently, and smoothly, transfers power from the twin cylinder engine to the rear wheel. Acceleration isn’t at sport bike levels, but there is plenty to blast ahead of city and highway traffic should you choose to do so. Like most CVTs, the on-power drone isn’t the most pleasant sound in your helmet.
The seat is comfortable and the ability to stretch your legs out is always appreciated on larger scooters. The seat height, however, is remarkably tall, preventing most riders from flat-footing at stops (and may be intimidating to shorter riders). Both the rider’s seat and passenger’s seat are generous and comfortably (firmly) padded. The underseat storage can hold one, large, full-face helmet, and is certainly nice to have.
For the scooter category, the TMAX is about performance. Indeed, this machine has almost reached cult status in Europe. That engine is always able, even at higher speeds, to accelerate briskly, and the chassis inspires confidence both in the corners and while hard on the brakes.
The low center of gravity, together with the generous braking power, allows for very aggressive braking (without the typical fork dive). Good feedback from the tires helps here, as well.
The windscreen, and wind protection in general, add to the comfort factor, but this 5’11” test rider had to deal with noisy helmet-level buffeting at highway speeds.
The TMAX has excellent ground clearance and can be hustled through the twisties almost like a sport bike, although it does have a tendency to understeer. Once you calibrate to the rather lazy turn-in, no problems.
Gas mileage is not great for a scooter, but that is the trade-off for the higher performance offered by the TMAX. Ridden aggressively, we had trouble getting 100 miles between gasoline fill-ups. YMMV … literally.
The TMAX is a fun, sporty ride, but many American males won’t give it a chance. For this reason, and others, the TMAX is not for everyone, but it doesn’t lack for performance or fun simply because it carries the designation “scooter”. It trades some fuel mileage for the performance that defines its character, however, which might be a negative for commuters and tourers who might otherwise consider a large displacement scooter.