Yamaha N-Max 125

Sporty, ur­ban and com­muter. We’ve heard it all be­fore of course, but this time Yamaha thinks it’s onto a real win­ner.

Motorcycle Monthly - - Launch Report - Words: Pete Hen­shaw Pho­tog­ra­phy: Yamaha

EN­GINE

The en­gine uses Yamaha’s ‘Blue Core’ ap­proach – ba­si­cally, a fancy way that Yamaha has cho­sen to say it is mak­ing com­pact en­gines that of­fer good fuel econ­omy but are fun to ride too. The 125cc liq­uid-cooled, four-stroke en­gine pro­duces 12bhp of power and 8.6lb-ft of torque. The NMAX is the first Yamaha scooter to fea­ture a four-valve cylin­der head with a newly de­vel­oped vari­able valve ac­tu­a­tion (VVA) for a strong, lin­ear feel­ing when rolling back the throt­tle.

The VVA sys­tem works via a mech­a­nism that shifts be­tween two dif­fer­ent in­take cam lobes depend­ing on en­gine speed. Valve tim­ing nor­mally uses just one lobe, a com­pro­mise be­tween low speed torque and high speed power, but this, says Yamaha, of­fers the best of both worlds.

With Honda’s stop/start PCX clearly in its sights, the NMAX has made fuel econ­omy a pri­or­ity, with much at­ten­tion paid to min­imis­ing the fric­tional losses be­tween the pis­ton and cylin­der wall. So the NMAX fea­tures an off­set cylin­der and there’s a Di­ASil coat­ing on the bore. Yamaha quotes 107mpg in WMTC mode – af­ter a morn­ing blat­ting around Lis­bon we saw 108mpg on the dash­board dis­play, so if that’s ac­cu­rate, it’s bang on what it claims.

CHAS­SIS

The new light­weight tubu­lar frame is cov­ered by an aero­dy­namic cowl with those dis­tinc­tive ‘Boomerang’ side mo­tifs inspired by the big­ger MAX mod­els in the Yam­mie range. Again, like its big­ger broth­ers, the NMAX fea­tures a cen­tral ‘tun­nel’ con­tain­ing the fuel tank and fea­tures linked type en­gine mounts us­ing rub­ber bushes that ab­sorb vi­bra­tion for a comfy ride.

De­spite be­ing a 125, Yamaha has been keen to of­fer ‘pre­mium class com­fort’ for riders of all shapes and sizes. The body de­sign al­lows plenty of room to stretch out your legs and change from a sporty to re­laxed rid­ing style when re­quired or de­sired and be­cause of the side mounted ra­di­a­tor there’s plenty of space on the foot­boards. There’s plenty of room for a pil­lion on the stepped dual seat with grab bar and ded­i­cated foot­pegs.

Twin rear shock ab­sorbers, equipped with dual rate springs (though no pre-load ad­just­ment) look af­ter the sus­pen­sion on the rear, while 13in wheels are fit­ted front and rear. There’s a 6.6-litre fuel tank and the seat height is a com­fort­able 765mm. Un­der the seat is a large hel­met stor­age com­part­ment that will swal­low a large full-face lid (pro­vided it’s put in up­side down) and a spring mech­a­nism keeps the seat open so you don’t have to bal­ance it on your head to keep it open.

RIDE

Lis­bon is prob­a­bly an ideal city to test ride the NMAX – it’s a maze of hilly nar­row streets, many of them cob­bled, with manic traf­fic and trundling trams thrown in. For­tu­nately, the Yamaha is a typ­i­cal twist & go scooter in that it’s supremely easy to just hop on and ride. The low seat (765mm) al­lowed my 30-inch legs to have both feet flat on the ground and the rid­ing po­si­tion is nicely up­right.

So does the VVA (vari­able valve tim­ing) ac­tu­ally work? The NMAX cer­tainly has plenty of punch from low down – Yamaha claims that it ac­cel­er­ates faster than its arch-ri­val Honda PCX, although with­out a side by side com­par­i­son that’s dif­fi­cult to ver­ify. The good news is that there’s no power ‘step’ when the VVA moves to the high speed cam at 6000rpm – power just keeps on build­ing. It’s plenty for city traf­fic up to 50mph lim­its.

With 13-inch wheels and a longish wheel­base, the NMAX feels sta­ble as well as easy to nip in and out of gaps, which is just what you want for an ur­ban scoot. The brakes aren’t linked, which some riders pre­fer, but the ex­tra con­fi­dence en­dowed by ABS, es­pe­cially on wet and greasy tar­mac, will be a real boon to year-round com­muters, so full marks to Yamaha for mak­ing this part of the stan­dard spec for Europe.

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