Bar­gain scoot

Why a T-max is your key to per­sonal en­light­en­ment

Motorcycle News (UK) - - NEWS - By Dan Suther­land ACT­ING CON­SUMER EDI­TOR @MCNNEWS mo­tor­cy­cle­news

What we said then

“The sports maxi-scooter that started it all. As close as you’ll get to mo­tor­cy­cle han­dling in scooter form. The TMAX can tour, scratch and com­mute as well or bet­ter than many mid­dleweight con­ven­tional bikes.

“The TMAX isn’t just sur­pris­ing down a twisty back lane, it’s stag­ger­ingly good. A well-rid­den con­ven­tional mid­dleweight bike will out-han­dle it in the end, but it’s bet­ter than you’d think”

What is it like now?

I was un­sure of what to ex­pect from the TMAX, but I left hugely im­pressed. The ride’s silky smooth and the rid­ing po­si­tion is fan­tas­ti­cally com­fort­able. Sim­ply stretch out on the large foot­plates and slump into the soft, roomy seat, and you could be mis­taken for think­ing you are sit­ting in a liv­ing-room chair rather than rid­ing a 530cc scoot.

Ex­plor­ing the twisty back roads sur­round­ing CMC Coleshill (from where we bor­rowed the bike), I was im­pressed with the big Yamaha’s nim­ble nature, as well as its ground clear­ance and how its er­gonomics felt just like those of a con­ven­tional mo­tor­cy­cle. Once I’d stopped reach­ing for a clutch that wasn’t there, and grown ac­cus­tomed to the twist-and-go set-up, rid­ing be­came ef­fort­less and re­lax­ing.

There is also plenty of poke from the en­gine, and at 70mph the bike re­mains com­fort­able and un­fazed. You can even tempt a mild ex­haust pop on the over­run. You get the feel­ing the TMAX would be just as at home two-up on a week­end away tour­ing, as it would on the daily com­mute into the city cen­tre and along la­bo­ri­ous mo­tor­ways.

De­spite hav­ing a brand-new Dunlop Scoots­mart tyre on the rear, our TMAX was a con­fi­dence-in­spir­ing ma­chine from the start, and great through the bends. Stop­ping power is also more than ad­e­quate, with the front and rear disc brakes of­fer­ing a good enough level of feel to in­spire later brak­ing and spir­ited rid­ing. It is also easy to keep an eye on what’s go­ing on be­hind you, thanks to bril­liantly placed mir­rors of­fer­ing a wide field of view.

No big scooter is com­plete with­out stor­age space, and the TMAX of­fers this in abun­dance. Pop up the seat to re­veal a boot big enough for not just a full-faced lid but po­ten­tially a full week’s food shop! A small light is en­gaged when this space is ac­cessed, to help find your be­long­ings at night, and there are two smaller com­part­ments up front, too. Th­ese are per­fect for stash­ing cash for tolls, mo­bile phones and other day-to-day es­sen­tials.

Any ob­vi­ous faults?

For a bike that could and should be great for monster miles, the screen is sim­ply too short. Sit­ting nat­u­rally, my vi­sion is restricted as the top of the screen dis­sects my field of view right across the cen­tre of my eye line.

This also means that, at speeds ap­proach­ing 70mph, the flow of air over the bike cre­ates tur­bu­lence around your hel­met. It is not a huge amount, but is cer­tainly no­tice­able and could, I imag­ine, grow ir­ri­tat­ing on long jour­neys.

The rev counter (not that it’s re­ally needed) is also quite poorly lit, com­pared to the rest of the oth­er­wise ex­cel­lent dash. I didn’t even no­tice it was there the first time I rode the TMAX. If I am be­ing picky, the paint on the pas­sen­ger grab rail was also be­gin­ning to fade.

Verdict

The TMAX is an in­cred­i­bly ca­pa­ble bike, and more than the big hair-dryer I thought it would be. It han­dles and goes like a mo­tor­cy­cle should, and is good enough to be a laugh in the turns when things get tech­ni­cal. The bike also has buck­ets of stor­age and is hugely com­fort­able. The tur­bu­lence cre­ated by the screen could re­ally start to grate af­ter a while, though, and if I wanted a scooter purely for com­mut­ing into the city, I would per­haps favour a 300cc al­ter­na­tive. The TMAX is a big old beast and, although it gen­er­ally feels sta­ble, I found it a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to man­age at low speed.

MCN, 2011.

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