Why a T-max is your key to personal enlightenment
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.
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.