Take in to the (T) Max…
I just went for a look… but walked out with a new scooter, as you do. How would it compare to my other scooters?
I looked down and with no effort and not much noise, it was whirring easily along at, well, let’s just say motorway speed. I was sitting in comfort with no need to hold my fingers over the clutch.
Upon arrival at the store, my eyes were drawn to an unusual beast in the corner. It was a very big motorbike/scooter ‘thing’ which was custom painted with Union Jacks all over it. I couldn’t actually decide whether I loved or hated the thing. A few days later though I went back and paid the man… so now I was the owner of a Yamaha TMAX 500cc ‘thing’, painted in Union Jacks. During the first trip out on it I was getting used to the handling and took it round some swooping country roads to get to the A1 where I headed south. I looked down and with no effort and not much noise, it was whirring easily along at, well, let’s just say motorway speed.
I was sitting in comfort with no need to hold my fingers over the clutch. The wind was comfortably deflected around me by the large screen, it was like riding an armchair on wheels! The T-MAX was a LOT different to my Lambretta and initially I really enjoyed having it. People looked at it because of the paint job, it was pretty visible in a crowd and certainly unique. It was great to go off on 100 mile+ round trips without having to take an extensive tool kit, no bottles of oil to carry, no vague smell of petrol from my leg. I could just go, and not have the nagging doubt that I might be calling the AA later that day from a layby! I even used it for work. In the summer I could go and see a customer with my briefcase in the cavernous storage area under the seat. Park up and switch my briefcase for jacket and helmet. The customer never knew I’d just arrived from a 60 mile trip on two wheels. However in the words of Clarkson: “But, there was a problem…”
After six months or so the TMAX went from the front of the garage to the side and then to the back, and then under a dust cover. It was totally reliable, fast, smooth, comfortable, safe and reasonably economical. But, well… a bit boring. It had no soul, it was no fun, there was no excitement. It didn’t feel… alive, and nor did I when I rode it. That was the difference. Yes it was fab for long journeys and eating up miles. Brilliant for a cruise around Derbyshire. But it didn’t make me smile in the way the noisy smelly classic scooter did. When riding to work on my Lambretta it was never straight to work. There was always a ‘scenic route’ often involving that railway tunnel where it was The Law that you have to drop a gear and rev the shit out. And not forgetting that moment when you stop at the lights and the puffs of two-stroke smoke waft under the helmet. Along the high street you catch your own reflection in plate glass windows and you catch that fella over there turning his head to see the scooter… you feel, alive!
The Yamaha didn’t have that feeling – you know the one – it was just, well, a mode of reliable transport. I even went to a gathering of big automatic scooters, hoping for that ‘fraternal buzz’ you get at a rally. But it wasn’t the same. The people were different too, there was no buzz. There was no one with bodywork off and spanners out and people helping fix whatever issue there was. It was all ‘very civilised’ with some fellas producing a flask of tea and box of sandwiches from the space under the seat. So I think the TMAX ended up being used once in about six months. Now, rides out for pleasure are on a Charlie Edmonds tuned Rapido 225 and I have that scary feeling seeing how fast it goes by tracking on a GPS… vibrating like crazy and engine screaming! Now that made the adrenalin flow and the heart beat like crazy (86mph by the way on the GPS)!
Eventually the Yamaha was sold on eBay. I actually got exactly what I paid for it when it went and the guy was very happy with his custom painted Yamaha. It was great for a while having that type of scooter AS WELL as a Lambretta, but it could never be INSTEAD of! That vague smell of petrol following you around is quite addictive really.