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Yamaha T-Max – A Quick Review

Road test by Dick Henneman


The T-Max is Yamaha’s twist ‘n’ go “Super-Scoot” and is aimed at the commuter who not only has to go that little bit further, but also wants a bike that can do the longer weekend trips and handle motorway cruising and carry a pillion without having to get off and push the thing up hills!

First Impressions

Its big and it’s long. The tall screen and the large black fairing around the headlamps makes the front look very bulky. Head-on it looks like a black and silver brick. It’s not brilliantly aesthetic but at least it looks as though it means business when it appears in the rear view mirrors of cars. The rear end treatment is smooth and sleek by comparison. Pearlescent silver paint looks great but could be easily marked by boots – especially pillions. Subdued contrast with silver middle panels. Has a refined and solid appearance.

Practical Bits

There’s a useful cubbyhole with lid in the right front fairing for sunglasses, coins, etc. Why not a second one on the left? There must be enough space within all that plastic. The ignition lock also operates the seat lock which rises on a hydraulic strut to reveal a storage space large enough to hide a small child! And it’s illuminated and has a removal carpet liner. How cool is that?

A hinged flap at the front of the seat opens for access to the lockable petrol cap.

There’s both a side stand and a centre stand. The bike is easy to get on to the centre stand but tricky to get off when you’re seated on the bike as the seat width prevents you getting a good leverage to pull the bike forward. It’s best to get off the bike and use the left bar and grab rail.

Getting on it

Seat is wide, unless you sit well forward, and although the seat isn’t that high it’s not that easy to get both feet flat on the ground. There’s an adjustable bum-pad for the rider and plenty of space behind that for the pillion, who has both side and rear grab rails and reasonably well-placed pegs.

Bars are wide and nicely positioned for manoeuvring through traffic and give a relaxed riding position. All the usual controls are in the usual places and the analogue instruments are clear and easy to read.

Starting it

Couldn’t be easier. Turn the key, pull in the rear brake lever and press the starter button. The parallel twin rumbles into life and immediately settles into a steady tickover. Surprisingly, the engine is still carburetted, but the automatic choke works well and you can pull straight away from cold without having to wait for things to warm up. A twist of the throttle and you’re away.

On the move

The automatic belt transmission works well with the throttle control to give a smooth snatch-free ride, even at partial throttle openings. There’s no jerkiness so manoeuvring in traffic is a doddle. But you need to remember that The T-Max is pretty long and wide by normal scooter standards, so getting through those small gaps isn’t going to be quite so easy, even though the wide bars and the excellent lock do help here. Where the T-Max will top just about anything on wheels is at the lights. From a standing start there’s nothing on wheels to beat it. Just give it a big right handful, hang on tight and it’s off like a ferret up a drain pipe! The long wheelbase and the low centre of gravity (the engine’s mounted horizontally under the seat) means that there’s no chance of a wheelie – just total forward motion.

Due to the lack of a reasonable straight I wasn’t able measure top speed, but I did see an indicated 92mph at one point before I had to back off for the next corner. I expect it would top out at around the ton. The good thing was that even at this speed the bike felt composed and stable and I was always able to feel what both wheels were doing.

As you’d expect from a scooter, especially one with a screen this tall, weather protection is good. On the move the large front fairing and tall screen keeps most of the rain at bay, and the waterproofs can stay packed away. However, once you stop . . . . . The other thing that you might expect , given the size of the fairing, is a certain degree of buffeting from the other vehicles and crosswinds. But you’d be wrong. Following lorries is not a problem and even a blustery day did not upset the T-Max one bit. The fairing may be big for a scoot, but it does work.

The suspension is surprisingly firm and well damped. The ride is handled by twin telescopic forks at the front, and a double-sided rear swing arm that incorporates the belt and final drive and pivots on the engine crankcase. The rear spring unit is mounted horizontally under the engine and unusually works in extension. Good grip levels from the OE Bridgestones on 14-inch wheels mean that when the traffic thins out you can up the pace and wind up the grin meter. This is a scoot that can be hustled through the bends and twisties to such an extent that you will find yourself laughing hysterically inside your helmet. Lean angles are only limited by decking the centre stand. You will do this.

Forward motion is arrested by a single disc on both wheels, with a two-pot sliding calliper at the front and a single-pot slider at the rear. Both are seriously adequate with the rear only needing a single finger on the lever. However, there’s also a lot of engine braking when you close the throttle, which came as a surprise to someone who’d previously only ridden 2-stroke twist ‘n’ go scooters.

I only rode it in town at night, so I can’t make much of a judgement on the headlights. However, dip beam gave a good spread pattern and the instruments were well illuminated and easy to read. Main beam on the open road is an untried quantity.

Niggles

The engine is a parallel twin, so it does vibrate. It’s not a big problem, although it can be a little wearing on long runs. It’s something you’ve just got to live with.

Something that I couldn’t live with though is the helmet buffeting and wind noise from the tall screen. This starts at around 20 mph and just gets worse as the speed increases. It’s so bad that I needed ear plugs under a full face helmet to pop down to the shops and I’m a fraction under 6 foot. Ducking down a couple of inches and the noise vanished but the down side was pain in the middle of my back and shoulders. There is an alternative lower screen and I think it would be well worth fitting it if you are anything over 5'8"!

Conclusions

The T-Max is an excellent compromise for someone who needs two wheels for serious commuting as well as a machine for longer trips at weekends. But check for wind noise before you buy. Although it looks like a scooter, it handles like a real bike and really comes into its own on B-roads. However, no one on a conventional motorbike will acknowledge your existence.

 

 


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