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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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"!
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.