2018 Yamaha X-MAX 400 first ride review – part 1 | ROAD TEST
A chance to ride from Yamaha UK on a brand new 400cc scooter to the Yamaha factory in France (birthplace of the X-MAX) seemed like the perfect way to get to know this updated Euro-4 spec sports scooter…
As scooter launches go the new 2017 Yamaha X-MAX 400 event was going to be a little more interesting than the usual nip around the block for a few photos jobbie.
Our posse included just four journalists, one Yamaha press officer and five X-MAX scooters. We also had a Yamaha Tenere with us for Mr Chippy Wood, who would accompany us on photography duty. Meeting at Yamaha UK in Woking our little gang would head off to Kent to catch ‘Le Shuttle’ to France for an overnight stay before riding to the French Yamaha factory to watch new X-MAX scooters being built. Yes folks, the X-MAX is designed and manufactured in Europe.
Two days, over 700 miles ridden and we also got to take the X-MAX home at the end of the trip. As such this review will come in two parts with the majority of the actual riding and video review in part two.
The MAX family
MAX is Yamaha’s premium range of scooters, with the irrepressible TMAX sitting firmly at the head of the table, a position it has quite rightly held since its arrival 15 years ago. The X-MAX 250 arrived in 2005, followed a year later by the 125 and big brother, the 400 in 2013. From 2011-2016 Yamaha sold more than 560,000 sports scooters (over 50cc) across Europe with the X-MAX being a major part of those statistics and becoming a stepping-stone for loyal followers to trade up through the capacities until they end up with a TMAX.
The new X-MAX 400
2017 has been a tough one for the bike industry; new Euro-4 regs meant old models needed to be sold before the new ones could come through but expect things to get exciting for 2018 with plenty of new models. Including this early arrival, a face-lift version of the X-MAX 400. This model will be available from your local Yamaha dealership by the time you read this, so head down there and have a look for yourself.
Whilst most EU4 scooters have had power zapped, Yamaha have managed to increase power by tweaking the ignition timing and increasing injector volume. This engine now makes 2bhp more and has an extra 2Nm of useful torque, whilst spewing out less harmful emissions. It makes 32.5bhp and is A2 licence friendly.
Yamaha have slashed 3kgs of weight by redesigning the frame, it’s stiffer and the scooter has better balance thanks to adjusting the position of the engine in the frame. Using a smaller alternator, and 33mm (rather than 35mm) forks has saved a further two kilos. The X-MAX now weighs in at 210kg and feels fairly light when you’re backing out of parking spaces etc.
The X-MAX now boasts full LED lighting, the twin beam front projects very well (as I found riding back from the Euro tunnel late last night) and the furrowed-brow look is visually distinctive, as is the rear.
Using a proximity sensor the keyless ignition allows you to unlock, start, pop the seat and filler flap without inserting a key. You can also lock the scooter using the remote or locate your scooter by getting it to flash its indicators. It’s an easy to use system. There’s also a warning bleeper, walk away from the scooter with the remote in your pocket and the scooter switched on and it starts to bleep, getting progressively louder and more irritating. The bleeper became a running joke during the trip, as we all forgot to lock the scooter on numerous occasions.
Traction control (TCS)
It’s becoming more common for scooters to have Traction Control Systems, it’s a great safety feature and on the X-MAX it’s not overly protective. You have to be giving it a handful over slippery surfaces to make it work; even then it’s not too intrusive. That’s a good thing; it’s there to hold your hand if you need it.
Another rider aid that Euro 4 legislated for, ABS. Again Yamaha have done a great job of implementing it on the X-MAX. The twin front 267mm discs and single rear disc operate independently, as they should on a sports scooter. The twin channel ABS is there working in the background ready to detect a locking wheel, it works very well without interfering in the enjoyment of your ride.
The handlebars can be set to two positions by removing the handlebar cover and rotating the eccentric bar clamp. It gives a 20mm difference. The screen is also adjustable to two positions, giving 50mm adjustment, albeit by the use of tools rather than a simple system.
Although the new model hasn’t had a huge makeover it has had a subtle facelift and now sports a more aggressive front end, new headlights, indicators and a few nips and tucks here and there. It still retains the characteristic MAX family features though. We saw the old and new models parked side by side and the 2017 model is a great improvement when you study their features.
On the road
Having sat through the informal but informative press conference it was time for us to head off to France. Having already ridden my Vespa GTS down from the Midlands to Woking early on Monday morning I was looking forward to another 150 miles on the new scooter. That’s the beauty of a modern automatic machine; they’re comfortable, and easy to ride so you can knock off a good few miles without stress. After all; it’s only sitting down and twisting stuff.
Replace the train?
The first thing I noticed as we pulled away from Yamaha was the engine note, characteristically Yamaha in sound and feel. Admittedly it’s not the smoothest engine and has more than a hint of vibration in the mid range but it’s tractable and has plenty of power for quick fuss-free overtakes. As we found out on our 95-mile cross-country route down to Folkestone for the Chunnel.
Surprisingly Yamaha don’t class anything below 400cc as a true ‘Maxi scooter’ where to me it’s more about body shape and styling than capacity. Speaking of capacity, the difference between my 278cc GTS and the 399cc X-MAX 400 is like night and day. On the GTS your using it to the limit most of the time, with the 400 you can sit at motorway speeds and wind the throttle on for an instant boost of power to overtake quickly and safely.
That’s where Yamaha are aiming the 400, directly at the longer distance commuter who wants a premium product that can replace the monotonous and expensive daily train or car journey. The kind of serious commuter who will willingly spend close to £6,000 for the privilege but can’t warrant another £4,000 to get the big daddy of the MAX family. A TMAX purchase is a serious commitment that will either replace a motorcycle or city car, an X-MAX will only cost around the same as a years rail travel; scary.
Under the sea
Our blast through the leafy suburbs of Surrey and Kent was pleasant, with the falling autumn leaves adding a shower of colour to the experience. The 95 miles were soon covered and we pulled straight off the M20 into the Euro Tunnel check in booth. If you’ve never crossed into France this way it’s really simple and cheap. Having checked in we rode straight on to the waiting train and within 10 minutes we were beneath the sea. 25 minutes later we were riding off and into France. Another 55 miles to cover before our overnight stay. We’ll be back later this week with the rest of the trip and road test…
Photos: Chippy Wood
More information: Yamaha
X-MAX 400 at a glance:
- Phantom Blue, Sonic Grey, Blazing Grey
- Keyless ignition
- Traction control/ABS
- Parking brake
- Price: £5999
Yamaha X-MAX 400 Specifications
Bore x Stroke
83mm x 73mm
Single cylinder, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC
32.8hp at 7000 rpm
36 Nm at 6000 rpm
L x W x H (mm)
2185 x 766 x 1415-1465mm (adjustable screen)
Saddle height (mm)
Net weight (kg)
Fuel tank (Ltrs)
Front: telescopic hydraulic fork
Rear: swinging arm
Front: 120/70 – 15’’
Rear: 150/70 – 13’’
Front: Ø 267
Rear: Ø 267
The new X-MAX 400 in detail
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