Yamaha TMAX end of term report | NEWS
Last week saw our long-term Yamaha TMAX serving its last active service with SLUK before it gets returned to Yamaha. We’ve had the mighty TMAX since May and during those seven months, it’s been used whenever I’ve needed to cover a lot of miles in a hurry. Usually for work-related stuff.
The TMAX has been used for airport runs when heading off on press launches (free and often very convenient bike parking at airports makes travelling by scooter very attractive for short trips abroad). Although leaving a highly desirable maxi-scooter at a London airport worried me slightly more than it used to. I used disc locks on both wheels, plus a heavy duty chain to chain it to a barrier and I covered it up. Thankfully it was still there when I returned.
The Yamaha has also been used for the odd twos up seaside weekend away, we fitted a 56-litre Givi top box to help with luggage (a very worthwhile addition). Although there’s storage space under the seat it’s never quite big enough for weekends away. The top box certainly helps. We’ll be adding a SLUK Support to our range to help with maxi scooter luggage in 2019.
My trip last week was up to sunny Morecambe Bay for a feature we’ll be running early next year. I’m based close to Nottingham and the thought of a pre-Christmas 322-mile ride would usually make me shiver. Luckily this winter has been very mild so after wrapping up well I was fairly comfortable on the way up there at an early morning dark and damp 6 degrees.
I must admit the TMAX has been sat in the garage far more than it should have been this year, let me explain why. Firstly my daily commute is much shorter than most people’s. In fact I can jump out of the shower in the morning, get ready and walk the 13 steps down a flight of stairs to my office. Traffic isn’t an issue (unless somebody wants to pass on the stairs), it’s very cheap and ultra convenient. That means I don’t ride to work very often and if I do it’ll be to somewhere distant. Wherever possible I’ll use a scooter to get to meetings/launches etc. The TMAX is perfect for that kind of use.
The second reason the TMAX hasn’t had as much use as it should have done is that most of my (normal) riding is for pleasure. For that, I prefer to use my classic scooters, whether it’s for a quick ride to a rally in Bridlington, Exmouth, Whitby etc., or for a two-week touring holiday through Spain on a 1961 Lambretta. I imagine I’ve done 7,000-8,000 miles on my classics this year.
Thirdly I’ve had other scooters at SLUK HQ to test, some of them for a month at a time so it’s further limited my TMAX mileage. Even so, I’ve enjoyed every mile of the just under 1900 I’ve put on the TMAX clock. The good thing about having a maxi scooter in the garage is that you know you can go anywhere on it at the drop of a hat. The TMAX hadn’t been used for about six weeks but it still started without a murmur last week and didn’t take any refamiliarising once we set off. Although it was reassuring to feel the traction control kicking in on damp roads and cold tyres when I was a little heavy handed with the throttle.
Despite having the low sports screen fitted, the scooter is actually quieter to ride at speed than many I’ve ridden with a standard height screen. You still need earplugs but if you’re in the right position you can miss most of the windblast even at high speed.
The TMAX does high speed as well as you’d expect for a 530cc 45.3bhp sports scooter. I find the throttle response and engine note through the not overly noisy Akrapovic exhaust fairly addictive. The surge of power from 5,000 rpm is fantastic. You can sit on the motorway at just under 5,000, wind the throttle on and you’re instantly rewarded with a kick in the backside, a change of engine note and a sudden rise in digits on the digital speedo as the revs quickly rise to 7,500. You will be at over a ton in seconds.
The TMAX always feels solid, steady and in control, no matter how hard you ride it. This thing has sports scooter in its DNA. It’s a fine handling scooter. If you enjoy a bit of spirited riding then the TMAX is still king and it’s a great mile munching machine.
A good reason to buy new if you’re self-employed
One thing worth noting when looking for an excuse to justify spending big money on a new scooter is that if you’re self-employed you can claim back 100% tax relief on the purchase making it much more affordable. That rule only applies to brand new bikes/scooters though, not second hand but it could save you up to 40% of the purchase price.
Yamaha TMAX 530 end of term summary
Cost new: £9999
Value now: £8000
Akrapovic Exhaust: £1019
Sports screen: £74.60
Givi V56 Monokey top box: £199.99
Top box fitting kit: £82
Top box fitting plate: £76
Mileage when collected: 80
Mileage when returned: 1869
Tyres: Still on original tyres, plenty of tread left
Average MPG: 52.5
In the UK many riders have preconceived ideas about scooters, bikers see them as a lower form of two-wheeled transport and are scared to risk the mockery of owning or riding one. That’s probably down to long-held perceived rivalry between bikers and scooter riders going back to the Mods and Rockers days of the distant 1960s. Things have moved on a hell of a lot since then.
What the unenlightened don’t realise is just how much fun you can have on a modern scooter. How much more practical they are than most bikes, how much less maintenance they need. I’ve literally not touched the TMAX other than putting fuel in. With a final belt drive, there’s no messy chain to lube and tension for starters.
The TMAX is mean in looks, quick enough to have fun on (108mph), handles as well as any middleweight bike, can carry quite a lot of day-to-day ‘stuff’ under the seat and is also very comfortable. My ride to Morecambe and back last week wasn’t a chore, in fact, I’d been looking forward to the chance of a decent ride before Christmas. 322 miles were despatched very quickly and as I neared home I’d have been more than happy to carry on riding. If you’re a bike rider could you say the same? A scooter is much easier and less tiring to ride than a bike. The riding position is natural, rather than forcing you into a wrist breaking, neck crunching crouch.
The Yamaha TMAX has been THE sports scooter to aspire to since it arrived way back in 2001. It’s evolved and developed over the years, with a better spec and more power. The latest model is stunning both in looks and performance. It’s the complete package, quick enough, fine handling, great brakes with very good ABS, a lovely engine with linear power, adjustable traction control and the credibility Yamaha has built up for the model over 18 years of being at the top of their game. It’s not a cheap investment but they last very well, in fact Sticky still owns a well used and abused Mark 1 TMAX from 2002 (although he is planning to trade up to a later model shortly).
Although a new TMAX is a big financial commitment for what is essentially ‘just a scooter’ a TMAX is so much more useful year-round than a bike of a similar value. If you can get over those preconceptions and give one a try you’ll quickly realise what you and many other British riders have been missing out on. Look further afield to Europe and you’ll see maxi scooters outnumber bikes massively, that’s because the locals take things at face value and realise a maxi scooter is a much more useful and practical solution for everyday transport and for pleasure.
If you feel the need for a sports biased, long distance maxi scooter the Yamaha TMAX is the daddy. It’s fast, agile, fun and looks pretty mean. Treat yourself, you’ll love it, I did.
New products always in development…