Yamaha T-Max | Scoot

Maxed-Out

By Roland Brown, Photography by Alessio Barbanti, Brian J. Nelson, Tom Riles

The T-Max has led the maxi-scooter charge since its introduction in 2001, but with sporty offerings from BMW on the horizon, Yamaha is preemptively maxing-out the T-Max.

The T-Max’s 2012 updates read like those for the latest sportbike: fresh styling, a revamped chassis and a 2mm larger bore that ups displacement to 530cc—the maximum possible with the current engine architecture. Other changes include 12-hole injectors as on the YZF-R6, reshaped ports and combustion chambers, larger intake valves and new camshafts. The net result is an increase in power throughout the rev range, with a 10 percent gain in peak torque and an extra 3 horsepower on top. The styling has been sharpened with reshaped bodywork, projector-beam headlights and an automotive-style dash. Lighter wheels and ancillary parts save 9 lbs., bringing the T-Max’s curb weight down to a claimed 440 lbs.

Though it’s a European-only model, Yamaha shuttled European journalists to Southern California for the scooter’s intro. Pushing off from Hollywood, the T-Max melds easily into traffic. The engine feels strong and the CVT automatic transmission is smooth, easing the frustration of our stop-and-go progress toward the Coast. Yamaha says the main benefit of the new engine is improved acceleration between 25 and 60 mph. Indeed, the bike accelerates briskly, which proved useful for nipping ahead of the traffic as we headed west on Sunset Boulevard.

Free of traffic on Pacific Coast Highway, 90 mph appears on the dash surprisingly quickly, although the T-Max is much happier cruising at 70. Even at the much lower posted limit, the scooter’s lower windscreen created quite a bit of turbulence. It is adjustable, but not by hand.

Accommodations are plush. There’s a reasonable amount of space under the seat; not enough for two full-face helmets, but the compartment held my helmet and jacket with room to spare.

We pointed our sleds up some canyon roads, where the T-Max’s twist-and-go grunt, massive brakes and respectable handling proved that this maxi-scooter is indeed worthy of the adjective “sporty.” Our pace was quick rather than fast, but the T-Max handled the curves effortlessly and with unfaltering steadiness.

The engine updates are excellent, but other changes get mixed reviews. The new mirrors are clear and well spaced, but small. The revamped instrument panel contains the essential info, but the digital display is small. While the fork feels superb, the shock needs to take more of the edge off big hits.

Yamaha’s efforts have produced the best T-Max to date, but whether that will be enough to retain the scooter’s huge share of the increasingly competitive European super-scooter market is another matter.

But to judge the T-Max on its specifications sheet and price alone would be a mistake. You have to ride it—and preferably on a twisty road where this latest version of the original sporty super-scooter can deliver riding enjoyment that most big scooters can’t approach.

Tech Spec

Price na
Engine type l-c parallel twin
Valve train DOHC, 8v
Displacement 530cc
Transmission Automatic
Claimed horsepower 46.5 bhp @ 6750 rpm
Claimed torque 38.6 lb.-ft. @ 5250 rpm
Frame Aluminum twin-spar
Front suspension Soqi 43mm fork
Rear suspension Soqi shock with adjustable spring preload
Front brake Dual Tokico four-piston calipers, 267mm dics
Rear brake Tokico one-piston caliper, 282mm disc
Front tire 120/70-15 Bridgestone BT011
Rear tire 160/60-15 Bridgestone BT011
Seat height 31.5 in.
Wheelbase 62.2 in.
Fuel capacity 4.0 gal.
Claimed curb weight 440 lbs.
Contact www.yamaha-moto.com

Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars.

The sportiest step-through out there.

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