The Goods: A Big Twin, an Automatic, and Loads o' Storage
The liquid cooled, fuel-injected DOHC powerplant is hooked up to a continuously variable automatic transmission, and both wheels are cast aluminum 15-inchers mounted with 120mm rubber up front and 160mm rubber at the rear. The TMAX also incorporates a parking brake that sits tucked along the handlebar when it’s disengaged, and swings outward when it’s in use. A large catalyzed muffler runs exhaust along the bike’s right side, and a die-cast aluminum frame holds everything together.
The TMAX is rated for an estimated 47 miles per gallon, and with a fuel capacity of 4 gallons that works out to a theoretical cruising range of 188 miles—a number which no doubt could be higher if it weren’t for a motorcycle-like wet weight of 489 pounds. But one benefit to that heft is the TMAX’s storage space, which includes two gloveboxes, and a big saddle (which folds up with twin hydraulic struts, revealing copious underseat storage.)
Swing a Leg Over: Step-Through, Kinda...
Climbing aboard the 31.5 inch-tall saddle reveals a fairly spacious but somewhat firm perch, and a small notched “backrest” can be slid forwards or backwards, creating a variable division of seat real estate between rider and passenger. The seat may be a bit tall for many and ergonomics might feel somewhat compact for riders used to bigger motorcycles, but positives include considerable underseat storage and an upright seating position that aids visibility in traffic. The cockpit offers a somewhat tall windscreen and mostly analog gauges, with the exception of an LCD bar graph tachometer.
On the Road: Haulin' Butt, Takin' Names
Once you reach highway speeds, the TMAX’s 15 inch wheels provide confidence-inspiring handling that you just don’t find with smaller scooters. Though 489 pounds is a lot to haul around, handling is nimble for such a relatively big bike. And the surprising upside of the TMAX is its ability to soak up potholes with ease— a vast improvement over smaller scooters.
Brakes are operated by two levers—the left one actuating the rear brake, and the right actuating the front, just like a bicycle. The four-piston, dual disk front brakes offer strong stops, though it's a shame the TMAX doesn't offer the option of ABS; Honda’s Silver Wing and Suzuki’s Burgman scooters can be ordered with anti-lock brakes, and skid-free stops sure would be welcome on the TMAX. But aside from that shortcoming, the TMAX is surprisingly capable, both around town and on longer rides. Its riding dynamics are stable, confidence inspiring, and supple, and its blend of power and handling will surprise most red-blooded motorcyclists.
The Bottom Line: Yamaha's Guide to Living Large
The TMAX’s only catch is its image, and many hardcore riders will find it hard to overcome that stigma. But if you’re secure enough to straddle this maxi scooter, you’ll enjoy a bike that strikes an impressive balance between comfort and performance. And there’s nothing embarrassing about that.