the T-Max is one hellofa scooter. Check those nice flowing lines
best scooter I've ever ridden. It can do 180 kph, on the Reef nogal
I for one, have never been a scooter guy - never thought I'd enjoy riding one. Even got my son Dylan to ride the thing back from Linex Yamaha, where we collected the scoot.
But all that changed after riding the T-Max the next day.
About the only thing that
scooters and motorcycles used to have in common was that they had two wheels.
Two things changed all that: First was the perfection of the constantly variable transmission (CVT) which has no clutch or gears, just seamless drive at the twist of the wrist, making scooters even easier to ride. Second was the swing away from two-stroke motors to cleaner-burning four-stroke engines. This brought about an era of more sophisticated scooters which have moved closer to "real" bikes as their performance and load-carrying capabilities increased.
With the success (in the European market) of their 250cc Majestic scooter, Yamaha saw the potential for a larger, more powerful scooter. With the launch of the 4-valve, 499cc fuel-injected engine the T-Max is the biggest, heaviest and most pretentious scooter yet built by Yamaha.
Yamaha's T-Max is powered by a specially developed liquid-cooled, twin-cylinder motor with double camshafts and eight valves. A true parallel twin, with its pistons operating in unison, it has a horizontally opposed reciprocating balancer to smooth out vibrations. It lies between the wheels and as low as possible for improved stability.
The motor produces 32kW at 7000rpm and a strong 45Nm of torque at 5500, impressive numbers for something that runs on 15-inch wheels. It's slung below the tubular steel frame, solidly mounted at three points to form a fully stressed member. The drive is taken via a wet multiplate centrifugal clutch and rubber-belt CVT for seamless drive up to a whopping (indicated) 180kph. You should see the faces as you zap past slower moving 'jam-jars' in traffic.
In contrast to the normal scooter pivoting the entire engine and drive-train around a single shock absorber pivot, the rear suspension has a separate final drive which pivots around the output shaft. This reduces unsprung weight and maintains constant tension on the two-stage final drive chain, which runs in an oil-bath for minimum maintenance. The front wheel rides on 38mm full-length conventional forks.
Braking is provided by a twin-piston floating calliper clamping a 282mm disc on the front wheel, with a single-piston calliper binding the 267mm disc at the rear; these brakes wouldn't look out of place on a motorcycle and, with a dry weight of 203kg to slow down, they're justified here. The T-Max is built around a generous chassis, with a 1575mm wheelbase.
The engine is mounted directly under the rider's feet, giving a front/rear weight distribution of 47/53%, unlike most scooters with their pronounced rearward weight bias.
The 15" wheels carry some serious rubber - 120/70 in front and 150/70 on the rear - sizes which would have been sportsbike stuff a decade ago. Yamaha claims that this gives the T-Max unprecedented stability for a scooter, and a ground clearance of 140mm gives it bike-like handling and lean capability.
Despite the ambitious running gear, the T-Max is definitely still a scooter. Both brake levers are on the handlebars, there's no clutch or gearshift, and the rider sits with his (or her) feet on the footboard behind the big-chested fairing. In spite of it's size and power, the T-Max is simple to ride - you just twist the throttle and go.
Under the seat you'll find 32
litres of lined, courtesy-lit storage space, enough for a full-face helmet - a
feature that "real" bikers genuinely envy.
The smooth, gently curving bodywork has what looks like twin alloy spars running down to the motor mounts but in reality they're purely decorative plastic styling panels. The twin headlights show a distinct family resemblance to Yamaha's superbikes, which is no coincidence.
When asked just who they think would want a 197kg scooter that's going to cost about the same as a bike of comparable engine size, Yamaha says the T-Max is aimed at varying types of riders.
Firstly, it's hoping to persuade the riders of current large-capacity scooters to trade up to something with more power and the ability to cruise the freeways carrying two adults, while still retaining the armchair riding luxury. Then it's also hoping to impress the riders of commuter motorcycles with the higher levels of comfort and weather protection afforded by the fully faired T-Max. And lastly, Yamaha believes that there is a huge potential market among new riders, car drivers and bikers who can be seduced by the freedom of two wheels allied to the simplicity and luxury of a car with an automatic transmission.
Looking up the T-Max's skirt you can see the two exhaust pipes running underneath
the T-Max is made for easy commuting, in comfort and style
180kph... not too shabby for a Scooter
at home in the plush suburb of Sandton
With the T-Max, Yamaha have moved a big step towards serious street credibility. Whether the market is there for such a grand scooter, only time will tell.
Thanks to Andy Robertson and the guys at Yamaha for the eye-opening ride.
It changed my mind about Scooters, not all of them, but the T-Max is fantastic.