By Guido Ebert
It’s powered by a liquid-cooled fuel-injected 530cc parallel twin, sprung by a 41mm inverted fork & lay-down rear shock, stops via dual radial-mount four-pot calipers, and sends power to a 160 series rear tire.
If you hadn’t already viewed the headline and accompanying photos, you likely would have thought that was a description of a motorcycle. While the 2015 Yamaha TMAX ($10,490) isn’t among the largest of scooter models available (see Suzuki Burgman 650, KYMCO MyRoad 700i & BMW C 650 GT) it’d be safe to say that it’s probably among the best-handling “step-throughs” out there.
Yamaha began deliveries of the new-for-2015 TMAX in February following the model’s multi-year hiatus from the U.S. market. While MMM hasn’t had a chance to operate the new scoot, we have spent time on its predecessor. It was brilliant.
Yamaha first introduced the TMAX in 2001 as a Europe-only model. A second-generation model, introduced in 2008, found its way to the U.S. for 2009 but was subsequently withdrawn from the stateside line-up.
It seemed Yamaha had a goal of creating a “high-performance” scooter from the outset.
The early model was powered by a 44 hp liquid-cooled fuel-injected 499cc twin that was mounted on the frame rather than on the swingarm (as is conventional with scooters) and a chain inside of the swingarm served as the final drive to the rear wheel. Parts came from the sporting side of the company. For instance: the relatively big 43mm stanchion and four-pot calipers borrowed from the YZF-R6.
For 2012, the TMAX received styling updates, a bump in displacement to 530cc, and a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with a final belt drive to reduce maintenance. Now, for 2015, Yamaha again offers us the bike with further refinements.
The 2015 TMAX is said to develop 38.5 ft. lb. @ 5,250 rpm and 45.8 hp @ 6,750 rpm, and Yamaha says the bike returns to us after a diet plan that started with a new die-cast aluminum frame and swingarm.
While the scoot still weighs in at 485 lbs. wet, that weight is slung low and offset by the new, aforementioned 41mm upside-down fork, lay-down rear shock, and relatively long 62.2-inch wheelbase.
Speaking of wheels, the black 15-inch 5-spoke wheels are shod in 120/70 front and 160/60 rear Dunlop SportMax tires.
Stopping the wheels from spinning are radial-mount four-pot front brake calipers mated to two dual 267mm floating discs, as well as a big 282mm disc in the back. Buyers in Europe have the option of ABS, but Yamaha Motor Corp. USA makes no mention of anti-lock on the U.S. version.
Aesthetically, the bike benefits from a newly designed front cowl featuring a two-level adjustable windscreen and twin-beam LED headlights, and a new front fender, side skirts, sportbike-derived rear assembly and mirrors.
In the cockpit area, you’ll find red-accented round analogue speedometer and tachometer positioned on either side of a new multi-function LCD.
Down below the handlebars, there’s a lockable glove box in the cowl near your right knee and a convenient 12V power outlet near your left knee.
The strut-assisted, stepped seat lifts to the rear to reveal an oddly shaped under-seat storage space that will fit a full-face helmet or pliable backpack.
As you may see in the photo, passengers benefit from the two-level seating arrangement, hide-away pegs and grab rails.
Finally, the whole package operates via a new Smartkey system that allows the rider to keep the key fob in their pocket while maintaining the ability to start and stop the engine without the need to use a standard key switch. Just push a button. Additionally, the Smartkey allows the rider to operate the steering lock, seat lock release and 12V electric outlet cut-off.