2015 Yamaha TMax Review - A Motorcyclist's ScooterJumping into the maxi-scooter market both feet first, the new 2015 Yamaha TMax scooter is a sporty machine aimed at aggressive riders who demand power and handling. With 15-inch Dunlop Sportmax tires and a roomy 62.2-inch wheelbase, the TMax is ready for high-speed riding in the canyons, as well as prepared to do business in busy urban environments.

Weighing in at a claimed 485 pounds wet, the 2015 Yamaha TMax is around 100 pounds lighter than its main competitors – the Suzuki Burgman 600 and BMW C 650 GT. While it does have a smaller motor, the DOHC 530cc mill has a long stroke for serious pulling power in the midrange.

Hopping onto the freeway is a blast. With a consistently soft initial hit to keep the TMax friendly away from stops and when cruising along, the engine’s power comes on strong as the revs climb, putting you onto the freeway at competitive speeds.

On one typical uphill on-ramp, I was able to hit 80 by the time I had to merge into traffic. Rolling off the throttle is all that’s needed, as the TMax has significant engine compression braking.

Placing the TMax where you want it on the freeway is easy – just twist the throttle until you’re where you want to be. Acceleration is strong, even from 65 to 85 mph, at which point it starts to flatten out a bit. It’s all roll-on power, of course, as the fully automatic, continuously variable, belt-drive transmission does its job flawlessly.

2015 Yamaha TMax Review - A Motorcyclist's Scooter Rigth sideStability is outstanding at high speeds, and you don’t get that nervous scooter feeling in high-speed, high-capacity traffic. The 15-inch wheels aren’t quite motorcycle spec, but the footprint is good, and the long wheelbase and 25-degree rake gives the TMax plenty of stability. Plus, the tall 31.5-inch seat height affords you more visibility and a better view of the SUV-filled road.

There’s a large tachometer (pointless on a CVT machine) as well as an analog sweeping needle for velocity. I’d prefer Yamaha ditch both and give me a huge digital readout of the speed. Heck, throw in a wireless digital-data ready screen that displays Waze, and I’m all set.

When the traffic starts to congest, the light weight of the TMax comes in handy. It’s easy to work through slow traffic, thought the goose-neck mounting of the mirrors means you have to be careful when lane-splitting, as we are rightfully able to do legally in California.

Once off the freeway and in town, the TMax is much more practical than you would expect. Sure, it’s a maxi-scooter, but it handles well. Beefy inverted 41mm forks, one-finger dual-front disc brakes and sticky tires mean that the TMax will go where you point it. No, you can’t slip between cars like you can on a 50 or 150, but it doesn’t feel all that more cumbersome in tight quarters than a 300 or 400.

Keep in mind that the TMax’s 31.5-inch seat height might intimidate shorter or less experienced riders (who shouldn’t be starting on a 530cc scooter in the first place). My 32-inch inseam did not allow me to put both feel flat at stops. Part of this is due to the chassis and plastic being fairly wide below your thighs. It’s not a problem, but it is noticeable.

After a long day of fighting traffic in the city, there’s nothing like blowing off the stress with a fast ride through the canyons. Someone at Yamaha definitely was onboard for that idea, and gave the TMax a great handling chassis to match the powerful motor.

While you might consider heeling way over in a bumpy sweeper at 90 mph to be outside of the job description of a scooter, and you might be right. However, the 2015 Yamaha TMax wants to rewrite those requirements. I can’t say that you’ll be able to blast past sport bike riders, unless you’re clearly more skilled than they are, but most guys on cruisers will just watch you go flying by.

2015 Yamaha TMax Review - A Motorcyclist's Scooter left sideThe twin 267mm front-disc brakes with dual four-piston calipers are awesome. In urban use, they’re easily one-finger; take the TMax out onto the twisties and work that front brake lever hard. The front Dunlop is highly predictable in both cornering and braking. Don’t be so aggressive with the rear brake lever, however, as the TMax oddly lacks ABS and the back tire will skid sooner than you think. Of course, if you want to back the TMax into a corner, it is perfectly capable of doing so.

Underneath the plastic is a die-cast aluminum frame, as well as very good quality suspension – firm but compliant. Add in those Dunlop Sportmax tires and the strong midrange of the DOHC twin, and a splendid time is guaranteed for all. You can cruise effortlessly through the mountains, or you can flog the TMax without the scooter reminding you that it is, indeed, a scooter.

The 2015 Yamaha TMax does have a few interesting features of convenience. First and foremost is the Smartkey system. Using near field communication of some sort, you don’t have to actually use the bulky key. However, you do need to learn the protocol. With the key in your pocket, press the start button to turn on the system. From there, you need to make sure the kill switch is in the on position, you have a hand on the brakes, and the kickstand is up. When all of those criteria are met, push the start button again and the TMax’s motor comes to life.

If you happened to let your smartphone battery rundown, you can charge it using the AC outlet below the left handlebar. I’d be impressed if it had a USB charging dock, but I’m sure we’ll see that soon enough. The underseat storage will take a full-face helmet (though not two), while there’s a cubby below the right handlebar.

2015 Yamaha TMax Review - A Motorcyclist's Scooter on beachWhen I first started riding the TMax, I didn’t really think it would fit in the touring category. It seemed a bit too flighty and compact, but by the end of a full day in the saddle, I’m ready to go for a longer ride.

You can cruise at 80 mph indefinitely and confidently. The windshield has good protection – manually move it to the up position if you like – and the stability of the bike lets itself be known. Yamaha did a great job with the seat and you have plenty of options for your feet. I can’t image a 300-mile day on the TMax would be any problem at all.

In many ways, the 2015 Yamaha TMax scooter is a machine for a motorcyclist who doesn’t think he or she wants a scooter. All he has to do is hop on and, once he accepts that he can’t shift the bike, have a blast! For the dedicated scooter aficionado, the Yamaha TMax is at the pinnacle of the genre for anyone looking for performance and handling to go along with comfort and fun.

2015 Yamaha TMax Specs:

  • Engine: DOHC forward-inclined parallel twin
  • Displacement: 530cc
  • Bore x stroke 68.0 x 73.0 mm
  • Cooling: liquid
  • Compression Ratio 10.9:1
  • Fuel delivery: Electronic fuel injection
  • Ignition: Digital Transistor Controlled Ignition
  • Transmission: Automatic CVT
  • Suspension Front: 41mm upside-down telescopic forks w/- 4.7 inches of travel
  • Suspension Rear: Horizontal single shock w/ 4.6 inches of travel
  • Brakes Front: 267mm dual hydraulic discs
  • Brakes Rear: 282mm hydraulic disc
  • Tire Front: Dunlop Sportmax 120/70-15
  • Tire Rear: Dunlop Sportmax 160/60-15
  • L x W x H: 86.6 x 30.5 x 55.9 to 58.1 inches
  • Seat height: 31.5 inches
  • Wheelbase: 62.2 inches
  • Rake: 25°
  • Trail: 92mm
  • Fuel Capacity: 4.0 gal
  • Estimated fuel economy: 46 mpg
  • Wet weight: 485 pounds
  • Warranty: One year (Limited Factory Warranty)
  • Color: Sonic Gray
  • MSRP: $10,490