Ultimate Motorcycling

2018 Yamaha XMax Review (17 Fast Facts)

2018 Yamaha XMax Review | Another Happy Max

With the other two Japanese scooter manufacturers sitting out the 300 class, the tuning fork folks have stepped in with the impressive new 2018 Yamaha XMax.

It brings more to the 300 class than we have seen in the past, and makes a compelling case for a scooter in this displacement range.

1. The motor is the star of the 2018 Yamaha XMax. The all-new 292cc long-stroke motor features a four valve head, fuel injection, and liquid cooling. The result is a strong pulling mill that has plenty of acceleration around town, yet revs up to 9000 rpm and can top 90 mph on the freeway.

2. With great power, comes helpful electronic control. Defeatable traction control is standard, as is always-on ABS. Both work very transparently, and will be especially helpful to less skilled riders.

3. Big wheels give the Yamaha XMax a great presence on the road. With a 15-inch front wheel and 14-incher in the back, the XMax rolls over obstacles with less drama on its smaller-tired brethren.

4. Taller wheels mean an unexpectedly high seat. I have a 32-inch inseam, yet I wasn’t even close to being flat-footed at a stop. I can have one foot flat if I scoot forward and to the side on the seat. It wasn’t a problem for me—I ride dirt bikes—but a new rider might be unnerved. Passengers will appreciate the huge platform, along with nice handrails. However, the passenger will have to make do with footpegs rather than floorboards.

5. Your legs will love the XMax, so you can ride it all day long. In addition to the long floorboards that allow plenty of different positions for your feet, the inclined ‘highway floorboards’ let you put you feet up and relax. Even on those raised floorboards, there are a number of different places to comfortably put your feet.

6. The handlebars are also adjustable, so you can tailor the XMax to your body. Smaller riders will like that the bars can be moved back nearly an inch for a more-compact the riding triangle.

7. Stability is a strong point for the 2018 Yamaha XMax. The wheelbase is a typically long 60.6 inches and the rake a relaxed 26.5 degrees, so you’re going to expect stability, especially with the relatively tall wheels. As amazing as it may seem, the XMax is rock steady at 85 mph on bumpy LA freeways. You could realistically ride this scooter from LA to SF and not feel overwhelmed—just put the two-position windshield in the high position. On the downside, repositioning the windshield requires tools.

8. As rock-steady as the XMax is, it is also a winner in urban canyons and city traffic. The XMax handles roads such as Mulholland Drive through the Hollywood Hills without a thought. It rips through the turns with total confidence. The XMax’s sub-400 pound weight is kept low, so direction and lane changes are intuitive.

9. Dunlop Scootsmart tires work everywhere. Even when making fast transitions in canyons, the Scootsmart tires have excellent feedback and provide full confidence. The XMax is capable of running through a sweeping, rain-grooved transition ramp at 80 mph without a single issue. There is no squirming, wandering, or uncertainty. The tire and chassis combination on the 2018 Yamaha XMax is outstanding.

10. The real braking power is in the rear brake, and that’s a good thing. The front disc has a spongy feel and requires quite a bit of grip at the right-hand lever to get decent deceleration. That is not the case with the rear disc, which slows the XMax down with authority. Don’t worry about getting too aggressive with the left-hand brake lever—ABS will bail you out unobtrusively. Again, this is helpful to less experienced riders, as the primary braking hand is separate from the throttle hand. It also makes for easier takeoffs on steep uphills—hold the rear brake with one hand, and then roll on the throttle with the other.

11. The fully automatic CVT and belt final drive is flawless. It all works transparently. Just twist, go, and never think about it. Also, the drive system, along with the motor, is smooth at all throttle openings.

12. Suspension is typical for a scooter—good, but not great. With the motor as unsprung weight, and limited travel—four inches in the front and three in the back—there is only so much performance you’re going to get from the suspension. The front fork, which uses a traditional triple-clamp mounting, does better than the twin-shock rear. Most of the time, the ride is smooth. However, when you hit that unexpected pothole or sharp bump, you will get a jolting wake-up call.

13. It’s a scooter, so the 2018 Yamaha XMax has lots of cargo carrying capacity. You get the expected cavernous space under the seat, and it’s large enough for two full-face helmets. The fairing houses two storage spaces with doors—one locked, one always accessible. I didn’t like the lack of solid closing feedback on the non-locking right door, however. The locked door has a 12V plug inside—something of an anachronism in a world of USB-powered lifestyle accessories.

14. Even though it has a hotrod motor, the XMax gets great mileage. Yamaha claims an estimated fuel consumption rate of 75 mpg. I wrung its neck and was getting around 60 mpg and change. Factor in a 3.4-gallon tank and you should get 200 miles between fill-ups.

15. A key feature of the 2018 Yamaha XMax is that it doesn’t have a key. If you are a fan of fobs, the XMax delivers. All you have to do is be standing at the scooter and it’s armed. Where you would expect a key is a switch that allows you to get the bike ready to be started, open the fairing storage space, unlock the seat, open the gas cap cover, and lock the steering. Yamaha does give you a key for mechanically unlocking the seat should the fob stop working.

16. The 2018 Yamaha XMax offers an impressive value at $5599. The ultra-stylish, but far less freeway capable Vespa GTS 300 costs another $1200, while the larger Suzuki Burgman 400 will set you back a staggering $2500 more than the XMax. The Burgman 200 is $600 less than the XMax, but has nowhere near the freeway capability. The Honda Forza—a 300 that disappeared after 2016—had the same MSRP, though fewer electronic features and not the same power. Without a doubt, the XMax has an excellent price/performance ratio.

17. Undoubtedly, the 2018 Yamaha XMax was full of surprises, and they were almost all good. Probably the most compelling thing about the XMax is the motor, and the flexibility of use it adds to the scooter. Fortunately, the chassis and feature list backs the motor up ably, resulting in a potent package that will impress a wide variety of scooter aficionados.

Action photography by Kelly Callan

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2018 Yamaha XMax Specs

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