A pleasant way to scoot about Tech Spec


BikeTest: Yamaha T MAX Black MaxWhen the T MAX was introduced in 2000 it rapidly gained a reputation for being a motorcyclist's scooter, so much did its handling more resemble that of a motorcycle than most people's perception of a scooter.

In terms of roadholding, especially when pushed hard through the twisty sections, it could and did hold its own with more powerful, well-bred motorcycles. It still can!

In terms of sheer engine-size, it is not the market leader, eclipsed by the Honda Silver Wing and the Suzuki 650 Bergman. At 500cc it has the same sized engine as, for example, Aprilia's Atlantic, Gilera's Nexus and Piagio's X9.

The Black Max is simply a black version of a familiar, well-proved theme. The 2006 model has gained 4 bhp and dual front disc brakes and a further 8kg in the process.

It has all the well-known advantages of the scooter; much better weather protection on the move (no kind of machine, unless it has a roof, is better than another if you are stuck at traffic lights in a downpour! ) useful under-seat stowage space and dashboard cubby holes, smooth and easy to clean lines.

And for some, whilst it may handle at least as well as many motorcycles it is not a "motorbike" so your fastidious acquaintances will not regard you as being a biker.

In terms of all-round ability and performance the T MAX comes as close as we have yet seen to a kind of hybrid, part scooter, part motorcycle. No doubt in the years to come, perhaps even later this year at Intermot, we will get to see some of the really big next generation scooters which have been rumoured to be in the offing.

Meantime the T MAX, in a highly competitive field, just about has the edge, in roadholding terms, over Honda's Silver Wing and Suzuki's 650 Bergman, but only by a narrow margin.

It is a sad fact of life that no machine emerges without at least one built-in fault. In the T MAX's case it is the screen. I suppose if you were all of 5' 5" you would not be bombarded by helmet wind-roar at anything over 70 km/h, but if you are around the 6 foot mark, in the end you could find the wind roar uncomfortable. For anyone intending doing trips longer than a hour or so, which the T MAX is very well capable of, this is a drawback and one that could so easily have been rectified by fitting an electric windscreen, something that is simple and relatively inexpensive to achieve.

Acceleration is every bit as brisk and seamless as you could wish for, helped by the automatic gearing which means there is no power loss on upward changes. There is, of course, a slight penalty for this in that you have less engine braking effect than would be the case with a conventional gearbox. However, the brakes are extremely good, powerful and vice-free.

Top speed, depending on the conditions, is around 160 km/h ("about 100 mph"). The surprise is how little the T MAX seems to be affected either by cross-winds or the turbulence so often experienced when behind a fast-moving truck. This is in pleasant contrast to some of its competitors.

Under seat stowage is capacious, easily taking one full-face helmet. It can just about take two open-face ones at a pinch.

The saddle is comfortable, rather on the wide side as it has to be to cover the stowage compartment and, unless you are of ample dimensions, you probably will find yourself sitting more to the forward end. There is a rider's backrest pad which, to me, always seems to be in the wrong place. It does, however, prevent the pillion passenger from sliding forward.

From the pillion's point of view the seat shares the same disadvantages seemingly inherent in all the big scooters.

The seat is very wide, uncomfortably so for anyone of normal build, and the bulge of the stowage compartment's sides sticks out further than the pillion footrests. This would be ideal if all passengers were bow-legged!

These observations should not detract from the fact that the T MAX is a very competent, safe, well-built machine with more than adequate performance. As a motorcyclist who simply rides scooters from time to time I would feel more at home, from a road-holding point of view, on a T MAX than, good as they are, on any of the other comparable machines. At €9,750 it is competitively priced for a top-of-the range machine.

ENGINE: Liquid-cooled, 499cc, DOHC, 4-stroke parallel twin. 11:1 compression. 32.6kW @ 7500rpm. 47.6Nm @ 6250rpm. Fuel injection.

TRANSMISSION: Belt & chain.

CHASSIS: Diamond-shaped steel pipe frame, Telescopic forks, 120mm travel. Swinging arm, 117mm travel. Brakes - front: twin 267mm discs, rear single 267mm disc. Wheels - front 14", rear 15".

DIMENSIONS: Seat height: 785mm. Wheelbase: 1,575mm. Dry weight: 205kg.

FUEL: 14 litres.

PRICE: €9,750.