Scooters have come a long way since the concept sprang from post-war surpluses and evolved into cheap, chic and convenient transport. That concept was soon ransacked by even cheaper cars, and scooters became decidedly uncool, unless of course you were a Mod. But the concept refused to die, and in more recent times, as four-wheelers choke our roads and parking spaces, has enjoyed a renaissance.
Yamaha has ridden this wave from the beginning, and for 2020 has an impressive line up of six models, starting with the D’Elight 125 and stretching to the TMAX 560. At $16,599 (Rideaway NSW) the TMAX 560 can’t be called cheap, but it is practical, and quick. Nothing beats this one from the lights, which is handy to avoid getting boxed in between the moving throng of SUVs. The heart of the matter is a 562cc DOHC 4-valve twin cylinder engine that is both more powerful and has more torque than the model it replaces. With no gears or clutch to think about, it’s effortless to ride. The final belt drive also means there’s no periodic adjustment.
Not that long ago, crisp handling like this was the domain of a select few full-sized motorcycles, but a look at the chassis spec explains it all. The front forks are fat 41mm upside down jobs with 120mm travel, coupled with a pair of 267mm discs. At the rear is a link operated single shock with 117mm travel, and holding all this together is an aluminium die-cast chassis. Under the seat there’s an enormous storage/luggage area, easily capable of holding a full face helmet and plenty of other stuff. Seats on most modern bikes are necessarily thin in order to keep seat height low, but with no such constraints here, the TMAX 560’s seat is truly sumptuous – for both rider and passenger.
In terms of manoeuvrability, the 560 takes a little getting used to, because it is long – wheelbase is 1575mm and overall length 2200mm. With the little 15-inch wheels, this also means it likes a wide arc on corners but after you get used to it, changing direction becomes second nature – and nothing scrapes. There are two switchable riding modes, traction control, keyless ignition, and the now-mandatory ABS. There’s even an electronic command via the ‘key’ to lock the centre stand ‚ down, making the would-be felon’s task extremely difficult. And to warm the scoot up, it has to be on the centre stand – the engine stops once the side stand is down.
It’s an impressive piece of kit, but I wish Yamaha would get over the current fascination for drab colours; there’s a choice of Icon Grey (this one) or Sword Grey, which is almost black. Can I see one in red, please?
This one is a real surprise packet. Sure, you’d expect a 560cc twin-cylinder scooter to accelerate like a startled bunny, but a 155? Not that long ago, a four-stroke single of this capacity would have been a slug, but not this one. Developed from the earlier 125cc version, the extra 30cc makes quite a difference, especially in the mid range, which is where you’ll spend most of your riding time.
The engine uses a Variable Valve Actuation system and a special camshaft to maximise power through the rev range, while maintaining good fuel economy. It’s all about power-to-weight really, and with only 127kg fully fuelled and oiled to lug about, the NMAX 155 has startling performance. It’s so light and agile it’s a no brainer around town, and will cruise on 100km/h on the motorway. You can squeeze another 10-15km/h out of it but that’s about it, however motorway blasting is not what this machine is about.
Mrs Editor grabbed the NMAX for a day and came back impressed. We live in The Hills shire of North West Sydney and there are plenty of, well…hills, but the NMAX is unconcerned about steep gradients, it simply flies up. The ride is stable, the brakes superb, the carrying capacity quite adequate, and it looks good. I’ve never been a fan of the new wave of matte finish motor vehicles, but the matte blue hue on this Yamaha is quite attractive.