Right from the off, Yamaha’s TMAX maxi-scooter struck a chord in Europe. In France and Italy especially, they loved and still love Yamaha’s premium scooter but the uptake for premium scooters has been a little slower in Australia. The first TMAX was introduced in 2001, and since then Yamaha has sold two million units in various capacities worldwide, with a chunk of those sales in mainland Europe. It’s easy to see why; it’s such a brilliant, versatile bike.
To widen its appeal and make sure the TMAX remains on top (and Euro-5 compliant), Yamaha have delivered a new 560 TMAX for 2020. It is bigger in capacity and faster than ever before. They’ve also improved the design while retaining a premium feel. If you’ve never considered a maxi-scooter before, maybe it’s about time because this iteration is the fastest, sportiest and, in my opinion, best-looking TMAX yet.
Maximum power is up from 45.3 hp at 6750 rpm to 46.9 hp at 7600 rpm and peak torque is up from 39 ft-lbs to 41.1 ft-lbs at the same 5250 rpm. Peak power has moved up the rev range, and the torque has increased due to the increase in engine capacity from 530cc to 560cc. Yamaha is claiming the Euro5 2020 model is five-km/h faster and accelerates quicker.
It certainly feels nimble. If you’ve never ridden a maxi-scooter before, its ability will take you by surprise. 120 to 135 km/h cruising speeds are uneventful and easy, and if you push hard enough you see the analogue speedo top out at 177 km/h. What surprised me the most was the bike’s acceleration from 120 km/h upwards – it’s still brisk and doesn’t labour, unlike most models in this maxi-scooter category.
There are two engine modes to choose from (which can be changed on the fly with a closed throttle) – touring and sport. Yamaha claim there is now a greater step between the two than before, but I’d contest that. There is a noticeable difference between the two modes, but it’s not huge. I spent 95 per cent of the ride in the touring mode which never felt lacking.
One of the most significant changes for 2020 is the 2 mm increase in the bore, from 68 mm to 70 mm, which ups capacity from 530 cc to 560 cc. But it wasn’t just a case of oversizing the engine, there is more to it than that. The intake valves have increased in size, and there are new connecting rods, a lighter crankshaft, new camshaft, and new aluminium forged pistons. As before, the two cylinders are balanced by an opposed ‘dummy’ piston.
The increase in power and capacity means heat generation has increased, obliging Yamaha to improve the cooling system with a larger radiator and new air duct. But, despite the larger radiator, coolant capacity is reduced due to shortened coolant routing.
The TMAX still uses a CVT transmission – automatic, twist-and-go to me and you.
However, the clutch engagement has reduced by 300 rpm to 4000 rpm, and gear ratios have been reduced, again to give a sportier feel and match the new engine performance.
To meet strict Euro 5 legislation, Yamaha had to produce a new exhaust system, with a twin catalytic converter. The materials used are stronger, which allows for the thinner exhaust, reducing its weight. Airfilter, throttle body and fuelling are all new for 2020.
The TMAX twin-cylinder engine has always had a distinctive feel and exhaust tone but now sounds meatier than before, with a little more character. Despite its capacity increasing, the overall bike is only 1 kg heavier, with some of this weight saved from the new exhaust.
Despite capacity and performance increases, Yamaha are claiming a 10 per cent improvement in fuel consumption for the already frugal Yamaha. 4.8 litres per 100km works out at around 59 mpg while the 15-litre fuel tank means the new TMAX should have a range of about 310 km (194 miles).
On test, I achieved considerably less than the claimed figure, but I did spend the majority of the time with the throttle wide open – sorry. However, I’ve ridden the now ‘old’ model extensively in the past, even attending the world launch in Cape Town in 2017, and achieved 55 mpg, so Yamaha’s claim seems reasonable.
When Yamaha re-vamped the TMAX in 2017 they increased its sportiness by reducing weight (by 9 kg), moving the engine further forward in the chassis and by giving it a steeper head angle plus new suspension and a revised swing-arm. For 2020 the set-up changes aren’t as dramatic, but they have gone one step further, to make it sportier than before. The suspension has been ‘fine-tuned’ and the damping settings ‘revised’ with spring rates, front and rear, also increased.
Simply put, the set-up feels firmer than before but still plush. On the motorway the ride is smooth end effortless, without jolting on bumps and road imperfections. Equally, the handling is impressive, still very ‘scooter-like’ and easy to throw around considering the bike tips the scales at 220kg.
Stability is also excellent, not what you would normally associate with a maxi-scooter on 15-inch wheels. In the mountains I was impressed enough to, on occasion, drag its centre stand though tight turns, and you could certainly embarrass a few conventional bikes if you were in the mood. Don’t underestimate the handling of a well-ridden TMAX.
When we encountered some heavy rain later in the day, the Yam’ didn’t disappoint. The feedback for a scooter was impressive and the Bridgestone rubber gave consistent grip, wet and dry.
My only complaint was that the TMAX felt a tad harsh over very bumpy sections, as if there was too much pre-load on the springs (pre-load is adjustable on the top-spec Tech model, but not in the standard bike). The first 1/4 to 1/2 of the suspension travel was smooth but the later part of the stroke was a little harsh. In fairness, we did encounter some very poorly surfaced roads as well as ancient cobbles (that were taken at speed). It will be interesting to see how the bike performs in the UK.
The brakes are unchanged for 2020 and do an excellent job of slowing proceedings. With no clutch, the back brake is on the left bar and comes into constant use, more so than normal. ABS, as you’d expect, is standard and isn’t too intrusive. There is also a parking brake on the left bar because, obviously, you can’t leave the bike in gear when parked on a hill.
We benefited from testing the top of the range Tech model which comes with an electronically adjustable screen that makes a huge difference on the motorway. Once fully raised you’re forced to look through the screen and not over it (this rider is 5 ft 7′), though very tall riders may be able to peer over the top.
With the screen up you’re in a cocoon of silence, all wind and wind-noise taken away from your upper body. Personally, I preferred the screen raised to just a quarter of the way up so I could look over rather than through.
Simple and easy-to-use cruise control comes as standard on the Tech model and there is enough storage under the seat for a reasonably large bag or two open face helmets – yes, touring is a genuine option on the TMAX.
The seat is nearly identical to the previous model’s, comfortable with small lumbar support ahead of the pillion seat. It was only towards the end of the day that I was forced to move around to ease nub-bum ache. From memory I thought the older bike was slightly better in this department, which may be down to the seat or perhaps the new suspension. It was far from uncomfortable, but I knew I’d done a full nine-to-five day in the saddle.
Traction control and ABS both come as standard, but are not lean-sensitive (there is no IMU monitoring lean angle). When the traction control kicks in it’s smooth, and the reintervention is effortless. And yes, on wet cobbles and white lines it did kick in from time to time.
The Tech MAX comes with an electric screen, cruise control, heated grips and seat, adjustable rear suspension, slight cosmetic changes, and My TMAX connectivity. The connectively not only allows you to view your ride, speed and lean angle but can be used as a tracking device.
There is also a sports pack that includes a backrest and mounting, aluminium pegs, number plate holder and sports screen. An urban pack includes a top case and mounting, backrest and universal bar mounts.
Finally, a winter pack comprise of heated grips, apron and knuckle visor (handguards). Akrapovic produces silencers with a choice of two finishes for the new model and there is a range of detailed cosmetic options you can choose from.
Price at $16,599 ride away in Australia the TMAX is at the top end of the scooter food chain, but deservedly so.
Yorkshire born Adam Child, or Chad as he’s known in the industry, is a multiple UK record holder, former MCN senior road tester and has been professionally bike testing for 20-years.Chad has attended more than 350 bike launches, covering over a million road test miles, he is also an international road racer, with race wins at Oliver's Mount, podiums in New Zealand and two top ten Isle of Man TT finishes.Chad is just as happy elbow-down on a race track, kicking up mud off road, or restoring classic bikes. Chad launched his own company, Chad76Media in 2019, and you can follow his adventures on Twitter and Instagram.
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