The sport-bike version of its little brother the SMax and a brawnier cousin of 2014’s Majesty, the new-from-2015 Yamaha TMAX has re-emerged on the American market with a restyled front end and improved handling. It might almost be considered a new generation of maxi-scooter.

First introduced for the 2001 model year in Europe, the TMAX made a brief appearance in the U.S. in 2009 through 2011 and then disappeared until Yamaha sought to fill the 500-to-600 cc hole in the U.S. scooter market. This sport-bike-styled scooter looks so awesome; I can almost forgive it for being a scooter.

Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha TMAX.

  • 2015 - 2016 Yamaha TMAX
  • Year:
    2015- 2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, forward inclined parallel 2-cylinder, DOHC, 4 valve
  • Displacement:
    530 L
  • Price:
    10490
  • Price:

Design

2015 - 2016 Yamaha TMAX
- image 697964

The redesigned front cowl, stylish twin-beam LED headlights and mirrors give the TMAX (XP530) a fearless look — a word that usually doesn’t come to mind when talking about a scooter. I like the Smartkey feature that lets you keep the fob in your pocket while you start and turn off the engine without fussing with a key. The Smartkey system also lets you operate the handlebar lock mechanism and seat lock release as well as a 12V outlet for charging your electronic gadgets. As long as the TMAX detects the presence of the fob, it bows to your whim. I like obedience in my rides.

Storage in the TMAX is surprisingly ample though not as generous as some other scooters in its class. The glove boxes —one on each side of the dash — aren’t very roomy, but you have enough space to stash your paperwork, glasses, a roadmap and a Snickers bar. The main storage compartment under the seat has enough space to stow groceries or a full-face helmet. If you want your scooter to be a baby bagger, add the top rear storage case as an accessory.

Chassis

2015 - 2016 Yamaha TMAX Exterior
- image 617755

The low-scoop, step-through frame is the at-a-glance hint that this sporty ride isn’t a bike. The 41 mm inverted front fork reduces unsprung weight better than traditional forks to give you a smooth ride. The upside-down design added to the 4.7 inches of travel practically cancels out road bumps and reduces wheel bounce. The horizontally mounted rear shock with 4.6 inches travel not only adds to rider comfort, but it keeps the weight low on the frame for improved handling.

Radial-mount brake calipers and two 267 mm floating mount-type brake discs on the front wheel and a 282 mm hydraulic disc on the rear wheel give the TMAX the stopping power of a sport bike and 15-inch front and rear wheels give better handling at speed than the smaller wheels I’m used to seeing on a scooter.

Drivetrain

2015 - 2016 Yamaha TMAX Exterior
- image 617759

If you can’t accelerate off the light or keep up with traffic, a scooter can be a perilous ride. The TMAX doesn’t have those problems. The fuel-injected, 530 cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC engine has excellent roll-on and, coupled with the CVT transmission, carries you smoothly through the powerband. With a four-gallon fuel tank and 46 mpg, the TMAX has surprisingly long legs for around town and on the highway.

Pricing

2015 - 2016 Yamaha TMAX
- image 697966

MSRP on the 2016 TMAX is $10,490 — same as it was in 2015. The 2015 was available in Sonic Gray and for 2016, it comes in Platinum Gray. I’d really like to see some color choices besides gray or gray, but no one asked my opinion. As I’ve said before, if it only comes in one color make it a nice one.

Competitor

2013 Honda Silver Wing ABS
- image 697977
2016 - 2018 Piaggio MP3 500 Sport
- image 648873
2014 - 2017 KYMCO Xciting 500 Ri ABS
- image 697978

The bulky body and engine size pushes the TMAX toward the top of the scooter range, and although the field tends to get a bit thin up there, I managed to find a handful of rides that may appeal to the same kind of buyer. First up we have the Silver Wing from Honda. This ride fits the top-end scooter mold with an ample front fender, legguards and windshield to form a pocket for the rider with backrests for both rider and passenger.

Honda skips the inverted front forks, but keeps the front end strong with 41 mm, rwu forks. ABS comes as standard equipment on the ’Wing, a feature the TMAX lacks. Honda also brings a bigger engine to the table with 582 cc total, but it hasn’t been updated for the American market since 2013 and is aging rapidly. The Silver Wing is a bit cheaper as well with a $9,270 MSRP, and so Honda comes out looking pretty good against the Tuning Fork product.

Next up we have the MP3 from Piaggio, a delta-configured trike with an articulated front end that allows one to lean into the corners. Not only does this increase stability, it produces great traction up front, perfect for cornering in wet and/or bumpy conditions. Plus, the MP3 runs with a hybrid drive system that should appeal to the environmentally-conscious. At $8,999, the MP3 brings a lot to the table for a low price, and is a serious competitor for the TMAX, but can you really compare them as equals?

Finally, I want to look at the Xciting 500 Ri ABS from KYMCO. Not as beefy as the first two competitors, the KYMCO definitely fits the business-class scooter genre and provides nearly as much protection for the rider. The seat comes with a rider butt rest, and the two-bucket storage compartment comes lighted for your after-hours adventures.

At 499 cc, the KYMCO mill is the smallest, and I hate to have to say it, but it doesn’t exactly enjoy the same reputation for quality as the rest of my little field here. I’m not saying it’s a bad engine, just not as established. KYMCO picks up a win at the till with the best price by far at only $5,999, well shy of the others. Fit and finish lacks a little, but if you are looking for a budget ride the Xciting at least deserves a look.

He Said

My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, "Back in the day, mopeds were fun to ride until a friend saw you. Scooters like this seem to suggest that that day and age is over. I think this is a really sporty-looking compromise between a traditional scooter and a sporty around-town bike, but for the money, I think I would personally get a full-size bike. Being an experienced rider with a motorcycle license, that’s an easy choice for me."

She Said

"Big enough to be a baby-tourer, yet small enough to get great gas mileage, the TMAX seems to fit in that middle niche of daily transportation and weekend getaway ride. It looks like a sport bike and has comparable acceleration off the line and roll-on. With 0-to-60 times of less than nine seconds, this thing definitely has the power to get with and stay with the flow of traffic. At $10,490, the TMAX is pricey for a scooter compared to the KYMCO Xciting 500i ABS, but without a new Honda Silver Wing since 2013 and the Suzuki Burgman in the under-500 or over-600 cc slots, there isn’t much to compete in the 500 cc market. If you lean more toward a tourer, you can spend $500 more for a Burgman 650 but you won’t get 46 mpg."

Specifications

Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, forward inclined parallel two-cylinder, DOHC, four valve
Displacement: 530 cc
Bore x Stroke: 68.0 x 73.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.9-to-1
Fuel Delivery: Electronic fuel injection
Ignition: Digital TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: Automatic CVT
Final Drive: V-belt
Suspension / Front: 41 mm upside-down telescopic forks with - 4.7 inches of travel
Suspension / Rear: Mid ship horizontal positioned rear shock – 4.6 inches of travel
Brakes / Front: 267 mm dual hydraulic discs
Brakes / Rear : 282 mm hydraulic disc
Tires / Front: 120/70-15
Tires / Rear: 160/60-15
Length: 86.6 inches
Width: 30.5 inches
Height: 55.9 inches windshield lowered, 58.1 inches windshield raised
Seat Height: 31.5 inches
Wheelbase: 62.2 inches
Rake (Caster Angle) : 25 degrees
Trail: 3.6 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.0 gallons
Fuel Requirements: Premium unleaded
Fuel Economy: 46 mpg
Wet Weight: 485 pounds
Warranty: One Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Color: 2015:Sonic Gray, 2016: Platinum Gray
Price: $10,490

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended.

Image Source: yamaha-motor.com, powersports.honda.com, kymcousa.com, piaggiousa.com

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