Quite Sophisticated For Surprisingly Low Price

Yamaha brings the XMAX to the U.S. market this year after testing it in Europe for a bit. It’s a shame that it took this long ’cause the 300 cc class makes a lot of sense on our side of the Pacific Rim/Pond. A 27.6-horsepower mill promises enough speed to be safe, even comfortable, at highway velocities, and that’s ’muy importante’ in the American market. This performance comes bundled with a decidedly modern and mature look that just screams metro-commuter to me, and not necessarily for the younger set, either. Our European friends have had a few years to test it, but we don’t use scooters quite the same way here and don’t even get me started on their tiered-licensing system. Salient point is, I’m going to put some homegrown eyes on this thing to see how it will hold up to scrutiny from a local point of view.

Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha XMAX.

  • 2018 Yamaha XMAX
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    292 cc
  • Top Speed:
    85 mph
  • Price:
    5599
  • Price:

Design

2018 Yamaha XMAX
- image 733831
The level of rider protection and storage capacity coupled with the highway-conquering power is what makes me think it could be appropriate as a white-collar commuter.

Right off the bat, I gotta say I’m lovin’ the whole angry-centurion visage that greets the eye from the head-on perspective. The slanted headlights and cheekplate fairing complete with nosepiece sells the look while serving as the first layer of protection for the rider. Up top, a rather full windshield protects the torso, and the two-position, screen-height adjuster will allow you to crank it up another two inches for an even bigger pocket of protection.

Below the lights, the fairing flows into the full legguards that extend the pocket all the way down to the feet. Although a rather large tunnel dominates the step-through area and pushes the feet outboard, it does leave room to keep your legs tucked into the pocket whether you use the floorboard position or the forward “highway peg” position molded into the inner fairing.

A sculpted seat comes cut so as not to interfere with the thighs while standing with training-wheels (feet) deployed which should make it more accessible to shorter riders in spite of its 31.3-inch seat height. Yamaha added adjustable handlebars that can be pulled almost three-quarters of an inch closer to the rider to further accommodate the vertically-challenged.

Under the seat, a voluminous, lockable storage compartment can store up to two full-face helmets with LED lighting to help out when fumbling in the dark. Storage isn’t limited to the seat box though, the inner fairing sports a pair of compartments for small items and one of them is wired for 12V DC with an electronic lock for the safe storage/charging of your mobile devices. The rear end is as modern as the front with molded-in taillights and a plateholder/mudguard to contain the spray off the rear tire.

While there are grabrails built in, the low-profile pillion pad seems to be more appropriate as a flat spot for storage than a passenger-friendly place to sit. Plus the grabrails make a great place to anchor your bungee net. The level of rider protection and storage capacity coupled with the highway-conquering power is what makes me think it could be appropriate as a white-collar commuter.

Chassis

2018 Yamaha XMAX
- image 733830
The factory kept overall weight down at a low 397-pounds wet, but didn't skimp on the brakes.

Yamaha handled the underpinnings less like it was building a scooter and more like it was building a motorcycle with a proper tubular-steel frame rather than a monocoque assembly for the main structure. The 15-inch front wheel and 14-inch rear are comparable to many current small to mid-size cruisers and streetbikes, and even though it falls short of the current 16-inch max for production scooters, the hoops are plenty big enough to improve handling far beyond what you would get from the classic rinkey-dink donut tires.

Another motorcycle-like feature can be found at the tripletree, namely the fact that, unlike many scooters nowadays, the XMAX runs with both an upper and a lower clamp that strengthens the front end and stiffens the forks against torsional forces. As you might expect, the suspension is pretty plain with no adjustments on the 33 mm front stems, and only the obligatory spring preload on the dual coil-over rear shocks.

The factory kept overall weight down at a low 397-pounds wet, but didn’t skimp on the brakes. Hydraulic calipers with a 267 mm front disc and 245 mm rear give the XMAX its stopping power, and the stock ABS ensures that you can use the brakes to their fullest without fear of the lockup that immediately precedes the tears.

Suspension / Front: 33mm telescopic fork; 4.3-in travel
Suspension / Rear: Dual shocks; 3.1-in travel
Brakes / Front: Hydraulic disc, 267mm; ABS
Brakes / Rear: Hydraulic disc, 245mm; ABS
Tires / Front: 120/70-15 Dunlop® Scoot Smart
Tires / Rear: 140/70-14 Dunlop® Scoot Smart

Drivetrain

2018 Yamaha XMAX
- image 733834
The real shining star of the drivetrain is the traction-control feature; tech that isn't the kind of feature you expect to find on a scooter, or any ride below eight or 10 grand for that matter, and is nothing to scoff at.

As bigbike-like as some of the XMAX can be, it’s a straight-up scooter in the drivetrain. The all-new one-lung powerplant and continuously-variable transmission form a stressed unit that replaces the swingarm for an all-in-one assembly. A SOHC actuates the four-valve head, and liquid-cooling deals with the waste heat while attenuating some of the engine noise with a water jacket. The 70.2 mm bore and 75.9 mm stroke gives the mill an undersquare layout with a 10.9-to-1 compression ratio and an oil-jet feature that draws heat directly off the piston. A DiASil aluminum cylinder runs sans liner to save weight and increase heat dissipation with a forged crankshaft and counter-balancer to finish it off.

Electronic fuel injection manages the induction with a 12-hole injector tip meant to improve fuel atomization and throttle response, but the real shining star of the drivetrain is the traction-control feature that prevents loss of traction by intervening when a speed differential is detected between the front and rear tires. Seriously folks, this isn’t the kind of feature you expect to find on a scooter, or any ride below eight or 10 grand for that matter, and is nothing to scoff at. Between ABS and traction control, even novice riders should be able to keep this one dirty-side down.

What does all that get us? Well, the power tops out at 7,500 rpm with a claimed 27.6 ponies with 21 pounds o’ grunt that comes on at 5,750 rpm, and depending on load, grade and tailwinds, you can expect something between 80- and 85-mph. So, do you see what I mean about commuter ability? We’ve got rider protection, safety features, highway-worthy speed capabilities, and gobs of storage, all in a modern urban package. The factory claims an estimated 75 mpg out of the XMAX’s plant, but in actuality, that figure may be just a tad generous. It is an estimate after all.

Engine: 292cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke, SOHC single cylinder; 4 valves
Bore x Stroke: 70.2mm x 75.9mm
Compression Ratio: 10.9:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel Injection
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: Automatic CVT

Pricing

2018 Yamaha XMAX
- image 733832
The XMAX beats out anything in the motorcycle field as far as features-per-dollar with a $5,599 sticker.

Not exactly a budget ride, the XMAX nonetheless beats out anything in the motorcycle field as far as features-per-dollar with a $5,599 sticker. Remember, that gets you ABS and traction control. Not a bad deal.

Warranty: One Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Color: Vivid White
Price: $5,599

Competitors

2018 Yamaha XMAX
- image 733833
2016 - 2017 Suzuki Burgman
- image 733843
Suzuki offers up its Idle Speed Control feature for easy starts, but has no answer for the traction-control feature Yamaha brings to the table.

With such a classy look about the XMAX I felt I really needed a swanky urban ride for my comparison, and Suzuki stepped right into the slot with its Burgman 400 ABS. The Burgman has a well put-together air with lines that flow with a synergy that illustrates the experience and confidence of the engineers, and I gotta admit I kind of like the beefy look the Burgman brings to the table. On the down side, I’m not wild about the minimal step-through on either ride.

As usual with the Burgman family, the 400 comes with a deep seat and generous lumbar support but just the basics in the way of passenger comfort. The underpinnings are pretty similar with non-adjustable, hydraulic front forks and preload adjustments on the rear shocks. Disc brakes are another constant, as is the ABS protection that comes stock on both rides.

Suzuki gets a leg up in the power department. A 400 cc mill tops the XMAX by a few cubes, and it uses a DOHC setup to time the four-valve head. Suzuki offers up its Idle Speed Control feature for easy starts, but has no answer for the traction-control feature Yamaha brings to the table. Suzuki claims 30.5 horsepower at 70 mpg, but is pushing almost 100-pounds more than the XMAX so keep that in mind. Suzuki takes a beating at the checkout with a $7,999 sticker that is almost half-again more than the Burgman, and that’s a lot of money for a few extra ponies.

He Said

“This is a scoot that should do well over here. It has the speed, it has the storage and the looks don’t hurt either. It was popular overseas, but this is the smallest engine that I would consider “comfortable” on the interstate, so I expect them to move well here in the States. We’ll see.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "The XMAX has a nice big instrument cluster with easy-to-read gauges, which I like better than a digital display. It’s a very smooth ride, vibration is all but non-existent, and the seat and seating position is very comfortable. Even though the scooter looks substantial, the weight — what there is of it — is carried low so the handling is rather nimble and responsive. Even though the seat is wide, if you have to tip-toe at a stop, you aren’t wrestling with the weight to keep it upright. There’s a nice bit of tech on this with traction control and ABS, and at 75 mpg, it’s an awesome commuter even if you have to pop up the interstate for a few exits. I think my only complaint, if you can call it that, would be I’d like to see bigger wheels on it. I think a pair of 16s would make this an even more awesome ride. This is just a really nice ride for urban or suburban transportation."

Specifications

Engine:
Engine Type: 292cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke, SOHC single cylinder; 4 valves
Bore x Stroke: 70.2mm x 75.9mm
Compression Ratio: 10.9:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel Injection
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: Automatic CVT
Final Drive: V-Belt
Chassis:
Suspension / Front: 33mm telescopic fork; 4.3-in travel
Suspension / Rear: Dual shocks; 3.1-in travel
Brakes / Front: Hydraulic disc, 267mm; ABS
Brakes / Rear: Hydraulic disc, 245mm; ABS
Tires / Front: 120/70-15 Dunlop® Scoot Smart
Tires / Rear: 140/70-14 Dunlop® Scoot Smart
Dimensions:
L x W x H: 86.0 in x 30.5 in x 55.7 in – 57.7 in
Seat Height: 31.3 in
Wheelbase: 60.6 in
Rake (Caster Angle): 26.5°
Trail: 3.7 in
Maximum Ground Clearance: 5.3 in
Fuel Capacity: 3.4 gal
Fuel Economy: 75 mpg
Wet Weight: 397 lb
Details:
Warranty: One Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Color: Vivid White
Price: $5,599

References

2016 - 2017 Suzuki Burgman
- image 733842

See our review of the Suzuki Burgman.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: yamaha-motor.com, suzukicycles.com

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