The TMAX Tech MAX is Yamaha’s top shelf maxi-scooter with all the mod cons including primo suspension, a TFT display with maps, heated grips & seats and keyless ignition.
The CVT ’box means it’s a doddle to ride and it often surprises you with what it’s capable of doing and how composed it can be in very non-scooter situations.
If you live in a city where parking is hard to find and the weather allows, this could be a more comfortable and practical option to a motorcycle or a small car. It’s much cooler than a car, too.
A Ride & Review of Yamaha’s Top Shelf Mega Scooter
There’s a certain irony in getting a dyed-in-the-wool motorcyclist to review a scooter. Like getting a Frenchman to review an Australian wine or sending a rock musician to a classical concert, there’s a kind of friction at play that at worst could be seen as biassed. But it also provides a certain genuine honesty that someone immersed in the world of scooters could probably never muster. Yes, sometimes motorbike riders look down on scooterists and there’s no doubt that the opposite is also true.
I could count the number of scooters I’ve ridden in my life on two hands, so there’s that too. Now I know what you’re thinking; here’s a motorcyclist with a chip on his shoulders and zero experience telling me all about how little he knows about scooters and how he’d never be seen dead on one. But lo, I was seen on one. This one. And I just so happened to quite like it, if you must know. But there’s more to the story and I’m probably getting ahead of myself, too.
With the position in my garage that the TMAX would occupy still being warm from the likes of Yamaha’s MT-10 SP and various other brutish belters, the last thing I wanted to do was to approach this review in a patronising, “it’s just a scooter” fashion. Firstly, it would be a serious faux pas to underestimate what is clearly a bike that’s at the apex of its segment, and secondly, calling this thing a scooter reminds me of Crocodile Dundee’s “that’s not a knife, this is a knife” quote from the ‘80s.
Another crucial point to make is that unlike Yamaha’s MT-07 or Honda’s new CB750 Hornet, this isn’t supposed to be some kind of all-bike-to-all-people product. And while it is clearly very, very practical and incredibly easy to ride, Yamaha themselves admit that it’s not going to take over the world. Put it this way, can you imagine riding one in Texas? That’d be like sipping a cappuccino at a monster truck rally.
That’s because the centre of the universe for big, luxury scooters is in Europe and Japan where the culture is willing and the parking is non-existent. In other words, don’t think of this as a motorcycle replacement; think of it as more of a smaller, cooler Mazda MX-5 or Fiat 500.
And while we’re on the subject of Europe, get your average lay person to draw or describe what they think the archetypal scooter looks like and they’ll most likely produce something straight out of 1960s Italy; something tiny and step-through that you could probably lift up with two hands if you really wanted to. Think Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in the movie Roman Holiday.
The TMAX Tech MAX is related to the classic Italian scooters in the same way as the Wright Brothers flyer is related to a stealth fighter which beggars the question; what does “scooter” mean these days and how does this Japanese tour-de-force really stack up, all things considered? Let’s find out.
What’s New On the 2022 Yamaha TMAX 560 Tech MAX?
“Everything,” is the short answer to that rather rhetorical question. The run-down I got while taking delivery of the thing was a head-spinning list of all the latest gadgets you could possibly expect on a scooter and then about 12 more just for good measure. While I’m not that familiar with the Tmax lineage, Yamaha tells me that the bike has no less than eleven new doohickies that have been added or substantially improved since the previous model and that’s ignoring the fact that the Tech MAX has a bunch of additional features in its own right. So let’s go through them.
The new TFT is probably at the top of the list for most people; it’s a huge 7” unit that’s as bright and easy to see as any screen I’ve ever seen on a bike. Naturally, all the bikes other luxury items are controlled or their status is displayed through this interface, including the new smartphone connectivity and the Garmin-powered navigation system. There’s also a bunch of auto features like a locking centre stand and a key fob that lets you turn the bike on and off remotely.
In terms of real-world luxuries, the TMAX adds to the virtual niceties with an adjustable windscreen-slash-air vent, slimline projector LED headlights and a longer seat with an adjustable backrest. Should you opt for the Tech MAX option, you’ll also get a heated seat, heated grips, an electrically adjustable windscreen, cruise control, a “backlit fluorescent handlebar” and centre switches and adjustable rear suspension. Then there’s the forged aluminium handlebars, lightweight spin forged 10-spoke wheels, model-specific Bridgestone Battlax SC2 tires and the sportier suspension damping settings which while not really luxury items, are no doubt very nice to have around.
Yamaha calls the bike’s new looks a “dynamic new sports body design with supersport-inspired face with improved rider and passenger ergonomics.” Vision impaired Freddy could see that the bike’s looks are riffing on a sportbike theme and while I’m not entirely sure that mashing the two styles of bike together is a match made in heaven, there’s no denying that the bike looks pretty sharp. Yamaha’s choice of some very slick-looking colours (namely the primer grey and dark green metallic shades you see here) does nothing but add a premiumness to the bike’s overall visuals.
But what’s hidden beneath all this slick paint and stylish lines? The engine’s a DOHC, liquid-cooled, 562cc parallel twin-cylinder item with four valves per pot. It’s also got a very cool “slave” third piston set at 180° to the other two—or as Yamaha calls it, “a horizontally opposed reciprocating piston balancer”—that smooths things out and shows that Yamaha still has some amazing innovation capabilities when they are in the mood.
Power is produced from a 10.0:1 compression ratio and spun through an auto CVT ’box. Power figures are 47 hp @ 7,500 rpm and 41 lb-ft of torque at @ 5,250 rpm. The tank holds 15 lts (4.0 US gals) and adds to an overall wet weight of a hefty 218 kgs (472 lbs). No, it’s no featherweight. The super comfy seat will keep your bum 800 mm (31.4 inches) off the ground and as already stated above, the bespoke rubber are Bridgestone Battlax SC2s with 120/70-15s at the front and 160/60-15 out back.
Initial Impressions of the 2022 Yamaha TMAX 560 TECH MAX
So with the cleanest of “clean sheet of paper” approaches, I watched as what is reportedly one of the world’s best scooters was left in my driveway as my friendly neighbourhood Yamaha representative drove off into the sunset. Naturally, my first step was to push all the buttons and play with all the gadgets until I had my fill or the bike begged for mercy.
A small bump on my road to fidgetsville was the discovery that to get the Garmin nav working on the TFT, you’ll have to have a paid account with them. Why you’d tie one of the bike’s core features—and selling points—to a third party company like Garmin is a little beyond me.
And to add insult to injury, you also have to download the Yamaha “MyRide” app to get the whole thing up and running. It’s like Yamaha has never heard of Apple CarPlay or Google Android Auto. And while I haven’t given Garmin a red hot go lately, I’d be very surprised if their maps managed to outdo the tech giants like Apple and Google.
Sure, it’s not a show stopper. But with a bike this cram-packed full of goodies, I think that locking the TFT navigation capabilities to a single option is a little short sighted. Luckily, the myriad of other tech options available on the Tech MAX soon had me preoccupied with them and not focused too much on the Garmins maps. Sneaky.
TFT Screen & Features
Be it connecting your phone, adjusting the screen or even customising the TFT’s very slick-looking display options, the Tmax has an almost limitless supply of things to move, adjust, tweak, set and customise. It really does bring out the child in you and while I’m certain that the novelty would wear off after a while and you’d end up leaving them alone on most rides, having a joystick on the ‘bars to flick through things like heated seat settings and exactly what data is displayed on the TFT for you viewing pleasure was a hoot.
Moving beyond pressing buttons, the bike’s primer dark grey paint instantly impressed via the menacing impression it gave the bike, along with the very tough visage the Yamaha designers have given the bike. You could well argue that tough-looking scooters are somewhat of a contradiction, but I think in the case of the TMAX here, it works well and complements the bike’s premium intentions without making it look try-hard.
What isn’t a contradiction is Yamaha’s choice of brakes; the R-series front stoppers with twin discs are clearly capable of stopping the very substantial bike as if it was a 25cc moped with a serious eating disorder. In fact, the only time I ever felt the need to deploy both front and rear stoppers was during downhill encounters with red lights where I needed to come to a complete stop while my better half was on the back of the bike. For the other 99.9% of the time, the front brakes were not challenged in the slightest.
The only other thing to note before we get onto riding the bike was the plethora of storage the TMAX is equipped with. Yes, the helmet hidey-hole under the seat is expected, as is the one beneath the dash.
But the attention to detail in them is excellent and as a scooter amateur, it didn’t take me long to figure out just how much convenience I was missing by not having this space available on my regular motorcycle ride. Not having to lug my helmet around when off the bike was an absolute pleasure, as was being able to store a spare helmet for passengers in there should the necessity arise.
One caveat here, though. I found the locking for the centre stand and the storage compartments and the general “starting the bike up and riding off on it” a little convoluted. That is to say, I struggled to achieve what I wanted to do on the bike instantaneously and instead I was often left scratching my head, wondering why the bike wouldn’t unlock or why I couldn’t gain access to the storage compartment in question.
The end result was usually a flurry of button pushing and corresponding electronic beeps until such time as the specific task I wanted to achieve was realised, most often with me being none the wiser as to what I had to do to repeat the process.
Riding the 2022 Yamaha TMAX 560 Tech MAX
Riding in the City
There’s no avoiding it, the TMAX isn’t the easiest bike to move around when stationary. And while all of its weight is worn very low on the chassis, its 218 kgs and 800mm seat height combined with a fair amount of width beneath the rider’s legs results in a bit of a waddle from the rider when space becomes tight and the bike needs to be somewhere it currently isn’t. I guess much of the reason for me noting this down came from my pre-built expectations that scooters should be a doddle to shift. Note to self: this is a MAXI scooter; all those gadgets, creature comforts and the get-up-and-go has to come at a cost.
But once you’re on the throttle and underway, this heft melts away to leave you with the overwhelming impression that the thing is just incredibly easy to ride. All those extra kilos now become more of a benefit that makes the bike feel planted and stable, especially when riding two-up. In a matter of minutes I was feeling like I had been riding the thing for years and the lack of gears and a clutch only added to the TMAX’s magic carpet vibes.
Which brings me to the bike’s CVT transmission. Some of us will no doubt have reservations about CVTs acquired over the past few decades when car makers released some real stinkers (thanks Nissan) that simultaneously made owners wonder why their brand new vehicles always sounded like “something was wrong” and gave them a less smooth driving experience than the old gearboxes they were meant to be improving on.
Clearly Yamaha’s been able to build on the learnings that other manufacturers have suffered through and the result is nothing short of a seamless, silky-smooth and enjoyable experience. Indeed, you’d be hard put to notice anything about the power delivery save for the fact that the throttle and the rear wheel don’t feel instantly connected in the way that you get on a motorcycle.
Power & Delivery
Instead you get more of a delayed oomph when you twist the throttle that suggests the two are not directly linked by a cable. It’s not a bad thing mind you, it’s just a thing. And you’ll also note that when coasting up to a red light, there’s a subtle yet perceptible disengaging of the bike’s transmission in the very same way you’d pull in the clutch under the same circumstances. Clever stuff.
Amusingly, there’s two locations for riders to put their feet: one horizontal and one at a more cruiser-ish angle that feels super relaxed and very slightly bad-ass. In the end, all this adds up to a super smooth city riding experience that’s not only comfy, but also super smooth and very tech-savvy. And plonking a passenger on the back did little to upset the whole experience, bar the fact that my better half was tending to lean against the bike through the corners. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
Riding in the Curves
If you, like me, suspected that a scoot like this would be set up for a whole bunch of city riding and almost no fast curve carving in the bush, you and I would both be dead wrong. I was fairly certain that its weight, tiny tires and suspension settings would start to give the game away once we were tearing through fast corners with some propper lean angles.
But after realising that the bike’s undeployed centre stand also doubled as its pegs—or the sacrificial part that hits the road first when cornering angles get a little too aggressive—and noticing that they were already partly missing (press bikes are usually very tortured souls), I had some doubts. Those doubts proved absolutely correct. The TMAX Tech Max loves corners like Russian tanks love exploding.
I guess the fancy suspension, bespoke TMAX tires and all that low, underseat weight is more than just sales talk on a Yamaha brochure. No, it wasn’t going to beat an angry R1, but it was busting some pretty dope moves. Colour me impressed. Its next trick was to perform an overtaking move with gusto and aplomb that left me feeling confident and happy in the bike’s get-up-and-go abilities should the situation call for it.
I’d be lying if I said to you that it was fast; 47 hp pushing 218 kilos down the road shouldn’t equate to “fast” in anyone’s books save for the mobility scooter crowds. But what it did do was convince me that a long journey at freeway speeds on the TMAX would be a whole lot more pleasurable an experience than not.
With a handful of minutes having elapsed since I last tweaked one of the bike’s 1024 different settings, I scratched the itch by seeing what the adjustable screen would do now that we were travelling at speed. With a fair amount of adjustment available, I had some issues finding the sweet spot between buffetting and peace while ensuring that the screen wasn’t blocking my view.
What I found was that the only position that directed the wind blast over my head was also the one that positioned the top edge of the screen directly in my line of sight. No doubt my height was mostly to blame here; a touch shorter and I would have been looking through the screen while a touch taller and I would have been looking over it while (hopefully) still enjoying some protection from the wind.
The overall experience the TMAX gives is as impressive as it is unique. Looking back at my notes, I scrawled (or punched into my notes app as the case may be) “TMAX RIDE EXPERIENCE IS LIKE A MAGICAL ELECTRONIC DOLPHIN”. No, I wasn’t high. At least, not that I remember. What I was getting at was that it’s very much a bike you sit on top of, and not in. And that, combined with the smoother-than-smooth ride and Harry Potter-level electronic wizardry makes for a pretty interesting time in the saddle.
As with most of my test rides, I ended up at a cafe at the southern tip of Sydney’s Royal National Park. It’s here that I gather my thoughts and gauge the general response of the amassed riders stopping for a cafe. Being mostly moto riders, I wasn’t expecting much. But lo and behold, I was wrong. Again. A friendly, elderly Greek gentleman approached me and, worry beads in hand, he was clearly on for a chat.
Turns out he had a similar maxi-scooter back in Athens which he liked very much. Keen to compare notes, we chatted for a good 20 minutes or the pros and cons of scooter ownership. It was here the penny dropped. “They are great for parking,” he mentioned, casually. Intrigued, I asked him why. “In many big cities in Greece and Italy there’s just nowhere to park anymore. But if you have a scooter, you can park it on the footpath or pretty much anywhere you want to without getting a ticket,” he said while smiling and click clacking the beads in his hands. Eureka!
Long-Distance Riding (Almost)
After a hard week at work, I raised the idea of a “quick” trip from Sydney to Melbourne to my wife. Part getting away from the kids, part mini adventure and part “that’d make for a great few paragraphs in the review”, the bike’s average fuel consumption of around 4.5 litres per 100 kms made the cost of the trip even more enticing to her, even if we wouldn’t be able to pack much in the way of clothes or avoid the rain should the weather turn nasty.
As it often does in such scenarios, life and responsibilities got the better of us and the idea eventually disappeared into the ether, much like my wife’s make-up would have if we had been caught in a downpour during the eight hour, 850-odd kilometres we would’ve covered if we had actually gone through with it.
The moral to the story here is that I seriously considered putting the mother of my children on the back of the TMAX and then subjecting her to such a ride should speak volumes to the bike’s capabilities. Sure it would’ve been much more comfy, dry and convenient for us to take the family SUV, but where’s the fun in that?
What Could Be Better on the 2022 Yamaha TMAX 560 Tech MAX
To be blunt, Yamaha locking the bike’s nav system to Garmin and not allowing anyone without a paid subscription to display route info on the bike’s TFT seems to be a short-sighted and rather silly decision.
With Google and Apple maps being super convenient, beautifully designed and absolutely free to access with pretty much any mobile phone, you’d have to be delusional to think that anyone bar the small percentage of pre-existing Garmin subscribers would be in a position to make the most of Yamaha’s decision. Maybe the parts of Southern Europe that the bike is intended for have some strange Garmin obsession that I’m unaware of, but on face value this seems like a real waste of a great TFT screen.
Unlocking and Startup
You’d probably figure it out sooner or later, but after two weeks with the bike I was really none-the-wiser as to why I could access the underseat storage, why the centre stand was locked in place or what exactly the key fob did or didn’t do.
As with many of these “journo privilege” things, having the bike appear at your doorstep without me having ridden it before or being given a quick run-down by the Yamaha Dealership’s Delivery and Customer Satisfaction team meant I knew pretty much sweet-freaking-all about the locking and unlocking processes. But with that said, I’d like to think that like any good piece of design, the ability to use it to its full potential shouldn’t have to require you to read through a 250-page manual or to be trained in its use. Ideally it should be intuitive and easy.
And while I’m tempted to add an “It’s expensive and heavy” paragraph into this section, I’m not sure that will be a revelation to anyone. The bike’s sheer impressiveness in the flesh would let all but the most naive of casual observers know that it would be neither cheap nor lightweight should you choose to give Yamaha all your pretty pennies. If you want something cheap and light, you’re barking up the wrong tree if the TMAX is on your list.
Final Thoughts on the 2022 Yamaha TMAX 560 Tech MAX
If you’re surprised that an unsuspecting motorcycle doofus like me who was allowed to ride a scooter for two weeks was more than a little bit impressed by the experience, you probably shouldn’t be.
The TMAX Tech Max is Yamaha’s concerted effort to rule the maxi-scooter segment—or at least the Japanese, Greek and Italian parts thereof—and anyone with half a handful of grey matter should know that Yamaha are supremely capable of creating two-wheeled transports that are very bloody good at doing what you want them to, and a lot more.
As for me not being a scooter kind of guy, I see the price on the TMAX and I instantly think to myself, “Hmmm—what motorcycle could I get for the same price?” But that’s because I am neither the target market for the bike nor am I seething at an endemic lack of parking in my chosen city of residence. Besides, with three young-ish kids in tow, almost all of my daily trips are with kids, with shopping or just with too much shit to carry on any bike, scooter or cycle.
But should I ever find myself sans kids and in a city like Athens, Rome or similar, there’s a very good question I’d eventually have to ask myself. Why would I own a Toyota Yaris, Peugeot 208 or Opel Corsa when I could own one of these? And that goes doubly in summer. Pulling up right outside a Roman cafe on this bad boy versus parking miles away thanks to hellish traffic and then schlepping it all the way back on foot? Screw that for a joke.
When I told a mate that I was reviewing a scooter that weighed 218 kilos and that it was longer than my daily motorcycle, he seemed bemused. “What’s the point of that?” he asked. And I see his logic.
Traditionally, a scooter has been the smaller, lighter, more convenient cousin to a motorcycle’s speed, handling and single-mindedness. Scooters equal city riding and quick shopping trips. Motorcycles equal Sunday jaunts outside the urban sprawl to remind yourself that the city and working nine to five isn’t all there is to life.
But the TMAX and its associated maxi-scooter brethren have flipped these premises on their heads. Here’s something that can bring home the milk and eggs while also demolishing a few hundred kilometres on a Sunday adventure while also solving parking problems and reminding you that life really is better in the wind that only two-wheels can give you.
For me living my little life here in Sydney with my wife and three kids, my garage and my driveway, the TMAX would be an expensive luxury that I probably wouldn’t get to use all that often if given the choice between it, my motorcycle and my SUV. And if I was really keen to buy a scooter, It’d most likely be something smaller, lighter and less stressful when it comes to dropping it for the misses.
But if I was single or an empty nester living in a city apartment where parking is borked and the weather is more often pleasant than not, something like the Yamaha TMAX Tech Max really does make a lot of sense.
If the latter of the above sounds like you, then I’d wholly recommend checking it out. And if you’re already a convert to the scooter way of life and you think that you’re ready to really treat yourself, there really is nothing that can touch the Tech Max for features, comfort and sheer riding enjoyment.