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Scooter Review

Yamaha TMAX 530 Review

Since its inception the TMAX has been an act of steady progression. The 530 on the other hand is all about perfecting an already solid performer.

Allen Drysdale

 

Introduction 

The TMAX has been the subject of a few major overhauls over the years and whilst each change has been an act of steady progression, each version has been an improvement over the last. Introducing the latest incarnation, the all-new TMAX 530.

 

Specifications 

With the new 530, instead of just taking a few steps forward, Yamaha has taken a giant leap. The list of changes over the previous model are many and Yamaha has clearly created something very special.

Overall weight for the 530 is now down 4 kilos and the new two piece rear swingarm is responsible for most of that saving alone. It's also responsible for pushing more weight forward over the front wheel. The die-cast aluminium frame remains a masterpiece and one of the reasons the TMAX possesses its motorcycle-like dynamics.

The engine displacement has been increased to 530 cc's and this has helped increase the amount of torque on tap. The TMAX 530 also features new CVT ratios, a new belt drive with tensioner, a host of new light weight engine parts and a revised fuel injection system.  

There's a new larger rear disc brake and a separate calliper is now used for the park brake. Front brakes remain the same size, two 267 mm discs with Yamaha's 4 pot callipers on each. An ABS option is available overseas, it's not available as an option in Australia. The front forks are full motorcycle type and 43 mm in diameter. The rear suspension is fully adjustable. The front wheel is 15 inch, the rear is 14. Wheels are new 5-spoke alloys.

A fully lit storage area is complimented by an additional external helmet hook. There's even an extension that will hook a 2nd helmet outside the scooter if required. The seat itself opens from the front and two gas struts look after the business, it's all very premium. There's enough storage for a helmet plus more, I was able to fit a backpack with a 15 inch laptop easily. There's also some additional glovebox storage if needed, one side being lockable with the ignition key.

The screen is adjustable. It's not instantly adjustable like BMW's C600 Sport, though it does have the option of both high and low settings. The dash is all new. Two large "polygon" gauges with a series of digital readings in-between. Multiple trips, external temp, fuel, time etc. The dash is backlit orange/red and looks pretty cool at night.

The external design changes bring the TMAX well into the future. The new twin projector headlights and centre run light look modern and angular.  The rear end styling is all Yamaha R1. A really nice set of angles that give the MAX that true superbike family feel. It gives an impression the TMAX is incredibly short in real life. Our test model, and the only colour option in Australia, was the matt black/titanium/carbon combination.
 
A few other features worth noting include the centrally positioned fuel tank and the passenger "motorcycle style" flip-out footpegs. The new style mirrors can fold away when parked or collapse in or out if the TMAX was to have a low speed fall. Nice feature...

On The Road

On the road is where the TMAX 530 makes the huge leap forward. Seat of the pants will tell you the TMAX 530 accelerates with far more urgency from a standing start. The last TMAX was no slouch but it's clear Yamaha engineers have tuned the MAX for better low-down responsiveness. The TMAX is incredibly linear, responsive and fast, all the way up to 150 km/h plus. The parallel twin has gained a little character along the way also. Would sound even better with a factory Akrapovic can hooked up.

The seating position and the reach to the bars will suit guys of a smaller stature. For me the TMAX fitted like a glove, was perfect even. The riding position gives you a sense that you're well over the front and well in control. The screen on the lower setting whilst fine for the city, needs some adjustment upwards if regular freeway appearances will be made.

For a scooter, the TMAX provides ample feedback via the front end, thanks to a full motorcycle-type fork arrangement. The handling is predictable and provides an exciting level of ride quality. I like the way it feels on the road, the TMAX 530 is far from boring and actually very engaging for the rider. The TMAX will move around a little in fast bumpy corners and after a short blast up the old road all I'd do is give the back end a notch of adjustment to firm things up a little. I'm sure the new swingarm has a lot to answer for when it comes to improvements in handling and balance.     

Around town you have all the power you need(maybe too much) and tackling the daily commute on the TMAX is a perfectly reasonable request. I found using the mirrors a perfect way to gauge filtering distances between cars and the TMAX doesn't have that feeling of bulk around town. I did read another review saying this is one for the highways, well for me the TMAX 530 is very partial to city life also. Given its now usable power off the line, useful storage capacity, low seat height, sharp dynamics and slim proportions, the TMAX is a capable commuter.  

Probably disappointing for many is the absence of ABS. The option would just help add a level of reassurance when emergency braking. The brakes are some of the best around, still for a premium scooter like this, ABS shouldn't be an option, it should come standard. The front brakes are renowned for their ability, the levers are also 4-way adjustable, so you can squeeze a little or a lot depending on your preference.

 

Last Word

The TMAX makes riding fun. The TMAX 530 is compact and conveniently thin enough to commute 5 days a week. On the weekend it's fast and agile enough to carve up your favourite set of twisties. For me it's the perfect blend of power and practicality and it's no wonder the TMAX is the largest selling maxi scooter in countries such as Italy. The Italian influence is obvious.

This new incarnation goes down as one of my all-time favourites. It's not one of those scooters I had to spend a few weeks riding around to appreciate. The TMAX 530 just worked for me straight out of the box.

It's obvious I really liked the new TMAX. Yamaha engineers could have simply just added a bigger, larger and heavier engine. Instead they've taken the harder approach, purely perfecting what was already there. In my eyes, the new TMAX 530 is close to perfection, damn close.

 



published 9/07/2013

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