The ideal combo of scooter and motorcycle?
The T-Max was totally revamped for the 2008 model year, which is the version we now get Stateside for 2009. A new body style, which grows on you, conceals an all-new alloy frame, which replaces the old tubular steel chassis.
The first impression on approach is that it’s extraordinarily long. Then, when you sit on it, the seat feels firm, high, and wide. The T-Max does not have a completely flat floorboard, like a classic scooter. Still, the relatively low step-through threshold makes it easier to get on and off than a conventional motorcycle.
The seat height comes into play when paddling the bike into and out of parking spots. I found myself sliding forward off the seat, so that I could plant more of my own weight on the ground when pushing it around.
With a full tank of fuel, it weighs close to 500 lbs. It takes a fair amount of effort to get it up on the center stand, but the passenger grab rail provides a solid grip for that job. I found I noticed the weight more when I had to rock it off the stand.
It is also the first bike I’ve ridden with a parking brake.
The starting protocol is simple: With the key and kill switch in the ‘on’ position, there’s a momentary delay while the fuel injection system pressures up. Then you hold either brake lever in and hit the starter button. (There are no foot controls. The rear brake is operated by the lever on the left handlebar, and the front brake, as usual, on the right.) There is no kick starter, nor is it possible to bump-start it.
An automatic centrifugal clutch engages when you increase revs. I noticed a slight delay in the clutch engagement that was frustrating when I was trying to get away at low throttle openings. To set out perfectly smoothly, I found myself holding the left (rear) brake in until I felt the clutch bite, then easing off the brake to roll away.
I own a Yamaha Vino 125, which clutches flawlessly, so I suspect this glitch might come down to a minor setup problem on Motorcycle.com ’s particular test bike. As soon as you’re underway, the low center of gravity keeps it unthreatening even at parking-lot speeds.
Despite being half a foot longer than say, an R1, the T-Max is very maneuverable in town. If you’re out running errands, there’s room for a good-sized bag of groceries, or a full-face helmet under the seat. The seat is held in the open position by a pair of hydraulic lifters, and there’s even a light in the storage compartment.
There are also two non-locking ‘glove compartments’ in the front cowl. I imagine that, in Europe, commuters usually these for a pack of Gauloise cigarettes in one and a flask of Grappa in the other. Or maybe just coins for tolls.
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