Review: 2016 Yamaha TMax 530 ‘Iron Max’
When Yamaha claim the TMax 530 is a super-scooter they aren't kidding. Here's our Yamaha TMax 530 review. Test by Kris Hodgson, Photography by Heather Ware, Sam Hodgson
First impressions of the 2016 Yamaha TMax were very much positive, with the scooter possessing a mean, futuristic character that really separates the TMax from the scooter segment.
Yes it is a scooter, but looking at and riding the TMax really show that this machine is somewhere between a regular motorcycle and a scooter, or probably more accurately sitting squarely in the cruiser segment in most aspects.
The TMax is large, brooding and very well finished, standing out as a real premium option in the scooter line-up and across the segment as a whole. Generous proportions, a large comfortable seat, plenty of pillion room and an in-line two-cylinder engine all promise that the TMax isn’t just a commuter.
And truth be told it’s not. It’s too wide for easy lane splitting and is much more of an all-rounder. There’s a side stand for easy parking and offering a bit more flexibility than the centre-stand, while a lever mounted to the left ‘bar allows the rear brake to be actuated when you’re leaving the scooter. It’s a cool and thoughtful feature that really makes the side-stand viable in almost any conditions.
The horn, high beam and indicator switches are all where you’d expect them on the left switchblock, with a flasher also included – a feature I always like to see.
On the right switchblock you’ve got the starting/On button, hazard light toggle and kill switch. Integrated into the ‘bar bodywork is both master-cylinders with reservoirs for a clean look.
Locking the bike and turning it off is done via a separate panel that sits roughly between your knees while riding the scooter. It’s a two button setup, with one side toggling the underseat release and the other being the Off button.
Hold that Off button with the ‘bars on left full lock and the steering lock engages. Pressing the start button disengages the steering lock and turns on the TMax.
It won’t start (but will turn on) with the side-stand down, but will on the centre-stand, and when you put down the side-stand it will cut the engine and actually warn you by beeping.
Toggling the underseat storage reveals a very generous amount of space, although I had trouble getting the seat to close with my HJC FG-Jet helmet under the seat, except sitting it upside down.
I’d probably look at the Yamaha rack and top box if I owned the TMax though, which would offer plenty of storage, even two up. There’s also a small light that comes on when the underseat is open, ensuring you can always see what you’re doing.
Grab rails on the rear offer plenty of traction for a pillion, along with the generous ergonomics generally, while the fuel cap is actually revealed by a panel at the front of the seat. This makes filling up a breeze and you don’t need to pop the seat, or worry about any stray fuel ending up in the underseat storage.
Jumping on board the TMax is wide, with a very, very low centre of gravity. Perched towards the front of the seat in a more traditional scooter fashion, there’s an easy reach to the ground with both feet, while moving back for the cruising feet-up position makes for a more labored one foot to the ground.
Moving the TMax around while on the seat is also surprisingly easy as long as you’re seated in the right position, making for easy maneuvering with the bike off.
These are all just the little details which really show there’s been a lot of rider feedback in the overall design of the TMax.
Setting off the first thing that hits me is that the TMax is really torquey. It is powered by an in-line twin-cylinder obviously, with around 45hp on tap, which isn’t ground breaking by motorcycling terms, but is significantly more than what’s on offer in the 200-300cc category.
The torque figure is 38.5ft-lbs (52.3Nm) and it’s noticeably meaty, especially if you’re coming from a single-cylinder scooter – or even most of the low capacity LAMS machines.
Fitted with the Akrapovic full system, it’s still relatively quiet with the bung in, but remove that bung and you’ve got some real personality… perhaps a bit much in fact. Because you’re using heavy throttle to get moving and accelerate – it’s automatic afterall – the TMax with Akrapovic can get annoying with the silencer/bung out, just because at lower speeds you’re getting so much volume.
On the freeway it’s barely noticeable, so I’d opt for the silencer bung in for commuting and out for longer touring trips.
Around town the TMax is sporty, yet you’ll notice its length and low centre of gravity if you’re fanging around. It’s not a criticism either, it just handles more like a cruiser in this regard, but with plenty of ground clearance and agility.
You can get leant right over and there’s great stability on the side of the tyre, but sweeping lines are preferred.
The TMax is still nimble but you’re always aware of that feeling of length and it handles quite differently from a scooter, more like a regular motorcycle but with those strong cruiser aspects.
The fact it weighs almost 220kg is honestly not something that I thought about even once, until I looked at the specs. It feels light, incredibly well balanced and very manageable. I could roll along at a snail’s pace with both feet up waiting for traffic to start moving with absolute ease.
Part of that is the great throttle response and fueling, with the TMax offering a nice soft opening of power, which quickly develops into a punch of torque. Rolling off the throttle is smooth with predictable engine braking, more than you’d experience on a single but that just makes the ride more engaging.
Transitioning through the power band in the CVT transmission is flawless with strong power available at practically all times. Even going hard on the anchors from speed with a closed throttle and then snapping it back open won’t cause any issues.
Around town the TMax offers far more than a traditional scooter, with significantly better power and brakes, while still being nimble, stable and easy to ride. Brakes are dual front rotors with radial four-piston calipers on the front, with good bite and modulation and strong stopping power.
The rear single-rotor and caliper combo offers most of your control and stopping power for suburban riding, unless you’re really caning. ABS is also standard.
Suspension is 41mm forks on the front, with a motorcycle-style swingarm, single-shock and belt final drive. It’s a great package, offering good feel, especially through the front end and impressive overall performance. Damping and rebound are smooth over the vast majority of surfaces, with a sporty enough overall setup to really encourage pushing the limits.
Having 15in radial wheels in particular helps lend the TMax a sporty and performance driven character, ideal over all conditions.
I’m only 70kg in gear, however two up on the TMax with double that weight it continued to perform exceptionally, with the main difference being that the small amount of rear end bounce I was getting over small/sharp speed jumps and similar was gone.
The testing grounds included everything from surburban Sydney, the freeways and motorways, as well as some of the better motorcycling roads, with the TMax actually offering exceptional all round performance that can be hard to find.
In all fairness looking at the R3, MT-07 and various derivations Yamaha seem to really have hit the nail on the head when it comes to providing non- or limited adjustability suspension that just works well.
Through the twisty roads I was also doing my usual cruising speed that I default to on a motorcycle without any stress and with plenty more in the tank if I really wanted to push harder, and that’s still a fun pace that requires a keen lookout.
That said the real strength of the TMax is to me the fact it’s such an effortless performer. The all-round package is just great, handling, brakes, suspension and comfort are top tier on the motorcycle scale, never mind scooter comparisons.
Power is also extremely good and feels far greater than the claimed figures, I was pretty surprised to find out this scooter was LAMS legal. Still pulling hard at 160 on one of the steepest sections of road really put into perspective just how much go the TMax has.
It’s not hard to see why the TMax over its lifespan has been such a success for Yamaha, and why they continue to develop the model. Sure it’s on the premium end of the price range, however it’s hard to argue that you’re getting anything but good value, with the TMax offering a finish quality that can put many motorcycles to shame.
For Australia in particular I see the TMax being a strong choice. Obviously not for everyone, however with the higher end capabilities and being such a strong touring option you could easily commute to work each day, have fun on the weekends and tour two-up for a day or two away, or for a longer holiday.
Obviously you lose a little bit of lane splitting ability, however the overall gains more than make up for that small trade-off. The TMax is certainly an option that I’d strongly consider in the circumstances I mentioned above. If I could only have a single motorcycle to commute, do weekend two-up rides, have a bit of fun on and possible tour on, then the TMax would be very high on my list of options.
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The Iron Max
The savvy reader may have noticed that the model we’ve tested on this occasion isn’t the base standard offering. It’s the Iron Max special edition, with the Liquid Darkness colour scheme and matching wheels.
Standard fitment on the Iron Max are the accessory Foot Panels, while the one we’re testing also includes the Sport Screen and Akrapovic full exhaust system.
Other features unique to the Iron Max are the gold USD forks (black on the standard model), the special Max Iron Max seat, matt black wheels with grey pinstripes, metallic accepts on the inner headlamps, special instrument panel finishing and backlight, special Iron Max emblems and the previously mentioned special edition colour scheme.
There’s also a huge range of accessories available and I’d pick up the Top Box Carrier and probably a 50L Top Box from the range. They aren’t cheap but I’ve run the Yamaha carrier and top box system in the past (on my 2008 FZ6) and they were top notch and well worth the money.
TECH TALK – Yamaha TMax 530
The TMax 530 is powered by a 530cc twin-cylinder four-stroke engine with Yamaha’s advanced fuel injection system and engine management system. Bore and stroke are 68 x 73mm, with 10.9:1 compression ratio. Power is 34.2kW at 6750rpm, while torque is 52.3Nm at 5250rpm and the TMax is LAMS legal thanks to its power to weight ratio, with a 222kg wet weight.
Transmission is fully automatic thanks to the continuously variable transmission (CVT), with long valve clearance inspection intervals helping to keep upkeep costs down. A standard oil monitoring system also informs owners when an oil change is due, while the belt final drive requires very little maintenance.
The chassis is a CF die-cast aluminum frame, with an aluminium swingarm and forks are 41mm items inspired by Yamaha’s sportsbikes, just like the dual radial four-piston front calipers which grasp 267mm front rotors. Not the largest rotors, but wheels are 15inch items and stopping power is impressive.
The rear single brake and rotor combo is a 282mm rotor, with an additional cable operated ‘hand-brake’ above and behind the axle, with the hydraulic brake controlled via the standard left lever situated under and in front of the rear axle.
Wheels are 15 inch items, and take a 120/70 – 15 front tyre and 160/60 – 15 rear tyre. Travel on the front is 120mm, with 116mm rear travel. The wheelbase is 1580mm and the 222kg wet weight is fully fueled to the 15L capacity. Seat height is quoted as 800mm, although it varies greatly depending on how you are seated, but is very manageable.
The display is two analogue clocks (speedometer/tachometer) with a central digital multifunction display. Headlights are LED items offering strong lighting, with integrated mirrors in the front bodywork and tail. Mirrors are multi-adjustable items but vision on the TMax is most ideal with a half face helmet where head checks give optimal vision.
Another standard feature is the keyless ignition, with a provided key fob including a key for the glove compartment and fuel cap. Proximity to the bike allows the use of the electronic On, Off, Steering lock and seat release functions. The TMax includes both centre and side-stand, with a cutoff switch for the side stand and audible warning when it is down. The TMax won’t start with the sidestand down.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2016 Yamaha TMax 530 Iron Max (LAMS)
Price: $13,999 + ORC
Warranty: Two year, unlimited kilometre
Colour: Iron Max Liquid Darkness
Claimed power: 34.2kW[45.9hp]@6750rpm
Claimed torque: 52.3Nm[38.5ft-lbs]@5250rpm
Wet weight: 222kg
Fuel capacity: 15L
Engine: Liquid-cooled, parallel twin-cylinder, four-stroke, four-valve, 68 x 73mm bore x stroke, 530cc, 10.9:1 compression, EFI, TCI
Tranmission: V-Belt, Automatic, CVT
Chassis: CF die-cast aluminium frame, aluminium swingarm
Seat height: 800mm, Wheelbase: 1580mm
Suspension: 41mm USD forks, 120mm travel, single shock absorber, 116mm travel
Brakes: ABS, Dual radial four-piston calipers, 267mm rotors, single rear caliper, 282mm rotor
Wheels & Tyres: Five-spoke alloy, 15 inch wheels, 120/70 – 15, 160/60 – 15
Instruments: Dual analogue clocks (speedometer/tachometer), central multifunction digital display
Storage: Underseat storage to fit a full face helmet with light that activates on opening