Yamaha are promoting the Maxster 125 as sporty yet stylish, a quality scooter for the discerning buyer. They’ve billed it as a scooter that offers fun with sophistication and style with quality. Have they got it right?
There are more 125cc class scooters on the UK market than ever before, so this one really needs something unique to make it stand out from the crowd.
Yamaha know that the scooter market is important, even in the UK where we have lagged behind our European brothers in terms of sheer numbers of bikes with small wheels sold. Now scooter sales in the UK are leaping skyward as people get sick of sitting in traffic in their cars or standing crushed on a crowded commuter train with their fellow commuter´s garlic breath.
The scooter market isn´t a straightforward one however. As with bigger bikes there´s different strokes for different folks. Some people want budget, others want full-on sports and Yamaha reckon that style is also a major influence on buying decisions. It´s the latter market that Yamaha have aimed the 125cc Maxster into. They are courting the scooter buyer who doesn´t want to be seen riding an unknown budget brand, or even a snazzy scoot with shell suit graphics.
First looks seem to confirm that Yamaha have got the balance right. The styling is R1-esque, with those now familiar fox-eye headlamps and, as on the R1, both the 35w bulbs work on dip and main beam. The swoopy bodywork seems substantial and in either the deep blue or black UK market colours, the Maxster looks the part. The instrumentation is clear and functional, and there´s a comfy seat, plus enough legroom for most riders. There´s the usual underseat storage, into which a full face Arai fitted snugly, but no rack fitted as standard, so city clickers will have to trade their briefcase for a rucksack.
The Maxster is powered by a four stroke 125cc engine, which is in line with its sophisticated billing, no messy two-stroke or smelly exhaust fumes. However, the bike was louder than I had expected, producing a deep growl when revved. I wouldn´t describe the machine as powerful, a two-stroke sports scooter from Italy would whip it at any traffic light GP, but there´s enough poke to cope with most city situations.
Those of you jumping off a ‘real´ motorcycle onto any scooter will, like me, find the small wheels a little strange at first. And the Maxster has very quick steering, useful for the town but a little off putting at first as you try to cope with longer bends.
Yamaha chose to launch the Maxster at a go-kart track in Kent, so we had plenty of opportunity to explore the limits of the machine. Superbike rider James Hayden was there and his awesome display of super-motard style sliding on the Maxster, foot out and grinding exhaust and engine casing alike, proved the scooter does handle.
Your insidebikes.com correspondent took it a little easier, given that a slippery wet go-kart track is an easy place to crash (a point proven by a tally of 8 out of 10 machines dumped) many of them several times. This did at least prove that the Maxster is crashable. All those binned were still roadworthy, if a little bruised, at the end of the ruthless hammering. This is an important point for a scooter, as they inevitably end up tasting Tarmac at some point in their busy little lives.
Maybe it would have revealed more about the Maxster´s manners had we been able to take the bikes into a busy town to try it out as a commuter. We´ll have to do that later when Yamaha get some registered for public roads testing. For now the Maxster passed its initial examination with flying colours. It proved that it could take a beating, it looks the part and it has a Yamaha badge on the side, an important consideration for buyers who want a product from a manufacturer they feel they can trust. This also means that a proper dealer network for servicing or after-sales support backs up the Maxster.
Is it worth the £2,799 price tag? That all depends on what you want it for, and frankly on just how much £2,799 means to you. If it´s the acceptable price of style, sophistication and comfort, all in a neat package that should deliver you to the office day after day without trouble – and cheaper than a year on the train, bus or car journey – then the Maxster will suit.
But I suspect that the youthful scooter buyer, the members of the so-called Internet Generation, will seek something with more attitude and performance. I can´t see many bikers forsaking a ‘real´ motorcycle for a Maxster, after all a good used BMW twin can be had for £1,800, it´ll do almost as much to the gallon, carry loads of luggage in its panniers, the fairing will keep you dryer, it´ll retain its value and march on for more than 100,000 miles.
I´d go for the Maxster if my daily commute was less than 20 miles each way and there was somewhere secure to park it at the office. If not, it would have to be the old BMW twin.
Get Yamaha motorcycle insurance for the yamaha maxster 125.
Engine Spark plug ignition, 4 strokes Liquid cooled
Claimed power (bhp) 8,7 Kw at 9000 rpm
Compression ratio 11:1
Transmission Automatic with V-Belt
Front brake : Disc diam. 245 mm
Rear brake : Disc diam. 220 mm
Front tyre : 130/60-13
Rear tyre : 140/60-13
Rim size : MT 3,00 x 13 & MT 3,50 x 13
Min. ground clearance : 118 mm
Front suspension system : Hydraulic and telescopic fork
Stroke : 103 mm
Rear suspension system : Hydraulic unit swing
Stroke : 95 mm
Overall size (L x W x H) : 1917 x 730 x 1168 mm
Seat height : 824 mm
Dry weight : 124 kg
Wheel base : 1400 mm
Top speed 70 mph
Current price £2,599 plus OTR charges