There are loads of good reasons for wanting a scooter nowadays, with traffic chaos and expensive fuel taxation being just two of them. But have you ever considered the maxi scooter as an alternative to the touring motorcycle?
Insidebikes.com Editor Alastair Walker donned his Hein Gericke waterproofs, then went on a 600 mile road test aboard the Yamaha YP250 Majesty 2001 model, to find sensible answers to daft questions.
Has it ever occurred to you that travelling on two wheels is generally slower than inside a four wheeled box?
Probably not, because motorcycles delude you with their rapid acceleration and licence-shredding top speeds. But factor in the pain of dressing up in leathers/waterproofs, the mither of putting fuel inside the gas tank every 100 miles or so, plus taking time to stretch limbs, eat chocolate, drink hot tea to recover from inclement weather etc and suddenly the longer journeys can easily be accomplished faster in a car.
But that isn´t why we travel is it? Biking is all about a little pocket adventure, a way of escaping the routine grind, the everyday dullards in their silver Vectra’s, all laughing at Chris Moyles, as if he was actually funny occasionally!
But if you want to commute, or take a couple of touring holidays on two wheels, you´d be hard pushed to choose a better vehicle than a maxi scooter like the 250 Majesty. You will travel further and get to work faster on this 80mph scooter, than you will on a 1,000cc touring motorcycle. End of chat.
No excuses, just twist ’n’ go
I´ll say it loud and say it again; commuting sucks the soul from motorcycling and turns what should be the breakfast of champions into cold, grey porridge. I know, I have tried it in years gone by and it is a slow descent into a living hell. Only one thing could be worse – despatch riding for a living, which roughly translates into slowly destroying a good motorbike in the name of being a poor man´s FedEx.
A 250-500cc sized scooter however, turns commuting misery into an acceptable way to travel. For a start, there is space under the seat to actually carry something, without crushing it into a tailpiece the size of an anorexic´s sandwich box, or wrapping it inside a bin liner to keep the rain away from your clothing/phone/shopping.
In fact, the Majesty 250 now has one of the biggest `boot´ spaces I have ever seen on any scooter, complete with a special cut-out space for a helmet and a courtesy light, which makes life easier on winter mornings/evenings. It swallowed a holdall, half full of clothes, with ease – the only motorcycles which can do that are the Gold Wing, BMW K1200LT and Harley Ultra Glide. All three are ace touring bikes, but cost over 15,000 quid by the way, in case you were thinking of nipping into the office regularly aboard one!
So, the Majesty has a space for the essential waterproofs, plus a briefcase, spare shoes, paperwork, or other rubbish you have to carry around for work. Great. Even better, it has an automatic transmission which requires no gearchanging tap dance, as you thread your way through the snarled up traffic in the rush hour. The brakes are superb, the Majesty handles well, plus it has enough acceleration to outpace the average idiot in his Megane away from the traffic lights.
In a nutshell, the Majesty offers perhaps the lowest form of stress that any transport can, under the frenetic rat-race circumstances we mostly experience going to, and from the 21st century workplace. Cars may have music to soothe you, but on the Majesty, progress is so easy-peasy, you don´t need the aural therapy in the first place. You just glide by, relaxing in the Ikea sofa comfort of the Majesty´s saddle, feeling confident that you can get where you´re going – and on time.
The scooter is one modern appliance that works. Fantastic.
In every dream home, a scooter
The original Majesty was pretty good, but from 2000 onwards the 250cc four stroke machine got a superb makeover which added a real luxury feel. The seating is now superb, even for two adults, plus there´s an optional backrest if you do plan on touring two-up. The rider´s part of the seating also adjustable, back and forth, helping riders who find their legs too long to fit inside the footwell comfortably.
The single cylinder engine, is a modern, liquid cooled unit, featuring a catalyser for clean running. It´s also excellent on fuel economy, with a steady 70mph cruise on the motorway seeing the Majesty use just £7.20 in unleaded fuel, to cover an astonishing 143 miles before the needle was well and truly on empty. One minus point of fuel is that the gas cap is set low in the footwell of the bodywork, which makes filling it up a little bit slow and fiddly.
The revised Majesty has a rear disc brake now, plus beefed up suspension and a wider windscreen and frontal bodywork. All this combines to make touring a real pleasure, as the wind noise isn´t too bad (there is a larger screen option for even more weather protection) and the bodywork keeps you well out of the windblast, even at the top speed of 80mph or so. Stability in cross winds was excellent too, much better that a Pan-European for example.
The automatic gearbox fitted to the Majesty is one of the smoothest I have sampled on any scooter and lacks the occasional jerkiness at low speeds, which some 125/250 rivals sometimes display. This makes the Yamaha a great bike to trickle through traffic, with a very decent response in the 30-60mph range when overtaking slow vehicles on A roads.
Sure, it is only a 250 and lacks the punch that a proper touring motorcycle has, but it copes better than you expect and makes good progress once you plan ahead and `slingshot´ your way past lorries and the like.
Loads of luggage space, comfy saddle, good weather protection, plus an optional top box is available. The Majesty may not be in the Gold Wing class, but for me, it offers an equally sensible package for solo touring as bikes like the Honda Deauville, or Diversion 900 do. Yep, it lacks the speed of a bike, but hang on one minute – you´re on holiday, not a trackday. Is it OK to just do 70mph all day in long, in total comfort – can you live that?
If you can, then perhaps the £4500 OTR retail price for the Majesty 250 makes sense too, because that is certainly a bit pricey for simple commuting. A 125cc scooter made in Taiwan or Italy, costing around £2500 will do that job well enough. The Majesty is in a different class and should be considered a genuine alternative to a mid-sized motorcycle, by riders who have long since given up on the high speed stuff. Like the Suzuki Burgman, it has a solid, almost `big bike´ feel and it´s obviously well made and durable.
Sadly for Yamaha, the Burgman 250 can be found at about £1,000 less than the Majesty at your nearest Suzuki dealer. There isn´t a huge amount of difference between the two in performance, or tourability either. The Majesty needs a price cut, and fast, if it is to succeed in grabbing a slice of the maxi scooter boom, which is set to make a serious impression in the UK market over the next two years.
Get Yamaha motorcycle insurance for the yamaha yp250 majesty.
Engine Four stroke, liquid cooled single cylinder
Bore and Stroke 69 X 66.8mm
Maximum power 21bhp @7,500rpm
Chassis; Tubular steel frame
Front suspension; Telescopic forks
Rear suspension; Twin shock absorbers
Front brake; 245mm single disc, twin piston calliper
Rear brake; 230mm single disc, twin piston calliper
Wheels/Tyres; 110/90 front, 130/70 rear, both 12 inch diameter
Seat height; 750mm
Top speed 80mph (est)
Fuel capacity 2 gallons ( estimated )
Colours Marble silver or yellow Cocktail
Buying Info 12 months RAC cover free
Warranty 2 years