Yamaha NMAX 125 Review : Tech On A Budget Scooter !

Yamaha NMAX 125 has variable valve timing and ABS as standard – fancy tech for a scooter, so what’s the story ?

Yamaha’s mission with the NMAX 125 was to challenge the best-selling Honda PCX on its home ground, with a fuel efficient scooter featuring more sports appeal and some big-ticket gizmos – hence the ABS and Variable Valve Actuation (VVA).

Yamaha NMAX 125 Review

At the heart of Yamaha NMAX 125 is a brand new engine, one that Yamaha admits will be used by other scooters in the future. Frictional losses are cut by a claimed 18%, with attention paid to piston rings, the cylinder bore lining, crankshaft oil seals and a roller-bearing rocker arm. The result, says Yamaha, is an ultra efficient motor that does 107 mpg on the WMTC cycle (Honda claims 133.9mpg for the PCX on the same cycle). With a claimed top speed of 62mph, this is definitely an urban scooter, but it’s as easy to ride as any other twist ‘n’ go (more than some), thanks to the low 765mm seat, which is still roomy enough for most of us.

Yamaha’s VVA is relatively simple, with two different cam lobes – one tailored for low-speed torque, the other for high speed power. A solenoid flicks between the two when the motor passes 6000rpm. In practice, you wouldn’t know it’s there, as there’s no power step when the high-speed cam kicks in. Acceleration is nicely brisk from the lights and just keeps going, as linear as you like up to 50-55mph.

The Yamaha NMAX 125 is certainly fast enough to keep ahead of city traffic and it doesn’t get much more manic than Lisbon at rush hour. We didn’t get the chance to properly check the top speed, but I’d say there’s slightly more on tap than the official 62mph.

The Yamaha NMAX 125 is light with a good steering lock and slim dimensions – perfect for wiggling to the front of a Portuguese traffic queue. The 13in wheels cope better with pot-holes and while the forks and twin rear shocks crashed over the city’s cobbles, Lisbon does have some of the craggiest tarmac in Europe.

ABS will be the biggest draw for most buyers and though the brakes aren’t linked, the anti-lock kicked in either front or rear on dry tarmac if they were grabbed too hard. I’d be glad of this at any time, let alone a wet and greasy A40 in December. Interestingly, Yamaha NMAX isn’t the only 125 scooter with standard ABS, but it is the only one at this price.

Everyday conveniences include enough under-seat room for a full-face lid, a small cubbyhole that’ll take a bottle of water and a shielded ignition lock that might resist inquisitive screwdrivers. The dash is all-digital and packed with information, including average/instantaneous mpg and an economy gauge. Fuel efficiency fetishists (of which I’m one), step this way.

And Here's Our Conversations with Shun Miyazawa, Product Manager, Yamaha :

Yamaha NMAX 125 Review

Why Variable Valve Timing (VVA) ?

It gives the best of both worlds – good torque at low revs and good power at high revs. This technology works well with small cylinders, but we will be using it on bigger engines as well – a 150 and eventually a 250. It could also be used with multi-cylinder engines like that of the TMAX.

Isn’t ABS Expensive for a 125cc Scooter ?

Not really. We also wanted to be ready for compulsory ABS on 126cc and above bikes, which is coming next year in Europe. The high production volumes of the NMAX will bring economies of scale and make ABS cheaper for our other bikes.

Why no Idle-Stop System, Like the Honda PCX ?

Honda has patented this. Also, we wanted to have a different alternative, which is partly why we have VVA and ABS. We can have good fuel-efficiency without idle-stop.