Yamaha for 2009 - First Look

Not-so-mad Max.

Yamaha for 2009 - First Look

It seems like summer just started, but Yamaha Motors has already fired its first volley in the 2009 new-model-introduction war with the new 200-horsepower V-Max. The next round fired wasn't as spectacular, no all-new YZF-R1 or Concours 14-beating redesign of the FJR1300—yet. Instead, Yamaha tells us it is introducing two scooters to the U.S. market and carrying over some models.

For now, the big news is scooters. Building on the success of the popular Vino 125, Yamaha now offers a Zuma 125. The new bike uses an air-cooled 124cc, single-overhead-cam fuel-injected Single that's similar to the Vino's but should offer slightly better performance. But performance has a price: fuel economy is a bit worse than the Vino's, with an estimated 88 mpg instead of 96. It may be a relative gas hog, but at $2999 it's still a pretty cheap (and fun) way to get around.

Big scooters are an important chunk of the motorcycle market in Europe, and Yamaha has been feasting on sales of its T-Max range of big commuter scoots for years. And with gas prices rivaling the cost of house-brand gin, the Tuning Forkers are bringing in the latest iteration of the T-Max to our market to see what happens. New for the Euros in 2007, this is a high-tech machine Yamaha calls a "supersport scooter," even using racers Jamie James and Scott Russell in their ads to highlight its high-performance nature.

There is a lot of technology in this "Wee-Max." It has a CF-cast aluminum frame, 43mm fork tubes, dual four-piston monobloc front brake calipers, and racy sportbike-esque styling. The tires, mounted on slick six-spoke wheels, are 15-inch radials, a 120/70-15 front and 160/60-15 rear. The engine is a liquid-cooled 499cc counterbalanced parallel-Twin with forged pistons, fuel injection and an 11.0:1 compression ratio. If you think riding a scooter is for dorks, you will at least be a very fast dork. Its performance isn't the only thing supersport, the 2009 T-Max is priced at $7999 in Deep Blue, $8099 in Cadmium Yellow. Both scooters will be in showrooms this fall.

Carry-overs include some Star cruisers as well as Yamaha models. The V-Star 1100 Silverado, Classic and Custom, as well as the 650cc V-Star Silverado, Classic and Custom and the V-Star 250 will all return for 2009. Also returning is the YZF-R6S—essentially the 2003-2004 YZF-R6—and the re-designed-for 2008 XT 250 and TW 200 dual-sports.