2015 Yamaha SMAX - First Ride

Yamaha’s new middleweight scooter (pronounced “Ess Max”) fills a big gap in the lineup.

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Although it’s an established player in the scooter market, Yamaha has had a large void between its small 50cc and 125cc offerings and its luxurious Majesty 400. Further underscoring the need for Yamaha to offer a step-up model is the company’s own market research, which indicates that about half of current scooter owners will likely buy another. This is precisely where the new 2015 Smax Sport fits in.

This new Yamaha scooter is powered by an all-new 155cc single, a liquid-cooled four-stroke featuring fuel injection and an auto clutch with continuously variable transmission. As such, the Smax delivers freeway-capable performance in a fuel efficient (claimed 81 mpg) and affordable package. Yamaha makes no bones about targeting the Honda PCX150, and is quick to cite several areas in which it feels the new Smax is superior.

Topping the list, the Smax’s step-through design employs a frame configuration that maximizes floorboard surface area. Yamaha also claims better wind protection
 and greater storage capacity. Front and rear disc brakes, which feature a large 267mm wave rotor up front (the PCX has a single 220mm front disc and a rear drum), give the Smax a stopping advantage, while its 33mm fork (31mm on PCX) and additional rear wheel travel (3.6 in. vs. 3.0) bode well for handling the speed bumps of urban living. Lastly, the Smax comes equipped with much wider sport tires, size 120/70-13 front, 130/70-13 rear. The PCX does have 14-in. rims, but it’s fitted with a 90/90-14 front, 100/90-14 rear.

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At the Smax press ride staged in San Diego, I was immediately impressed by the stability of the machine around town and at freeway speeds. Riding two-up, with my gal on the rear section of the spacious and lushly padded one-piece saddle, it was easy to keep pace with the other journalists riding solo. The Smax engine has smooth power delivery and there was always enough reserve to tackle even the steepest climbs along our route. The non-linked, non-ABS brakes also proved up to the challenge of our black-diamond descents.

As with any scooter in this class, lots of time spent at pinned throttle was the norm. But even with our combined load of 300 pounds, the Smax’s digital speedometer had no trouble hitting 75 mph along a stretch of Interstate 5. The ride was firm yet compliant, but one mid-corner pothole bottomed the shock and a sent a sharp jolt through the seat. And yes, I heard about that more than I actually felt it!

Riding solo for some photo passes gave me added appreciation for the Smax’s nimble, sure-footed handling. It lived up to its sporty billing, and it was just plain fun to ride, particularly in town. It also has excellent scooter conveniences, such as 8.5 gallons of storage that can swallow a full-face helmet with ease. There’s also a dash storage box and flip-down hook for hanging a backpack between the rider’s legs. Very handy.

Available in Ultramarine Blue or Matte Titan and priced at $3,690, the 2015 Yamaha Smax may not pay homage to your dad’s VMax, but it’s a fine step in the right direction for anybody looking for fun and affordable two-wheel transportation.

|2015 Yamaha SMAX
TYPE|155cc liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, SOHC single cylinder, 4 valves
BORE x STROKE|58.0 x 58.7mm
FUEL DELIVERY|Fuel Injection
IGNITION|TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
FINAL DRIVE|V-Belt Automatic
FRONT SUSPENSION|33mm fork, 3.1 in. of travel
REAR SUSPENSION|Horizontal shock, 3.6 in. of travel
FRONT BRAKE|267mm disc
REAR BRAKE|245mm disc
FRONT TIRE|120/70-13
REAR TIRE|130/70-13
L x W x H|79.9 x 28.1 x 51.0 in.
SEAT HEIGHT|31.3 in.
WHEELBASE|55.3 in.
TRAIL|3.3 in.

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