2009 Yamaha TMAX, Zuma 125 First Look

June 12, 2008
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

2009 Yamaha TMAX
A maxi-scooter with Yamaha’s sportiest performance yet, the new TMAX looks to carry its European success over here in the States.

Yamaha is offering up a soothing balm for those $4-gallon gas woes with its fuel-efficient 2009 scooter lineup. Headlining the seven-model scooting roster are two all-new designs – the Zuma 125 and 499cc TMAX.

TMAX, Majesty

Already a favorite on the other side of the Atlantic, Yamaha has brought its TMAX Stateside to sate American scooter aficionados. The latest maxi-scooter from Yamaha, the TMAX pushes the scooter/motorcycle hybrid to the sporty end of the spectrum. Featuring a fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, four-valve per cylinder Twin, the TMAX mill displaces 499cc through a 66mm bore and 73mm stroke. The Twin’s grunt is delivered with a continuously variable transmission, wet centrifugal clutch and V-belt final drive. No power claims are given, but Yamaha does promise a smooth power delivery sufficient “for two-up touring at highway speeds.”

Mated to the engine is a chassis that features a CF die-cast aluminum frame. Giving the TMAX a more motorcycle flavor are a 43mm telescopic fork and 15-inch cast aluminum wheels with radial tires. Also adding to the performance factor are triple 267mm disc brakes, with dual units up front and a single disc out back.

With its larger two-cylinder engine compared to its smaller single-cylinder scooter kin, the TMAX doesn’t get earth-shattering fuel economy, although 47 mpg is respectable. Teamed with its 4-gallon tank, riders will have 160-plus miles of road to explore. For those explorations, long or short, the TMAX delivers wind protection via its large windscreen and a front fairing that looks much sportier than its maxi-scooter sibling – the Yamaha Majesty. Potential owners can utilize underseat storage capable of stowing away a full-face helmet.

The Zuma 125 in action.
All I want to do is a Zuma-zoom-zoom. If gas prices keep rocketing skyward, it won’t be long before the only thing any of us can afford to ride will be scooters like the 2009 Yamaha Zuma 125.

The all-new TMAX comes with a $7,999 MSRP for Yamaha Blue, with a Cadmium Yellow scheme fetching another C-note. Tuning fork literature promises availability beginning in July of 2008.

Shadowing the TMAX debut is the single-cylinder Majesty. At 395cc, the Majesty looks like a blander version of the flashy TMAX, minus a disc from the larger scooter’s braking configuration and with more conservative styling. The Majesty also has smaller wheels. It still pushes the performance envelope for a scooter, however, and is freeway capable. It also edges the TMAX in fuel efficiency at 50 mph, not to mention a $1900 smaller asking price.

Zuma 125, Vino 125

The Zuma name leaves its two-stroke-only image with the introduction of the four-stroke 2009 Zuma 125. The four-valve, 125cc air-cooled Single features electronic fuel injection teamed with a CVT transmission and electric starter. Following the styling cues from its smaller-displacement namesake, the Zuma 125 features a steel tube frame, with suspension consisting of a 27mm fork and dual rear shocks. Bringing things to a stop is a 220mm front disc and rear drum brake.

2009 Yamaha Zuma
Its 125 sibling maybe new, but the old Zuma carries the two-stroke torch with a fantastic 123 mpg claim.

Yamaha touts the performance from its shocks and fat tires, which are affixed to 12-inch wheels, make the new Zuma 125 a “scooter at home on unpaved roads.” Paved roads or no, the 1.6-gallon tank will offer up well over triple digit range with 88 mpg efficiency. Underseat storage accommodates a full-face helmet, with the all-new 125 available in September for $2,999.

Although it shares the 125 title, the Vino 125 features a different air-cooled four-stroke Single, with a 51.5 x 60mm bore and stroke (52.4 x 57.9mm for the new Zuma). Other changes include a smaller 180mm front brake disc, a single instead of dual rear shock, as well as a 26mm Mikuni carb instead of EFI. The Vino also sources smaller 10-inch wheels, along with a smaller $2,899 MSRP (although the upgrades for the new Zuma seem well worth the extra $100). On the plus side, at 96 mpg, you can go a long ways for a little less money on the Vino.

Zuma, C3, Vino Classic

2009 Yamaha Vino 125
The Zuma isn’t the only 49cc Yamaha with triple-digit mpg claims, as the C3 and Vino Classic (above) also deliver the goods.

Speaking of saving money on gas, does 123 mpg sound good to you? Well, that’s the claimed fuel economy of the stalwart 49cc two-stroke version 2009 Zuma. Yamaha puts a big asterisk next to its mpg claims, saying its economy figure is “based on US EPA exhaust emission certification data.” So while in the real world it may never hit that lofty 1-2-3 claim, it will certainly get better mileage than anything on four wheels and virtually anything we know of in the two-wheeled realm.

After increased emissions forced the Zuma out of the U.S. market for 2006 and 2007, the ’09 version makes the grade thanks to exhaust catalyzer technology and an efficient 14mm Teikei carburetor. Nothing else has changed from the 2008 version, except the $2,199 asking price – a $50 increase from the old MSRP. Or in 2009 lingo, not enough bones to fill your car up at the pump.

Also delivering the fuel savings are the 49cc four-stroke C3 and Vino Classic, which claim a respective 115 and 111 mpg. The SOHC air-cooled designs feature dual drum brakes, telescopic fork and single shock. The boxy styling of the C3 has wider 120 tires and overall larger chassis dimensions. The Vino Classic features more, wait for it, classic styling – looking rather Vespa-ish like its larger-displacement namesake. The C3 rings in at $2,099, with the Vino costing $2,049.

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