2015 Yamaha Smax Scooter First Ride Review

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Highs
  • Freeway capable
  • Plenty of storage
  • Excellent transportation value
Lows
  • Limited leg room for taller folks
  • Adjustable windscreen would be nice

Yamaha understands the importance of serving all motorcyclists, no matter what type of riding they enjoy. And for those seeking simple freeway-capable transportation it offers its 155cc Smax scooter ($3690).

The 2015 Smax employs a fuel-injected and liquid-cooled 155cc four-stroke Single positioning it between the smaller college campus-ready Zuma/Vino scooters (49cc) and the more touring-capable Majesty (395cc). It’s engineered to offer the best of both words: friendly, non-intimidating acceleration on city streets, yet enough muscle to climb steep hills and keep up with fast paced San Diego traffic on the freeway (we saw a top speed of 84 mph).

The instrumentation is complete and easy to read while riding.

It’s also claimed to be capable of delivering 81 miles-per-gallon on regular pump gas. This equates to a range of around 160 miles based on the 2.0-gallon capacity fuel tank. However after our 55-mile loop, which included equal parts stop-and-go city riding and top speed freeway blasting, we consumed roughly half a tank.

(Top) The Smax employs a halogen headlamp flanked by a pair of LED running lights. The tail light is incorporates LED lighting. (Center) While we appreciate the storage compartment above the floorboard, space is at a premium and the Smax could feel cramped for taller riders. (Bottom) The Smax features a liquid-cooled 155cc four-stroke Single that keeps the engine operating at just the right temperature regardless if you’re idling in traffic or blasting down the freeway at top speed.

Regardless, the Smax proves to be a capable urban mount. Twist the throttle and the scooter rolls forward smoothly with a friendly response that’s easy to get a feel for, yet it’s got enough muscle to outpace most traffic from a stoplight. It also sounds sporty, emitting just the right amount of growl from the exhaust. The fully automated CVT-style transmission functions transparently and is completely devoid of lurching or another misbehavior that you may have experienced on other scooters. Although built in Thailand, the Smax looks and feels like a quality piece of hardware.

The Smax features a fully automated twist-and-go transmission that’s both smooth and lurch-free.

Slowing down is an equally pleasing experience courtesy of the independent front (right lever) and rear (left lever) hydraulic disc brakes. Either lever offers enough bite to get you stopped from speed yet is forgiving and overly sensitive in application. Although ABS isn’t available, you have to squeeze the lever pretty hard to get the wheel to lock-up.

A pair of hydraulic disc brakes are used on both ends of the scooter and provide adequate stopping power. Although ABS isn’t available it requires a big, abrupt tug of the lever to get the wheel to lock-up.

The instrument display is ripe with information, including a needle face tachometer and fuel gauge, as well as a crisp digital readout that displays speed, trip and odometer functions. It’s also easy to decipher while riding. The Smax comes standard with LED parking and tail lights and a large halogen headlight. The rider seat is wide and well-supported. Other creature comforts include a large underseat storage ‘trunk’ that’s big enough to swallow a full-face helmet, and a handy storage compartment in the floor board panel for stuff you need easy access to. There’s also a flip-down helmet hook. Another nice touch are the passenger footpegs that fold neatly into the bodywork of the machine.

(Top) For the money you’d be hard pressed to find a more versatile means of around town transportation than the Yamaha Smax scooter. (Center) The Smax’s underseat ‘trunk’ is capable of swallowing up to 8.5-gallons of gear. It also is large enough to fit a full-face helmet. (Bottom) The Smax’s got just enough sport appeal to be fun, yet will still be friendly enough for a less-experienced person to ride.

In motion the 328 pound is nearly effortless to command. It’s so easy to ride that it takes the worry off riding and allows you to better focus on your surroundings and take in all of the sights and sounds. True, the ride can get a bit jolty over potholes and manhole covers, but for its size and intended use, the Smax delivers adequate ride quality. Equipped with both a motorcycle-style kickstand as well as a more conventional center stand, the compact Smax is as easy to park as it is to ride.

The only real knock against it is the limited amount of leg room for taller riders. It would also be helpful if you could raise the height of the windscreen. Besides those gripes the Smax is a fantastic means of transportation for zipping around town.

Bell Helmets Custom 500 Helmet

The classic good looks of Bell Helmet’s original open face lid lives on with its recently redesigned Custom 500 helmet. DOT-approved and available in six sizes (XS-XXL), each variation, with the exception of the XS/S comes with a uniquely shaped fiberglass outer shell and internal EPS liner. It comes with a quilted and fixed internal liner and is attached to rider’s head via a conventional fabric strap and D-ring enclosure. The Custom fits with sizing comparable to its Moto-9 off road helmet and available in seven colorways.

2015 Yamaha Smax Specs

  • Engine: 155cc liquid-cooled four-stroke Single, SOHC, 4-valve
  • Bore x Stroke: 58.0 x 58.7mm
  • Compression Ratio: 11.0:1
  • Fuel Delivery: Fuel-injection
  • Clutch: Automatic CVT
  • Transmission: Automatic CVT
  • Final Drive: Belt
  • Frame: Steel
  • Front Suspension: Telescopic fork; 3.1 in. travel
  • Rear Suspension: Horizontal shock absorber; 3.6 in. travel
  • Front Brake: 267mm disc with twin-piston caliper
  • Rear Brake: 245mm disc with twin-piston caliper
  • Curb Weight: 308 lbs.
  • Wheelbase: 55.3 in.
  • Rake: 26.0 deg. Trail: 3.22 in.
  • Seat Height: 31.3 in.
  • Fuel Capacity: 2.0 gal.
  • MSRP: $3690

(motorcycle-usa.com)

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