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While other manufacturers are busy sticking motorcycle engines in maxi-scooters and maxi-scooter engines in motorcycles to create odd new breeds of hybrid, Yamaha is continuing its domination of that world with continual refinements to the basic concept. This new 2012 Yamaha TMAX looks to be essentially the perfect take on the large scooter concept, combining immense practicality, total comfort and frugality with minimal weight, sharp styling, practical features and yes, a lesson or two learned from real bikes.

Real bikes, you say? Well, this Yamaha doesn’t try and transplant a massive v-twin or 17-inch tires into a scooter platform, instead its approach is more subtle. See the adjusters in the swingarm? Those do away with the need for a belt tensioner while still allowing you to keep the belt tight with virtually no slack. That lack of slack will translate to excellent throttle response from closed; there won’t be that snap as slack is taken up when you roll on the throttle mid-corner. This should also be a lighter, cheaper solution, so win all around.

The TMAX’s original innovation was taking its 530cc parallel-twin off the swingarm and mounting it to the middle of the chassis. Another lesson learned from motorcycles. This allowed it to push ride and handling at a time when large-capacity scoots were in their infancy. As such, it now dominated the market for such contraptions in Europe, where people don’t just ride as a way to sunburn the portion of their legs not covered by shorts.

Styling updates for 2012 really help boost the scooter’s sex appeal. These include immensely practical upgrades like the dual projector beam headlamps (something even crazy expensive faux ADV bikes cheap out on), some of the meanest looking clocks we’ve ever seen on a production bike and a swingarm and can that would look right at home on an R1.

There’s also been a boost in low and mid-range torque, which now peaks at 39lb/ft. Power remains 46bhp. All that has to motivate is a 217kg/478lbs (wet). ABS will be made optional in select markets.

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