About this blog
I felt a little cooped up and overwhelmed with all the WFH and the safe distancing, and felt it was time I had a vehicle for purpose of stress relief and also making distant but local friends more accessible. For the past 10 years I've been dozing off in bus or MRT being pushed and squeezed (yes even during the pandemic, before mandatory WFH started), it was time to have my own two wheels!
I chose the Yamaha NMax due to competitive zero-downpayment advertisements on Facebook, and proceeded to do some research online. Unsuprisingly 10 years' time difference has made the features of this modern scooter seem like the specifications of a Star Trek ship - I had not driven an auto-scooter before, my last 2 bikes were non fuel injected, and Yamaha developed Bluetooth connectivity to the bike.
Doing Product Research
Although "slow" commuting and cruising would be the bike's purpose, I was impressed at the large number of YouTube videos from Malaysia, Philippines and Europe praising the performance and handling of the machine. So it should keep up fine with Singapore traffic! Based on this I chose the NMax due to affordability, handling (including ABS braking), performance and technology along with the Yamaha brand name for reliability. I had rode Yamaha bikes before (Y125Z and FZ150), both had good performance for 2B class and great ergonomics - I could operate the FZ intuitively without even looking down at the handlebars during a test ride!
Easy and Friendly Purchase Online
Most of the discussions about my new bike occurred online with the friendly staff of Speedzone Motoring over Facebook and WhatsApp. To my surprise, within a few days all the finance, registration, insurance was ready. I placed my order and deposit on a Friday, Monday the bike was ready for collection! I chose a black bike just because the bulky front fairing reminded me of the Judge Dredd motorcycle, plus it was a Black Friday pun! So I delayed the collection a bit to today, 26th November and took the machine out on the road after just a short time in the shop doing registration, customization of the top case and rack, a technical briefing, then within half an hour as though it was a Malaysian racing movie, it was time to hit the road!
First Impressions OTR
I have not been on the saddle for 10 years (4 if you count being pillion on the busy streets of Jaipur, India) so I did a lot of low speed maneuvers around the Kaki Bukit industrial lot before taking the machine out on the road. Within about 15 minutes most of my muscle memory had returned, although I kept unconsciously wanting to pull the left handle for clutch-in coasting, and kicking the left footboard to change the gears! Despite that the NMax was unfazed and was extremely safe to handle, and we became "best friends" quickly as though 10 years never passed.
I took the bike for an extensive low-speed break-in run with regular hydration breaks (very hot sun, I was sunburnt on both hands on returning home) covering the following locations.
My Slow Cruising Route (Eastern SG Version)
(11.30am) Kaki Bukit Industrial Zone ->
Changi Business Park (Food and Coffee Break 1hr) ->
Loyang Industrial Park ->
Punggol (Drinks, Technical and Social Media Break 2hr) ->
Seletar Link Roads ->
Yishun Dam ->
Sembawang Rd ->
Mandai Rd (15 min break at the old petrol station at corner of Mandai & Woodlands Rd) ->
Bukit Panjang ->
Bukit Gombak (Home, 7.00pm)
Total distance covered = 60km
Riding Impressions - Performance, Comfort & Technical Review
During the ride the bike's speed varied from 50 to 70kph following normal traffic speed and other drivers and riders were friendly, with one elderly couple in a Hyundai SUV forming up behind with hazard lights on to follow me on the left lane coming out of Yishun Dam, and a nice rider with a street bike or scrambler forming up alongside from Bukit Panjang.
Although I did not push the limits of the engine I continually varied speed and RPMs when the road was empty, following some old break-in advice from long ago. I was very surprised the CVT can do 'engine braking' type behavior and acceleration / torque was excellent once I got used to not having the engine rev up while acceleration, as per normal CVT behavior it will hold RPM at peak performance while varying the transmission ratio. It sounds a bit like managing a small propeller airplane engine where propeller pitch and fuel mixture is varied for peak output while RPM remained constant, but of course the Yamaha ECU does all this automatically and more.
By around 30km of the ride, the bike seemed to 'wake up' and ample acceleration to keep up with traffic was available thanks to the VVA (Variable Valve Actuation) system. There were many photogenic locations from Loyang to Seletar area but I did not stop often to avoid holding up traffic or riding up on the pavement, except for Seletar Link where the road was wide open and no double-yellow lines.
The bike's seat was comfortable, no complaints from my posterior although by mid-day both legs seemed to have a good workout from following start-stop traffic; I did not lane-split and drivers kept a safe distance or safely moved to the passing lane if they wanted to overtake, I really appreciated their patience and also the Hyundai who escorted me through Yishun
I will certainly look forward to learning how to take care of and customize the bike, with the friendly staff of Speedzone offering to help in the installations when it's time to service the machine. On my shopping list are a medium-height windshield, leg guards or crash bar, and as many reflective stickers as needed to make the black machine look more visible in the dark - I'm thinking of creating the TRON LightCycle type of luminous outline with reflective tape over the bike's beautiful and surprisingly imposing design (for a 2B "Maxi" scooter).
Thanks for reading my Yamaha NMax review and ride safe!