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Maxi-Scooters = Maxi-Blast!

Written by: Stephen Sacks, MBA, P. Eng.

- Stephen started motorcycling in 1968. When he's not riding he leads a Telecom Marketing Consulting firm. He lives in the country so he can enjoy motorcycling, bicycling, canoeing, kayaking, and powerboating.

There’s a lot going on when it comes to motorcycles in Canada.  There are touring, sport, off-road and a million other categories.  Motorcycles are all the rage, and with the latest addition of safety and convenience features like ABS, energy-absorption chassis, embedded rear-view helmet mirrors, Bluetooth stereo intercoms, and more, who wouldn’t want a motorcycle?


What? Sissy-bikes? I don’t think so. Think again…

Yamaha's TMAX

Today’s maxi-scooters, with anywhere from 300 to 850cc, will keep up to any touring bike or cruiser, with at least their level of comfort.  But, the scooter’s CVT transmission means the driver doesn’t need to shift, as motorcyclists do.  That may not seem like an issue (“hey, I’ve shifted for years and years and it’s second nature to me”), but in a drag race, the similar displacement scooter will beat the motorcycle every day of the week – with not a millisecond wasted on shifting!

Hmmmm… The maxi-scooter will also handle as well as any motorcycle, but you knew that.   They have low cg’s because their motors, fuel systems and drivetrains are low.  With 13” – 16” wheels, their center-of-roll is also low, so you’ll see some max-scooters keeping up with sport-bike handling. Take a look at this Honda Silverwing in a slalom:

(NOTE: Do yourself a favour and MUTE your sound before launching this video!)

What you didn’t know was the inherent storage space of all maxi-scooters - most of them will hide two helmets, an e-book, a laptop, a smartphone (and charge it, too), and 100 condoms. Sure, they can also have rearward ‘top boxes’ and many do, but many find they ruin the aesthetic look of the machines, and don’t use them.  But, should you want side bags, they’re plenty galore:

Suzuki Burgman with side-bags

What about their mileage?  Really, are you thinking of gas mileage when you ride, or choose your ride?  Probably not.  But, in any case, maxi-scooters will again get you at least as far on a litre of gas as any motorcycle.  So, there’s no problem there, either.

Maxi-scooters are even beginning to look like sport-bikes. I’m not referring to those vintage looking Vespas, no. Take a look at the new breed of scoots: Yamaha’s T-Max, Honda’s Forza, BMW’s C650, Kymco’s 300i, and you’ll see what I mean. You can do 1,000 kilometers on these ‘bikes’ without creasing your jeans!

So, what’s the downside of these great, misunderstood machines? Ah…here’s the rub:

1./ CANADIAN ‘MARKETERS’:  Maxi-scooters are in just about every country of the world, whether 1st or 2nd or 10th world countries. They’re efficient, fun, fast, sporty, and amazingly reliable and convenient.  In many countries, these machines are peoples’ only mode of transport. And ‘almost’ every country gets the latest and greatest models – except Canada. In every sense, we’re the equivalent of a European country, where you can buy the best of the best from Italy, Japan, Taiwan, or France.  Yet Italy’s Piaggio chooses to bring in very few of its latest gen max-scooters.  Instead of bringing in their world-beating X10-350, they brought in their BV-350.  Other than styling and name, it’s a great bike, but would you ride a bike called ‘the Beverley’?  I didn’t think so.  It comes down to being lumped in with the States, and they too, haven’t received the latest generations of these great machine from around the world. We do have the market - witness that Chrysler/FIAT’s 500 sales in Canada blew the doors off their U.S sales counterparts! So, it ends up being the marketing departments that just don’t see clearly. Yup, it’s as simple as that… marketers missing their mark and sand-bagging their sales targets.

Take a look below and tell me what you think:

2./ PREJUDICE:  Try out a maxi-scooter.  Wait – you want me to drive one? SURE. Give it a go and you’ll see what I mean. And no, you don’t need to be Italian to ride one. (“Two men ride into a car wash; which one is Italian?  The one on the scooter”).

When motorcycle journalists tried the previously-mentioned Piaggio BV-350, they commented that “roll-on and mid-range acceleration should be reviewd by the FDA as a drug…. 33 horses and torque to match under 400 pounds means giggling-fun acceleration”. Yup, it’ll keep up to a cruiser, maybe even a similar-cc sport-bike. Twist that throttle, and you’re gone!  No lag, no shifts, now waiting…. Just right-now, effortless acceleration! What a blast! Try this on a more powerful scooter, like the T-Max or the BMW, and the acceleration gets even better. This is max-adrenaline on a maxi-scoot!  I have a Can-Am Spyder and a max-scooter, and while the raw power of the Can-Am suggests it will out-accelerate the scoot, that’s never been the case.

Give it a head-to-head ride comparison: yup, take the challenge. When it comes to your next bike, before you plunk down the bills for that cruiser, take it out for a ride. Now, look at a T-Max or Majesty or BMW or others, and take one or more of them out for a ride. Which ride was more fun with the higher level of comfort and satisfaction? You may choose the motorcycle or the maxi-scooter, but at least now you’ll know when you see that scoot pass you on your next highway trip, why you made the decision you made.

So, if we can get these manufacturers (just about all of them) to get off their butts and actually check out Canadian pent-up demand, you can get the chance to actually try one of the latest gems out.  Will you be shocked!

So we’ve now come to a spot where you may be asking “How do I choose the best max-scoot for me?”

Read on…in our next session.
Keep those wheels on the road.

Preview and Slideshow: BMWC600 Sport and C650GT Maxi-Scooter

BMW Motorrad is pleased to introduce two premium vehicles in the maxi scooter segment. The BMW C600Sport and the BMW C650GT combine the outstanding riding characteristics of a motorcycle with the agility, weather protection and comfort of a scooter, creating a whole new dynamic riding experience.

The two BMW maxi scooters appeal to a wide target group: the C600Sport for riders with sporting preferences, and the C650GT for customers who place great emphasis on comfort and touring capability. Both BMW maxi scooters incorporate the unique, modern and dynamic design language of BMW Motorrad, setting a new benchmark in the scooter segment.

Powerful 2-cylinder inline engine with CVT.

The 2-cylinder water-cooled inline DOHC four-valve engine of the C600Sport and C650GT is an all-new development by BMW Motorrad with a displacement of 647 cc. Both models are equipped with electronic fuel injection and have a class-leading output of 60 hp at 7500 rpm, with maximum torque of 48.7 ft-lb at 6000 rpm.

With its cylinder bank inclined forward 70°, the compact engine contributes to a low center of gravity, while its 90° crank pin offset, 270° ignition spacing, and two balancer shafts minimize vibration. Lubrication is via a double oil pump dry sump and the stainless steel exhaust system incorporates a closed loop catalytic converter and oxygen sensor.

Power is transferred via a directly integrated CVT transmission with an automatic centrifugal clutch and a maintenance-free secondary chain drive running in an oil bath.

Responsive suspension and exceptional riding stability.

One objective in the development of the C600Sport and C650GT was to combine directional stability at highway speeds with agile handling in city traffic and vivid feedback to the rider – just like a motorcycle.

The design of the C600Sport and C650GT suspension features a torsionally rigid hybrid interconnection of a tubular steel bridge frame and a diecast aluminum unit at the swingarm bearing with the engine functioning as a load-bearing member.

At the front, an upside down fork presents a generous fixed fork diameter of 40 mm. The rear employs a reclining spring strut on the left side. Spring travels are an identical 115 mm.

Both the C600Sport and C650GT roll on a 3.5 x 15“ five spoke diecast light alloy wheel fitted with a 120/70-15 tire. The 4.5 x 15“ rear wheel is fitted with a 160/60-15 tire.

Powerful braking system with standard ABS.

The new C600Sport and C650GT are fitted with duel 270mm disc brakes with double-piston floating calipers at the front and a single 270mm disc with double-piston caliper at the rear. BMW Motorrad dual-channel ABS is standard equipment on both models.

A separate rear caliper parking brake is automatically engaged on deployment of the side stand, ensuring stability when stationary.

Multifunctional instrument cluster.

The instrument cluster of the C600Sport and C650GT presents a large, easily readable LCD display with integrated tachometer and analogue speedometer. In addition to the standard complement of fuel level guage, clock, and grip-heater level indicator, an on-board computer, standard on both models, also includes functions for monitoring exterior temperature, fuel consumption, oil level, average speed, date, and (optional) tire pressure control.

Unique Character for each model.

Distinguishing elements of the C600 Sport and C650GT are:


- The C600Sport employs a more dynamic seat position with flatter handlebars, sporty seat design for both one and two persons, and sporty footrests for the passenger; seat height 810 mm.
- The C650GT seat position emphasizes comfort with higher handlebars, more comfortable and larger seat with adjustable backrest for the rider, and foot boards for the passenger as well; seat height 780 mm.


- C600Sport - manually adjustable to three positions.
- C650GT – electrically adjustable over 10 cm for even greater comfort and protection from wind and weather.

Body and design

- C600Sport – sporty and spartan panels. The lean rear flanks with dynamic upswing and emphatic body edges emphasize lightness and dynamics.
- C650GT - generously sized panel parts for outstanding comfort and protection against wind and weather.

Headlights, turn indicators, rear light

- C600Sport - front turn indicators integrated in the panelling, twin circular headlights with two side lights on the left and right, LED rear light cluster with single turn indicators
- C650GT - front turn indicators integrated in the mirrors, twin circular headlights with side lights between them presenting a vertical light strip of three elements, LED rear light cluster with integrated turn indicators.

Stowage space

- C600Sport - with world premiere FlexCase/variable stowage space concept in the tail under the seat. Despite its sporty, spartan tail section, two helmets can be easily stowed in the parked vehicle.
- C650GT - large stowage space of about 60 litres in the rear, also accomodating two helmets.

The luggage compartments share LED lighting and can also be equipped with an auxilliary power socket (accessory).


- Cosmic blue metallic matt
- Titan silver metallic
- Sapphire black metallic

- Sapphire black metallic
- Platinum bronze metallic
- Vermilion red metallic

Factory Options: Both the C600Sport and C650GT will be available with the following factory options:

1. BMW Anti-theft Alarm
2.Highline Package, including:
 - Heated Grips
 - Heated Seat
 - Tire Pressure Monitor

Accessories: A full range of accessories will also be available from market launch, including:
- Large Volume waterproof Top Case (35L) in all body colours
- Central Tunnel Bag (12L)
- BMW Motorrad Navigator IV navigation system w/integrated mount
- BMW Motorrad Communication System
- USB charging unit
- Drop-protection pads
- Scooter lock
- Akrapovic Sports Silencer
- Chrome features (passenger footrests and footplate inserts
- Additional power socket for luggage compartment

Pricing for the new BMW Maxi-Scooters will be announced in spring of 2012. The C600Sport and C650GT will reach BMW Motorrad dealers in fall of 2012 as 2013 models.

Technical Specifications C600 Sport

Engine Type: 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, 8 valve, liquid cooled
Displacement: 647 cc
Output: 60hp at 7500 rpm
Transmission: CVT
Seat Height: 810 mm
Dry Weight: 237 kg (522 lbs)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 16 l
Consumption (l/100km at 120km/h): 4.8 l
Warranty Coverage: 36 months, unlimited kilometres
Roadside Assistance: 36 months

Technical Specifications C600 GT
Engine Type: 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, 8 valve, liquid cooled
Displacement: 647 cc
Output: 60hp at 7500 rpm
Transmission: CVT
Seat Height: 795 mm
Dry Weight: 249 kg (549 lbs)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 16 l
Consumption (l/100km at 120km/h): 4.8 l
Warranty Coverage: 36 months, unlimited kilometres
Roadside Assistance: 36 months

Quick Hit and Slideshow - 2009 Yamaha TMAX Scooter

Quick Hit & Slideshow - 2009 Yamaha TMAX Scooter
Written by: Dan M

I'm sure you've all heard the jokes about scooters and perhaps you've ignored them because of the stereotypes often associated with them. Whatever the negative stereotype is that's keeping you from hopping on a scooter; GET OVER IT. Not only are scooters much cheaper to operate than automobiles, they're extremely practical, and they're an absolute blast to ride!

The 2009 Yamaha TMAX is new to Canada but has been available in Europe since 2001 where scooter riders have been buying them up en masse. Revamped in 2008, the TMAX now has a sporty aluminum chassis and, dare I say it, sport bike like bodywork and upswept muffler. This size scoter falls into the maxi scooter category and unlike the little 49cc scooters or even some of their larger brethren you're not limited to city, or secondary roads. Maxi scooters have the stability and power to comfortably get you whereever you want to go and whatever road you want to get their on. 2-up cross Canada trip? - the TMAX will do it with ease!

The TMAX has a liquid cooled, DOHC 499cc parallel twin engine pumps out a claimed 43 horsepower and 34.2 ft-lb of torque @ 6,500 rpm. Not earth shattering by motorcycle standards, but more than capable of propelling you at and above the speed limit on any Canadian road or highway; even if you've got a friend along for the ride.

If safety and performance is a key consideration you'll be pleased to know that the TMAX has R6 sportsbike derived brakes, with twin, monoblock four-piston front calipers and single-piston rear caliper, and a trio of 267 mm discs. If you want to stop, you can do it in a hurry; a single finger is all it takes to bring the TMAX down from speed. It doesn't feature ABS.

A huge 43mm fork up front and a single shock swingarm in the rear ensure a sportbike like ride and that road imperfections are taken in stride. 15" cast aluminum wheels with 120/70R15 front, 160/60R15 rear tires further highlight the motorcycle like package offered by the TMAX. The larger rims help with stability at higher speeds too.

The 2-piece windshield provides excellent wind and weather protection. The upper portion of the windshield features a "hard coated" finish for scratch protection. Dual 60/55-watt halogen headlights provide a bright beam of light to guide your way through the night and give the TMAX a sporty, sleek, cat-eye image.

In terms of comfort there's lots of legroom and a spacious cockpit. A seat height of 800mm (31.5'') should suit a wide range of riders. The rider portion of the seat features a 3 position back support for even more comfort and allows the rider's position to be adjusted forward or backward to add or reduce leg room.

A few things you'll immediately notice when hopping aboard the TMAX is the step through design common to scooters. It feels a little unusual at first if you're coming from a motorcycle background but I found the adjustment quick - within mere minutes I was feeling comfortable and enjoying the sporty handling. Another feature that's not as common on motorcycles is the fully automatic, CVT (constantly variable transmission) V-belt transmission. There's no gear changes to worry or think about. You're always in the proper gear and the transmission ensures easy "twist-the-throttle-and-go operation". This is especially convenient if you're a commuter or riding within the city. Stop and go traffic, and low speed maneuvers are performed effortlessly.

What about economy? Well, the TMAX features a 15-litre fuel tank and as you might anticipate it gets great gas mileage; 56 mpg or 20kpl is claimed by Yamaha. That gives you a theoretical range of approximately 300 km on a single tank. Gas prices are all over the map at the moment but lets say you're getting $1 a litre gasoline to make the math easy. That's $15 bucks to travel 300 km! You should also factor in insurance costs and scooters are generally easily insurable and at affordable rates.

On the practicality side - one of the great features of the TMAX is its lockable underseat storage. It has a large, locking under seat storage compartment can easily hold a full-face helmet. A vanity light is provided in the rear section of the trunk which is a nice touch when unloading in low light.

A multi-function instrumentation panel gives the rider all sorts of useful information. It includes analog speedometer, temp and fuel gauges with illuminated needles. Tach, odometer, dual tripmeters, clock, fuel tripmeter are digital. There's even a V-belt wear indicator warning light and an oil change indicator light too.

If you're a motorcycle rider and want the storage you get straight out of the crate with the TMAX you'll at least have to invest in a top box which also changes the appearance of the motorcycle. It's integrated into the styling of the TMAX. That makes throwing your laptop, work files, groceries, rain gear, helmet; whatever so much easier on the TMAX. The sporty performance it offers is also within the realm of many motorcycles and handling capabilities that exceeds that of many motorcycles. Those traits should make the transition from motorcycle to scooter quite a bit easier for traditional motorcycle riders. If you're a newcomer to two-wheeled riding, well, you're in for a treat!

2009 Yamaha TMAX
MSRP of $10,499
Wet weight 222kg (488.4 lb)
Colors: Dark Metallic Blue,Reddish Yellow

An instant rebate of $500 is available until September 2009 - see Yamaha's website for details.

This Little Scoot’s Not Just For College Kids

Yamaha’s cool little BW scooter can be found in many city’s and towns across Canada being driven by drivers whose idea of a fancy dinner might be adding some hotdogs to their KD, yup that’s right, college kids!

The BW has been around for a number of years and has been a top seller. It’s a really popular model owing to its sporty looks, two big headlights, and big wheels which give it aggressive go anywhere styling. It looks a bit like a scooter/dirt bike hybrid which raises its cool factor. Scooters are no longer the sole domain of college kids. The rising costs of operating a car, even the most efficient compact, have risen to a level where scooters have come back into focus as a viable transportation option for many Canadians.

A growing number of people are falling in love with the 49cc air cooled reed-value 2-stroke engined BW. They have become very popular amongst scooter commuters. People with RV’s just love these things too! They’re the perfect way for zipping around town, not to mention the fact that they burn practically no fuel. Yamaha claims a figure of over 120 mpg. That’s 120 mpg + based on 40km/hr speed on level ground. Chances are you won’t be driving in these perfect conditions but you’re still going to get better fuel economy than just about everything else on the road. With a fuel capacity of 5.7 litres that’s a theoretical range in perfect conditions of about 250 km. So if you’re doing the math, even with Montreal’s high gas price right now of $1.20/litre that’s less than $7 for a fill up. Those kinds of numbers ought to make any stares and laughter you might be the brunt of when you pull up to work on one of these quite a bit easier to take. But hey, if they knew how fun these were to drive they’d have one too!

Sales of scooters have risen dramatically in the last few years, a 400% increase since 1999 in fact. They’re particularly popular in the province of Quebec. As many as six out of 10 scooters sold in Canada are sold in Quebec. This is partly because driving laws there allow 14-year olds to drive under 50cc sized scooters.

Limited (and expensive!) parking and downtown congestion also add heavily to the appeal of the BW. The under 50cc requirement allowing 14 year old riders to drive scooters is a big reason that the small displacement scooters are 49cc and not 50. Laws covering the age requirement do vary across the country so better check your local area before laying down your cash. Alberta and New Brunswick feature similar age requirements when it comes to scooters. Yamaha Canada love scooters, that’s for sure – they’ve seen sales growth of a whopping 25% between 2005 and 2006. During this same period their motorcycle line sales grew at less than one percent.

This kind of growth hasn’t gone unnoticed and there’s now a bevy of companies manufacturing scooters for the Canadian market. The familiar names are there, Yamaha, Honda, Vespa, and Piaggio but punch in “scooter sales in Canada” in any search engine and you’ll find a quite a few other Asian manufacturers with models available in Canada. Many of these are offered at very competitive prices too.

The BW has a fully automatic transmission and push button start and even has a back up kick start so you won't get stranded if your battery runs low. The 2-stroke engine ensures peppy performance that’s delivered a little quicker than the 4-stroke Yamaha C-Cubed. The C-Cubed is another 49cc scooter in the Yamaha stable. The C-Cubed is a bit quieter and has a lower and larger seat so if you’re looking for something a little less “hooligan” the C Cubed is certainly worth a look.

The BW has also been equipped with a new catalyzer in the exhaust which helps reduce emissions. You don't have to worry about mixing the oil and gas like your old lawnmower either; the Yamaha is equipped with an autolube oil injection system that mixes the precise amounts of oil and gas you need automatically. You just add the gas and you’re ready to go! Need to pick up some groceries on your way home? There’s a storage compartment under the seat that you can use to stow small packages. If you’re not using it for storage it’s a great spot to lock away your helmet. There’s also a rear carrier if you need to haul something a little larger around too.

Front 180mm disc brakes and a drum brake in the rear provide plenty of stopping power. You get a telescopic fork in the front and single shock unit swingarm in the rear. Tires are 120/90-10’s in the front and an even fatter 130/90-10 in the rear. BW means “Big Wheel” and these ones are nice and wide for a scooter so they’re great for soaking up bumps and crossing streetcar tracks. You’ll need those big wheels to put all 5.1 ft-lbs of torque at 6,000 RPM to the ground! Okay – maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but this thing is so small and light (207 lbs wet) that’s plenty for getting around town. Reviews say that they’ll do just about 70km/hr. You won’t want to hit the highway on this one.

There’s room for a passenger on back too but you might want to avoid hills and quick moving traffic if you do though. Big hills will slow down the scooter a bit with one rider so adding a friend might make you a bit slower than fast moving traffic or on some hills. Colors available for 2008 are Yamaha Blue, Metallic Black, Vivid Yellow.

Need financing for your new beast? Yamaha recommends applying for their Credit Card Program for Yamaha products that cost less than $3,000. According to Yamaha you can have your approval within minutes of applying. The BW comes in at an MSRP of $2,899 so provided you’ve got a few hundred bucks kicking around you should be able to take one of these home without too much fuss.

If you think 49cc won’t suit your needs – maybe you need something to keep up with traffic on secondary roads or maybe you need something that will keep up with traffic on the highway. Fear not, there are plenty of options. Scooters are available in many different sizes and you can get everything from 49cc on up to 650cc models. Not sure if riding on two wheels is for you? Piaggio even offers a three wheeled scooter called the MP3. You won't even have to put your feet down at stop signs with this thing.

Some of the competing machines from major brands include:

Yamaha XF50 “C Cubed”. MSRP $2,599. 49cc liquid-cooled, 4-stroke single
Honda NPS50 “Ruckus”. MSRP $2,849. 49cc liquid-cooled , 4 stroke single
Hyosung Prima/Rally. MSRP $2,295. 49cc Air-cooled, two-stroke, single-cylinder