What a bike…..

I know and love the Yamaha TMax, I owned one briefly a few years ago and really enjoyed the experience. When I found an almost-new one for sale with very low mileage in the UK I could not resist her so then I needed to bring her down to Roma. I flew over with Ryan Air and the excellent crew at Alf England serviced the bike and fitted a charger lead for me. I then set off from Coventry down to Cambridge where my sister lives, only about 140km south.

This so called scooter is really a motor bike and indeed if you remove the plastic a full motor bike frame and engine is revealed, which explains why it goes and handles like a “proper” bike. The engine is really strong and pulls like a train, just the continuous transmission reveals the scooter conversion.

The ride to Cambridge was slow and uneventful due to the usual heavy traffic and constant road works, I noted that the screen gives great wind protection even at motorway speeds and the bike always feels stable and pinned to the road. The long wheelbase means that the bike always goes straight and the brakes are fantastic, two large discs at the front and one at the rear.

The next day in the drizzle I set off to ride back down to Roma. I had not really planned my route cos I hate planning and I have already made the trip several times by bike, car and van so I knew more or less the way I wanted to go. So first stop in the constant rain was the Channel Tunnel terminal near to Folkestone where I was sent to the front of the queue for a 15 minute wait for the next train. The bike was fantastic over these 200km in the rain and only my helmet and my hands got wet, the bike’s bodywork kept me almost dry. I also discovered that bikes do not pay for the London Dartford Crossing, good news!

Fourty minutes later I rode off the train in downtown Calais and quickly hit the motorway, still raining but now less heavily, and headed for Reims. Reims is a lovely city and I know a good cheap Ibis hotel quite near to the motorway. I covered the 270km quickly as I was quite hungry and I filled the bike with fuel so that I could make a fast start the next morning. The TMax was averaging almost 60mpg and never missed a beat despite the rain. So I parked her in the hotel car park and went to eat.

The next morning I left after an early breakfast heading south, my aim was Lyon and then Chamonix and the Mont Blanc tunnel. The rain had finally stopped and the sky started to brighten and the temperature increased with every kilometer towards the south. I covered about 640km that day stopping only for coffee and fuel, the bike performed faultlessly and required fuel every couple of hours, so progress was quite fast. The ideal cruising speed was about 140kph (indicated) which is just below 6,000rpm on the TMax, as over 6,000rpm the engine changes sound and starts to drink much more fuel. At about 4pm I was fairly hungry and tired so as I approached Chamonix I spotted a lovely Mercure Hotel just next to the road and so I turned off the motorway, found the hotel, took a room and rested before dinner and then bed. Lovely place!

At 4.30 the next morning I checked out and left the hotel heading south again, firstly through the Mont Blanc tunnel and then onto the Italian motorways where I could use my Telepass, so I did not need to take tickets or pay the motorways tolls. I made good time and stopping only for fuel plus drinks and snacks I headed past Aosta and then picked up the west coast motorway towards Genova. Past Genova I headed south to Livorno and then turned east to Firenze, and then from Firenze it was only 300 kms to Roma. I got to Roma at about 1330 and the bike had covered 2,000 kms from Cambridge without missing a beat. Indeed I still felt good so after a 2 hour stop at home I headed south again and I got to Amalfi for dinner and a very well-earned rest. That was a 1,000 km day.

The Yamaha TMax 530 really suprised me, I never thought that a scooter could be such a great travelling companion for a longish trip. It proved totally comfortable and reliable, easy to ride and with excellent fuel range between fill ups. WHAT a bike!!

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