Long Term Moto Review: 2023 Yamaha XMAX


No matter where you go in Europe, or in Asia, there is a Yamaha XMAX in every corner for a good reason. They are cheap, reliable, and accessible and it is the right transportation tool for the masses. What we are missing here in North America is that we see motorcycles as a status symbol more than a vehicle to go from A to B – and that has been changing as the number of motorcycles has been steadily increasing, and increasing living costs. Maxi-scooters have been slowly getting popular in North America as well.

The updated 2023 Yamaha XMAX is here in Canada and we have tested it for 4 months to see how it performs in all types of circumstances. It may not be the right choice to bring it to a bike meeting, but it is the best 2-wheeled tool for running errands for urban riding, especially in big cities. The XMAX has the second largest engine size globally that you can get, so it was the right choice to offer great fuel economy, lower MSRP and reach higher top speed for highway driving.

The Looks & Details

Over the last few years, XMAX has undergone minor design changes but it still keeps its original design details. It still features an “X” shaped aggressive-looking front fascia, but LED daytime running lights were added for extra safety and more modern looks. It also looks similar to other Yamaha models, but the great part is that all lighting is LED. New to 2023, Yamaha updated the front fascia and changed the front indicators’ location, now they are located much higher so it is more visible, especially for vehicles in front of you.

There aren’t many things to brag about the looks, especially from the side profile, but the XMAX looks much more modern than other maxi-scooters on the market. It has a large one-piece seat that offers tons of space for the rider and the passenger. Even though it is not a huge maxi-scooter, it does not feel cramped even for taller adults. The large floorboard makes it more comfortable for longer trips.

The XMAX comes with decent wind and weather protection in general, mainly due to the large windscreen and front fairing. I just wish it was adjustable for taller riders. Either way, you get huge aftermarket support and can always install taller ones for longer trips. You also get two storage compartments under the handlebar, which allows you to put your personal belongings. The left cubby can be locked just like the under-seat storage compartment, and it also comes with a 12V power socket to charge your electronic device. The most impressive part is that all plastic trims and pieces feel solid, nothing feels flimsy or cheap.

In typical maxi-scooter fashion, the main storage compartment is located under the seat which can be locked and it offers room for two full-face helmets. Though the second full-face helmet has to be small in size in order to fit, it is still better than nothing and that’s where you feel the biggest difference compared to a traditional motorcycle. You can still customize the XMAX and add extra storage options like the top case if you need maximum storage space.

There are important tech updates for 2023, including the new 4.2-inch colour TFT infotainment screen which shows a lot of useful information in a simplified way. There is also a smartphone integration that allows you to connect your phone through Bluetooth, and you can also use the navigation feature through the screen once you connect your phone. The bike also comes with a keyless start & stop feature, as well as important safety features such as traction control.

The biggest problem for many maxi-scooters is the overall layout. Typically, everything is right on top of the rear wheel which causes a lighter front end. Yamaha engineers solved the problem by moving the gas tank and the battery forward for better weight balance. The updated XMAX has significantly less wet weight at 180 kg. It is not lightweight by any means, but the center of gravity is pretty low and the bike can hide its weight really well.

The Specs & Experience

Yamaha offers four different engine options with the XMAX globally, but we only get the second largest engine option which is the 292cc single-cylinder engine. It is only called XMAX instead of XMAX 300, as we do not get multiple engine options. It generates around 28 horsepower and 21 lb-ft of torque, which should be plenty enough for most situations. As expected from a maxi scooter, it is connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission that sends power to the rear wheel smoothly and offers excellent fuel economy numbers. In our test, we were averaging around 3.5L / 100 km, which includes a mix of city and highway driving that could have been slightly better without highway rides.

Yes, you heard it right. It can handle highway speeds, that’s the main reason why we did not get the lower displacement entries here, as our highway average speeds are higher than Europe. You definitely feel a delay in the throttle response mainly due to the CVT, it picks up and starts moving after a few seconds. In our test, we have never felt unsafe, and in some cases, we have taken the left lane without any issues. Even at higher speeds, it offers great wind and weather protection, and it is exceptionally stable at highway speeds.

If you are looking for a maxi-scooter, chances are you are looking for a fun, zippy commuter to go from A to B on two wheels. Even though XMAX looks very modern and attractive by maxi scooter standards, it still looks like a maxi scooter, meaning that there is no sex appeal and it is a 100% rational choice. Due to the low center of gravity, the XMAX is very balanced and fun to ride at lower speeds. The bike wants to lean all day long, and changing directions has never been easier.

The biggest selling point for the XMAX is the everyday livability. The seat height is relatively low and you can easily swing a leg over. The storage options make your life much easier, as you don’t have to worry about carrying a backpack. The bike has plenty of power for urban riding, you would never need to reach the redline or go wide open throttle at lower speeds unless you want to do so. The only gripe that I had was the beeping ignition, it just beeps at every opportunity. I understand this is a nice safety feature, but it sounds more like a theft alarm, which can be embarrassing if there are lots of people around you.

For a bike that’s meant for city riding, you have to rely on brakes a lot. The XMAX has a decent braking performance if you utilize both brake levers properly. I found the front brakes a little underpowered, the initial bite would have been a little bit more responsive. On the other side, the rear brakes are really good and they give you the extra stopping power you would need. Long story short, always use both brakes for optimal results.

Due to the low center of gravity, the XMAX handles surprisingly well for what it is. You should not forget the fact that it is not a corner carver, and it comes with tiny wheels. If things go south, it is great to have a traction control standard which can be disabled on the fly. It is nimble, but also very balanced in the mid-corner. The suspension tune is on the firmer side for a sportier feeling, and that’s kind of a double-edged sword.

The suspension does not offer a lot of adjustment, the only option you get is the rear preload adjustment, which is important if you are riding 2-up constantly. However, I found the ride is a little crashy and can be uncomfortable if you can’t dodge a pothole. It is hard to blame Yamaha, as tiny wheels are not helping the suspension, which you don’t get a lot of suspension travel to begin with.

The Verdict

Running errands has never been this fun. The popularity of maxi-scooters has been increasing, but we still do not have many entries other than some EV alternatives. The XMAX is the ideal choice if you are looking for a traditional maxi-scooter experience with better tech and more modern features. It does not have more horsepower than the Suzuki Burgman 400, but it is more compact and nimble, which is a better fit for city riding.

After riding the XMAX for a little over 4 months, it was truly an eye-opening experience in a unique way. It proves that you don’t have to go fast to have fun, and it can genuinely replace your car if you are running errands around town, especially if you are carrying smaller items on a regular basis. It is much easier and more convenient to take the XMAX and ride around town compared to any other motorcycle, as you don’t have to deal with gear shifts and a clutch lever, which makes the XMAX appealing to the right audience that wants simplicity and utility on two wheels.

Engine292cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder
Max Power27.6 hp @ 7250 rpm
Max Torque21 lb-ft @ 5750 rpm
Front BrakesTwo-piston caliper & single 267mm disc
Rear BrakesSingle-piston caliper & single 267mm disc
Weight397 lbs – 180 kg
Fuel Capacity3.4 gal – 12.9 L
Seat Height31.3 in – 795 mm
Price (MSRP)$7,599 (CAD)

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