2020 Yamaha NMax review - "The little scooter that could"

By sep, 19 April 2021

In most cases, driving is a blissful experience that's hard to compare to any other feeling. There are a few exceptions where this is not the case, like getting stuck in traffic jams. When you work in congested cities like Kuala Lumpur, and you work the normal hours between 9 to 5, wasting time in congestions can be stressful, and we all know stress kills. There is, however, a solution. A solution that is kind of high risk, but potentially offers high rewards.

SCOOTERS! That's right, folks. More and more people are turning to these automatic mopeds as their go-to mode of transport that not only saves time by zipping through all the traffic jams, but also saves you a good amount of money you would normally spend on fuel and tolls. One of the best options to kick things off has to be the 2020/2021 Yamaha NMax launched back in December last year.

To be fair, there are a lot of 150cc scooter options here in Malaysia, and the list grows larger as you move up in capacity. But, there're a few advantages when it comes to the Yamaha NMax. First and foremost, the price tag. At only RM8,998 (excluding insurance, road tax, and registration).

That figure will get you just enough features to travel comfortably in and out of the hustling cities like KL. Powered by a 155cc single-cylinder SOHC liquid-cooled engine, the NMax is able to churn out around 15hp and 14Nm of torque. This roughly translates to a comfortable highway cruising speed experience, and just enough juice to hit 120km/h if you need to overtake any vehicles.

In terms of fuel consumption, its 7.1-litre fuel tank allowed me to travel around 200km before the low fuel light starts to flash. On its LCD meter, the NMax indicated that I was roughly travelling at the rate of 36km/litre of fuel, which we all know is a heck of a bargain when it comes to your daily travels. That's basically less than RM3 a day to travel to KL if you're living in areas like Shah Alam or Bangi.

Handling is probably one of the best things about this tiny Japanese scooter. It's cheap, but riding it around corners actually feels solid and that feeling is further amplified thanks to its dual disc brakes setup. Not ABS here, but the feedback from the brakes and chassis increases riding confidence the more you ride it around. The only thing that bugs us ever so slightly is its tough suspension, which is great for carving corners on smooth surfaces, but a bit bouncy on those speed bumps.

Acceleration feels great and not too overwhelming even for new riders, but the best thing about the NMax is how 'considerate' it is in certain situations. For example, some folks need to leave the house way before everyone else is awake, which means that the bike needs to be quiet at start-ups (folks with aftermarket cans may have experienced pushing their bikes slightly further from the house before starting up).

With the Yamaha NMax, the engine comes with a Starter Generator Control Unit and Smart Motor Generator System for very quiet engine starts that won't startle your loved ones at home. For even more savings, it's also equipped with a Stop & Start system, not something you would normally see on motorcycles.

2021 yamaha nmax
2021 yamaha nmax

In terms of looks, the NMax might divide the crowd, but this new exterior design definitely grew on us the longer we look at it. In a way, the new NMax kind of reminds us of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and in a very good way too. Its front LED headlight setup consists of six LED bulbs which are assisted with LED positioning lights for greater visibility, especially when you're riding at night. Its rear light is also LED, which helps other road users to see you better.

There's also a 12-volt socket for you to charge something while on the go, but the storage space is not covered. Just don't forget to take the thing you're charging with you once you're done riding. Storage-wise is also quite good thanks to its 23-litre underseat storage space and a couple of slots under the handlebar. This can be further enhanced if you install any top boxes from GIVI. The one that I have can store an entire laptop bag with ease.

At the end of the day, riding has its risks and rewards, just like driving (and basically every other thing in life). But if you hate traffic jams, despise paying tolls, and willing to brave the weather for the glory of never wasting time looking at endless brake lights, starting off with a scooter like the Yamaha NMax might just solve all those problems in one go. Try it, you might surprise yourselves.