The Yamaha Nmax 150 - Urban 150cc Scooter with ABS and Variable Valves

The Yamaha Nmax 150 scooter is a urban commuter, with standard antilock brakes (ABS) and variable valve actuation.

The engine uses Yamaha’s ‘Blue Core’ approach – basically, a fancy way that Yamaha has chosen to say it is making compact engines that offer good fuel economy but are fun to ride too.

The 150cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke engine produces near 15 horsepower and just under 12Nm of torque. The Yamaha Nmax 150 is the first Yamaha scooter to feature a four-valve cylinder head with a newly developed variable valve actuation (VVA) for a strong, linear feeling when rolling back the throttle.

The VVA system works via a mechanism that shifts between two different intake cam lobes depending on engine speed. Valve timing normally uses just one lobe that is a compromise between low speed torque and high speed power, but this, says Yamaha, offers the best of both worlds.

With the Honda PCX150 clearly in its sights, the Yamaha Nmax 150 has made fuel economy a priority, with much attention paid to minimizing the frictional losses between the piston and cylinder wall. So the Yamaha Nmax features an offset cylinder and there’s a DiASil coating on the bore.

Yamaha quotes 2.18 liters fuel per 100 kilometers in WMTC mode – after a morning scootering around Bangkok we saw almost the same fuel consumption on the dashboard display, so if that’s accurate, it’s pretty close what Yamaha claims.

The new lightweight tubular frame is covered by an aerodynamic cowl with those distinctive ‘Boomerang’ side motifs inspired by the bigger Maxi-Scooter models in the Yamaha line-up. Again, like its bigger brother, the Yamaha NMAX features a central ‘tunnel’ containing the fuel tank and features linked type engine mounts using rubber bushes that absorb vibration for a comfortable ride.

Despite being a 150cc, Yamaha has been keep to offer ‘premium class comfort’ for riders of all shapes and sizes. The body design allows plenty of room to stretch out your legs and change from a sporty to relaxed riding style when required or desired and because of the side-mounted radiator there’s plenty of space on the footboards.

There’s plenty of room for a pillion too on the stepped dual seat with a grab bar and dedicated footpegs.

Twin rear shocks absorbers, equipped with dual rate springs (though no pre-load adjustment) look after the suspension on the rear, while 13-inch wheels are fitted front and rear. There’s a 6.6 liter fuel tank and the seat height is a comfortable 765mm.

Under the seat is a large helmet storage compartment which will swallow a large full-face helmet and a spring mechanism keeps the seat open so you don;t have to balance it on your head to keep it open.

Triple-lamp LED headlights adorn the front face, there’s an LED brake light and a full LCD dash with speed, time, odometer, fuel gauge and an fuel consumption read-out. And what looks like the engine temperature gauge is actually an economy meter, supposedly and aid to fuel saving riding.

Yamaha makes no bones about who the Nmax 150 is aimed at. It expects most sales from riders stepping up from smaller sized scooters, and the rest to be first-time buyers. Yamaha reckons the male/female split will be about 50/50 with a broad range of ages. Hence the emphasis on practical and safety features: the antilock brakes (ABS), a low seat and good storage capacity. Though being Yamaha, the company likes to emphasize that it’s a sporty 150cc scooter as well.

Bangkok, and especially Chinatown, is probably an ideal location to test ride the Yamaha Nmax 150 – it’s a maze of narrow streets, many of them cobbled, with manic traffic and trundling buses and taxi’s thrown in. Fortunately, the Yamaha Nmax is a typical twist and go scooter in that it’s supremely easy to just hop and and ride.

The low seat (765mm) allowed my legs, and that of my girl (165cm) to have both feet flat on the ground and the riding position is nicely upright. As Yamaha claims, it’s roomy position too, with plenty of space to stretch your legs out, maxi-scooter style – always nice to have that option, even on what is intended to be a purely city scooter.

So does the VVA (variable valve timing) actually work? The Yamaha Nmax 150 certainly has plenty of punch from low down – Yamaha claims that it accelerates faster than the arch-rival Honda PCX150, though without a side by side comparison that’s difficult to verify.

The good news is that there’s no power ‘step’ when the VVA moves to the high-speed cam at 6,000rpm – power just keeps on building. It’s plenty for city traffic up to 90kn/h. We didn’t get the chance to try top speed, and Yamaha claims a modest 100km/h – judging by the way it’s still accelerating at 90km/h, I’d say there’s more available than that.

With 13-inch wheels and a longish wheelbase, the Yamaha Nmax 150 feels stable as well as easy to nip in and out of gaps, which is just what you want for an urban scooter. The suspension crashed and banged a bit while we crossed a serious bad part of road… For normal roads, even with the average pothole it should cope with the road okay.

But the really big advantage over the opposition is that ABS. The 230mm discs are powerful enough anyway, and pulling on either lever hard hard that tell-tale pulsing as the electronics prevented wheel lock-up. The brakes aren’t linked, which some riders prefer, but the extra confidence endowed by ABS, especially on wet and greasy tarmac, will be a real benefit riding on wet roads, so full marks to Yamaha for making this part of the standard spec for Thailand.

Yamaha Nmax 150 or Honda PCX150, I have tested them both and currently will go for the Yamaha Nmax 150.

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