Obviously when it comes to scooters you can opt for a small one, but in Europe they have always been into their maxi-scooters and for commuters they are the best option as they come with a stack more features. The X-MAX 300 (which requires an A2-licence) features traction control and ABS as standard, which is reassuring for newer riders, and the underseat storage area is a simply enormous 45 litres, meaning it can easily take two full face lids and your sarnies. Add to this keyless ignition, two glove boxes (one is lockable and has a 12v power supply to charge your phone) plus economy figures of around 80mpg, and it all makes sense. Yes, Yamaha's premium £4,949 asking price is more than a cheap Chinese scooter, but split down to £65 a month on PCP makes it very tempting; Yamahas tend to have strong residual values as well. But does a larger bike work on crowded city streets?
Yamaha chose to launch the X-MAX 300 in Florence, a city where taking to the roads on a scooter is essentially like the first corner of a Moto3 race everywhere. If you aren't brave, you won't get anywhere, and you really need to get your elbows out to fend off the locals. Surprisingly despite its large size, the X-MAX 300 kept up with the race very well. It may appear big, but the X-MAX is a light and agile commuter. Carrying its 179kg weight very low helps it flick effortlessly from side to side and it's narrow enough to zip through gaps while the motor has enough pull to get you safely away from the traffic lights. The safety net of ABS is always welcome, meaning you can really hammer the slightly dead feeling brakes, and although traction control on a 28hp twist-and-go is a bit overkill, over wet cobbles it did start to make itself known in a good way. The practicalities of the X-MAX (I would have to shy away from using an embarrassing scooter-apron like they do in Italy) mean I would happily commute through town on it over a train every day of the week. But the benefits of a maxi-scooter compared to a 125cc one is that once the working week is over, you have a whole new world to explore...
Thanks to their size, maxi-scooters are far more than city hoppers and the X-MAX 300 can happily cope with life in a commuter belt. The large seat is really comfortable for both a pillion and the rider, and the screen does a fairly decent job of sheltering you from the worst of the windblast. Get the little single up to speed and it will cruise at 70mph with no effort at all and although the suspension is more than a little basic and a touch choppy, it's OK for everything aside from the bumpiest of roads. If you want to nip to a pub for a meal, or do a bit of shopping, the X-MAX's huge underseat storage means you can store your kit safely within while you wander around, which is really handy. As a non-scooter owner I'm always a bit jealous of this ability as I juggle my lid and overheat in a biker jacket around the shops...
If you have a bike licence and don't want to use your machine for commuting, I really do urge you to try out a maxi-scooter; they are fantastic commuters and really practical. Yes, scooters have a bit of a stigma about them to bikers, but get over this and you will find out just how good they are. If you haven't got a licence, just do the maths. How much does your commute cost you a year? Getting an A2-licence will set you back around £500 and then it's £65 a month and next to nothing in fuel. It may rain occasionally, but good kit will keep you dry (buy an apron if you must), and ABS and traction control make the X-MAX 300 a safe bike for newer riders. But the main benefits are the ones you can't put a value on - no stress, no delays, no smelly armpits in your face and not relying on British Rail!
2017 YAMAHA X-MAX 300
Engine: 292cc SOHC single, liquid-cooled, 4v
Power (hp): 28@7,250rpm
Torque (lb ft): 21@5,750rpm
Top speed: 100mph (est.)
Weight: 179kg (wet)
MPG: 80 (est.)