Not too many scooters come off as mean and menacing. This is especially true for the larger, maxi-scooter category. So what happens when venerable bike designer Roland Sands gets his hands on an unsuspecting Yamaha TMax? Something amazing.
What’s perhaps most surprising is how this whole project was actually sponsored by Yamaha. Most brands are scared to death to let people mess with their product. In the powersports industry, customization has such profound cultural impact, that brands simply must embrace it. And yet, I can’t help but wonder why these same companies don’t strive to actually make their bikes more interesting in the first place. Maybe it just takes vision:
“With this Hyper Modified project we wanted to take the TMAX back to the basics. I saw a picture of one naked and was blown away by what was underneath the fairing. I was surprised as structurally the TMAX looked really cool – different and a little bit weird, which appeals to me. I was intrigued and started thinking about the possibilities of taking this mechanical beauty and using it to create the look of the bike…” “I’ve ridden the TMAX around and people freak out when they see it. To be honest I didn’t expect to like it myself as much as I do, it’s so different and weird and it works great. It still rides in the same way as a TMAX but is even lighter and more agile and sounds like a dirt bike thanks to the race exhaust! It’s crazy.” “People think I’m into cruisers but I’m more driven by dirt bikes and racers, but there is no way I’m letting the Hyper Modified TMAX go. I’ve got a scooter in my garage now – I didn’t think that would happen! All I need to do now is to fit a surf rack on it and take it to the beach!”
Personally, I think that maxi-scooters as a category are some of the most uninteresting bikes one can buy. Sure, they’re capable, comfortable, and open up a larger world of destinations. Yet they’re in that no man’s land between small, nimble scooters and big motorcycles. Worse though, they usually all fall into that angular, ’90s, space ship aesthetic that for all their capability, robs them of much of much visual appeal. Yet this segment is seeing a lot of action right now. BMW is introducing as many as three future-looking machines. Aprilia is making a huge splash in this segment. It looks like Yamaha may want to focus the TMax’s appeal. What Roland Sands has done here would be, in my opinion, one hell of a step in the right direction.