Designed to offer sporty looks and performance (for a 125cc scooter) matched with comfort and great fuel economy, the all-around nature of the Yamaha NMAX has resulted in its huge popularity over recent years. Freshly updated to meet Euro5 standards, does the 2021 NMAX still cut it as a great 125cc scooter option?

Straight off the bat, and just looking at the NMAX, it is a great-looking machine. With its sporty and aggressive looks, it looks nice and sharp. The NMAX is definitely a scooter you’d be proud to ride around and park up.

Colourway options are great too with satin-like finishes, ours was the awesome ‘Phantom Blue’ which is one of my favourite scooter colourways (and it helped that it photographed rather nicely too!), with ‘Anodized Red’ and ‘Power Grey’ also being available.

With the twin LED headlights and integrated indicators the front looks very modern and stylish. Behind the leg shield is the tunnel which includes the fuel tank that leads onto the large seat. And dark 13” alloys front and back finish off the look nicely.

Overall, the NMAX ticks some all-important boxes for me!

Newly updated to meet Euro5 standards, the liquid-cooled Blue Core 125cc engine from Yamaha is arguably the key component in the 2021 model.

Producing 12.2 hp and 11.2 Nm of torque, the NMAX isn’t the most powerful on the 125cc scooter market, but it really isn’t too far behind the likes of the Piaggio Medley. One key thing about the engine is the fact it runs Variable Valve Actuation (VVA) which helps it greatly in acceleration when it hits 6000rpm and gives it a really nice increase in speed up to 60mph.

Yamaha hasn’t just designed it to be sporty though. With that Blue Core engine, Yamaha wanted to keep this economical too, and you should (according to Yamaha) achieve over 185miles on an entire 7.1litre fuel tank, so a return of around 120mpg. Like anything though, the fuel economy you achieve will obviously be dictated by the way you ride the NMAX.

The NMAX also has start-stop technology (which is becoming more common in premium 125cc scooters). So pull up in traffic and expect the engine to gently turn off, then thanks to that smart motor, pull back on the throttle and feel it gently spring back into life. But, if start-stop isn’t for you, then handily there is an option for this on the switchgear to turn it off.

With a large LCD display, the NMAX again has some great premium spec.

Nice and clear, the screen display has all the important figures. Large and bold in the middle is the speed in mph, with clock, fuel gauge, odometer and trip all being visible, with a menu button on the left side of the switchgear towards the back to explore screen options.

Thanks to Yamaha’s CCU tech, the LCD display is in fact workable with their MyRide app which is available on IOS and Android. Functionality is basic however, only displaying notifications on screen when you have received a message or call.

The switchgear itself all feels good quality plastics and is nicely positioned. Everything was easy to use so no problems there!

In the back of the leg shield are two little storage compartments. To the left is an open cubbyhole, which at the back is a cigarette port, so you can put your adaptor of choice in to charge your mobile. The storage compartment to the right has a door that can be closed but not locked and inside is just enough space for a few small items only.

Under the seat is also just enough storage space for one helmet, I was able to get my full-face HJC i70 to fit if positioned upside down (though do check yours for compatibility). Thanks to the revised frame, the NMAX can also take some pretty large top boxes for delivery use.

With a 230mm disc at the front and another 230mm disc at the rear, accompanied with dual-channel ABS it is fair to say the NMAX has more than enough stopping power. Both brakes react well and in the way you’d expect. With the added bonus of dual-channel ABS, it gives plenty of reassurance when riding in tricky conditions.

It is also worth mentioning that, as standard, the NMAX has traction control too. So, when it comes to braking and keeping good grip this 125cc scooter has you well covered.

With Telescopic forks at the front and twin shock absorbers to the rear, the suspension on the NMAX isn’t anything ground-breaking, but with how it has been set up, it allows for a very comfortable and pleasant ride, though still offering a nice sporty feeling on the twisties.

As a mid-range 125cc scooter, the NMAX is priced smack bang in the middle of the market coming in at £3,400.

As soon as I set off, I was instantly smiling. The combination of its relatively lightweight nature (for its size) and ease of manoeuvrability, mixed in with that spritely 125cc liquid motor (with its VVA set up), gives a great sporty ride and feel. All this whilst also enjoying the near maxi-scooter-like comfort from its riding position and seat. It is fair to say I was pretty impressed early on with the NMAX’s versatility.

The engine is relatively quiet though don’t let that fool you, it builds up speed really nicely and performs strongly to 60mph. For a 125cc scooter, the acceleration is great fun and will surprise plenty of people! Couple this with other great assets such as its suspension and braking and it gives a really good riding experience. The suspension and those 13” wheels cope with everyday roads splendidly, yes they won’t soak large potholes up, but they do everything required very well.

I was concerned if the wheels might feel a bit too small and lose a sense of stability at higher speeds, but I have to admit these really were not an issue and helped give the NMAX a feeling of being on a bigger scooter.

The brakes were spot on and performed just as you’d want them to, with the safety of dual-channel ABS to give you plenty of reassurance for when things get tricky.

The 765mm seat is not too high, though it is quite wide, so shorter people beware, though being a short chap myself I was able to get both feet down OK. It is one comfortable seat though, and the riding position is again very maxi-scooter-like, so it will be a pleasant and relaxed journey wherever you have to go to. 

The large LCD dash is clear and easy to read whilst on the road and easy to rattle through the options with the menu button to the left of the switchgear. The smart key and its ignition is very easy to navigate too and worked without fault or confusion over the two weeks I had the NMAX to test – so nothing to fear here.

The NMAX is designed for the urban jungle and to be an absolute commuting weapon, but thanks to that liquid-cooled motor you’ll feel pretty confident on 50mph, and I dare say some 60mph roads too. It is really only past 60mph and dual carriageways that it struggles. With plenty of distance or a favourable downward slope the NMAX will reach 65mph, maybe a tad more, but that really is giving it all it has, so for me, an everyday top speed will be 60mph without revving the nuts off the thing.

There is simply no denying the NMAX is popular for good reason. It is a well-placed model from a reliable manufacturer that’s packed with spec to make it a great all-around commuter scooter, that looks attractive whilst also providing pretty decent fuel economy.

I’m struggling to name any bad bits, and I really have to nit-pick to find some. The under-seat storage is just enough for one full-face helmet, it would be great to have a little more space there. The engine is great fun, but could it be closer to that 14.7hp limit to get that little extra poke… I think that would have been cool to see. Otherwise, maybe the app functionality could be more in-depth for those tech enthusiasts out there, but as I say this really is nit-picking!

When riding the Yamaha NMAX it is pretty easy to tell why it has become such a popular model that sells in massive numbers.  The 2021 model continues to be a versatile option, packed full of decent spec and available at a very competitive price, at this rate, the NMAX is going to remain popular for a good few years yet…

Model Yamaha NMAX 125cc (2021 - Euro 5)
Fuel tank 7.1L
Max speed 60 mph
Engine 125cc, liquid-cooled, 4-valve, 4-stroke (12.2 hp and 11.2 Nm)
Brakes Front and rear hydraulic single disc brake
Suspension Front: telescopic forks. Rear: unit swing
Seat height 765mm
Price £12,000

Before you go, why not watch the full review on YouTube!

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