BIKES: Yamaha X-Max & MT-09… A Classic Case Of Beauty & The Beast [+Videos]

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I want both. Oh man, how I would have loved to keep them permanently. Of course it really didn’t help that I tested both the Yamaha X-Max 250 Scooter (below) and MT-09 Streetfighter (above) back-to-back, and for the first time ever, here were 2 bikes – well one bike and one scooter, but for the purposes of this article I’ll be referring to both of them as ‘bikes’ – that I really, really despised. Despised the fact that I had to return them of course.

It’s no big secret that I’ve been a biker longer than I’ve been driving cars, having cut my teeth on 2-wheelers long before I was even allowed to ride them legally (sorry, I was a bit of a juvenile delinquent in my youth, but hey I turned out fine….ish. Sorta…), and over the years I’ve owned a slew of high-performance machines, only to unexpectedly and inexplicably turn to the ‘retro’ scene about the decade ago, as well as the scooter scene around the same time.

I reckon the bike that caused this ‘turning-point’ in my biking life was the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 a.k.a. ZZR1400 which I reviewed many moons ago when it first burst onto the scene. Capable of an amazing 200bhp going to the back wheel (not a typo) with its infamous ‘ram-air’ induction system, and a top speed in access of 300kmh, this six-eyed monster was to me the epitome of everything that had gone wrong with the world of biking…

Although I must admit I thought the ZX-14 was (and still is) an incredible feat of engineering and admired the hell out of it for its sheer audacity and in-your-face disregard for political-correctness in an age where we’ve never been more so, I also strongly felt that bike makers had lost the plot completely when it came to biking, by constantly producing bigger, faster and more powerful 2-wheelers. Where would it end?

This incredible leap in technology also sent the price of big bikes rocketing through the stratosphere locally, seeing as how our taxation system for bikes over a specific cubic-capacity was thought of and introduced when the main mode of personal transport was a bicycle called the ‘Seven-up’. Google it… okay, I’ll save you the trouble:

So yeah it was in and around that time when I decided nope, no more insanely high-powered bikes for me, and decided to go retro, starting with a BMW K1100RS, and followed-up with the likes of old skool Suzuki GS’s, GSX’s, etc. etc. etc. and as mentioned I got heavy into scooters. In successive order I’ve owned a V100, VS125 (2 actually), Elegan 150, and a currently a Sym200 VTS.

I’ve toned-down a lot when it comes to biking, preferring instead to just cruise at moderate speed rather than ‘balls-to-the-wall’ type riding, and in that respect, I’ve found that as far as daily-commuting and the occasional scootour long-distance ride is concerned, there aren’t many scooters I’m comfortable on apart from my Sym, and I’ve always bench-marked any scooter I review against my own.

Thus far I’ve been content with the fact that my Sym suits me the best insofar as the riding position, comfort and long-distance capability is concerned; that is until this goddam Yamaha X-Max came along… Here’s my post-ride video that sums up my thoughts nicely:

And then, having returned the X-Max, it just so happened that the new Yamaha MT-09 was available if I wanted it for a few days, and of course I could not say no, because the MT-09 – to me anyway – does not belong in the Yamaha line-up; as a matter a fact, a bike like this shouldn’t be in any bike-makers line-up and here’s why…

The MT-09 is a Streetfighter through and through, and although there isn’t a badge, emblem or sticker that reads ‘Streetfighter’ anywhere on the bike that I could see, it definitely is one simply by virtue of the way it looks, the way it’s built and the way you ride it. And the reason a Streetfighter doesn’t belong in any bike-maker’s official stable is because it was created by bikers, not bike-makers, and purely by accident too, literally.

Streetfighters came about when sportsbike owners had crashes and sent their fairings in to be repaired. Since the bikes could still be ridden sans fairing, many did so after slapping on a straight handle bar to replace the inevitably damaged clip-ons, and the trend caught on around 20-odd years ago, when some realised that a sportsbike looked kinda cool with its kit-off, and owners started to remove their expensive fairings from their bikes on purpose – possibly to save them big bucks if they had an ‘off’ – and ‘lo and behold Streetfighters were born.

The moment I swung my leg over the MT-09 and spirited myself away from Hong Leong Yamaha in Sg.Buloh, I could tell this was a Streetfighter right away. The riding-position is possibly the biggest giveaway, because in typical Streetfighter fashion, the rider sits quite upright and very ‘forward’ with his franks and beans right up against the tank. It’s also a very short bike from nose to tail, allowing for incredible maneuverability. Here’s my post ride, jittery, shaky, adrenaline enhanced video…

The nimbleness of the MT-09 is only overshadowed by the unbelievable amounts of torque from it 847cc, 3-cylinder engine. On paper the torque is only rated at 87.5Nm, with a healthy 115Ps @ 10,000 rpm, in a bike that weighs less than 200kgs. You know what that means don’t you? Should I elaborate? Very well then…

This bike is insane. It is so quick you’ll not believe how fast it reaches triple-digit speeds from a standstill, especially since it’s equipped with a ‘Quickshifter‘ you won’t need to use the clutch after 1st gear or shut the throttle to upshift. Hard acceleration sees the digital speedometer become absolutely worthless because this bike’s acceleration is so brutal, it just becomes a blur of flying digital bars that look like they’re on flakka.

It really did remind me of the bikes I used to lust after in my youth, and as the song goes, it made me feel eighteen again. If only for a while anyway. The thing to remember though, is that even with all my years of riding experience, this was still a very hard bike to tame. It’ll take a much younger hand with an equal (or more) amount of riding experience to fully explore the capabilities and limits of this bike, something I was not prepared to do myself unfortunately. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a lot of fun on this thing…

So back to taking things slow. In a nutshell, if an easy ride is what you’re after, a fuss-free daily commuter that can easily double-up as an occasional long-distance tourer, the Yamaha X-Max 250 is by far one of the best options out there now at around the RM20k price ballpark.

However, if you have the inclination to step-up your game and swing a leg over something totally bonkers, the Yamaha MT-09 at around RM45k is definitely a bike worth considering. I’m still recovering from the adrenaline rush to be honest… – Chris Wee.

Yamaha X-Max & MT-09 Photo Gallery (MT-09 photos by Buck Saleh)…

 

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