There comes a time in every rider’s life when functionality outweighs the fun and a different steed is required. In terms of ease of use and general running about, there is little that beats a scooter and the 2018 Yamaha XMax 250, priced at RM21,225 is a prime example.

Some “riders” degenerate scooters, saying that scoots with CVT gearboxes are for girls and “men who like to feel the wind in their hoohaa.” But, when it comes to handling urban roads and city traffic, you would be hard pressed to find a two-wheeler that can carry two in comfort and able to store miscellaneous items safely.

We previously reviewed two scooters from local distributors Hong Leong Yamaha Malaysia, the 155 cc Yamaha NMax and the sportier version, the Yamaha NVX, also known as the Aerox elsewhere in ASEAN. What we found, riding the two scooters around, was while comfort and handling were acceptable, more so in the case of the NVX, speed and power were somewhat lacking on the highway.

Yamaha does, of course, make a range of large capacity scooters, including the XMax 400 and the TMax 530, both of which are not officially available in Malaysia. However, the 250 cc scooter segment is that niche between the sheer bulk of a big scooter like the TMax and the nimble size of the 155 cc NMax.

Which is where the XMax 250 steps in, targeting a market that wants something faster and more powerful than a 150 cc scoot but without the price premium of a middleweight super scooter. So, when Yamaha Malaysia handed us the keys to the XMax 250, we put the quarter-litre scooter to the test.

The review unit handed to us was in Rusty Bronze, which we quite liked, the other choice being Metallic White. Styling for the XMax follows Yamaha’s design language for the other scooters in its range quite closely, and it’s easy to see the resemblance between the XMax and, say, the TMax.

Stepping over the centre hump – the XMax, like others of its ilk, is not quite a step-through – places the rider in a 795 mm tall seat. This will suit almost all riders but if you are somewhat short in the inseam, be warned the floor boards on the XMax are a touch wide and there’s no cut-out to place the rider’s feet closer to the scooter.

We found the reach to the handlebars of the XMax a little short, although this does allow for positive control of the scooter in traffic and at speed. Taller riders will want to scoot a little further back in the seat to get some space.

Coming with Yamaha’s Blue Core engine design philosophy, the Xmax’s Euro 4-compliant 250 cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled power plant is good for 22.5 hp at 7,000 rpm and 24.3 Nm of torque at 5,500 rpm. These are perfectly adequate numbers for an urban scooter, and as we were to later find out, quite acceptable for long-distance trips.

The engine itself is a fairly sophisticated thing, coming as it does with engine start/stop along with keyless start. We particularly liked the keyless start feature as it allowed us to simply get on the XMax 250 and go.

With the CVT gearbox providing drive, taking off was a quiet, no fuss affair. Riding the XMax 250 around town, we found it a nimble, comfortable run-about. With twin storage cubbies in the dash and that large underseat storage compartment, the XMax 250 is perfectly suited for the urban commute and as a car substitute.

The underseat stowage with its courtesy light is particularly large, and will swallow two full face helmets. We put this to the test on an out station trip and yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Just note that if you’re putting full face helmets under the seat, use a helmet bag to prevent scratches. While the storage area is large, the various fins and spoilers on today’s helmets raises the opportunity for rubbing against the seat.

Handling on the XMax 250 is helped by the 15-inch front wheel, which provides a directional stability not found on scooters with smaller wheel sizes. The rear 14-wheel, shod in 140/70 rubber, also helps in this regard, with long distance comfort being quite good on less than smooth roads.

With 110 mm of suspension travel in front with telescopic forks and 79 mm at the back with twin shock absorbers, ride comfort on the XMax 250 was very acceptable, with the right compromise between comfort and road holding. Taking the sharp twists and turns of the usual canyon run, we noticed a slight tendency to wallow when the XMax was pushed hard.

This required the use of a little body English to put things back in balance. In a straight line, the XMax tracked true, with little of the nervous behaviour scooters sometimes exhibit when ridden with the throttle to the stop.

We put this to the test with a slightly mad 700 km day ride to attend an event, fully loaded with pillion, laptop and camera gear. The XMax 250 performed impeccably on the highway, cruising at extra-legal speeds with the throttle wound to the stop.

Top speed for the XMax 250? Sorry, can’t tell you that, but lets just say it is not lacking for power if you’re not afraid to cane the engine, even when riding two-up. On the return journey, dealing with the clogged highways, the XMax did the business and did it well, despite the full load.

The screen on the XMax 250 was just a touch too short for the 168-cm tall author with the wind coming in straight at helmet level, but when there was a pillion on the back, the buffet from the wind decreased significantly. Taller riders may want to look into fitting a screen of suitable height.

Seat comfort was good on the XMax, with no complaints coming from the pillion. Seating itself is broad and firmly padded, with no issues finding a comfortable seating position.

Short-legged pillions might find their legs splayed a little wide, though. Thus, something to be aware of if your regular pillion is fond of short skirts.

We found fuel consumption on the XMax 250 to be more than acceptable, recording a worst of 20.3 km/litre of fuel from the 13-litre tank when riding very fast and fully loaded. The best we got when taking it easy with the right hand was 32.2 km/litre, which isn’t too shabby, by any measure.

In terms of modern conveniences, the XMax ticks all the boxes with things like a USB charging port and the two-helmet under seat stowage, as mentioned earlier, along with LED lighting front and back. Inside the cockpit, a monochrome LCD panel sits in between twin analogue gauges displaying speed and engine revs.

So, who needs a 2018 Yamaha XMax 250, considering most 125 to 150 cc scooters are half the asking price of RM21,225? For one thing, there is no replacement for displacement and considering we have ridden Yamaha’s super scooter, the TMax 530, the XMax is a reasonable and well priced alternative.

For the rider who doesn’t want a motorcycle with the requirement of having spread a leg over the seat to get onboard, the XMax’s step-over design makes sense. If you’re looking for an urban runabout with the ability to cover highway speeds and distances comfortably, take a look at the XMax 250. We did and are strongly considering adding one to the stable.