Yamaha Majesty

Text: Chris Myers • Photography: Christian Neuhauser

Webster's definition of 'majesty' begins many sage enumerations with "sovereign power, authority, or dignity." Lofty implications, those. But Yamaha appears not at all concerned. Appropriated, these terms laud a lithe arrival in the Court of Maxi-Scooters. And even though it's ceding a 50 to 250cc advantage, this noble company still has the temerity to send this royal upstart out to lead the charge against the fearsome hordes laying siege to their battlements.

And so it goes. Throughout time, as King David might attest, strategy not size has altered the course of history. If Yamaha's nimble Prince of Wheels and his cohorts have the goods to rightfully ascend and dominate, we're here to let you know.

Yes, the untraditional world of scooters has certainly entered another interesting transitional period. And large, luxurious, road-going models worthy of two-page spreads in any motorcycling journal are supplanting the age-old versions of smoky, buzzing two-stroke commuter scoots. Companies in Europe and Asia continue to blur the lines between motorcycle and scooter each year. And while zippy in-town models are still popular, their big highway-capable brothers seem to be all the rage.

Yamaha, offering no concessions in this mêlée for the scooter market's crown jewels, responds with royalty. Their Majesty has entered the lists. Perhaps the competition's "bigger is better" theory will prevail to render it yet another pretender forgotten in the fray. Though ever the case, our opinions can only fall to favor a side after completing the many rigors of our rides.

Sovereign Power
On parchment, the Majesty's 400cc single appears to be out of position on a ledger that includes competing 500, 600, and even 650cc motors, especially when considering some of these foes are twin cylinders. But in reality, its double overhead cam, four-valve single gallops along quite nicely.

Start-ups are a breeze. The Yamaha never fails to come to life with the first thumbing of the starter. A spot-on throttle response makes quick jumps at traffic lights a delight for any grip-twisting jester, and the Majesty has no trouble keeping up with - and, should the urge hit, blowing by - just about any traffic encountered in town. Royalty, they say, has its privileges.

And once your highness is out on the highway, the Majesty doesn't begin to breathe heavily until venturing beyond Nottingham's posted speeds. The single-axis counterbalancer does a commendable job of keeping the buzz normally associated with single cylinder engines to a minimum, even at higher rpm. Bottom line: this 400cc single wields excellent power and it's more than capable of getting the job done no matter the road.

Of course the unique joy of scootering is a divine right, noblesse oblige, bestowed by his Majesty to each of his loyal riders. Just twist the throttle and leave the rest to the CVT transmission - huzzah, no shifting required. Acceleration is smooth and precise with no stumbles, surges, or other surprises. Thanks to this super-easy power delivery, the Majesty makes a superb choice for the daily commuter or the weekend romper.

Authority
While some malcontents within his highness's domain might presume his overall power suffers in light of his rivals, he more than makes up for this perceived weakness with a light and nimble nature that has proven decisive in many epic battles. The Majesty weighs significantly less than its more powerful combatants and that translates into undeniable sprightliness on the open road and in traffic. Although this mount may not win every run off the line, the Yamaha scores a unanimous, enthusiastic display of thumbs up from our testers in the handling category. Despite having a longish 61-inch wheelbase, the slighter weight still allows for light handling without compromising stability at higher speeds. The 41mm forks and twin, long travel rear shocks suck up just about any roadway imperfections with ease, all while providing a smooth, comfortable ride.

Hydraulic discs, front and rear, handle braking duties. The big 267mm single discs on both ends are superb, winning another unanimous round of praise. Riders new to the scooter experience should be aware that the rear unit does tend to be a bit touchy. (But since when have royals been known for their sanguine equanimity?) This is not a bad thing but it could provide an unwanted surprise for anyone improperly prepared to deal with the situation. However, when one has a feel for the binders, they work with a precision and ease that brings much sportier machines to mind. All things considered, the handling and control of the Majesty is borderline racy. Whether leaning into corners on a favorite back road or jousting in the Kingdom of Commute, the Majesty performs brilliantly.

Dignity
When it comes to accessories and arrangements, his Majesty delivers quite nicely. The throne is a delight to perch atop whether riding all day in Camelot or down to the market's parking lot. Comfort on the Yamaha is paramount, with the only complaint issuing from one of our lankier seers (over six feet tall), and even he loved the seating position for sportier jaunts. He felt a bit "crowded" otherwise. The rest of our merry band found the "ergos" to be quite salubrious.

The windshield provided decent protection from the intemperance of the elements and our hands and legs were safeguarded from the many disquieting projectiles the road can launch. The fit and finish of the Majesty is excellent. European-inspired styling is evident in the flowing lines and the well considered instrumentation. Fellow travelers will also enjoy the ride thanks to a wide, plush seat and handy grab rail. Most scooters have ample under-seat storage and the Yamaha is no exception. Up to 60 liters of groceries et cetera can be stowed beneath the locking seat. That's plenty of room for a laptop, an extra jacket, a helmet (maybe two), and even enough clothes and gear for a nice weekend getaway. From our standpoint, the Majesty is the perfect conveyance to avail yourself of when seeking freedom from the mundane affairs in the fiefdom. But leave the halberd and harquebus at home, okay?

Does Yamaha's biggest scooter deserve its royal designation? Well, the Majesty is certainly spirited enough to sally forth against the rush-hour dragon and sly enough to forge ahead for a better parking place; and it also offers the practicality that comes with a comfortable saddle and ample storage, all atop a 50-plus mile-per-gallon steed. Further afield, beyond the confines of the castle walls, you and your Majesty can look ahead to many a weekend pursuing serpentine roads while avoiding the pitfalls of yard work and moat maintenance. And should your princess or prince decide to join in these noble pursuits, there's plenty of room to bear extra baggage.

Majesty. A stately cognomen for a noble scooter. Legions of riders may soon feel compelled to kneel and swear their fealty. All hail the Majesty, a true Prince of Wheels!

TECHNICAL SPECS:
Yamaha Majesty

Retail Price $ 5,799
Warranty 1 year limited warranty
Maintenance Schedule 600/every 3000 miles, 1000/every 4800km
Importer/Distributor Yamaha Motor Corp. USA,6555 Katella Ave.,Cypress, CA 90630,phone (800) 962-7926, www.yamaha-motor.com

ENGINE
single cylinder, four stroke, 400cc, DOHC, four valve
Fuel unleaded
Fuel Tank 14l (3.7gal)
Fuel Consumption 4.7l/100km (50mpg)
Theoretical Fuel Range 298km (185mls)
Bore and Stroke 83/73mm
Max Power n/a
Ignition CDI
Starter electric
Lubrication wet sump
Cooling liquid
Transmission automatic cvt

CHASSIS
Front Suspension 41mm telescopic fork
Rear Suspension 2 hydraulic shocks

TIRES & BRAKES
Front Tire 120/80-14
Rear Tire 150/70-13
Front Brake 1-267mm (10.5in) disc
Rear Brake 1-267mm (9.4in) disc

DIMENSIONS
Length 2230mm (87.8in)
Width 780mm (30.7in)
Seat Height 749mm (29.5in)
Wheelbase 1565mm (61.6in)
Dry Weight 198kg (436lbs)