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His Majesty reigns...

PICTURE the scene: I’m standing in Yamaha’s reception in Weybridge having ridden through one of the heaviest downpours of rain we have had, water has permeated every orifice of my riding suit, I’m soaked to the bone and the residue of the downpour is making a small lake on the carpet and some guy wanders in with a set of keys and says: "You having the scoot?" To which I nod and wearily say: "That’s me".

"You won’t want to ride anything else after this," he wryly says looking me up and down.

"Silly old fool", I mutter to myself; at this moment in time I don’t want to ride anything in particular I’m cold and all I want to do is get back home and change into some dry clothes and warm up, but there’s the return trip round the M25 and it’s still pouring down with rain.

I press the starter and head back, rain lashing down against the screen and wrap-round leg shields, but, hey presto not on me!

I hit the M25 and the traffic in all three lanes has virtually ground to a halt due to the atrocious weather, so I gingerly filter through, headlights on; from Crawley round to Clacketts it’s all three lanes bumper-to-bumper, but I’m OK on two counts: One: I’m still moving at a reasonable pace; Two: more importantly I’m not getting wet.

Arriving back home my faith is restored and I’m a fair bit drier than I was a couple of hours previous.

So that was my initial introduction to the Majesty 400cc single-cylinder, four-stroke big-league scooter from the Yamaha stable, and although I’m open to any form of two wheels, scooters are well ... scooters, not yer macho, granny-scaring motorcycles that most ill-informed people love to hate. But the YP400 was totally different.

Most obviously the engine – 400ccs – that puts it up in the lightweight motorcycle range and the performance certainly was an eye-opener, with an exhaust note that wouldn’t wake a church doormouse!

On a dry stretch of the motorway 70mph was no problem whatsoever indicating 5,100 rpm with a claimed 95mph as top speed.

Yamaha has cleverly set most of the weight problems low down in the chassis; the lockable fuel tank is between the rider’s feet, the power unit hangs low down around the rear wheel; the header tank (to top up the water-cooled engine) is under the running board – all this makes the YP400 really easy to handle.

The seat also has an excellent lumbar support which fitted into one’s lower spine spot on.

Lifting the lockable saddle revealed a cavernous storage area, (60 litres) enough for two full-face helmets – just as well there was a courtesy light – it was so big you could almost get lost in there!

Switchgear was standard by today’s motorcycles. The dash was like something out of the Starship Enterprise. When initially switching the key to the "on" position both the speedo/tacho needles would swing round in a self-test, the various LCD and segments would perform their functions and then one would be confronted with a variety of information ranging from fuel, trip, total mileage, clock, water temp and air temp – wow –and that’s before you have pressed the starter! There are even two glove-type compartments – one lockable.

The handlebars were spot on for comfort, with absolutely no aching wrists or neck after some really long, long rides.

With a futuristic-looking shark nose, the lights on the Majesty were excellent – twin 60-55 watt units that at night on main beam really lit up the road making fast riding an absolute doddle. In fact they were better than a lot of cars I’ve driven – first-class!

The motor, a single cylinder unit, twist and go, single gear, was impressive, with the variable gearbox coping with a whole variety of riding situations.

Fuel consumption came in at around 56 mpg giving a range of around 127 miles before going onto reserve.

Braking is by single disc front and rear and really up to spec, because there was very little engine braking when throttling back, despite the motor being a four-stroke belt drive affair it behaved more like a two-stroke.

A clever feature was the parking brake – a lever on the handlebar – which operated on the rear disc, allowing the not-so-small bike to be parked on downhill gradients without it rolling away.

Yamaha has fitted both a centre and side stand to the Majesty, both effortless in parking the machine. Two-up riding didn’t detract from the performance of the scoot, again there are dual rear shocks to cope with the extra weight.

If you’re into serious mileage –as a courier, touring or commuting –a big-engined scooter has to be in contention especially as there are no clutch and gears to contend with in heavy traffic. Take it from me the guy at Yamaha was fairly near the truth, I wouldn’t want to go back to riding a conventional bike – but then they offered me the MT-01 – read on!

* Tech spec: Water cooled 400cc four-stroke single cylinder engine, automatic; 34bhp@7,250 rpm; Fuel capacity: 14 litres; Dry weight: 197 kg; Price: £4,495.

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