As some of you may have noticed, I recently acquired Funkycowie's mk3 Tmax so now have both mk3 and a mk6 versions. Funky had put loads of accessories on, the most interesting being 17g DrPulley sliders.
Of course, it isn't my first mk3 – I had one a few years ago, and my memories of it are that it was very fun to ride with sporty handling, performance wise was a bit of a sluggard round town but had a big top end, that the ride was a bit wild and bouncy and that the standard screen was a real shocker! So how it match my memories and how does it compare with my mk6?
First all, I was taking no chances with that wretched screen that I previously found deafeningly noisy and gave me head shaking turbulence. I had a Puig wind deflector thingy which I wasn't using and it went straight on, and I'm very pleased with its effectiveness. On my old one, I used a Laminar Lip which was also very good.
So performance...well, its clear that these DrPulley things really work! Acceleration from rest and at town speeds is pretty impressive. I expected it to be revvy, but it hardly seems to be. I'd almost be tempted to try 16g sliders when these wear out, though Funky insists that 17g is the ideal weight, and they do work well and are unobtrusive, so he's probably right. Interestingly, if you are doing M-way speeds, the engine sounds like its revving a lot, but the rev counter (yes, the tiny strip that's hard to read) only says 5500, so it probably isn't.
Handling – its every bit as fun as I remember! It just is sportier than other versions of the Tmax and just loves to be pushed into corners and just encourages you to lean it more and more! Goodness knows what Yamaha did. The mk4 would handle, but it didn't want to encourage you. Ride wise, its not as bouncy as I remember. Its not exactly limo-like, and you can feel that there's a fair amount going on, and it does try to throw you out of your seat if you hit a big bump, but its OK – its rarely harsh.
So, it goes well, handles well, rides tolerably – but how does it compare to the mk6?
The answer is that its much closer than you might expect! I did begin to wonder why I'd forked out £9k for a mk6 when the mk3 is such fun! However, the mk6 does have lots of abilities. Whilst the mk6 is standard, its mid range acceleration is startling, and is clearly punchier than the mk3 even with its DrPulley sliders. Although the power outputs are similar, the mk6 just feels FAST.
The ride and handling of the mk6 are classier. Most of the time the chassis of the mk6 provides a very stable platform so that changing direction is effortless. On the mk3 you can feel the forks working, whilst on the mk6 you just gently move the bars and it turns....I've never ridden a bike with a 'funny front end' (eg BMW Paralever or Telelever) but the Tmax feels like I imagine such a front end would feel, as the steering and suspension forces seem separated. Of course, as the road gets bumpier, the illusion vanishes a bit. The mk6's ride on urban roads is rather good – it sort of glides along effortlessly. However, on rural roads, the bumps begin to intrude and the suspension is a bit firm. If I'd forked out for a DX version, I'd be able to adjust it a bit, which might help.
So, whilst the mk3 is a marvellous thing, the mk6 is a step up in many ways, more sophisticated and capable, but not a revolution. It does feel classier and 'special' some how and its fast, But its not perfect – there are annoying details. The mirrors on the mk3 are SO much better! Its got belt drive rather than the so much more practical wet-chain final drive of the mk3.. The tunnel between your feet is much higher and wider than mk3 so its harder to get on. And the mk3 has a nice simple old fashioned key so I don't have to battle with the computerised smart key!
So, I do now have a problem...every time I want to go out, I have to consider which Tmax to take!