Motorbike security

TMAX shows the way against bike theft

Thanks to advanced anti-theft features, Yamaha’s best selling maxi-scooter, the TMAX, should be associated less with bike thieves and more with being the best bike for defeating them.

Yamaha’s TMAX has an unenviable reputation for being the motorcycle thieves’ bike of choice. When it isn’t being used to push a heavier bike away from a crime scene, the powerful 530cc engine can put distance between a thief and a pursuing police vehicle.

Even though it’s the best-selling bike in its class, as bike thieves don’t exactly walk into showrooms to buy a TMAX, potential owners may have thought twice about taking on the risk of owning one. Until now.

Is the TMAX now the safest bike option?

In many UK cities, taking any high-value motorbike into the town centre is now considered risky without the highest levels of security. Unfortunately, this can mean carrying and applying any number of visible third-party devices – disc locks, chains and covers – as well ensuring the bike has less visible protection, like smart marking and GPS trackers.

The TMAX DX takes a more integrated approach, having a number of onboard security features: Anti-theft centre-stand locking system, Smart Key keyless ignition, Master Scheme and My TMAX Connect – remote management of your bike, including engine shut down and geolocation. This bike is showing other manufacturers how motorcycle security should be done.

Anti-theft centre-stand locking system

The first sign that the TMAX DX will give bike thieves a real headache is its unique centre-stand locking system. Once the centre stand is down, and the lock enabled, the bike is virtually impossible to move without being lifted (at 216kg wet, this is not the world’s lightest bike).

TMAX bike theft
© Yamaha Europe Motor Europe NV

Yamaha claims the automatic system has been tested and approved by Thatcham, the UK’s automotive research centre run by the motor insurance industry, so we doubt it can be bypassed easily.

Remote vehicle management

As we say in our recent article on ‘smartbikes’ the time has come for all bikes to become connected bikes, where they carry a built-in connection to the internet so that engine diagnostics, usage data and location information can all be fed into a central database and shared with the owner via an app.

Yamaha has taken this principle and, along with partner Vodafone, has developed the My TMAX Connect system.

A dedicated mobile app is connected to the TMAX DX and to Vodafone’s Automotive Secure Operating Centre. The centre operates 24/7 and liaises directly with local police in 44 European countries.

The owner can set a geofence around the bike and as soon as the bike is reported removed from that location without the owner’s permission, the Secure Operating Centre can not only track the TMAX’s location but remotely disable the engine, should the thieves have bypassed the keyless ignition.

TMAX bike theft
© Yamaha Europe Motor Europe NV

This ability to disable the engine also comes into play if the bike has been stolen during a bike-jacking – potentially making this particularly nasty crime a thing of the past if all bike manufacturers adopt it.

The monitoring centre can also remotely activate the bike’s horn and indicators, bringing unwelcome attention on the bike thieves.

Yamaha has kept specific technical details to themselves, for obvious reasons, so we can’t say exactly how embedded the systems are. But, unlike third-party alarms, we suspect the ’embedded telematics’ and connected systems won’t be so easy to rip out – a common issue for owners who have lost their bike.

Of course, professional motorcycle thieves, as opposed to the opportunistic TMAX gangs, use vans to lift the bike away. These vans are equipped with GPS jammers, but there is still a window when the bike’s signals – GPS and cell – can be picked up: the bike cannot stay in the van forever.

Keyless ignition

Perhaps the weakest area of the security package is the keyless ignition – professional thieves can hack these with ease using devices easily obtainable on the internet. However, our opportunist bike-jacker isn’t going to be so lucky, and they will quickly find themselves with a disabled bike as soon as the telematics register the motorcycle is stationary.

MASTER Scheme protected

Finally, like most of the major manufacturers, Yamaha’s new bikes are covered by the MASTER Scheme, where the bike is marked, tagged and registered with a central database. It makes it harder for criminals to strip a bike for its parts, as significant components can be easily traced back to a stolen bike.

As an all-around security package, it has to be said the TMAX DX’s anti-theft features sum up to an impressive list of deterrents. The ‘onion principle’, where would-be thieves are forced to peel away layers of security to make the bike theirs, is applied in full, eye-watering effect here.

If they want it, they’ll take it

We doubt any motorcycle can be made 100% secure, but it is great to see a manufacturer giving it a really good go.

The adage, ‘if they want your bike they’ll do anything to steal it’ will still apply, even with the heightened security features of the TMAX DX. But that rule exists because bikes are so relatively easy to steal. By making the top of the range TMAX a real headache for thieves, Yamaha is showing other manufacturers the way forward. We’d like to see if there will be a drop in TMAX theft numbers and also if the insurance industry will support the manufacturer’s efforts in trying to defeat the bike thieves.

This is a game changer

Could it be that, instead of giving the TMAX a sharp swerve in the showroom, security-conscious bikers should now head straight for the DX?

We would say yes. Don’t forget, this a very desirable bike because it is so capable. Try finding a negative review (although, curiously, none of the big-name reviewers has picked up on the security angle). Scooter of the Year and 5-star reviews abound.

As well as being a great scooter, the bike is now one of the most secure on the market, if not the outright winner on the security front.

It could lead to the TMAX dropping its ‘TMAX gang’ association and instead becoming the byword for motorbike security, at least until the other manufacturers wise up and catch up.

Yamaha has shown the way, giving a motorcycle a level of security we believe all bikes now deserve. Now the other manufacturers must surely follow.

If you have bought a 2017/2018 model TMAX DX we would love to hear from you, especially if you have been the victim of a theft attempt.

Note: The TMAX SX also features the same security, but it is not currently available in the UK.

Get yourself sorted:

The TMAX DX may now be one of the more secure bikes around, but we still recommend using highly visible deterrents like disc locks and chains. Motorcycle thieves are more likely to move on to another bike if they feel yours is going to put up too much of a struggle.

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B&B Staff

B&B Staff