Off road Scooters
Yamaha Thailand showed an interesting concept bike in Bangkok earlier this week. It's a scooter, but it has been ruggedized, given higher quality and longer travel suspension, extra luggage facility with provision for much more, and a vastly strengthened frame. Thailand's floods led to calls for a scooter with greater off-road capability, and Yamaha has delivered something that just might catch on.
Most of the world's scooter sales are in countries where unmade roads make up a significant proportion of the road network and road conditions are the speed limit.
The base scooter used in the TTX Adventure is the new Yamaha TTX 115i, a scooter with an automatic, fuel injected 115 cc motor with a sporting bent and a host of small changes that make it particularly suitable for customization.
Thailand sells around two million motorcycles per year, so finding a substantial niche in Thailand probably means finding similar niches in Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines - all similarly large motorcycle markets.
In Yamaha's press documentation for the new TTX, it reports, "Among young male Thai customers in their 20s, a new type of motorcycle culture has taken root where they enjoy customizing their motorcycles to suit their personalities or use them as tools for self-expression.""The new TTX was mainly planned and developed by group company Yamaha Motor Asian Center Co., Ltd. (YMAC) in Thailand as a customer-oriented next-generation AT commuter model. Its exterior employs sporty and original styling based on a 'layered-structure' concept, special suspension, a wide rear tire (sized: 100/70-14) and more for a commuter model with a new flavor."
Hence Yamaha intends to be the first to offer ready-made customisation options, and the appearance of the TTX-based Adventure is likely to be the first of factory-made examples of what you can do with the blank canvas.
Last year, large tracts of Thailand were underwater for months, including many foreign factories located there. As luck would have it, Thailand's thriving capital city, Bangkok, is in the center of a flood plain. The resultant flooding problems put a large number of international manufacturing facilities offline, and the damage to local business must have been horrendous.
The Thais are a resilient lot, though, and the vitality of the Thai Motor Show bears testimony to that. Moreso, the Yamaha TTX concept indicates just how acutely aware motorcycle manufacturers are becoming to the local needs.
The amount of time during the floods that scooters had to spend on Thai roads which were both unmade and partially submerged, led to calls for scooters with greater off-road capabilities from the Yamaha dealer network, and Yamaha Thailand decided to test the market with the TTX Adventure based on the new TTX.
From discussing the model with Yamaha Public Relations staff on the stand, I gathered the distinct impression that the presence of the TTX Adventure is much more a testing of the need for a "dual-road scooter" than an Adventure scooter.
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