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2009 Kymco Xciting 500Ri Review

Thursday, July 9, 2009
2009 Kymco Xciting 500Ri
Freeways are not a problem for Kymco's Xciting 500 maxi-scooter.
Super Commuter Scooter

"You rode a scooter from L.A. to San Francisco?"

You bet I did. And you would too, if your scooter had a nice windscreen, generous storage and enough power to pass semis going up the Grapevine Pass like they were in reverse. Welcome to the future, when having a scooter doesn’t mean riding a cute little pink tiddler with a milk crate attached to its cheaply chromed parcel rack. It’s 2009 and even though we don’t have jetpacks, we do have the Maxi-Scooter. It’s a new mode of 21st-Century transport, shuttling well-heeled business people around dense mega-metropolises. Even in these days of a struggling automotive industry, the jumbo scooter category is a growing one, with almost every major brand selling one or more models of 400cc-and-larger scooters.

Taiwanese manufacturer Kymco, after establishing a foothold in the US market with smaller scoots and motorcycles, introduced its maxi, the Xciting 500, in 2006. The 500Ri is the same machine with several upgrades. For 2009, the Xciting gets a lower, smoke-colored screen, fuel-injection and optional ABS brakes. It’s a big bike, with a claimed dry weight of 488 pounds (with the optional ABS) and a 61.8-inch wheelbase. Power comes from a liquid-cooled, DOHC, 498.5cc fuel-injected Single with modern, oversquare 92mm by 75mm bore/stroke numbers. Wheels are maxi-size, too, with a meaty 150/70-14 tire size in back and a 120/70-15 in front. It’s a big scooter, designed for big people who want to go far – and fast.

Maxi-scoots are flagships for their brands, and have luxurious appointments to match. The Xciting is no Xception, with plenty of high-class touches. Under the seat you’ll find an illuminated storage compartment with room for a full-face helmet (a helmet hook will accommodate a passenger’s lid) and more. A 12-volt cigarette-lighter outlet is there, along with a holder for your electronic device, be it phone, iPod or small toaster-oven. There’s a locking glove box under the dash for…gloves, and an easy-to-access, non-locking stashbox at the front of the seat lets the rider stow sunglasses, toll money or any other sundries the ride demands.

2009 Kymco Xciting 500Ri
For 2009, the Kymco Xciting gets a lower, smoke-colored screen, fuel-injection and optional ABS brakes.
Riding the Xciting isn’t so much exciting as it is satisfying, more sport-wagon than sport-coupe. The seating position is familiar to anybody who’s ridden a big scoot; wide, thickly padded seat, tall bars that fall perfectly to hand, and big floorboards that splay your feet out when the bike is stopped. That wide stance and a 30.25-inch seat height made it a bit of a stretch to reach the ground with my 30-inch inseam, and backing it up while parking may result in a lot of grunting and puffing. But the weight is low to the ground, and after all, it does have a motor to move you around.

A motor that is supremely easy to use. It fires up quickly and is ready to ride right away, thanks to the nicely sorted fuel injection. Acceleration is brisk but not head-snapping; the CVT is tuned and geared to deliver freeway-speed passing power rather than off-the-line craziness. But once at freeway speeds the Xciting can cruise, pass, and generally hold its own even in the most aggressive rush-hour traffic. Top speed is somewhere around 100 mph, although you’d probably have to have some wind at your back or a long downhill slope to see that on the speedo.

That brings us to the handling part of the review, where most scooters show their limitations. The Kymco is part of that club, but it’s no worse than other large scooters. What makes a scooter a scooter is the location of the powertrain unit, which doubles as a swingarm. That means a big chunk of the bike’s weight is unsprung mass; a minor concern with a lightweight runabout, hard to hide when you’re talking about a 500cc road warrior like this. And not only is that big lump unsprung, it also keeps a lot of weight very close to the rear axle, which helps explain why Kymco isn’t fielding a MotoGP team. Maybe Kymco can sponsor a race series: American Maxi-Scooter Cup?

2009 Kymco Xciting 500Ri
Underseat storage for the Kymco Xciting 500.
Ride the bike at a sane pace and things are fine. The wide bars offer plenty of leverage, making the bike surprisingly nimble. The big 15-inch front wheel and long wheelbase keep things stable, and there’s more cornering clearance than many big cruisers I could name (but won’t) offer. The brakes do what they’re supposed to do, although that lighter front end and small wheel mean you’ll never have front-end feedback like a motorcycle’s. Push it to its limits and it starts to feel like a scooter, a big, heavy scooter. At high speeds – law-breaking speeds - the steering feels more distant than I like, and the rear end wallows. In fact, it feels a lot like maxi-scoots from other manufacturers, such as the Honda Silver Wing and Suzuki Burgman 400. They’re not for carving precise arcs through sweeping mountain passes at triple-digit speeds; stick to the Xciting’s intended mission and it performs.

That mission is long-distance commuting. Room for your stuff? You bet: that lighted, carpeted under-seat compartment holds a gym bag or a couple of bags of groceries. Comfortable? For sure: the seat is nicely shaped and padded, and even has an adjustable rider’s backrest. The 3.8-gallon fuel tank promises good range to riders with a restrained wrist, although I returned mpg numbers in the 30s, cruising at 70 mph plus on Interstate 5. Wind protection may not be the Kymco’s strong suit. The 2008 model’s higher windscreen was lacking in coverage; the sporty cut-down screen on the 500Ri looks cool but doesn’t afford the same protection.
2009 Kymco Xciting 500Ri Brakes
Wave rotors give the Kymco Xciting a sporty look.

There are other nice touches. There is full instrumentation: clock, tachometer, fuel and temperature gauges. The twin single-pot brake calipers are finished in a snazzy red, grip cool wave-style rotors and use braided steel brake lines. Build quality is about what you’d expect from a Japanese factory, and that’s actually not surprising: Taiwanese companies have been building components and whole vehicles for Japanese and other brands for many years. In fact, a Taiwanese-built Honda CRV may be in your garage right now, and BMW is building its G-series engines on a line in the Kymco plant. On the 500Ri, that means paint is deep and glossy and plastic parts fit and feel right. It’s so good, in fact, that Kymco offers a two-year warranty.

You may be wondering about the suitability of the 500Ri for a new rider. I found it was certainly easy to operate and a breeze to ride at low speeds, with an excellent turning radius for something this size, and a mellow power delivery that will keep you out of trouble. But it is heavy, and while it hides its weight at low speeds, eventually you’re going to be going faster, and more weight is less forgiving than less weight. A new rider, even one with some training under his or her belt, is going to make mistakes. Do you want to make those mistakes on a 500-lb scooter or a 250-lb scooter?
2009 Kymco Xciting 500Ri
"Functionally, as a commuter, I’d be inclined to choose one as my daily ride, especially if I was spending a lot of time in stop-and-go traffic or on city streets."

Or maybe you’re a motorcycle guy and you want something a little lower-impact for commuting. Will you miss your gearbox, clutch and moto-macho image? You need to re-calibrate your expectations; the question isn’t how well the Xciting compares to a motorcycle. It’s not a motorcycle and shouldn’t be compared to one. Although functionally, as a commuter, I’d be inclined to choose one as my daily ride, especially if I was spending a lot of time in stop-and-go traffic or on city streets. At $6799 with ABS, or $6299 without, it’s not exactly a bargain, as there are other scooters that offer similar performance for around the same price. But it is a stylish, well-made and comfortable scooter that will get the job done, even if the job is 400 miles away.
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Kymco Xciting 500Ri Dealer Locator
Kymco Xciting 500Ri Technical Specs
2009 Kymco Xciting 500Ri Review
Engine: 498.5cc, 4-Stroke DOHC
Bore and Stroke: 92mm x 75mm
Fuel System: EFI
Cooling: Liquid
Starter: Electric
Transmission: CVT automatic
Front Suspension: Telescopic Forks
Rear Suspension: Dual Shocks
Front Tire: 120/70-15
Rear Tire: 150/70-14
Front Brakes: Dual Disc  (ABS Available)
Rear Brakes: Disc
Wheel Base: 61.8"
Weight: 473 lbs. (488 lbs - ABS Model)
Seat Height: 30.25"
Fuel Capacity: 3.38 gal.
Features: Speedometer, Tachometer, Odometer, Trip meter, Clock, Fuel & Temp, & 12 Volt accessory outlet
Colors: White, Red (Pewter - ABS Model)
Warranty: 2 Year Factory
MSRP: $6,299 ($6,799 - ABS Model)

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Branko Tomas -Mr  November 15, 2010 03:55 PM
I have new Xciting 500RI w/Bosch ABS and all I can say is good scooter with the lot of problems in Kymco's Dealers Network issue. 1.) For oil change you have to leave scooter for three days. For order any parts you have to wait week or more. I just recently visit Kymco dealer and ask way my ABS light is always on, and some how is connected to the speed meter that not working, Dealer told me I must leave scooter for one or more week for any electronics repairs. Is this true??? 2.) Seat could be more confforable for long distance ride. 3.) Drive belt noisy w/low speed to time accelerate high speed Do anybody have suggestion. Thank you in advance Branko Tomas ceznja123@gmail.com
wayne aurandt -Mr  June 20, 2010 09:34 PM
where can i get decals for my scooter 500cc kymco nothing any better
B -Jeff's 2-Up Question  October 21, 2009 02:26 PM
Well, I'd think a 400 like the Burgman 400 could do the job alright. As you say a 650 for sure could handle it for sure.
Jeff -what size CC for two question  October 21, 2009 02:04 PM
I posted a question 9/20 and after a month no one has/can suggest the appropriate size scooter. For example, will a 400cc suffice or do I seriously need to look at a 500, 600 or 650. I realize the 650CC will do the trick, but will a smaller CC do? If this is not the place to post the question, is there another site to do so where I might enjoy the benefit of scooter riders' experiences?
Jeff -which scooter for two-up riders?  September 20, 2009 01:56 PM
I am interested in purchasing a scooter in SW Florida, where at this time, most of the riding will be on flat two lane and interstate highways. My wife will often ride on the back and our combined weight is approx. 320 lbs. We would like to be able to take long distance trips that will lead us into mountainous regions. My motorcycling experience of 25 years included a 350cc, a 650 cc and an 1100cc Goldwing. I am not interested in purchasing a motorcycle. Which scooter and/or cc displacement do you think I should consider?
JORDI -X-CITING 250 R  September 3, 2009 02:11 PM
Realment m'ha sorpres el rendiment d'aquest scooter.
Gabe Ets-Hokin -Response to Mymymy  August 26, 2009 09:39 PM
I meant to compare the Xciting to the Honda Reflex (discontinued in 2008), not the Silverwing. But I did correctly compare it to the Burgman 400 (read more carefully, Mr. snooty). Both the Reflex and Burgman 400 use a combined engine/swingarm unit, just like a motorcycle. I also never compare it to the Majesty, so I don't know why you're refrencing that. I only know what kind of fuel economy I observed, and for some reason internet posters often lie about their fuel economy. You'd think an anal-retentive know-it-all would understand this.
Ted -Xciting 500  August 15, 2009 03:38 PM
Thanks for your information ..... now I know NOT to consider this scooter.... the TMAX is now in the lead for my consideration.... or maybe the Burgman 650.....( have owned the Aprila 500 and Silverwing 600 and did not care for either one )... went back to a motorcycle... but due to new physical limitations a maxi scooter is now being considered ....
Jacob Ting -KYMCO  July 28, 2009 08:33 PM
In reply to Shao Lin's comment on KYMCO, let it be known that I rode KYMCO for more than 15 years, from their 50s to 250. I had a APEX 150 when it came out back in late 80s, which was good, and Venox 250 in 2002, which was a shame, and of course of late the Exciting 250i. In fact, I am still riding a 1996 Zing 150 (a take off from Yamaha Virago). KYMCO makes nice little scooters, but boy, watch out for the heavier one.
Shao Lin -Kymco is great  July 23, 2009 02:42 AM
I am a Taiwanese working in US. I used to have a small Kymco 125 some 15 years ago. It was very reliable and cost very little to maintain, can climb 10,000ft mountain all day for months. Also, I know there are people riding 50CC Kymco across US without any problem. Kymco build great bike that are best for the money. A few post above, another Taiwanese complain that Xciting 250 is too heavy and too tall, and concluded that Taiwanese has low expectation. That guy was so wrong, he should just buy a smaller scooter that fit his need. And better test ride or at least sit on one before buying.
Guy -Compare Apples to Apples  July 18, 2009 11:35 PM
OK... I may be a jaded Kymco rider but when people compare a RUCKUS (big or little) to the Xciting, Grand Vista or People S you are no longer comparing equal purposes. Comparing a full bodied scoot to the "naked" styling of a Ruck is absolutely insane. You can't even sneak home a six pack of beer on a ruck without buying something more and zip tying it under the seat. They have different markets and purposes. As for gas mileage, getting 30->FORTY MPG on a machine that is capable of getting up to 100 MPH seems pretty fair to me especially if you can get nearly 50 if you are nicer to the throttle... I know I am not...
Mymymy -poo  July 16, 2009 07:44 AM
The big Honda silverwing and Suzuki Burgman as well as the Yamaha Tmax, all have their engines mounted to the frame, just like a motorcycle. You would think the reviewer would understand this. Also, The Yamaha Majesty 400c gets over 55-60 MPG at extended 70MPH trips which is better than even the manufacture specs. This is confirmed by many Majesty owners as well as professional reviewers.
Troy -Kymco 500cc Scooter  July 15, 2009 07:45 AM
Beautiful Scooter!!
Jacob Ting -KYMCO  July 11, 2009 08:01 PM
Consider this, I am from Taiwan. KYMCO is a part of most Taiwan people daily routine...that means low expectation of just about everything. Excuse me, perhaps tolerance is a better word. The EXCITING 250 and 500 are another vivid evidence of tolerance of the Taiwan people. Not only it is rear heavy, it is tall...we are not exactly huge as compared to the western people who often tip the scale of 200lbs, let alone with short in-seam. I had a 250, but got rid of it like a hot potato after 500 miles (800km). Not only it has poor gas mileage, but once with a passenger on the rear, it surf and I could only pray for a smooth road surface, not to mention I need to tiptoe (5'7") at stopping. KYMCO maybe a good OEM partner but definitely a very poor ODM manufacturer. I don't know the price of Suzuki Burgman 650 or 400 in the States, but would not look back to a KYMCO...guess if they have to copy, at least pick a good one.
Eric -Xciting vs. Scarabeo 500ie; LA to SF on a smaller scoot  July 9, 2009 11:09 PM
The Xciting is a nice scooter for a maxi, though really not my style. I'd be interested to see it pitted against the more classic scooter style of the Aprilia Scarabeo 500ie. As far as "You rode a scooter from L.A. to San Francisco?", you certainly don't need 500cc scoot to do this. I just completed this ride with a group of scooters that included two 150s, my modified 150, a 200, a 250 and a pair of 500s. We did it in two days, but many of my pals on 250s have done it in one run. Still, there was a time when touring meant taking to two lane highways like CA-1, not riding up the 101 or the 5. My scooter certainly handled a lot of the curves and twisties better than the big cruisers.
Randth -Proud owner of a SR50  July 9, 2009 07:29 PM
It is good to see all this chatter about a scooter. The article was informative and entertaining. The RUCKUS comparison was the worst idea since 'going to a party with a boner in sweatpants'!
RickRussellTX -Xcruciating  July 9, 2009 05:37 PM
OK, I think this sentence gave me cancer: "The Xciting is no Xception, with plenty of high-class touches." Thanks. Seriously, though, good to see the automatics taking their rightful place with the other cruiser-class hardware. - Rick R, 2004 Honda Helix
Gabe Ets-Hokin -My response  July 9, 2009 03:35 PM
Man, I'm getting some heat for the whole "mileage in the 30s" thing...those numbers come from my month riding a carburated 2007 500 Xciting...the Kymco peeps said there wasn't a significant difference in economy. I suppose somebody could ride like grandpa and get 50 plus, but that's not me...I ride like a maniac and am not a hypermiler, hence fuel economy in the 30-40 mpg range. I'm guessing a more frugal rider could squeeze significantly better mileage that's at least comparable, if not better than, competiting scooter models. Just not with me on board. Also, the info about Taiwanese-built Honda CR-Vs is from Taiwanese company SYM; it's in their literature. I don't know what years or what markets those vehicles were built in, which is why I said "a Taiwanese-built Honda CRV may be in your garage right now". I was purposely vague; that garage may be in some other country besides the USA. Also, I don't care how fun or competent a scooter is - and some are very fun and competent indeed - you can't compare it to a motorcycle, as it's a different kind of vehicle. It's like comparing a snowmobile to an ATV. It's not fair to either vehicle. Finally, Ruckus guy (I'll shout since you seem to have hearing problems,)YOUR RUCKUS COULDN'T KEEP UP WITH A 500 XCITING IF YOU DROPPED IT OUT OF AN AIRPLANE! AND IT'S ONLY $1300 CHEAPER IF YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THE 250, WHICH HONDA ISN'T SELLING FOR 2009. IF YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT A 50CC RUCKUS YOU NEED TO STOP RIDING YOUR SCOOTER IN THE LIVING ROOM!
tastroman -2009 Kymco Xciting 500Ri  July 9, 2009 02:31 PM
Nice review. I just can not get over MPG in the 30's, for me, that would be the deal breaker. I would think a 500cc single would be getting somewhere around 50mpg. What gives?
Desmolicious -Very nice, but please test the Tmax! Handling is NOT the same!  July 9, 2009 01:49 PM
You said: "That brings us to the handling part of the review, where most scooters show their limitations. The Kymco is part of that club, but it’s no worse than other large scooters. What makes a scooter a scooter is the location of the powertrain unit, which doubles as a swingarm. That means a big chunk of the bike’s weight is unsprung mass; a minor concern with a lightweight runabout, hard to hide when you’re talking about a 500cc road warrior like this. And not only is that big lump unsprung, it also keeps a lot of weight very close to the rear axle" This is where the Tmax differs from the competition. The engine is mounted in the frame like a motobike, not on the swingarm like the other mega scooters. It also has a mono shock and so handles much better. Great article, diggin' the scooter reviews! And yes, of course the Ruckus roolz but this thing is close! ;)
Farley Zoober -Kymco Xciting  July 9, 2009 01:30 PM
My FJR1300 gets 46-51 mpg,does Taiwan sell oil??
Ax1464 -Not a Motorcycle  July 9, 2009 01:19 PM
... and shouldn't be compared to one? Why not? I just finished a two-day, 1055-mile round-trip to Hell (Michigan) on my 2008 Yamaha Majesty (400cc). I cruised the Interstates at above-legal speeds and blitzed through Chicago rush-hour traffic with absolutely no problem. Tell me what I'm missing by not having a "real" motorcycle? By the way, my previous bike was an '86 BMW K100RS so I know about "real" bikes. While my Majesty tops out at "only" a little over 90mph, it does everything I expect it to do -- and carries two helmets and more beneath the saddle.
Mo -Nothing like a Ruckus  July 9, 2009 12:04 PM
I sell Kymco scooters for a living, and have spent lots of time around the "competition," as well. I can tell you that the Xciting is nothing like the Ruckus. It is profoundly more competent and comfortable, better looking, has a superb fit-and-finish, is much faster, has a better warranty...Nuff said...except: good article, Gabe!
EAB -A few comments  July 9, 2009 12:03 PM
First, if this thing gets in the 30's then it's jacked up. It should be getting 45-60MPG, depending on how it's ridden. Second, not to nitpick, but here I go. The Honda CR-V's brought to the US are built in either Japan or England. Nowadays they also make them in Ohio. None from Taiwan, sorry. Third, Kymco and Sym are the some of the best scooters for the money out there. Great review.
Martin -Well Done  July 9, 2009 10:57 AM
Good article, thanks for the info about the scoot. Re the ruckus guy, these are two different things, and turn off caps. =]
RUCKUS RULES -NICE!  July 9, 2009 10:46 AM