As much as we’d like to talk about the pep in the step of the 2007 Kymco Xciting 500’s liquid-cooled four-stroke flat single, Bayly points out one of the bike’s unadvertised perks – it’s a chick magnet.
Speed dating, online dating, double dating, blind dating or just good old-fashioned go-up-and-ask-’em-out dating: It’s a challenging world out there for us single guys.
Being old, ugly and overly well endowed in the nose department certainly doesn’t help, and having positively no game ensures that most Friday nights are spent alone eating pizza and watching Monty Python movies. Let’s face it. Who can really handle standing around smoky bars in leisure wear, flexing and trying to look manly and athletic while revealing his sensitive side at the same time? And let’s not even get into the dancing thing. Looking like Richard Simmons on Xanex is not a pretty sight when yours truly tries cutting the rug. And growing up in a country where shagging most certainly doesn’t mean dancing, there is also the language barrier to deal with, and the fact that most women can smell poverty from at least 50 yards.
So, I took fate into my own hands, purchased a copy of Neil Straus’ best-selling book, “The Game,” and went to work on the subtle art of seduction. Quickly realizing that I am what Straus calls an AFC (average frustrated chump), with about as much game as Mr. Rogers, it was obvious I needed some serious help. A few days later, early one morning around the crack of noon, the pay phone in the hall rang long enough to wake me, and there on the end of the line was the answer to all of my problems.
These ladies were lured away from their lattes by the time-tested ‘journalist-in-need-of-pictures’ routine and demonstrated the spacious seat’s ability to saddle two-up without any problems.
“How would you like to try out the new Kymco Xciting 500 for a couple of months,” a perky voice came blasting through the pre morning-coffee fog. Scratching various parts of my anatomy that won’t make it in to this PG-13 version of the story, I mustered up my best plumy, professional tone and said, “why of course, how splendid,” before staggering back to my apartment for an early afternoon nap. These high-powered business meetings in the morning can sure take it out of a man.
Shape up at Starbucks the following weekend, sitting astride my striking Korean ride, choking down a tall goat’s milk/vegetarian/decaffeinated/barium enema, when in walks a group of potential targets taking a break from the stress of hair appointments and shopping. Pulling the Xciting up onto the main stand for more control, I quickly pop the seat by turning the ignition key with one manly twist and casually place my helmet and gloves into the awaiting receptacle. Next, I unplug my cell phone from the onboard charger and pretend to make an important call. Reaching my empty voice mail, I close the seat and go back to my disgusting drink before strolling over to the ladies with my opening line.
Thankfully the new Xciting has enough storage space for more than a helmet. Armed with my disposable camera, I lay out the journalist-in-need-of-pictures routine. Getting a favorable response, I give them a quick run down on the features and benefits of my ride, and as I can see they are already impressed by the charcoal colored beauty, it looks like it is going to be an easy sell.
Giving an assist to the modern styling of the slick scooter, Bayly was able to find someone to play ‘pilot to co-pilot’ with on the Kymco Xciting 500.
Using a 498.5 cc single cylinder four-stroke engine that produces a claimed 36 horsepower, the word exiting doesn’t spring to mind when you crank on the throttle. Now pitch it into a bend when it is maxed out, somewhere a shade north of 80 mph, and the 15-inch front tire will give you all the excitement you need. Well, all the excitement you don’t really need. If it’s an adrenaline-induced ride you are after, get a sportbike. Actually, the 475-pound scooter is propelled off the line at a pretty decent rate, and it’s also not too shabby when carrying a passenger.
Luring my girls away from their skinny lattes, I soon had them all trying out the large, luxurious seat as they laughed at my horribly cheesy lines. Looking like an early ’90s Honda around the dashboard and inner fairing area, in a slick sort of way, the Kymco is certainly well finished and everything works like a charm. One complaint I have is that you can’t let the bike idle with the sidestand down, although that is probably a good safety feature for an automatic. But being winter here in North Carolina, it is nice to let bikes warm up while putting on the warm weather gear for rides, and with the Kymco I had to sit there and wait. I know, fussy, fussy, but when there is some serious gaming to be done, it doesn’t pay to waste time.
Leaving Starbucks, with a romantic dinner for two planned, I roared off into the sunset, leaving my girls wondering if the tall, dark stranger would return. Well, all right, it was early afternoon and they were all looking extremely happy to be rid of the badly dressed nerd, but we did get a phone number. Score one to the Kymco Xciting. Purring off into the traffic, the turn signals clicking like an early-’70s Ford, I made my way home to rest from a tough afternoon’s work and to plot my next move.
The main feature on the console of the Xciting 500 is an easy-to-read analogue gauge, but it’s more Euro- than American-friendly because the km/h readings are larger than the mph numbers.
Filling up time is another chance to be cool with the Kymco Xciting. Just flick the key to the right and the gas cap pops open. This is located in the front inner fairing, and the bike holds a total of 3.4 gallons. Of course, I could have carried a notebook and a pen, noted the mileage, how many gallons to fill, and calculated the average mpg, but I wanted new owners to have at least one surprise after reading my review, so conveniently forgot. Taking an uneducated guess, I would have to say it is getting over 60 mpg, as it seems to do a lot of trips around town without visiting the gas station.
I did check how fast I was going a couple of times, and the speedometer is nicely mounted in the center of the dashboard with an easy to read analogue gauge, if you work in kilometers per hour. There are regular mile per hour numbers, but they just aren’t visible to my old eyes on the move as the numbers are very small.
Spurred by my first success, the following days brought more of the same. The tall Russian girl outside my favorite coffee shop, the young blonde lady from my apartment complex who came to join my friends and I on a ride, and the raven-haired beauty I lured out of a clothing shop to join my friends for photos. My previously empty black book was filling up fast, and the Kymco was most certainly gaining the hearts of a lot of fair maidens.
We can’t promise that you’ll catch the eye of someone as stunning as this, but we can promise that the Xciting 500 is a good conversation starter.
Most people found it cool, and being physically large with a 62.8 inch wheelbase and a tall front windshield, it didn’t suffer from the somewhat wimpy appearance my new girls used to describe other scooters they had seen. Also provoking a comment from another friend that I didn’t look like a DUI specialist struggling up the inside of traffic at 29 mph, for once in my life, astride the Kymco, I was getting some game.
When it came to battling the traffic, the Xciting 500 holds its own out on the Interstate, working nicely between 70-80 mph. At this point the throttle is well pinned and there ain’t much more, but it sure is smooth: Even if the piston is scampering up and down over 8000 times per minute at this point.
Wind protection is good but not as complete as I originally had in my mind, and on one particularly cold day I was surprised how chilly my legs got unless I pushed my knees together. In the interest of maintaining a manly riding posture I took the cold, but to its credit, my upper body had no complaints. Braking on the Kymco Xciter is good, if not a little old fashioned in the way it happens. Unlike a motorcycle, both brakes are up at the handlebars, as there is no clutch, and they both require a good stout pull. Get used to giving them a firm handshake-styled squeeze for them to do a respectable job of getting everything slowed for the next U-turning, cell-phone-yakking, kid-swatting soccer Mom.
There is even a parking brake for extra security when sitting prospective victims on the seat outside the Java Depot. To activate this neat feature, just pull up on the handle below the speedometer in the fairing, and to release, just push the button on the right-hand side of the handle and push down. Front and rear brakes are linked when you squeeze the left hand lever, and the right lever works the front brakes in the conventional manner.
Even riding two-up, the 498.5cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine of the Xciting 500 holds its own while propelling the 475 lb scoot around town.
Down at the 15-inch front wheel, which runs a 120/70-15 inch tire, two small discs are used, and these get their own basic two-piston caliper. In the rear, a wider 150/70-14 inch tire is employed, and a single-piston caliper disc brake handles stopping duties. Suspension is also fairly basic with twin hydraulic shocks in the rear and a telescopic fork up front. Neither appears to have any adjustment.
While out and about, there are two small storage boxes for stuff like wallets, phone numbers and snack food. These are very important logistical supplies, as sometimes you have to hit a lot of coffee shops before you find a suitable target. The compartment in the fairing is lockable with the ignition key; the one in front of the seat is not. There is also an adjustable backrest for the rider, and the seat is positively huge while being very comfortable for both rider and passenger. The whole floorboard thing took me a while to get used to, and it is weird to not use your feet when slowing down at first.
After a couple of months with Mr. Kymco, I have got to say it was often the pick of the test bikes for me if I was heading into town. It was a hit with my six-year-old son, who liked it equally well up front or behind, and he even did some stints working the throttle. The gentle, predictable power delivery made it very easy for him to modulate the throttle. Of course I had my hand hovering close, so we never ran into any problems, but I was surprised how easy it was for him to control.
Slick, smart, fun and a great way to bebop around town, commute, or just have a simple easy ride, the Kymco Xciting is available through Kymco’s expanding dealer network. Nicely finished, with a lot of quality components, it is a very tidy, reliable machine, and even after languishing in my cold garage for a couple of weeks at a time, it never protested starting. It warms up fast with its automatic choke and is quickly ready to ride once up to temperature.
The scooter was steadied for shots like this thanks to the Xciting 500’s parking brake, engaged by pulling up on the handle in the fairing just below the speedo.
All the regular features are in place. Good loud horn, very visible turnsignals, a powerful headlight for nighttime duties, and a big brake light, which is a something of a comfort in town. With its all enclosed shaft drive, there is no messy chain to deal with, and when you get caught in the rain there is way more protection than a motorcycle. Clean up is super easy with a simple wipe down of the body panels getting you back in the game in minutes.
So after a couple of months with the Kymco Xciting, the question is how did it improve my game? Well, the answer to that lies in the photos. From an old, ugly, unloved moto scribbler’s perspective, the amount of interest generated among the fair sex from the totally unassuming Xciting was unreal. I finally had a black book worth leaving open in the coffee shop, and actually found a reason to use my cell phone.
But, like Straus in his book, when I went to win my fair maiden’s heart, it wasn’t on the scooter, it was with the good old-fashioned go-up-and-ask-her-out method. Did it work? Well, that’s another story, or as the OMC song “How Bizarre” goes, “Wanna know the rest? Hey! Buy the rights.”
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