2010 Kymco Scooters First Ride

October 7, 2009
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

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When Motorcycle USA arrived at Asheville, North Carolina to sample the 2010 Scooter lineup from Kymco, we had no idea how robust the Tawian manufacturer’s scooter line actually was. Ranging from 500cc maxiscooters to 50cc 4-strokes, with plenty of mid-displacement offerings on hand, Kymco has added four new models this year: the Downtown 300i, Like 200i, Like 50 and Super 8 50 2T.

There were too many rides and not enough time… But we did our best, scooting along the Blue Ridge Parkway and the uber-sheik grounds of Asheville’s private Biltmore Estate to get a taste of the 2010 Kymco scooter line.

Kymco Xciting 500Ri – $6299, ABS $6799

As if testing a score of scooters in a 1.5-day window wasn’t daunting enough, we complicated things by arriving late thanks to multiple flight delays and a fitful night of shuteye in the Atlanta airport (Thank You DELTA!!). Literally a day late, we dropped our bags in Asheville, plopped on a helmet and ran over to a waiting Kymco 500Ri. Our testing group was “somewhere south on the Blue Ridge Parkway,” so we twisted the grip and went lookin’.

Storming up the Blue Ridge Parkway aboard the Xciting 500Ri is a ride we wont soon forget.
Storming up the Blue Ridge Parkway aboard the Xciting 500Ri is a ride we won’t soon forget.

The solo saddle time made for a grin-inducing jaunt, flogging the most performance-oriented Kymco scoot down the famed southern byway to catch up. The 498.5cc DOHC Single fairly rips in a scooter context and 70-plus mph cruising speed is a simple lickety-split right hand twist. Granted, the large Xciting can feel every bit its 473 lbs (claimed dry weight), yet the chassis and its telescopic fork, plus dual preload-adjustable rear shocks are game enough for spirited riding – though you’re not going to confuse its handling with a street bike anytime soon.

The dual disc front binders teamed with the sturdy rear disc, do a competent job bringing the near 500-lb scoot to a halt. And, yes, the optional ABS is a worthy investment despite the extra 15 lbs and $500.

Riding position is cush, with the feet-forward footrests quite relaxing and making long-distance treks a pleasant affair. Our only real gripe with the Xciting is its lengthy 61.8-inch wheelbase, large size and hefty weight, making low-speed maneuvering more technical than on its smaller, more nimble, siblings. As for fit-and-finish, the inclusion of a tach on the control panel doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but we’ll forgive ‘em for it – our high-speed scoot down the Blue Ridge will definitely get scratched into our cranial hard drive for a long time to come. (Long-term opinions on the Kymco 500Ri are available in our 2009 Kymco Xciting 500Ri Review.)

A score of scooters and 1.5 days on the prestigious Biltmore Estate  still not enough time to sample the robust 2010 Kymco scooter line.
A score of scooters and 1.5 days on the prestigious Biltmore Estate, still not enough time to sample the robust 2010 Kymco scooter line.

Kymco Xxciting 250Ri – $5199

As for the 250Ri, we jumped aboard the 500’s kid brother further down the Blue Ridge, once we caught up with the rest of the testing crew. The rolling chassis on the two Xcitings are identical, from physical dimensions, to brakes, to suspension; that is until the eye rolls down the spec sheet to the 67-lb lighter dry weight! And in a 407-lb scooter that makes for a BIG difference.

A liquid-cooled Single like its sibling, the 72.7mm x 60mm bore and stroke add up to a 249cc displacement (92mm x 75mm for the 500). The smaller SOHC engine pares down the pounds, but definitely gives up some of the oomph compared to the 500. However, the 250 still gets up to speed and should be okay on the Superslab – the power loss is felt mostly under acceleration, particularly at higher speed. Cushioning some of the performance drop is an efficiency claimed at 61 mpg, far greater than the observed mid-30mpg from our previous test run with the larger scooter. Oh, it’s also a full $1100 less than the 500.

Aside from the engines, the two units as a whole felt quite similar – the 250 perhaps more deft at lower speeds and easier to manhandle thanks to the lighter weight.

Kymco Downtown 300i

The Kymco Downtown delivers the performance much closer to the 500Ri than the smaller 250  thanks to its lighter weight and all-new 4-valve 299cc Single.
The Kymco Downtown delivers the performance much closer to the 500Ri than the smaller 250, thanks to its lighter weight and all-new 4-valve 299cc Single.

We spent the most time during our North Carolina testing run aboard the all-new Downtown 300i, which resides between the Xciting 500Ri and 250Ri in the maxiscooter lineup. At first glance the Downtown appears to be just a rebadged Xciting, but while similar in appearance, its differences become apparent behind the controls.

First, there’s the 299cc Single. The nearly square configuration of the 72.7mm bore and 72mm stroke seems a stroked out version of the 250 powerplant, yet Kymco assures us the 4-valve SOHC mill is a totally new design. The assertion is backed up on the road, where the 300’s power and acceleration feel far closer to the 500 than the 250. Top end performance isn’t quite at the 500’s level, but the freeway is fair game, as well as hustling along backroads at a respectable clip.

Perhaps one reason why the engine feels so spunky is it’s pushing only 367 lbs – a full 106 lbs less than the 500Ri (40 lbs less than the 250). We assumed this was a spec sheet blunder, but Kymco promises the new engine and chassis have made the weight reduction possible. And speaking of chassis, the Downtown is more compact – two inches shorter in length with a corresponding one inch-shorter wheelbase at 60.8 inch. Seat height is a quarter-inch higher than the Xciting, and the cockpit feels tighter. While the seat itself is comfy, the close quarters first become apparent when pitching the feet forward, the footrests too close to use on the Downtown – at least for taller riders, myself standing 6’1”.

The Kymco Downtown 300i is a 2011 model that will appear in the second quarter of 2010.
The Kymco Downtown 300i is a 2011 model that will appear in the second quarter of 2010.

The telescopic fork and preload-adjustable dual shocks can get jarred by road imperfections transmitted by the 14-inch front and 13-inch rear tires (an inch smaller on each wheel than the Xcitings). Still, the handling is on par with Xcitings, transitions being a little quicker on the lighter Downtown.

Although using the same braking components as the Xcitings – wave rotor and two-pot calipers – the Downtown sports only a single-disc configuration up front. While delivering less initial bite there’s plenty of stopping power at the ready when jamming down on both the front and rear single-disc units. (Kymco purchases suspension and brake parts from major suppliers in enough volume to brand them themselves – though Kymco reps do confirm ABS is from Bosch.)

Dealers are quick to point out that Kymco is from Taiwan, not China, and doesn’t carry the dubious stigma attached to “cheap Chinese scooters,” the quality of Kymco scoots apparent while riding and backed by a two-year warranty. (Though the Made in China/Taiwan saga and what’s made where, by all manufacturers, is worthy of an article – or even series of articles…) The overall fit and finish on the Downtown may be the best of the Kymco line. Our only minor quibble is the KMPH speedo, with small inset MPH numbers that are hard to read, and also there’s that analog tach – looks alright, but why exactly am I looking at it?

Overall the Downtown 300i was our pick of the Kymco litter. While price is still pending, the Downtown is actually a 2011 model, which should be due in dealerships by the second quarter of 2010.

Out of the remaining Kymco scooter models we found some that stood out during our limited exposure. Here are the highs and lows:

Kymco Yager GT 200i – $3499

Out of the 150-250 Kymco class  the Yager 200GTi was the best standout  ample performance and comfy ergos.
Out of the 150-250 Kymco class, the Yager 200GTi was the best standout, ample performance and comfy ergos.

In the 150-250 class, the star in our opinion is the Yager GT 200i. The biggest reason being its liquid-cooled 175cc Single, which felt comparable to the Xciting 250 and provided plenty of pop on surface streets and backroads. We didn’t approach freeway speeds on the Biltmore Estates (the Vanderbilt overseers would surely release the hounds if we were too obnoxious, or at least the private security force), however, we feel confident the Yager could handle interstate traffic.

The 13-inch front wheel and 54.7-inch wheelbase make for a quick-turning yet stable handler, while the single-disc brakes front and rear also deliver pleasing performance. The quirkiest trait is the oddly shaped handlebars, which look something like seagull wings ready to take flight but make for plenty of legroom – the comfy ergos another big plus in our book. The $3500 pricetag isn’t half bad either, and a lot of bang for the buck – a better deal in our estimation than the Xcitings.

2010 Kymco Super 8 150  a sub- 3000 MSRP and acceptable performance from its air-cooled 149cc mill.
The Kymco Super 8 above looks like its 50cc sibling but sports 150 power. The People 150 below is a proper city bike.
The Kymco People 150  another standout in the mid-size crowd and a good mount for city commutes.

Kymco Super 8 150 – $2299

Another standout was the Super 8 150, which delivers the sharp-turning maneuverability of its smaller 50cc kin but with much more palatable performance out of its air-cooled 149cc 4-stroke. The 14-inch wheels and single disc front/drum rear brakes match well with the urban intentions of this metro commuter. Our favorite trait? Has to be the $2299 MSRP.

Kymco People 150 – $2799

An honorable mention in the mid-range scoots goes to the People 150. Freeways are a no go, but the 152cc air-cooled motor seemed game enough for larger surface streets and make the People 150 a proper little city scoot. The skinny 16-inch hoops are easy to turn yet deliver a motorcycle feel and the riding position isn’t as cramped as we expected. However, is it worth the $500 premium over the Super 8 150? Not by our brief saddle impressions.

Kymco Like 200i

The biggest disappointment in the 200 class was the new 2011 Like 200i. We rode it only a short while on the Blue Ridge Parkway, where it did not belong. The all-new air-cooled 163cc motor was sluggish, struggling up inclines and from standing starts. The most unnerving trait, however, was the cramped riding position, with our knees effectively acting as the steering lock and making it a dicey proposition for taller riders. Unless the pending MSRP is rock bottom, we don’t see many riders opting for the Like when there are better options in the Kymco arsenal – though we have to admit its retro-y lines are some of the sharpest in the line.

Kymco People 250 S – $4499

Unfortunately, we didn’t spend more than a few minutes aboard the intriguing People 250 S, but we did enjoy the time. Short review, motor feels similar to Xciting 250Ri with more compact dimensions and handling characteristics. Would like to get a second ride, until then…

Other notes from the 250 Kymco line, the quirky Venox cruiser? It’s gone baby, gone – dropped from the 2010 lineup.

Stay tuned for a upcoming review on the quirky Kymco Quannon 150 – for impressions on the numerous 50cc mounts from Kymco – see sidebar.