2011 Kymco Xciting 500Ri Comparison

June 27, 2011
Steve Atlas
Steve Atlas
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Professional-grade speed and an attitude to match, Steve Atlas is the new blood at MotoUSA. Atlas has AMA racing creds that are even more extensive than his driving record.

The Xciting 500Ri is Kymco’s flagship scooter. The Taiwanese company’s Xciting was aimed at and designed to provide a price point-friendly version of the Yamaha TMAX, without question. Park the two side-by-side and from a distance it’s difficult to tell them apart; from the angular headlamp to the swooped side panels to the pulled back windscreen. The Xciting’s focus is to be a more ‘sporting’ type of pass-through and to lure away potential TMAX customers by enticing them with a similar looking machine for far less money. But does it perform like the Yamaha?

It’s easy to see why there is a market for this kind of product; judging simply by visual cues the Xciting ticks all the same boxes as the TMAX, yet retails for nearly $2300 less. If a consumer was unable to test ride the pair prior to purchasing, it would be hard to justify the added cost of the Yamaha. Are you simply paying for a fancy name, as Kymco would like you to believe, or does the extra money equate to a superior product? Let’s just say this: Swing a leg over the two back-to-back and all of the sudden the added 2K seems like a bargain —

2011 Kymco Xciting 500Ri
Similar to the Yamaha TMAX, the Xciting is designed with styling features like an angular headlamp and swept-back windscreen.

especially for those who like to ride at a more spirited, sporting pace. In fact, if it was double the cost I would probably still say the price difference was warranted, as the gap between them is that vast.

Powering the big-bore scoot is a liquid-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder engine. A bore and stroke of 92.0 x 75.0mm provides the 498.5cc displacement, making it the biggest pass-through the Korean manufacturer offered this year. Like the Yamaha, it too features fuel injection, a CVT transmission, dual front disc brakes and radial tires (15-inch front and 14-inch rear). But the generalization of the technology is where the similarities end, as the Yamaha specs high-end components, while most of the Kymco parts are either from no-name brands or units replicated in-house by Kymco itself.

One plus of the ability to replicate just about anything: Low costs. One downside: Cheaper processes and lower-spec raw materials almost always equate to a product that is severely inferior to that of the name-brand piece it attempts to duplicate. As for these two scooters, there’s little doubt that when it comes to the TMAX and the Xciting, you get what you pay for.

“The Xciting definitely shows it’s age in this test and also how far Kymco production has come in the past half-decade,” said Dawes. “The Xciting has been around since 2005 and it looks and feels long in the tooth. The newer Kymcos are so much more refined than the Xciting. In comparison to the Yamaha the quality differences are almost laughable. Even so with the Suzuki, and the Burgman is far from what I would call ‘well-made.’”

2011 Kymco Xciting 500Ri
Powered by a 498.5cc liquid-cooled four-stroke engine, the 521-pound Kymco scoot feels much slower and less refined than the Suzuki Burgman or Yamaha T-Max.

The data shows the Kymco’s weaknesses as well, the Xciting trailing behind the Suzuki and Yamaha by over two seconds on the run to 60mph, it’s best time a 10.29 seconds. Under braking its best recorded distance of 161 feet from 60mph to a stop was six feet further than the much heavier Suzuki and 14 feet past that of the class-leading Yamaha, a machine that is in line with the Kymco’s measured wet weight of 521 pounds. Seat of the pants is the same story, the Xciting simply feels less refined and a lot slower than the Yamaha or Suzuki.

“I’m afraid the Kymco Xciting didn’t quite live up to its name,” Ross says. “It is difficult to reflect on this scooter because there really wasn’t anything too memorable about it. The seating position and ergonomics were comfortable enough and the power delivery was as weak and delayed as one may expect out of a scooter. The Xciting handled most corners easily enough and the size and weight of the scooter were very manageable – as long as the pace is on the slow side, that is. Get going too fast and all of the sudden the chassis develops a nice door hinge in the middle. The Xciting would make a competent scooter for a variety of mundane, day-to-day occasions, but was otherwise a very forgettable experience.”

2011 Kymco Xciting 500Ri
2011 Kymco Xciting 500Ri
2011 Kymco Xciting 500Ri

This “hinged” feeling from the chassis of the Xciting was a feeling resonated throughout the group, especially when it came time to hit the backroads and pick up the pace. The Kymco resists initial turn-in once speeds get in excess of 30-40 mph. When finally forced on its side it has a tendency to slither wildly across the road, on more than one occasion pulling its rider out into the on-coming lane in an attempt to avoid falling. Once the chassis gets going and the high-speed wobble starts there’s little one can do other than simply holding on and trying to point it in the right direction.

“That thing is downright scary when pushed hard and leaned on its side!” exclaims Waheed. “Once the hinge in the middle breaks its seal, so to speak, there’s no coming back. Add to that relatively limited ground clearance and the next thing you know you’ve just snaked your way across two lanes of traffic while dragging the pipe on the ground and, well… let’s say you may want to hit the next rest stop to change your skivvies.”

Now that we have established that to ride the Kymco in a sporting manner is sketchy at best, once the pace slows down there are some areas that the Kymco tackles relatively well. For its price point the Xciting provides a comfortable seat, adjustable windscreen and easy-to-mount pass-though step-well. It also returned a very economical 47.4 mpg fuel efficiency. Combined with the 3.4-gallon tank, we continually went well past 150 miles per fill-up, one time almost ticking the 200-mile mark as we rolled into the station on fumes.

Adds Augustin, wrapping up the Kymco: “The Xciting 500 was the first scooter that I rode in the comparison; the cockpit was comfortable like any scooter should be, and riding it around, the power was average. Bottom line is that while there was nothing too impressive about this scooter, there was nothing too discerning about it either (at slower paces). It felt a little cheaper made than the others, but if it’s a low price tag that you put the most emphasis on when buying a scooter, the Xciting might be your preferred path.”