Besides a century-old working farm and a popular winery, the Biltmore Estate also boasts the largest private home in the United States, built by railroad tycoon George Vanderbilt. The Vanderbilt family is the very definition of old money, which is apt because with its new scoots Kymco is taking direct aim the “old money” of the scooter world – Vespa.
Though Kymco scooters have only been on U.S. shores for the last 10 years, the Kwang Yang Motor Company has been in business since 1963. Kymco had a decades-long partnership with Honda and currently builds the engine for BMW’s G450X enduro bike. Unlike many overseas manufacturers, Kymco makes no bones about the fact that it intends to directly compete with the big boys.
Kymco USA Marketing Director Rick Pawelka told Motorcycle.com that he feels Kymco scooters are every bit as good as anything made by Vespa or anybody else.
“My ultimate goal is to have people in the U.S. buy a Kymco scooter because they want a Kymco, not because it costs less than the next guy,” says Pawelka.
2010 Like 50
Kymco’s weapon of choice for its battle with Vespa is the brand new Like 50. A quick glance at the retro-styled Like and you might think it came directly from Italy. You can bet that’s exactly what Kymco wants you to think.
After closer inspection, you’ll see the Kymco logo brandished on the front of the Like, but the Taiwanese manufacturer has taken further inspiration from Vespa by writing ‘Like’ along the top left of the very familiar looking front fairing, seemingly mimicking the ‘Vespa’ signature in both style and placement.
Color choices for the Like also bring to mind a European palette. Light blue, white, ivory, black and red are your available options.
The Like is powered by a 49cc two-stroke, air-cooled, carbureted engine. Small 12-inch wheels wrapped with Kenda tires (120/70/12 front, 130/70/12 rear) make for a very user-friendly scoot that’s easy to handle around downtown streets and anywhere tight, low-speed turns are the norm. Stopping power is provided by a single disc up front and a drum brake in the rear.
As for suspension, the Like relies on a telescopic fork up front and a twin-sided swingarm with a single shock in the rear.
At 76.3-inches, the Like is among the longest 50cc scooters Kymco offers. The wheelbase is 51.9 inches, the seat height is listed at 30.7 inches, and it holds 1.8 gallons of fuel. It’s not the lightest scoot in the Kymco lineup, but at a claimed dry weight of 220 pounds the Like is hardly a heavyweight.
Nearly everything about the Like is designed to help you strut your stuff in the city, where you’ll hopefully draw jealous stares from the masses while you park it outside of café to enjoy a cappuccino and some biscotti.
The Like 50, which also comes with a standard locking top box, has an MSRP of $2,099. That’s $1,200 less than the base Vespa LX 50. Kymco may one day want you to buy its scooters without the discount, but that’s for the future. Right now you get to keep that extra cash in your pocket or throw it on your Starbucks card.
While the Like 50 can be found in dealerships straight away, Kymco also unveiled a trio of scoots that will be in released between April and May of 2010 as early release 2011 models – the Like 200i, Super 8 50 2T, and Downtown 300i. These would have been part of the 2010 lineup, but Kymco tells us all three units are still awaiting U.S. certification.
2011 Like 200i
As you might expect, the Like 200i is basically the same vehicle as the Like 50, but with a fuel injected 163cc, four-stroke, air-cooled engine. Dimensions are virtually identical, except the Like 200i features dual shocks in the rear and weighs an extra 25 pounds.
2011 Downtown 300i
It may not have the same Euro-inspired looks as the Like, but the Downtown 300i is another interesting option from Kymco. It’s powered by a 298cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled engine that’s noticeably peppier than that of the Like 200i. It features slightly larger wheels (14 inches front, 13 inches rear), an extra 10 inches in length, a 60.8-inch wheelbase, and weighs a more robust 367 pounds. However, as the name implies, the Downtown is still relatively easy to handle in tight city streets while also offering a considerably more performance and power for traveling at higher speeds. The Downtown 300i will be available in white, pewter, and red.
2011 Super 8 50 2T
Not a completely new unit, the Super 8 50 2T is a two-stroke cousin to the four-stroke Super 8 50. The reason for the new Super 8, according to Kymco, is all about power. This unit has a much sportier look than the rest of the manufacturer’s low-displacement scoots, and Kymco wanted the power to match the plastic. Thanks to the two-stroke engine, the Super 8 50 2T gives you a little more oomph when twisting the throttle. It’s not going to snap your neck back, but you’ll certainly notice the difference. Color options should be the same as the original Super 8; red/black, yellow/blue, or green/black.
MSRPs for the Like 200i, Downtown 300 and Super 8 50 2T have not been announced.
In addition to the newly released scooters, Kymco also brought along some of its early release 2010 models, including the Xciting 500 Ri, Yager GT 200i, and the Quannon 150 motorcycle.
2010 Quannon 150
Kymco showed off the Quannon at the IMS shows earlier this year. The Quannon 150 features a five-speed manual transmission and a 4-stroke, air-cooled, carbureted 149cc engine. Along with a claimed dry weight of 299 pounds, Kymco says its low-displacement sportbike gets an estimated 95 miles per gallon.
With an MSRP of $2,999, the steel-framed Quannon has single disc brakes front and rear, 17-inch steel wheels and ¾ fairing. It’s Kymco’s first crack at a sportbike and at first glance it’s a nice looking machine. Motorcycle.com is hoping to get a hold of a Quannon 150 in short order for a full ride review, so stay tuned.
As an aside, some folks at Kymco are very excited to finally have a sportbike in the lineup. Nobody would confirm or deny this, but don’t be surprised to see a larger displacement sportbike from Kymco in the future if the Quannon performs well at dealerships.
2010 Yager GT 200i
Among Kymco’s 200-class scooters, the liquid-cooled Yager GT 200i has the biggest engine at 174.5cc (The Like 200i and People S 200 feature a 163cc mill). Riding around the winding roads of the Biltmore Estate, the Yager was right at home. Despite the small wheels (13 inch front, 12 inch rear), the Yager offers a reasonably smooth ride and the throttle feels quite responsive. We think the Like 200i is a better looking bike, but the $3,499 Yager is more fun to ride and more comfortable for taller riders.
2010 Xciting 500 Ri (ABS)
Finally we get to the flagship of the Kymco scooter line – the Xciting 500Ri. With its 498.5cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected engine, it’s far and away the most powerful scooter in the lineup. If you plan on spending a lot of time on the highway, this is the Kymco for you.
Kymco is clearly treating the Xciting 500Ri as its flagship model, as evidenced by an optional ABS package. It’s a short list of scooters that can boast ABS. The Xciting 500 Ri has an MSRP of $6,299 ($6,799 or ABS).
Looking at the 2010 (and early release 2011) Kymco models, it might just be the deepest scooter lineup available in the U.S. With 18 scooters (and one sportbike), including six 50cc models, there are certainly plenty styles to choose from.
Our time aboard the various different models wasn't enough to provide authoritative reviews of each, but we'll be filtering several through our garage over the coming months for full testing to find out how Kymco measures up to the competition.