Scooters are big in European and other markets – around here, not so much. “Scooters and soccer,” Kymco PR rep Peter Jones tells us, “they’re just not a part of our culture.” Still, Kymco doggedly sticks to its guns, offering a full line of scooters where many OEMs have reduced or eliminated their scooter offerings.
“The coolest person you know, that’s a scooter rider,” Jones goes on to say, and 54-year-old Taiwanese firm Kymco’s latest offering caters to the coolest of them. It’s the Like 150i ABS, a product that clearly takes aim at Vespa’s Primavera (and Sprint) 150. It offers similar performance, safety and style, but at just $2,599 is half the price of its Italian cousin’s $5,099 MSRP. The new Like also promises connectivity and coolness for 2019, when the Noodoe instrumentation package will be offered.
The new Like follows Kymco’s tried-and-true formula. Steel frame, plastic bodywork, air-cooled motor. But now it’s all been tweaked so it’s not just durable and affordable, it also offers looks, performance and handling that will likely (heh, heh) hang with the best Japan or Italy has to offer.
The Like features a zesty fuel-injected, air-cooled, 149.8cc four-valve Single good for a claimed 13.3 horsepower at 9,000 rpm. It’s a mid-sized ride, weighing in at a claimed 264 pounds dry with a 31.1-inch seat height and 51.8-inch wheelbase. The rear suspension is preload-adjustable rear shocks, and braking is handled by triple discs and standard-equipment Bosch 9.1m ABS. The floor-mounted, 1.8-gallon tank should get you deep into triple digits of range.
We got a chance to ride the Like, dodging rainstorms to take an urban tour around Asheville, North Carolina. Zipping up and down Asheville’s tight, bumpy and meandering byways, I got the impression of a scooter that’s smooth, peppy and easy to ride. Power felt about as advertised, and it should get this little guy up to around 60 mph and more than adequately keep up with traffic during an urban commute. Handling was light, and the bike rode well over the bumps. The motor felt smooth, but you won’t mistake it for an electric.
Maybe the most impressive feature of the Like is the good build quality. It’s built in Kymco’s mainland China facility, but the free-living Taiwanese are pretty good at whipping communist laborers into shape, with very little of the chintzy materials or crappy finish you see from mainland products. The paint and chrome, for instance, looked and felt like something from a high-end manufacturer, easily up to the standards of more-expensive manufacturers.
The 2018 Like will have standard instrumentation, including a clock, volt meter and fuel gauge, but the next model year will sport Noodoe, a connectivity system that’s kind of like a simplified version of Apple CarPlay. It will connect to WiFi, GPS and smartphones via Bluetooth to give the rider updates from social media, text messages or email as well as allowing customization options, just in case the riding experience will be enhanced by a photograph of your cat or kids on the speedometer. Disregard my snark – the Noodoe will add a fun feature for not much money.
Fun for not much money. That’s the core concept of the scooter, no? The 2018 Like 150i ABS delivers on that promise, providing sensible, good performance with a measure of safety you don’t see at this price point. Kymco’s got the scooters, but soccer is on its own.