2013 Kymco Xciting 500i ABS: Scooting Redefined

Text: David Burbach • Photography: Florian Neuhauser

Most scooters are designed with one task in mind—urban commuting, and it is a role that suits them well. There are, however, some scoots that are capable of much more, even some for whom words like “highway” or “tour” aren’t so dirty. One of these is the Kymco Xciting 500i ABS.

Powertrain and Performance

The flagship of Kymco’s U.S. lineup is powered by a modern, fuel-injected, 499cc liquid-cooled single that produces a claimed 38 horsepower. Though that figure isn’t huge by motorcycle standards, it’s quite impressive for a scooter. When departing a stoplight, the 500i does so with determination, though not necessarily with adrenaline-pumping acceleration. At idle, the motor exhibits the usual vibration associated with having one cylinder, but as RPMs start to rise, the oscillation evens out considerably. Speeds in excess of 75 mph are attained without difficulty and are surprisingly comfortable thanks to impressive smoothness from the big single.

At highway speeds, the Xciting still has enough passing power to inspire confidence, and extended stays on the super slab are remarkably effortless. However, around town is where this two-wheeler really shines. The CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) does a good job of keeping you in the engine’s power band, and the linear throttle response makes the 500i supremely easy to ride.

Chassis and Handling

The suspension set up is a non-adjustable telescopic fork up front and pre-load adjustable dual shocks out back. For such a big heavy scooter (473 pounds wet), the Kymco is extremely nimble. Its relatively small tires (15-inch front and 14-inch rear) and wide handlebar give it a turning radius that will put just about any motorcycle to shame.

It’s able to lean hard too; during some spirited mountain riding, various metallic protrusions scraped the asphalt several times. All the while, the chassis remains composed and predictable. You can pick your line and consistently place the big scoot just where you intend to.

Unfortunately, the Xciting’s corner carving abilities come at the expense of some ride quality. Potholes (and even lesser bumps in the road) are transmitted straight through the steel chassis to your posterior. I found myself surveying the road ahead more than usual for potential disturbances. Though these road imperfections aren’t very comfortable, thankfully, they don’t disturb the Kymco’s stability in the least.

Since the letters ABS appear in the scooters name, you may well assume that the Xciting’s brakes are so equipped, and you’d be right. The 500i is endowed with some impressive braking hardware: dual discs upfront and a single disc out back gripped by (slightly cheesy) red painted calipers. Squeeze the left-hand brake lever (where the clutch normally is) and the Bosch ABS brakes both the front and rear wheels. The right-hand lever slows the front wheel only. The stoppers provide a good feel and plenty of power. On a CVT equipped vehicle, it’s especially important to be able to modulate the braking power quickly and accurately since engine braking changes every time the transmission alters its ratio.

The Xciting also features a hand-operated parking brake so you can safely park on an incline.

Features and Ergonomics

With its substantial forward fairing and windshield, the 500i offers good wind protection, though riders taller than six feet will likely find their heads poking into the air stream. The seating position is classic scooter, as you are perched on top of, rather than astride, the machine. The seat is large, comfortable, and more than up to the task of keeping your rear end happy for hours at a time.

The Xciting 500i is blessed with enough storage to seriously enhance its practical appeal. The underseat cargo area is big enough to fit a helmet and jacket and features lighting plus a 12-volt power outlet. The area is accessed via the five-position magnetic key that (while it takes some figuring out at first) proves an effective way to access the storage, open the gas cap, and operate the bike. There is also a lockable glove compartment in front of the seat.

The big Kymco also sports a full suite of instrumentation. The analog gauges include speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge, and temperature with a small digital display handling trip, odometer, and clock functions. The gauges are on the small side but aren’t difficult to read.

Conclusion

With its oversized (for a scooter) engine, surprising agility, and great brakes, the Kymco Xciting 500i ABS has the muscle to go long distances while retaining its around-town usefulness. The feature list hits the sweet spot by including the always useful power outlet and always preferable full instrument display while leaving creature comforts like heated grips and an adjustable windscreen to the aftermarket. This strategy allows the Xciting to offer top-level scooting performance and utility at a very reasonable $ 6,899.