Little Big Scoot

Text: Chris Myers • Photography: Christian Neuhauser

Still kind of new to this scooter thing, I have to constantly remind myself to temper my skepticism. I know for a fact that 250cc motorcycles do just fine as commuter machines and can hold their own on the open road. Why, then, am I so quick to scoff at a 250cc scooter? It's called ignorance, and the cure for that is education. Come on, let's go to school.

I knew there would be a learning curve involved when I poked my helmeted head inside the world of scooters. Fortunately, it's been a rather pleasant curve to take and my natural motorcyclist's inclination to look down on scooters has been completely erased. The more scooters I ride the more I find myself drawn to their convenience, practicality, and the fun factor.

Take the Kymco Grandvista, for example. As stated, I was initially a bit put off by the fact that it only has a 250cc motor. Odd, that - my first motorcycle was a 250 and I got around just fine. I recommend 250s to first-time buyers all the time. So, why should I turn cynic when the same number of cubic centimeters comes in a scooter? It's ignorance, my friends, ignorance plain and simple. Once out in traffic, the Grandvista quickly shows me the error of my ways. The 250 has no problems keeping up with traffic; frankly, it flat-out wants to run away from traffic. Much to the chagrin of my fellow bumper-to-bumperists, the scooter allows me to zip in and out of traffic snarls with ease.

Now for the big test. The exit for the highway looms ahead. How will the Kymco handle the need for some real speed? It takes off down the seven-mile stretch of four-lane with no problems and is nowhere near the slowest vehicle out there. So far, this is an impressive little machine. Let's look at how it gets it done.

Engine and Transmission
The liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, 250cc motor propels the Grandvista down the road almost effortlessly. A little vibration is felt as the scooter initially accelerates, but that smoothes out very quickly, and there's almost no discernable vibration thereafter until the motor is pushed to speeds that 12-inch tires have no business turning. Even when riding two-up, maintaining a highway speed close to 70 mph is not a problem.

Saddled with two adults for a 900-mile round trip weekend, the Kymco settled back into commuting duties perfectly. The 19.5hp motor works just fine for the ride to work and the occasional extended romp through the country. The electronic ignition has kept the motor running flawlessly in all sorts of weather, including a couple of decent rainfalls.

Typical of most scooters, the Kymco features a CVT transmission that gives it consistent acceleration from standstill all the way through cruising speed. That means no clutch, my sore-wristed, traffic-sitting comrades. All you have to do is twist the throttle and off you go. Allow me to mention rush hour again. Despite my initial reservations, the 250 actually puts a decent bit of get up-and-go down on the ground, which makes it real easy to catch people napping and get the jump at stoplights. It's always fun to see peoples' reactions when a scooter dusts them. Silliness aside, the transmission performed perfectly and didn't appear the least bit bothered by the extra weight of two-up riding.

Chassis and Brakes
The Grandvista's Achilles heel is its chassis. First off, I felt cramped when I climbed aboard. No matter what I do for relief, I'm shoehorned into this thing. And though the seat is incredibly comfortable, the positioning of the bars sets my elbows at an unnatural bend, so much so that they begin to ache after a while. Legroom is also an issue. The scooter looks roomy enough but there really isn't much space to move about. I'm 5'-10", so anyone taller will have a hard time getting comfortable on the Grandvista. The passenger seat, on the other hand, received rave reviews from my wife. She's astonished by the spaciousness and comfort of the seat. The ample floorboards also give her plenty of room to move around. So, the pillion gets a big thumbs-up.

Braking on the Grandvista is handled by single discs front and rear. The dual-piston calipers scrub off the speed quite well whether riding solo or passenger laden. The feel of the brakes is predictable and surprisingly progressive. There wasn't a hint of grabbiness or fade in heavy traffic. How quickly you need to stop correlates to how hard you squeeze, just as it should be.

The stock suspension settings work just fine on smooth roads, but on roughened surfaces, the smallish springs on the rear show its shortcomings, especially two-up. Even after bumping the preload up a few notches, the shocks still bottom out, although not as severely. When not over-taxed, however, the suspension works pretty well. There are no surprises and the handling is neutral, allowing the scooter to hold the road admirably. While the bumps are somewhat spine jarring on rough roads, the scooter generally behaves itself and offers no real surprises. I can't help wondering why a scooter so capable of hauling the extra weight isn't fitted with a more capable suspension.

Accessories and Arrangements
The Grandvista abounds with nifty little touches that make the ride more enjoyable. Despite my earlier gripes about the cramped cockpit, I have to admit this is a fun scooter. The speedo, tach, odometer, clock, fuel and temperature gauges are all digital and well laid out on the dash. The under-seat storage compartment is capacious enough to hold two open-face helmets or clothes for two for three days. You'll also find a cell phone holder, complete with a 12V DC adapter, under there. Electric mirrors fold in with the touch of a button to minimize the risk of damage in tight parking situations, and the integrated windshield does a reasonable job of holding off the weather even though it could stand having a notch or two of adjustability.

Summary
This Kymco is a very strong all "around" machine. It can handle around-town traffic, around-the-block errands, and it buzzes all around the countryside at a decent clip, even two-up. There's plenty of room to safely store things, from a few groceries to a book bag and a laptop. Helmets disappear under the seat while you paint the town.

Convenience and practicality are the hallmarks of the scooter lifestyle and the Grandvista has that wrapped up nice and tidy. With all of this stylish fun and pep clothed in a 60-plus-mpg ride, the Kymco Grandvista is a package very worthy of anyone's consideration - as long as they're not too tall.

TECHNICAL SPECS:

Kymco Grandvista 250

Retail Price $ 4,399
Warranty 2 yr. factory warranty
Maintenance Schedule 185/600/every 1200 miles (300/950/1950km)
Importer/Distributor Kymco USA 1770 Campton Road Inman, SC 29349 Phone:(800)845-7007

ENGINE
Type single cylinder, four stroke, 249cc, SOHC
Fuel unleaded
Fuel Tank 9.1l (2.4gal)
Fuel Consumption 3.6l/100km (65mpg)
Theoretical Fuel Range 251km (156mls)
Bore and Stroke 72.7/60mm
Max Power 19.5hp @7,500rpm
Ignition electronic
Starter electric
Lubrication wet sump,
capacity 1.1l (1.16qts)

Cooling liquid
Transmission continuously variable transmission

CHASSIS
Frame steel
Front Suspension 33mm telescopic fork
Rear Suspension 2 hydraulic/spring
shocks with adjustable preload

Front Tire 120/70-12
Rear Tire 140/70-12
Front Brake 1-220mm (8.7in) disc, 2 piston caliper
Rear Brake 1-200mm (7.9in) disc, 2 piston caliper

DIMENSIONS
Length 2055mm (80.90in)
Width 768mm (30.23in)
Seat Height 770mm (30.3in)
Wheelbase 1435mm (56.4in)
Dry Weight 167kg (368lbs)