Kymco People 250

Text: Chris Myers • Photography: Christa Neuhauser

Let's see, my driveway is right at ten miles from the parking lot here at the palatial RoadRUNNER towers. Simple math indicates that I'll ride Kymco's People 250 right at 100 miles every week just to get to my keyboard. Throw in a couple of errands and an occasional long-way-home jaunt and I may actually burn close to an entire tank of high test in a week. The cool thing is, the tank only holds a splash over two gallons.

Yes sir, you've got to love it when you jab that gas nozzle down in the tank, squeeze the handle and before you even have the time to say, "Wow, small Icees are only forty-nine cents this week," the handle pops out of your hand and the numbers stop whirling in the $ 5.67 range. Though no one likes to see gasoline prices continuing their lunar trajectory, those of us in the scooter-commuter world don't seem to notice it quite as much. Heck, the gallon and change I just pumped into Kymco's People 250 will get me to work and back home all this week and into the next. I fiendishly chuckle knowing I'll probably use less gas today than the guy who's been standing there pumping the juice into that enormous SUV will use just to merge onto the freeway. On top of it all, the People is far from being machina non grata on said four-lane stretches, the parking is a breeze, and I can zip through slow traffic with ease all while looking eco-hip and stylish in the process.

Power to the People
For a small, lightweight machine, the People is no slouch in the power department. The liquid-cooled, 249cc, four-stroke single delivers a pretty decent punch to go along with its economy. Grab a handful of throttle at a stoplight and you'll be surprised just how much jump you can get from just under 20hp. Cars and trucks simply fall away, especially nowadays with folks treading gingerly on their accelerators. Ha-ha, that's something we scooter types needn't concern ourselves with, because even if you ride it like you're mad at it, the People will still return over 60mpg. And so what if your commute involves a stint on the highway? The Kymco is up to the task. Now, you're not going to be blowing the doors off those SUVs, but 65-70 miles per hour is not a problem, singly or two-up. I just cruise along grinning in the granny lane knowing full well that I'll get there soon enough and save a bunch of bucks doing it.

Of course, being a scooter, the People features that one main trait that makes scootin' oh so appealin'. All you have to do is hop aboard, thumb the electric starter, and twist the gas. The step-less CVT takes care of the rest. The power delivery is smooth and very predictable from parking lot to highway velocities. There's nary a vibration or any other irregularity, just easy, trouble-free riding. Two-up jaunts don't even tax the tranny unless steeper hills come into play. Whether tooling through rush-hour mayhem or back-road bliss, the engine and transmission combination works effortlessly, just the way it's supposed to.

Road Work
The first things that stand out on the People are the larger wheels. Most scoots motivate on 12-inch hoops, but the People packs 16-inchers. Essentially this translates to better stability at higher speeds, especially on the aforementioned freeways. Gone are the occasional cases of the twitches those nasty slab joints inflict upon smaller wheeled scoots. Another positive aspect of the larger wheels shows up in the overall handling characteristics, which are a little more motorcycle-like. The "top-heavy" impression often associated with traditional scooters is greatly reduced and when cornering it feels much more like a motorcycle. Some scoot purists may scoff at this, but if you're entering the twist-and-go world as a current or former motorcyclist, that extra feeling of stability really does mollify a lot of concerns.

Keeping those bigger wheels in contact with the road is taken care of by dual preload adjustable shocks in the rear and conventional telescoping forks up front. Both ends function quite well and have no trouble absorbing all but the biggest jolts, even when there's a passenger aboard. Braking duties, front and rear, are handled by single discs squeezed by twin-piston calipers. No anomalies or irregularities were noted and all in all the binders do a great job no matter what type of riding you're doing. This chassis is a well-rounded package that handles all the rigors our rough and tumble commuting world can dish out while still offering a steady, user-friendly platform more than capable of serving up its fair share of smiles when the traffic dies away and the country roads come out to play.

Seat Time
Good looks are another of the People 250's assets. With all the retro rage that's sweeping the styling world, this is one scoot that's ready to take center stage. The full front fender is somewhat reminiscent of those neat little machines from the sixties that you would "meet the nicest people" on. The classic, flat handlebars and analog gauges eschew modernity and flow nicely with the liberal chroming on the mirrors and around the radiator grille, headlight, and turn signals. Don't let the throwback visage fool you though - thoroughly modern features do abound. The under-seat storage easily holds anything from a 3/4 helmet to several days worth of duds, and the cell phone accessory plug is a neat touch as well. Fold-out passenger pegs assure that the People is date worthy, but be warned, my better half wasn't too happy with the rear seating arrangements. Upon closer inspection, there isn't much in the way of cushioning. For friendship's sake, it may be best to keep the two-up rides on the short side. The rider's seat is quite comfy though, and easily props the joints for all-day jaunts. A small windscreen is included with the deal, but it detracts from the lines of the machine somewhat. Aesthetics or practicality, the choice is yours.

For my money, Kymco's People 250 is everything a scooter should be. It offers great economy, reliability, unique styling, a fun factor that's through the roof, and I can't think of any reason why you wouldn't consider it if you're in the market. While this particular model may not be the best choice for longer journeys, two or three days on the road are not beyond the realm of possibility. As for commuting duties, well, you're not going to outrun the SUVs on the freeway. But when you consider the amount of time that SUV guy spends standing around every week, waiting for an arm and leg's worth of gas to flow into that insatiable land yacht, who's really coming out on top? Heck, this Monday you might want to use the leftover change from your $ 5.50 fill-up and treat him to an Icee. And why not? You can afford it and he's got plenty of time to enjoy it.

TECHNICAL SPECS:
Kymco People 250

Retail price $ 3,999
Warranty two-year limited factory warranty
Distributor Kymco USA - www.kymcousa.com
Engine single cylinder, four stroke, 249cc, SOHC
Fuel unleaded
Fuel Capacity 2.1gal (8l)
Fuel Mileage 62mpg (3.8l/100km)
Theoretical Fuel Range 132mls (212km)
Bore and Stroke 72.7 x 60mm
Max Power 19.5hp
Ignition electric
Starter electric
Lubrication wet sump
Cooling liquid
Transmission CVT

Chassis
Front Suspension telescopic fork
Rear Suspension twin shocks, adjustable preload

Tires and Brakes
Front Tire 110/70-16
Rear Tire 140/70-16
Front Brake twin piston caliper, single disc
Rear Brake twin piston caliper, single disc

Dimensions
Length 87in (2210mm)
Width 29in (737mm)
Seat Height 30.9in (785mm)
Wheelbase 59.6in (1514mm)
Dry Weight 367lbs (166.5kg)