New Kymco Models

Text: Chris Myers • Photography: Enrico Pavia

Now that gas prices have smashed through the roof, interest in alternative transportation is soaring sky-high too. For a company like Kymco, known for economical and reliable scooters, those circumstances have created the perfect opportunity to go all in and ride to the rescue.

However, one of the first things Kymco USA president Eric Bondy told our throng of scooter scribes was that the corporate bigwigs at the home offices in Taiwan are admittedly a conservative lot. Thus, it came as no great surprise that the company's 2009 lineup wasn't teeming with completely new models. Still, there were some upgrades of note in the queue of shiny new scoots. After touring the company's U.S. headquarters and distribution facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina, we were given a quick rundown of the '09s we'd be riding, and then we hit the road.

The morning segment of the day's ride began with a short tour of the nearby back roads aboard the smaller, sub-150cc models. While not a traveler's cup of tea, it's easy to see why these little zingers are so popular in urban areas and around college campuses. Sure, the sharply styled 50cc Sting and Super 8 models had a hard time keeping pace when the road opened up, but in a congested setting these space-saving petrol sippers offer a fun and practical means of transportation, especially with gallon and a half fill-ups netting 100 miles or better. Though prices haven't been announced, these machines for the economically minded promise to fall within a student's budget.

Following a traditional southern lunch of barbecue and sweet tea, we hit the road on Kymco's larger, street-going options. Unlike their smaller siblings, these rides are quite capable of handling any thoroughfare. Perhaps the nicest surprise and most welcome development comes in the form of the brand-new electronic fuel injection system on the Xciting 500Ri. Cold starts are quick and easy, and warm-up periods appear to be a thing of the past. From a performance perspective, top-end power feels unaffected, but there is a marked improvement in bottom-end punch with no noticeable off- to on-throttle choppiness. According to Kymco officials, the new system also promises even greater fuel efficiency. Other features of note include 19.5 liters of illuminated under-seat storage, a 12-volt accessory outlet, twin-piston brake calipers front and rear, steel-braided brake lines, adjustable brake levers, and linked brakes on the left hand lever. The spacious pillion should also keep passengers smiling.

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For the complete article of the riding impression(s) and technical specifications, please purchase the September/October 2008 back issue.