Small displacement two-wheelers are the preferred method of transportation in most cities around the globe, except here. Wide lanes and no particular shortage of space, along with certain perceptions about scooters have kept them off our roads to a large extent. Bigger is not always better, however, and the updated Xciting proves it.
I’ve been testing the 400cc KYMCO scooter for six months (and counting), employing it for my daily commute to work, weekend errands, and the occasional jaunt into the greenery. A few years ago, the outgoing Xciting 500 was my only vehicle for over a year, giving me a great point of comparison. Back then, people looked at it and when I told them it had a 500cc engine, I got plenty of odd looks. One non-rider even asked, “Can it wheelie?” Um, no. I loved the 500 for its acceleration and underseat storage, but it was a little hefty—although not as overweight as the MyRoad 700i, but that’s a different story. For 2018, KYMCO slimmed the Xciting down to 400cc, a good move since it performs better than the 500 with less weight. It’s about 60 pounds lighter, claiming 35hp at 7,500rpm.
In my eyes, scooters only have two throttle positions: open or closed. The Xciting 400i has forced me to modulate the throttle more carefully though, because once launched from a standstill it just keeps on picking up speed. Its acceleration is probably what I like most about scooting around on the Xciting 400i.
Early morning commutes are no fun in a car, obviously. And I never liked riding my motorcycle for short distances. A worthy scooter is the answer, and I actually look forward to my commute! Scooting win #1. Riding the scooter saves me time in (or through) traffic, and looking for a parking space is a nuisance of the past.
Living in North Carolina, I always dream about California lane sharing. (Not the traffic. You can keep that.) When first finding my way on the Xciting, a big road construction project started that’s slated to take three years. Stop and go on a twist-and-go machine isn’t half bad, but still annoying when your feet have to come down. As fate would have it, a motorcycle lawyer emailed me about the nationwide laws on lane sharing. Turns out that North Carolina doesn’t explicitly prohibit lane sharing, and enforcement is up to the officer’s discretion. I tested my newfound knowledge on my way home, when traffic came to a complete halt: no vehicles moving and no exits nearby. So, I cautiously proceeded. Riding at around 20 mph, I quickly came to the reason for the jam and left it behind me. Scooting win #2.
While riding in such heavy traffic, I noticed several visibility advantages to owning the Xciting 400i. For starters, I’m sitting quite high, and the roughly 32” seat height is easily accommodated due to the scooter’s classic step-through design. Compared to the old 500 model, the seat is smaller but still plenty wide, and much more comfortable than many of the motorcycle seats I’ve had under me. A fellow rider asked me if the riding posture felt unusual, referring to keeping the knees closer together. “Not as unusual as cruiser crotch,” I said. (Unless it’s a hot day, and then it’s cruiser crotch on anything.) Scooting win #3.
The next visibility bonus is about being seen. The mirrors are high, and they house the turn signals, too. Instead of being hidden low along the fairing, the tall indicators ensure that fellow motorists know my intentions, which gives me more peace of mind.
When I’m touring the country, I occasionally park my bike in a not so official place so I can keep an eye on it. On errands downtown, I don’t like parking my giant adventure bike with ridiculously large side cases on the sidewalk. (I’m just not that guy, plus we don’t have a Starbucks downtown.) A non-assuming, traffic-easing, and unusually quiet two-wheeler? It’s a license to park anywhere. (Void where prohibited.) Scooting win #4.
This scoot has ABS, Bosch 9.1M ABS, which is also found on bikes ranging from Ninjas to Monsters. The KYMCO’s brakes inspire confidence when you’re navigating the urban jungle, and always provide predictable stopping performance.
Drop-offs and pick-ups of paperwork are a breeze. What about a beer run? After selecting my go-to six pack I meet sportbike Larry in the parking lot. He’s broken open his six pack and trying to stack the six bottles inside his tankbag. Me? I twist my key to the left, and ‘pop’ goes my seat to reveal the KYMCO’s lighted 42.7L of storage. Win #5.
In the Country
Zooming around town on a scooter is one thing, but it can’t possibly handle “touring.” Or can it? The year was 2004. My mom, dad, brother, and I decided to tour the Missouri Rhineland on scooters. Two 500s, two 200s. When my brother and I passed two V-twin riders on the highway at 80 mph, we knew. Those guys are surely never going to be the ones telling that story. And scooters are just as much fun to tour on. It depends what you do with them. Win #6.
Fuel capacity and economy are listed as 3.3gal and 53mpg. In the real world, I calculated my fuel economy as comparable, with a twitchy wrist, and an exuberant riding style. The gas cap is located on the hump between the step-through, and the twist-off cap requires a key. Much better than the 500s which had the filler slightly to the right and below the ignition.
The adjustable-preload suspension offers a stable ride. The front is suspended by a full-length telescopic fork with a 4.3” of travel distance. The rear offers 4.2” of travel and twin shocks with five preload adjustment settings. I still feel a jolt when hitting potholes, but that’s the nature of a smaller machine rolling on 14” and 15” wheels. The flipside of this is maneuverability. Small wheels equal easy handling and low-speed directional changes.
With a low center of gravity, the Xciting always feels well planted. Even at extended highway speeds it’s never felt like I’m on “a little scooter.” Wind doesn’t affect the ride any more than it does on other motorcycles. The little windscreen deflects the wind nicely, without causing unpleasant turbulence.
One memorable country ride took me to Pilot Mountain. Yes, as in Mount Pilot, the one you know from The Andy Griffith Show. Punishing the KYMCO’s hard parts during the curvy ride to the top of the park, I meet hipster Hank on his “scrambler.” While he’s putting his waxed-cotton jacket and ’70s replica helmet on the bike because his asymmetrical canvas bags can barely hold a pair of socks, I open the seat and securely lock my full-face helmet inside.
Every time I ride the KYMCO Xciting 400i, which is every day, I end up with a big grin on my face. It’s easy to ride, convenient, and wherever I stop, people are looking. Scooters make great additions to a stable, but they’re also the perfect machines for urbanites who don’t have a deeper connection to motorcycling. It’s just a shame I don’t see more scooters on the road. But at least I don’t have competition for special parking places.
Commuting use so far has been in autumn and winter, ranging in temperatures from the 30s to the 50s. With rather cold air waking me up in the morning, I chose the Williamsburg jacket to keep me warm and safe. The jacket has an insulated thermal liner, and it’s surprisingly warm. Even on a brisk ride in the 30s, I don’t have to layer and can wear a dress shirt underneath. Its three-quarter length keeps my behind and the tops of my thighs warm, and doesn’t allow any air to sneak in at the bottom. I wear a large in most jackets and have some room, but this very fashionable number feels almost glued on, and it looks fantastic. The integrated elbow and shoulder protectors also stay put. (Back protector has to be purchased separately.) The outer shell is wind and water resistant, and it has kept me dry in the rain a few times. The hood is definitely there for looks, although it adds the benefit of creating more protection from the elements between helmet and shoulders. A snap secures the hood so it doesn’t flop in the wind. On the top of the back, there’s a small reflective strip. My only change would be the addition of more reflective areas, but I also don’t want to look like I’m directing traffic. I’ve been wearing the Williamsburg jacket all winter long, whether on or off the bike.
Price: $ 369.99, Sizes: S-2XL
Distributor KYMCO USA
MSRP $ 5,999
Power 35hp @7,500rpm
Transmission CVT Automatic
Dry Weight 424lbs (192kg)
Wheelbase 61.6in (1,564mm)
Seat Height 31.9in (810mm)
Fuel Capacity 3.3gal (12.5l)
Fuel Consumption 53mpg claimed
Colors Pearly Black, Matte Gray