YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Maximum zip, minimal capacity


I was on Interstate 210 when I saw him. A big guy, his feet kicked out on the floorboards as he sped along in the carpool lane, smoking a cigar and riding ... a scooter.

Brisk sales and a bunch of new model introductions over the past few years already said that scooters are in vogue, but they seem to be shedding their sissy rep as well, especially the souped-up, 250 cc-plus models known as maxi scooters.

Enter 2007's Xciting 500, the largest displacement offering from KYMCO. Kwang Yang Motor Co., based in Taiwan, has been making scooters since 1963.

It's been selling them in the U.S. since 2000, building its presence and credibility with a range of relatively inexpensive, if poorly named, 50-250 cc scoots, the most popular of which are called People.

For the '07 model year, KYMCO's gone to Gold's Gym, beefing up its liquid-cooled and carbureted single to a 498.5 cc model capable of 100 mph.

Not that I took it that fast. The Xciting 500 has ample acceleration to surprise most cars off the line and enough power to stay left on the freeway, but there's something about a 473-pound machine on pygmy feet that gives me pause. The front wheel is just 15 inches. The rear is 14.

Slowing them down are linked disc brakes -- two in front, one out back, all with dual-piston calipers -- but they need to be squeezed harder than Charmin to take effect. The Xciting 500 may be capable of speeding past the limit, but without adequate stopping power, you'll be cursing if you're cut off at high speeds with nowhere to go but the back of a Peterbilt.

Ergonomically, the Xciting's only slightly less comfortable than your granny's rocker. The saddle is 30.3 inches from the asphalt -- high enough to see through SUV windows and wide enough to accommodate the average American behind. The mirrors are big, to spot whatever's threatening to flatten you from the rear. And the windshield is tall, so you can cancel that neck massage you'd scheduled for the end of a long day's ride.

But for a maxi, it lacks capacity. There are three storage compartments on the bike -- two small cubbies and a lighted under-seat area that fits one full-face helmet and a cellphone (that can be velcroed into a dock for charging in the DC outlet) but not much more. An 8-gallon top case is available, but it's $145 extra.

Then there's the issue of load, or lack thereof. The bike's capacity is just 330 pounds. Throw a second person on the back, and you might be tipping the scales.

At least the rear springs are adjustable, but the lack of load capacity doesn't bode well for two-up touring. And its shortness of space under the seat also compromises the Xciting's use, both for trips and errands involving stuff.

KYMCO's Xciting 500 is the B student of maxi scooters. At $5,999, the price is right, but in its attempts to fill the void between Honda's 600 cc Silver Wing and Suzuki's 400 and 650 cc Burgmans, the Xciting 500 doesn't quite do the job.


2007 KYMCO Xciting 500

Base price: $5,999

Powertrain: liquid-cooled, carbureted, four-stroke, DOHC, single cylinder

Transmission: CVT automatic

Displacement: 498.5 cc

Bore x stroke: 92 x 69 mm

Seat height: 30.3 inches

Fuel capacity: 3.38 gallons

Dry weight: 473 pounds

Los Angeles Times Articles