My last scooter experience involved attempting to navigate the hills of Los Angeles on a 1987 Honda Spree, a feat possible only if the wind was at my back. Negotiating bumps meant bracing myself and hoping for the best. Oh what a difference two decades makes! The Kymco Xciting 250Ri is nothing like that Spree. It's big, modern and sleek, and yet it's still an economical, terrifically fun way to get around town.
The 250 is based on Taiwanese company Kymco's flagship maxi-scooter, the Xciting 500Ri. Thus it's still a physically big bike, but it's lighter in weight (407 lbs. vs. 473 lbs.) and lower in price ($5249 vs. $6299). Even so, the 250 is almost too heavy for someone of my size and strength, as I had trouble getting it in and out of the garage and tight parking spaces. The riding position is a stretch for my 5-foot-7 frame, and the wide seat apparently was designed more for comfort than my 30-inch inseam. At low speeds, the long wheelbase makes maneuvering a challenge. The suspension is similar to that of a motorcycle, but a tad too stiff for city potholes. ABS isn't an option on the 250 like it is on the 500, but the triple discs reacted well to both measured and panicked pulls on the levers.
Underseat storage compartment looks capacious, but can’t quite hold a full-face helmet.
That weight disappeared once I got rolling, however, and then I started looking for "Xcitement" everywhere. I even found myself seeking out hills to climb! For someone accustomed to a 50cc two-stroke like that old Spree, the added heft might be a good trade-off for the increased zip. The fuel-injected four-stroke fired right up on cold mornings, ran smoothly and was way faster than most cars. Curious motorists at stoplights had time to do double-takes, then stare slack-jawed as the "Blue Flame" left them behind in a trail of dust. I mustered up the courage to venture onto the freeway and the 250 had no problem getting up to speed.
My riding partner usually wields a BMW, but was sporting a perma-grin after trying the Kymco, singing its praises as a commuter. Lockable storage compartments in the footwell and under the seat make it perfect for quick jaunts to the supermarket, and the fact that there's no room for the kids might actually be a bonus!
For a relatively inexperienced rider like me, the Xciting 250Ri combines motorcycle-like performance with the traditional scooter attributes of user-friendliness and convenience. I didn't want to give it back.