They say: "Better than best."
We say: "Well, at least not worse than worst."
You've probably never heard of Kymco, but the Taiwanese manufacturer has been in business since 1963. Best known for its cruisers and scooters, Kymco is branching out into the beginner sportbike market with the new Quannon 150. Finally, there's an alternative to the ubiquitous Honda Rebel and Kawasaki Ninja 250!
I wasn't sure what to expect when I was handed the key. I conjured up visions of riding off into the sunset, the wind tousling my ponytail. And there was this cute group of saucer-eyed kids who waved eagerly as I whizzed by. But my first venture aboard the Quannon wasn't everything I hoped for, as I had a close encounter with a distracted driver who pulled out in front of me! Fortunately, I dodged that bullet and my subsequent rides were much more enjoyable.
Powered by an air-cooled, four-valve, four-stroke single, the 149cc Quannon is barely legal for freeway operation in most states. The carbureted engine fires right up, but needs a minute to clear its throat before off-idle throttle response is acceptable. Clutch action is light, and the five-speed transmission gets the bike rolling without any hesitation. The motor's claimed 14 horsepower may make experienced riders chuckle, but beginners will appreciate the controllable, predictable delivery. Power is pretty weak at lower revs, but above 6000 rpm the Quannon accelerates briskly. And even though redline is indicated at 8000 rpm, the engine builds power until the tach needle tops out at 10,000 rpm and the rev-limiter kicks in. It'll get you from Point A to Point B, but we wish it had more power, for safety's sake. We can only hope there's a 250cc version on the way.
In a sea of monochromatic beginner's bikes, the Quannon is available in blue or red with r
The frame is a surprisingly modern twin-spar steel assembly, but the suspension is as basic as you'd expect on a sub-$3000 bike. Fit and finish are good; better than a Hyosung but not quite on par with a Honda. The seat height is a relatively lofty 31.5 inches-and felt taller than my Ninja 250's-which could be a deal-breaker for short-legged newbies. The bike isn't short on amenities, however. It's got a digital fuel gauge, an easy-to-use centerstand and a cool digital speedometer that will display 75 mph in top gear if you tuck in and pin it on a long stretch of road. Single disc brakes front and rear handle stopping, and work better than expected. That's a definite attribute when negotiating the mean streets of L.A., as I discovered.
Price is considerably less than the current crop of beginner's bikes, and on top of that the Kymco comes with a standard two-year factory warranty (an optional four-year extended warranty is also available). The Quannon is stylish, functional and doesn't put too big a dent in your wallet, which is a great combination for a penny-pinching fashionista like moi.