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First ride: Kymco Xciting 400i review

How exciting is the Kymco Xciting 400i?

TAIWANESE firm Kymco makes some cheap motorcycles and scooters but are they up to the standard of the Japanese? Since Kawasaki’s J300 scooter is a rebranded Kymco Downtown 300i, the answer must be yes.

It’s a problem for over-priced maxi scooters when a machine that’s nearly as good for half the price get an endorsement like that.

Now there’s a new worry for them: This year saw the UK launch of Kymco’s Xciting 400i, a bigger brother to the already accomplished 300i, better in every respect except name (Kymco have outdone themselves by coming up with a moniker even worse than ‘Downtown’).

Like the 300i, it’s got a single-cylinder engine, with capacity up to 399cc. Peak power is 36hp where the Downtown makes 30. Torque is a respectable 27.2lbft

It’s got a twin-disc front brake with Bosch ABS as standard and it costs £5,092 on the road. That’s about £1,000 less than Suzuki’s ABS-equipped Burgman 400, which makes less power, at 33hp.

It’s £3,800 less than Suzuki’s Burgman 650, £4,000 less than Yamaha’s Tmax, and £4,500 less than the cheapest of BMW’s big scooters, the  C600 Sport.  Those machines are of course more sophisticated, with bigger, parallel-twin engines, mounted in the frame rather than forming one side of the swing-arm. But does that really equate to £4,000-worth of scooter-riding experience?

Probably not. The Xciting's engine may be a single cylinder but it's as smooth as any twin. At an indicated 80mph, the needle on the big rev-counter dial is pointing to just over 6,000rpm, and it’s feeling utterly unstressed and vibe free, with the red line at 8,000. An indicated 100mph is fairly easily achievable, making Kymco's claimed top speed of 95mph seem modest.

This is performance on a par with the original 2001 Yamaha Tmax. Even today, many of the biggest and most expensive maxi scooters top-out at around 100mph. Flat-out the Tmax and Burgman 650 both do 101mph, while the Honda Integra does 98.

The Xciting might be 19hp down on the Burgman 650 but it’s also 77kg lighter. That’s a person. As a result, acceleration isn’t too shabby either. It’s easily got enough in reserve to overtake at 60mph.

At walking pace the throttle response is smooth, not jerky like some CVT twist-and-go transmissions can be.

The Kymco also makes an immediate and convincing overall impression of quality, and not one that fades under close inspection.

The huge mirrors could so easily have been ugly but instead they’re a feature, housed in gloss black aluminium, and offering excellent visibility. The black screen and grey-on-black digital instrument panel provide a nice view from the rider’s seat.

The seat is firm but expansive. There's space to move around, and an average-sized rider can stretch his legs by putting his feet on the sloping foot-boards at the front of the foot-well. The bars are high, like the J300's, making for a comfortable, natural riding position.

The same average-height rider may find the seat quite tall. I was on the balls of my feet if I stretched and tiptoes if I didn't. Any awkwardness is minimised by the fact that, like most scooters, the Kymco feels light at a standstill thanks to a low centre of gravity.

The suspension is also on the firm side, giving the scooter a sporty feel. The twin rear shocks look crude but work well. The Xciting feels taughter all over than the J300. I hesitate to say the Xciting feels more exciting. 

The J300 has a 14-inch front wheel which can feel a little wobbly in the perfect storm of a high-speed bumpy bend, just like a Burgman 650 can. The Xciting has a 15-inch front wheel, and feels more stable for it, with never a hint of a weave.

There's loads of stopping power available through the span adjustable brake levers, especially from those twin discs at the front.

Typically of large scooters, there isn't a great amount of feel for the tyres, which are from Maxis. It's a limiting factor only if you try to achieve big lean angles though. At a certain point you realise you can't really tell what's going on, or even how close to the tyre's edge you're getting, and so you back off. That's not what machines like this are made for.

The rear wheel is also an inch bigger than the J300's, at 14 inches, and some under-seat storage is lost as a result.

There's space for one full-face lid but not much else, and fitting a non-helmet-shaped object in there, like a bag, is likely to require some squashing.

The advantage of not having the engine in the frame, however, is that it leaves more space for a bag in the footwell.

The Xciting 400i isn't quite a true step-thru because the fuel tank and filler cap are between your feet, just like on the J300. Kymco says it helps keep the centre of gravity low, and it means you don't have to open the seat to fill up. The arrangement also means there's room for a big bag between your knees, with a handy hook to hang the handle from.
There are also two hooks under the seat which serve as helmet locks, to secure lids outside the storage compartment by their D-rings.

As well as the standard ABS, equipment includes a hand-brake, with the lever by your right knee, and a centre-stand. There's a glovebox big enough for bits and bobs like a camera or phone, with a 12-volt power socket for the latter. A light on the dash comes on when a phone is plugged in and charging.

Other information is pretty basic. You get a fuel gauge, two trip metres and not much besides. But what else do you need. 

Riding the Xciting 400i, I found myself searching for ways to fault it and not coming up with many. The tool kit was knocking about loose in the under-seat compartment rather than secured behind some kind of strap, an arrangement that seems less than tidy. 

Visordown has a J300 as a long-term test bike and I suppose I hoped the step-up in performance would be greater than it proved to be, closer to a Tmax for example. In fact a Tmax makes 46hp and the reality reflects the numbers.

If money is no object, and you just want the punchiest, best-handling scooter, get a Tmax. If you want to the most commodious available, get a Burgman 650 for C650 GT.

But if you just want a really good maxi scooter at a sane price, get a Kymco Xciting 400i.

With scooters like this, increasingly looking a shame the Taiwanese firm doesn’t make some big motorcycles.

Model tested: KTM RC 390

Price: £5,092 on the road

Power: 36hp

Torque: 27.2lbft

Average fuel economy (measured on test): 63.7mpg

Weight: 200kg

Tank capacity: 10 litres

Seat height: 795mm

Available: Now

TAIWANESE firm Kymco makes some cheap motorcycles and scooters but are they up to the standard of the Japanese? Since Kawasaki’s J300 scooter is a rebranded Kymco Downtown 300i, the answer must be yes.

It’s a problem for over-priced maxi scooters when a machine that’s nearly as good for half the price gets an endorsement like that.

Now there’s a new worry for them: This year saw the UK launch of Kymco’s Xciting 400i, a bigger brother to the already accomplished 300i, better in every respect except name (Kymco have outdone themselves by coming up with a moniker even worse than ‘Downtown’).

Like the 300i, it’s got a single-cylinder engine, with capacity up to 399cc. Peak power is 36hp where the Downtown makes 30. Torque is a healthy 27.2lbft.

It’s got a twin-disc front brake with Bosch ABS as standard and it costs £5,092 on the road. That’s about £1,000 less than Suzuki’s ABS-equipped Burgman 400, which makes less power, at 33hp. It's about £500 less than Yamaha's non-ABS X-Max 400, with 31hp.

It’s £3,800 less than Suzuki’s Burgman 650, £4,000 less than Yamaha’s Tmax, and £4,500 less than the cheapest of BMW’s big scooters, the C600 Sport.  Those machines are of course more sophisticated, with bigger, parallel-twin engines, mounted in the frame rather than forming one side of the swing-arm. But does that really equate to £4,000-worth of scooter-riding experience?

Probably not. The Xciting's engine may be a single cylinder but it's as smooth as any twin. At an indicated 80mph, the needle on the big rev-counter dial is pointing to just over 6,000rpm, and it’s feeling utterly unstressed and vibe free, with the red line at 8,000. An indicated 100mph is fairly easily achievable, making Kymco's claimed top speed of 95mph seem modest.

This is performance on a par with the original 2001 Yamaha Tmax. Even today, many of the biggest and most expensive maxi scooters top-out at around 100mph. Flat-out the Tmax and Burgman 650 both do a genuine 101mph.

The Xciting might be 19hp down on the Burgman 650 but it’s also 77kg lighter. That’s a person. As a result, acceleration is respectable. It’s easily got enough in reserve to overtake at 60mph.

At walking pace the throttle response is smooth, not jerky like some CVT twist-and-go transmissions can be.

The Kymco also makes an immediate and convincing overall impression of quality, and not one that fades under close inspection.

The huge mirrors could so easily have been ugly but instead they’re a feature, housed in gloss black aluminium, and offering excellent visibility. The black screen and grey-on-black digital instrument panel provide a nice view from the rider’s seat.

The seat is firm but expansive. There's space to move around, and an average-sized rider can stretch his legs by putting his feet on the sloping foot-boards at the front of the foot-well. The bars are high, like the J300's, making for a comfortable, natural riding position.

The same average-height rider may find the seat quite tall. I was on the balls of my feet if I stretched and tiptoes if I didn't. Any awkwardness is minimised by the fact that, like most scooters, the Kymco feels light at a standstill thanks to a low centre of gravity.

The non-adjustable forks and preload-adjustable shocks are also on the firm side, giving the scooter a sporty feel. The twin rear shocks look crude but work well. The Xciting feels taughter all over than the J300. I hesitate to say the Xciting feels more exciting. 

The J300 has a 14-inch front wheel which can feel a little wobbly in the perfect storm of a high-speed bumpy bend, just like a Burgman 650 can. The Xciting has a 15-inch front wheel, and feels more stable for it, with never a hint of a weave.

There's loads of stopping power available through the span adjustable brake levers, especially from those twin discs at the front.

Typically of large scooters, there isn't a great amount of feel for the tyres, which are from Maxxis. It's a limiting factor only if you try to achieve big lean angles though. At a certain point you realise you can't really tell what's going on, or even how close to the tyre's edge you're getting, and so you back off. I did, anyway.

The rear wheel is also an inch bigger than the J300's, at 14 inches, and some under-seat storage is lost as a result.

There's space for one full-face lid but not much else, and fitting a non-helmet-shaped object in there, like a bag, is likely to require some squashing.

The advantage of not having the engine in the frame, however, is that it leaves more space for a bag in the footwell.

The Xciting 400i isn't quite a true step-thru because the fuel tank and filler cap are between your feet, just like on the J300. Kymco says it helps keep the centre of gravity low, and it means you don't have to open the seat to fill up. The arrangement also means there's room for a big bag between your knees, with a handy hook to hang the handle from.

There are two hooks under the seat which serve as helmet locks, to secure lids outside the storage compartment by their D-rings.

As well as the standard ABS, equipment includes a handbrake, with the lever by your right knee, and a centre-stand. There's a glove box big enough for bits and bobs like a camera or phone, with a 12-volt power socket. A light on the dash comes on when a phone is plugged in and charging.

Other dash information is pretty basic but includes a fuel gauge, two trip metres and a service warning light. What else do you need. 

Riding the Xciting 400i, I found myself searching for ways to fault it and not coming up with many. The tool kit was knocking about loose in the under-seat compartment rather than secured behind some kind of strap, an arrangement that seems less than tidy. 

Visordown has a J300 as a long-term test bike and I suppose I hoped the step-up in performance would be greater than it proved to be, taking the 400i closer to a Tmax for example. In fact a Tmax makes 46hp and the reality reflects the numbers.

If money is no object, and you want the punchiest, best-handling scooter you can have, try a Tmax. If you want the most commodious and luxurious, get a Burgman 650 or BMW C650 GT.

But if you just want a really good maxi scooter at a sane price, try a Kymco Xciting 400i.

With scooters like this, it's increasingly looking like a shame this Taiwanese firm doesn’t make big motorcycles.

Model tested: Kymco Xciting 400i

Price: £5,092 on the road

Power: 36hp

Torque: 27.2lbft

Average fuel economy (measured on test): 63.7mpg

Dry weight: 200kg

Tank capacity: 12.5 litres

Seat height: 795mm

Available: Now

Thanks to RideMe-London for the test ride

Read our Top 10 maxi scooters review

Read our Kawasaki J300 long-term test series