Scoot with excitement

Unlike most other maxi-scooters, Kymco's Xciting S400 has foot pegs that are located towards the rear and allow the rider to be comfortably positioned.
Unlike most other maxi-scooters, Kymco's Xciting S400 has foot pegs that are located towards the rear and allow the rider to be comfortably positioned.PHOTO: KYMCO

Kymco Xciting S400 offers brilliant handling and adequate performance

Kwang Yang Motor Co (Kymco) may not be a familiar name among non-riders, but the 55-year-old Taiwanese company posts annual sales of more than US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion).

With Honda's technological assistance, Kymco makes scooters, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles.

The Xciting S400 is one of the seven maxi-scooters (touring scooters or larger-than-normal scooters) in its stable. With its origami-like lines, it looks pretty sharp and promises dynamic handling.

Two owl eyebrow-like headlamps with daytime-running lights sit below a manually adjustable five-level windscreen. A large 15-inch wheel between a pair of telescopic forks completes its aggressive and sporty front. The LED tail-lamp has a simple yet stylish central tri-band design flanked by a pair of boomerang shapes.

Adjustable five-step dual shock absorbers provide rear suspension duties. Interestingly, they are tethered to a smaller, 14-inch wheel.

Under the seat is a compartment big enough to swallow a full-face helmet, an important feature for maxi-scooter riders. Sadly, that is the only under-seat storage - unlike some other touring scoots, which have two. There are two storage cubbies below the handlebars for a mobile phone and gloves.

  • SPECS / KYMCO XCITING S400

  • Price: $11,500 without COE and insurance

    Engine: 399cc liquid-cooled 4-valve single-cylinder

    Transmission: Continuously variable, belt-drive

    Power: 35bhp at 7,500rpm

    Torque: 38.4Nm at 6,000rpm

    Top speed: 140kmh

    0-100kmh: 11.2 seconds

    Fuel consumption: 4 litres/100km

    Agent: Motor Sport

Some pillion riders find maxi-scooters uncomfortable because they have to stretch their legs forward. The Kymco's foot pegs are, however, more comfortably located - more towards the rear, like those on motorbikes. The rider, too, has a relaxed riding position.

At the Lihpao Racing Park track in central Taiwan, the Xciting S400 gave positive impressions.

It felt light and sharp when I twisted the right grip and scooted off, belying its relatively hefty 189kg dry weight.

The chassis will easily handle more power, even if the bike's 399cc single-cylinder produces an adequate 35bhp at 7,500rpm and 38.4 Nm of torque from 6,000rpm.

The S400 was exciting on the track. So much so that I got carried away and scraped the underside fairing of the right floorboard in a long sweeping right corner.

I confessed the damage to vice-president of research and development Victor Hsu, who was surprised by his product's handling prowess.

The front windscreen did its job well. Even at its lowest setting, there was no wind buffeting to rattle my brains when I was flat-out on the straights.

The front dual-disc brakes were well-equipped for track work. It was only after seven or eight laps that they started to fade.

Kymco touts the Xciting S400 as a sport tourer, planning a ride up Taiwan's highest road-accessible mountain to prove it.

Despite wet and cold conditions on the way up the 3,275m Hehuan summit, the S400 felt safe.

Its generously appointed Metzeler Feelfree tyres were brilliant in the damp and never gave me any heart-stopping moments - even though I had to apply emergency braking a couple of times because of the fog. I dare not imagine what would have happened if I had skidded on this road.

Although the suspension was firm and pliant on the track, the rear end was bumpy along scarred public roads, even with the setting at one notch above softest.

In Singapore, the Xciting S400 should make for a comfortable and enjoyable everyday commute. It will satisfy Class 2A riders looking for a maxi-scooter with ample power for the city as well as the expressways.

For more oomph, consider the Kymco AK550 maxi-scooter with 52 bhp.

• The writer contributes to Torque, a motoring bi-monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2019, with the headline 'Scoot with excitement'. Print Edition | Subscribe