Report Card: Kymco Downtown 300i

Words: Zac Kurylyk   Photos: As credited

Words: Zac Kurylyk Photos: As credited

“Would you like to run this year’s Mad Bastard Scooter Rally,” Editor ‘Arris asked. “Errr, yes”, was my reply – “Could I please ride the biggest maxi-scooter available?”

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We’ve already covered most of the big maxi-scooters out there, though, so ‘Arris lined up a smaller one for me, the Kymco Downtown 300i. Would that be a maxi-scooter, or a medium-scooter? In any case, it was my ride for this year’s day-long romp through Ontario, down hundreds of kilometres of back roads, secondary highways and small towns.

Home Ergonomics: A

I’m used to long days in the saddle, but I was still advised I’d need my Airhawk when I left on the 2013 MBSR. Not so – I ended up lending mine to another rider, whose butt wasn’t forged out of the same stern stuff my own posterior was constructed of, or maybe he was just closer to his appropriate BMI … In any case, the Downtown’s seat isn’t as comfortable as the best motorcycle saddles I’ve sat on, but I could have kept on riding the bonus loop at the end of the MBSR, if I’d had time. I was quite impressed.

Overall, the Downtown 300i is a pleasant, comfortable machine to ride. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

Overall, the Downtown 300i is a pleasant, comfortable machine to ride. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

The Kymco’s floorboards let you slide your sneakers back and forth; during a long trip, you can adjust your legs to avoid cramps. You can even prop them up in a feet-forward position, similar to what you’d find on a big cruiser, but I found the scooter’s handling a bit top-heavy after I tried this.

You can actually use the front of the Kymco's floorboards as sort of forward controls, to stretch your legs, but I found this raised the scooter's centre of gravity. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

You can actually use the front of the Kymco’s floorboards as sort of forward controls, to stretch your legs, but I found this raised the scooter’s centre of gravity. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

On a bigger scoot like this, you could expect the windblast to be tiring over a day-long ride at brisk speeds, but I found the Kymco’s windscreen did a great job of keeping me comfortable; all the bodywork up front blocked most of the showers we rode through earlier in the day during the MBSR as well.

I suppose a higher-priced scooter could offer a cushier ride, but to me, the Downtown’s ergos are more than adequate, and probably better than most motorcycles in the same price range.

Gasography: A

I didn’t have a chance to get a good overall idea of how the Downtown performed in the fuel economy department, as I ran much of the MBSR at open throttle. However, I did note I managed 31.4\ km per litre during the rally, which is a very respectable 74 mpg US (89 mpg imperial). Considering my throttle-happy activity, I was happy with that.

There's even a gas gauge in there - quite convenient, although the Downtown has decent range, thanks to its fuel-sipping tendencies. Photo: Kanisha Sonnadara

There’s even a gas gauge in there – quite convenient, although the Downtown has decent range, thanks to its fuel-sipping tendencies. Photo: Kanisha Sonnadara

Locker Tidiness: B

First of all, it took me a while to get used to opening the Downtown’s under-seat storage; you have to turn the key backwards in the ignition to open it. It sounds simple, but I found it a bit fiddly in practice, and I was worried I’d break the ignition or the key.

The four-stroke 299 cc motor has no problems hustling you along at highway speed. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

The four-stroke 299 cc motor has no problems hustling you along at highway speed. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

There is plenty of room in the Downtown’s trunk, although the storage compartment is long, and not as deep as you might find in other scooters, which might make it difficult to pack some items. Kymco reckons you can fit two helmets in there, but I never checked that.

There’s also a storage compartment in the Downtown’s dash; it’s a handy storage spot for sunglasses, your wallet, and the like, but this felt sort of cheap, like the seat release. One nice touch is a 12v outlet inside this compartment, enabling you to charge electronic devices while riding.

There is an optional top trunk, if you feel you need more storage.

Accelerated studies: A

I expected the Downtown to be a bit poky, but I was pleasantly surprised – this step-through can haul right along with all but the maddest of traffic.

Early morning at the MBSR. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

Early morning at the MBSR. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

Like most scooters, the Downtown has an auto transmission (CVT); that means acceleration isn’t as hard-charging as most motorcyclists want, but once you’ve built up a head of steam, you can cruise secondary highways at lose-your-licence-and-your-scooter speeds. Indeed, I was keeping a nervous eye open for Johnny Law while I rode through the rolling hills around Bancroft.

You can actually have a fair bit of fun in the twisties with the Kymco, as its handling is quite decent. Photo: Kymco

You can actually have a fair bit of fun in the twisties with the Kymco, as its handling is quite decent. Photo: Kymco

I even managed to hang with a group of big-displacement cruisers I met on the tight, twisty Faraday Road.

Captain Kidd and his band of two-wheeled pirates thought they’d get rid of me quickly, but the Downtown’s keen handling and respectable power kept me right behind them.

I even considered passing them, but that a cheeky move like that might end up with me being stomped roadside by a group of peg-legged cruiseratti in matching chaps and do-rags.

Deceleration Studies: A

What can I say? The brakes work. There’s no ABS, but I didn’t miss it. I’m not always a fan of a handlebar-mounted rear brake, but that’s standard for scooters. And, it seemed to make gravel parking lot quite easy. Sadly, the residents of rural Ontario didn’t seem to be impressed with my slideways experimentation.

The Downtown doesn't have ABS, like Kymco's larger 500 Xciting scooter does. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

The Downtown doesn’t have ABS, like Kymco’s larger 500 Xciting scooter does. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

Gym: A-

As I said earlier, this scooter handled the tight stuff on the MBSR, like the Faraday Road, extremely well. It’s very stable at speed; I did long sections of the rally with only one hand on the bars (and thankfully was not accosted by the OPP for that grievous transgression – I hear it can earn a stunting charge).

Kurylyk, far from downtown on the Downtown, finds a local road with what he deems is a spelling error. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

Kurylyk, far from downtown on the Downtown, during the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

The only handling problem I had was when the scooter wasn’t under speed. When parking the machine, I had issues with the kickstand; a few times during the day, I had the scooter roll off the kickstand (thankfully, I caught it before it fell). I don’t know if the kickstand’s angle is wrong, or if the leg is too long or too short, but I found it a bit sketchy.

Social studies: A

I’m not a huge fan of plastic bodywork, but for a machine like the Downtown, I think it works. The styling didn’t make me feel like I was riding a Transformer, despite the headlights’ angular lines.

The orange paint (it’s also available in red and black) looked sharp as well. Really, I think the designers nailed the look for this one. 

Economics: C

Ask yourself: Would you spend $6,000, plus tax and other charges, on a made-in-Taiwan scooter? Your answer to that question will determine whether or not the Downtown is right for you.

The Downtown was ridden hard and put away wet during the MBSR - and showed up a few Big Twins in the process. Photo: Kanisha Sonnadara

The Downtown was ridden hard and put away wet during the MBSR – and showed up a few Big Twins in the process. Photo: Kanisha Sonnadara

Its closest made-in-Japan competition would be the Suzuki Burgman 400 ABS, with a $8000ish price tag, and the new-for-2013 Honda Forza 300 is just $400 more at $6,400. Kymco’s own People 200i has a top speed just under the Downtown’s (in the 120 km/h range), and is available for $5,000.

There's a small luggage rack on the rear, along with the under-seat storage. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

There’s a small luggage rack on the rear, along with the under-seat storage. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

So, while the Downtown has a price tag that’s not unreasonable, compared to its competitors, it’s not pitching itself as a bargain, but then why should it? It’s a scooter you can ride all day long and cover distance in relative comfort. People have spent much more money on vehicles that can do much less.


GALLERY

Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.

Kurylyk Kymco

Kurylyk, far from downtown on the Downtown, during the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

Kymco Downtown white

You can actually have a fair bit of fun in the twisties with the Kymco, as its handling is quite decent. Photo: Kymco

KymcoDowntown300_2013-001

Overall, the Downtown 300i is a pleasant, comfortable machine to ride. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

KymcoDowntown300_2013-002

I don't normally like plastic bodywork, but I think Kymco's designers did a great job with the Downtown. The orange paint looks good, too. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

KymcoDowntown300_2013-003

The four-stroke 299 cc motor has no problems hustling you along at highway speed. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

KymcoDowntown300_2013-004

There's a small luggage rack on the rear, along with the under-seat storage. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

KymcoDowntown300_2013-005

The Downtown still has round headlights inside the angular lenses, and they look decent. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

KymcoDowntown300_2013-006

The Downtown doesn't have ABS, like Kymco's larger 500 Xciting scooter does. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

KymcoDowntown300_2013-007

Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

KymcoDowntown300_2013-008

Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

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Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

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The floorboards are covered with rubber for grip. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

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There's even a gas gauge in there - quite convenient, although the Downtown has decent range, thanks to its fuel-sipping tendencies. Photo: Kanisha Sonnadara

KymcoDowntown300_2013-013

I found the ignition lock, which also controls the trunk release, a bit fiddly. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

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The storage compartment in the dash also includes a 12v charger. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

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Having a rear brake lever instead of a clutch lever makes hoonery in the gravel surprisingly fun. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

KymcoDowntown300_2013-017

Thanks to EFI and a CVT transmission, acceleration on the Downtown is smooth. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

KymcoDowntown300_2013-018

You can actually use the front of the Kymco's floorboards as sort of forward controls, to stretch your legs, but I found this raised the scooter's centre of gravity. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

report card

Words: Zac Kurylyk Photos: As credited

MBSR2013_Zac-KymcoDowntown300_002

Early morning at the MBSR. Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara

MBSR2013_Zac-KymcoDowntown300_001

The Downtown was ridden hard and put away wet during the MBSR - and showed up a few Big Twins in the process. Photo: Kanisha Sonnadara

Kurylyk, far from downtown on the Downtown, during the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally. Photo: Kanishka SonnadaraYou can actually have a fair bit of fun in the twisties with the Kymco, as its handling is quite decent. Photo: KymcoOverall, the Downtown 300i is a pleasant, comfortable machine to ride. Photo: Kanishka SonnadaraI don't normally like plastic bodywork, but I think Kymco's designers did a great job with the Downtown. The orange paint looks good, too. Photo: Kanishka SonnadaraThe four-stroke 299 cc motor has no problems hustling you along at highway speed. Photo: Kanishka SonnadaraThere's a small luggage rack on the rear, along with the under-seat storage. Photo: Kanishka SonnadaraThe Downtown still has round headlights inside the angular lenses, and they look decent. Photo: Kanishka SonnadaraThe Downtown doesn't have ABS, like Kymco's larger 500 Xciting scooter does. Photo: Kanishka SonnadaraPhoto: Kanishka SonnadaraPhoto: Kanishka SonnadaraPhoto: Kanishka SonnadaraThe floorboards are covered with rubber for grip. Photo: Kanishka SonnadaraThere's even a gas gauge in there - quite convenient, although the Downtown has decent range, thanks to its fuel-sipping tendencies. Photo: Kanisha SonnadaraI found the ignition lock, which also controls the trunk release, a bit fiddly. Photo: Kanishka SonnadaraThe storage compartment in the dash also includes a 12v charger. Photo: Kanishka SonnadaraHaving a rear brake lever instead of a clutch lever makes hoonery in the gravel surprisingly fun. Photo: Kanishka SonnadaraThanks to EFI and a CVT transmission, acceleration on the Downtown is smooth. Photo: Kanishka SonnadaraYou can actually use the front of the Kymco's floorboards as sort of forward controls, to stretch your legs, but I found this raised the scooter's centre of gravity. Photo: Kanishka SonnadaraWords: Zac Kurylyk   Photos: As creditedEarly morning at the MBSR. Photo: Kanishka SonnadaraThe Downtown was ridden hard and put away wet during the MBSR - and showed up a few Big Twins in the process. Photo: Kanisha Sonnadara


SPECIFICATIONS

Bike  2013 Kymco Downtown 300i
MSRP  $5,995
Displacement  299 cc
Engine type  Liquid-cooled, single cylinder, four stroke
Power (crank)*  n/a
Torque*  n/a
Tank Capacity  12.5 litres
Carburetion  EFI
Final drive  Belt
Tires, front  120/80-14
Tires, rear  150/70-13
Brakes, front  Single disc, dual-piston caliper
Brakes, rear  Single disc, dual-piston caliper
Seat height  775 mm
Wheelbase  1544 mm
Wet weight*  n/a
Colours  Black, orange, red
Warranty  Two year limited warranty
* claimed  

 

 

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