KYMCO’s Taiwan – part 2

sm_title2.jpgEditor ‘arris’ conclusions on his recent trip to Taiwan to check out all thins KYMCO (and some other things beside). Vietnam? Twentysix percent …


Words: Editor ‘arris, Photo: Editor ‘arris (unless otherwise specified)



Safety is number one concern (especially for kids).

I got the distinct impression that the powers that be at KYMCO Taiwan didn’t want to let us go wild on their product on the streets of Kaohsiung, or anywhere else in Taiwan for that matter.

Whether this is due to the challenging ‘scooter ballet’ that is the form on the streets of Kaohsiung, or maybe that they didn’t have any units prepped for journos to legally ride, I was unsure.

So instead of getting out to sample a slice of Taiwan life from the streets, we were whisked off to KYMCO’s private test track just out of town to sample some of their new ‘09 models. Hmmhhh, maybe that’s not too bad.


‘Arris takes a ride whenever he gets it.
photo: Mr. Kitty

The ‘test track’ composed of a one-kilometre stretch of straight pavement with some stretches of irregular surfaces to the side to test suspension and braking. Hmhhh.

It was also close by some exquisite mountains all promising twisty-turny asphalt, glorious views, and a chance to get away and take a sip of the real Taiwan in the process.

But this was not to be, so I bucked up and did my best to get some impressions from the menu of machines that were laid out before me.





Quannon is KYMCO’s CBR125R.

It’s a Honda CBR125R. Almost. KYMCO Canada are interested in bringing this bike into Canada, but have the age-old problem of having to wait and see if KYMCO U.S. (who are currently testing it) is going to do it first so that the huge costs of testing are taken care of.

The Quannon boasts an aluminum frame, disc brakes front and rear and an extra 25 cc over Honda’s CBR. However, unlike Honda’s more advanced liquid cooling, the motor is an air-cooled unit and has a carb instead of FI.

Much like the CBR, the Quannon requires a wide-open throttle and lots of gearbox play to keep the mite zipping along. It feels pretty similar power-wise to the CBR, with a redline at 8,000 rpm although usable power carries to about 9.


Doing what we can in the space provided.
photo: Mr. Kitty 

Top speed I saw was 110 km/h, which is a little down on the Honda, though I was limited to a kilometre in which to get there.

It does have significantly chunkier tires than the CBR (110/80-17 front and 140/70-17 rear), which meant it felt a little less twitchy in the handling … as far as a kilometre and turnaround at the end allows you to get a feel for it.


Personally I think the Honda’s a little sharper in its looks and has a more refined overall feel. Of course, KYMCO could try and beat them on price, but at three and a half grand for the CBR, I’m not sure they really have any room to maneuver. I say bring in the KYMCO “Kommie”, but I think I might be the only one on that …



photo: Mr. Kitty 

This is the latest big-arse scooter from KYMCO (their current biggest being the 500 Xciting), which should come to Canada sometime later in 2009. It’s so new that we were given a prototype to ride.

The MyRoad 700i is KYMCO’s flagship scooter and boasts the same level of technology that the Japanese have only just started to put out there – such as handlebar-controlled three-way suspension adjustment (soft, medium and hard damping), keyless starting (can be started up to 1.5 meters away with sensor in rider’s pocket), and a tire pressure monitor (signal on the dash when pressure too low or high).


MyRoad motor.
photo: Mr. Kitty

There’s also ABS, anti-theft, and enough room under the seat for two full-face helmets. The motor’s a new unit specifically designed for the MyRoad – a 699 cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled, parallel twin with four valves per cylinder and twin balance shafts to smooth out vibration. Max claimed horsepower is 53 and they reckon that it’ll go in excess of 170 km/h (not tested on said track by me I may add).

When I got round to shooting the MyRoad back and forth it had started to rain. Normally this is cause for a downer, but anything that could take the edge off the heat and humidity was most welcome – though by the time it was over, it had tempered the sauna-like conditions fractionally if at all. Still, it allowed me to pass the MyRoad on its first test – good weather protection.


Space is a bit tight for lanky bastards.
photo: Mr. Kitty 

Unlike many of the other maxi-scoots available today, the MyRoad isn’t overly spacious. I’m 6’4″ and found the stepped seat pushed me a tad close to the front, where the pointy-shaped fairing pushed into my knees. I reckon the max height for this scoot is likely about six foot.

Otherwise it’s not at all bad. The motor sounds a bit rough at idle, but it spins up nicely and turns a good amount of speed which the ABS brakes thankfully took care of at kilometer 0.9.

There is a bit of a delay before the CVT cuts in off idle, which is noticeable during slow speed turns (you have to get to 2,500 rpm to get drive), but I’m going to presume that this is fine-tuning stuff that they’ll fix before production.



The Sento 50 was surprisingly fun.

I wasn’t going to bother with this little Vino/Jazz copy as I can never get my lanky frame to fit on these types of rides, but the 30-degree heat and saturated humidity had me sweating so profusely, I stripped off my jacket, got on and buzzed up and down the strip just to cool off.

Hmhhh, I fit … and with room to spare. A flat seat and highish bars meant I could keep my knees from bashing against said bars when turning and found myself to have more room than the MyRoad (though that would be sans passenger).


Photo: Nika Rolczewski 

The model that we had to ride was a speed-limited version (yes, a speed
limited 50 …) so the motor was a tad limp, but in Canada I was
assured that we’d see the full fire-breathing version.

It’s obviously geared to younger girls with its bright pink and swirly flowers, but it also comes with super-sharp brakes that allow for lurid skids – a Hello-Kitty-with-attitude kinda ride.

Overall the Sento feels like one of the most refined KYMCOs that I’ve ridden, and should do well.

Okay, that’s enough of this work-type stuff, time to sod off back to the hotel and a well earned pint.



“Yeehaaaaa …”
photo: Mr. Kitty 

KYMCO don’t just produce scooters and small motorcycles, but also ATVs. Wednesday was slated as a day to take some of their ATVs out into the sand dunes and have an all-round good time. Despite ATVs not being in CMG’s mandate, a day out to ride big machines through tall sand dunes seemed like just a smashing idea.

A three-hour drive to get there only went to show us just how twisty and fun the mountain roads of Taiwan could be (less so in a Toyota van than on two wheels), but all frustrations were dissolved once we hit the dunes.


Nika takes a leap of confidence.

You gotta love a place where you can still rip up dunes in a gas-powered vehicle, more so when they don’t even require a waiver to be signed first. It’s also a rare treat to be doing something like this on a vehicle that you don’t have to write about – four wheels bad, two wheels good.

I don’t know ATVs so all I can say is that racing Mr. Graham through dunes, exploring side trails, and absorbing some of the natural splendour of Taiwan was a day well wasted.

It didn’t persuade me to go buy an ATV or even add ATVs to CMG’s mandate but I was impressed overall by the build quality and capability of the selection of KYMCO ATVs that we abused that day.


Drink the coffee, slip on the shades and slip back to that happy place.

Followed by what turned out to be the most entertaining day was what
was the most bizarre – possibly worthy of journalistic legendary status.

No one seems quite sure why we were allotted a whole day to do a tour
of the Kenda tire factory. One of the KYMCO Canada reps had the
interesting distinction of having an uncle who founded Kenda, and since
they also supply KYMCO with tires I guess the idea seemed like a sound
one.A three-hour drive back in the Toyota vans saw us negotiating a narrow
back ally in the city of Yuanlin into Kenda headquarters and up to a

Okay, so maybe Kenda headquarters don’t get a lot of
visiting foreign journalists, but a very detailed, blow-by-blow account
of each of their eight factories’ output, projections, sales,
percentage changes, and forecast sales proved a little tough to sit


Kenda’s Maggie was worth jostling over.
Photo: Nika Rolczewski  

With the words “Vietnam … 26%” I slipped on my shades, drank the
coffee in front of me (caffeine makes me go a bit wonky) and slipped
back to the happy place in the far recesses of my head.

Finally it was over and time for us to take a quick tour of the
factory, then back to the boardroom to ask some serious journalistic

Although normally I would have a whole list of fascinating and taxing
tire-related technical questions only one made it past the haze …
“How do you get the info label off the tire in one piece?” (something
I’ve never managed to do when changing a tire).

A mixture of laughs and head scratching ended with one of the engineers saying, “Ah yes, heat gun”.


Be like Buddah.
photo: Mr. Kitty 

Ah yes indeed, that would do the job, and with that we survived Kenda and went outside for the obligatory group photograph.

If we’d been whisked home to the hotel, that day would merely have been
a noteworthy experience of how not to do a factory tour, but to my
bafflement I next found myself face to face with a 200-foot Buddha in
the centre of Yuanlin.

Impressive, sure. And I don’t want to sound too ungrateful to our KYMCO
Taiwan hosts, but there’s a certain point where you’ve got to cut your
losses, whisk the journos back to the hotel and get them to a bar as
quickly as possible.

Too much time in Toyota vans, lingering jet lag and a very hot day spent in a very hot tire factory were taking their toll.


Beer = happy journalist.
Photo: Nika Rolczewski 

Upon arrival back in Kaohsiung, and sensing our rapid descent into
madness, the KYMCO Canada reps took charge and beelined us back to the

An hour later I was coming back to the land of the sane courtesy of a gaggle of tequila shots and three pints of Guinness.

Thank you Sabina and Pablo.

Vietnam … 26% …

CANADA, 100%

All in all the trip was one of the more memorable experiences that I’ve had – and in a good way to boot.


Lights over Love River.

I learnt that Taiwan isn’t China, KYMCO is a serious player in the
world scooter market (and may soon become one in the motorcycle market
too), and that I should be careful when entering my happy space at the
back of my head – I might be there for some time.

Many thanks to KYMCO Canada for making this trip possible and to
KYMCO Taiwan for showing us overwhelming hospitality and a slice of

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