Jamie Leonard takes Kymco’s Frost 200i for a spin.
There’s something about the look of the Frost that is just a bit … devilish. It starts out all shiny metal and sleek plastic but it has a sinister undertone that leaves you with the impression that if you turn your back on it for a moment it’ll steal your wallet and take your Granny out on a weekend bender.
But at least as you bail her out of jail after a night of debauchery and ask her about her new tattoos, you’ll get some compliments on your scooter.
PUNCH AND JUDY
Like most 200 cc scooters, the Frost 200i doesn’t actually displace 200 cc (the 2009 Kymco People S200 is actually 163 cc and the 2009 Sym HD200 is 171 cc). The Frost at least gets closer to the mark, being a 175 cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder machine billed by Kymco as one of their “Commuter Scooters.”
The Frost, however, doesn’t suffer by not being a full 200 cc. While its acceleration isn’t going to leave a trail of smoking rubber bits behind you, it is zippy enough to keep you from becoming a hood ornament on the giant SUV immediately behind you.
And chances are if you are on a scooter, there will be a giant SUV trailing close behind — even if you’re parked! It’s one of those unfortunate things you come to accept riding a small-displacement machine, especially on the highway.
However, a quick ride on Toronto’s chaotic Highway 401 had the speedo indicating 100 km/h with some throttle still available. By the time the Frost hit its 8,000 rpm indicated redline, I was seeing a safe (almost) 120 km/h. Quite impressive and entirely adequate. That’s about the same top speed as my Kymco Bet & Win 250, which has 80 cc more displacement (though the Frost is weaker in the mid range).
Fuel injection gives the Frost smooth throttle response and — if you plan on riding until various extremities start going numb from the cold — trouble-free cold-weather starting. A quick stab at the starter button got it immediately going at six degrees Celsius, which is a temperature that would require my carbureted Bet & Win to run on its automatic choke and warm up a short while before starting off.
EFI also provides very good fuel economy. Observed gas mileage was about 3.6L/100km (79 mpg), which when considering almost all of my driving was either stop-and-go or high-speed highway riding at close to the top end of the scooter’s speed — the two worst case scenarios for fuel consumption — that’s quite decent.
With these figures it can squeeze about 300 km from its 11-litre fuel tank, though I suspect over a longer term that the average mileage would be even better than this.
FIRM AND COMFY
The front and rear disc brakes do their job well; feel is good, as well as stopping distance, and the scooter displays no unpleasant behaviour when coming to a stop, even under hard braking.
Handling is also good; the low centre of gravity and firm suspension provide a good ride and a confident, planted feel coming through corners.
Fit and finish get high marks; the machine has a very polished feel to it. The test machine I was riding had over 5,000 km on it when I picked it up but there were no signs of cracking of the plastic panels or any indication that they would prematurely eject themselves from the machine.
The seat is comfortable and a definite improvement from some earlier Kymco models. While it does have a bit of forward slope (only really noticeable while wearing slippery rain pants, as the roughly textured seat fabric generally keeps a good grip), I found myself able to move around a little without being locked into one position, which makes longer rides much more pleasant.
The integrated passenger backrest also got high marks for comfort from my wife, who volunteered to test the pillion. The spring-loaded passenger footpegs are activated with a button that is located beside each peg and can be triggered easily with a tap of the foot.
The Frost has a five-position key, which means that aside from starting the bike and locking the steering, the ignition switch also pops the seat latch as well as the gas cap.
Turn the key left while pressing in and it’ll lock the steering; turn without pressing and it’ll unlatch the seat. Go the other way while pressing and it’ll pop the gas cap; don’t press and turn to light the ignition. Turn right, press, then turn left without pressing and say the alphabet backwards and it’ll grant you three wishes …
While all this is initially a touch confusing, it doesn’t take long to realize that it is more convenient than having a separate gas cap lock and seat lock — even if you do pop the gas cap every time you want to get something from under the seat.
The only real negative quality of the scooter would be the limited underseat storage; the compartment is relatively shallow and didn’t have room for my full-face helmet. A top box can be added to the scooter by way of an adapter plate at the expense of losing some styling points.
THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES
The Frost is a fun, easy to ride scooter that fits well into its role of commuting to work or just for play. It is also light enough to manhandle around downtown traffic and nimble enough to park in less than official spots — not that you’d do that of course. It also has enough power to escape the city on short hops.
While it’s not the cheapest scooter on the market at an MSRP of $4,695 — compared for example to the Sym HD200 at $3,995 and Kymco’s own People S200 at $4,295 — those other scooters also lack features such as EFI and a rear disc brake.
It undercuts the Honda SH150i by $300, but despite the Honda’s slightly smaller engine displacement (153 cc) it also has EFI, but adds linked brakes and a top box as standard for additional appeal.
The Frost also shows that Kymco has learned from some of the little annoyances of the past — the Bet & Win’s “Seat of Doom” with its hard hump in the middle, comes to mind. Hey, they even changed the name for us here in Canada, being known as the “New Dink” in other, less fortunate, parts of the world.
But the devil, as they say, is in the details and this time Kymco seems to have flushed the devil out of everything but the rider’s grin and your Granny’s little black book.
|Bike||Kymco Frost 200i|
|Engine type||Four-stroke SOHC single, liquid-cooled|
|Power (crank – claimed)||11 hp @ 8,000 rpm|
|Torque (claimed)||10.8 lb-ft @6,500 rpm|
|Tank Capacity||11 litres|
|Final drive||Automatic CVT|
|Brakes, front||Single 240 mm disc with dual-piston caliper|
|Brakes, rear||200 mm disc with dual-piston caliper|
|Seat height||812 mm (31.9″)|
|Wheelbase||1,390 mm (54.7″)|
|Dry weight (claimed)||138 kg (304 lb)|