I've been looking forward to this. As the owner of a 2005 Kymco People 250 since new, I have experienced first-hand the practicality, reliability and fun of this type of powered two-wheeled conveyance. Several decades of riding just about everything has taught me that a 250cc (or slightly larger), big wheel, shortish wheelbase high quality scooter is nearly PERFECT for a commuter vehicle. Now that the Kymco People GTi300 is available in the USA, I just had to jump right in and check out what could be the perfect commuter scooter.
Haven't heard of Kymco? Kwang Yang Motor Company was established in Taiwan in 1963. By 1983 they had built 1,000,000 motorcycles. By 1988 it was 2,000,000. Remember the old Honda Elite scooter? Built under contract for Honda by Kymco. Kymco's reputation as a high quality manufacturer has been long established in other countries. Kymco has been in the US market (under their own name) for just over a decade now. They started with just a few models and a tiny dealer network. Now they offer 18 on-road models and have a several hundred dealers in their network. My experience as a Kymco owner has demonstrated that their quality is equal to the big Japanese brands.
As I already have a 250cc Kymco People, why was I so interested in this new model? I have a friend from the wristwatch business in Taiwan. He's a motorcycle guy and has always looked down on scooters. A while back, he got a Kymco People GTi300 as a "loaner" from a shop in Taiwan. He emailed me that this wonder-machine was nothing short of incredible. This from a guy (living in the land of scooters) who thought no scooter could be good enough for him. I just had to find out what the deal was.
Scooterville in Minneapolis got their first shipment of the new Kymco People and Bob (the owner) called me before they were even off the truck. I quickly finished up whatever was on my desk and headed right over. By the end of the afternoon, the new People GTi300 was uncrated, prepped, gassed up and ready to roll. I got to perform most of the pre-delivery process myself and the quality of Kymco's manufacturing was already apparent. Things went together well and everything worked.
Before we start riding, let's look at what the Kymco People GTi300 is. It's a big-wheeled scooter (16 inchers front and rear) but it's not really a maxi-scooter (like Kymco's Xciting or the Suzuki Burgman, Honda Silverwing or Yamaha Majesty). The People has true step-through design with no hump or tunnel on the floorboards. The seating position is upright, and there is not a lot of bodywork or a windshield. The People is powered by a 299cc 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected SOHC 4-valve powerplant. Twenty-nine horses get to the rear wheel by means of an automatic CVT (Continually Variable Transmission). Suspension is handled by a telescopic fork in the front and adjustable dual shocks in the rear. Braking is by disc, front and rear, with the front grabbing by means of a three-piston caliper. Both tires are 16 inchers with the front at 110/70-16 and rear slightly beefier at 140/70-16. The seat is 31.9 inches from the ground and the wheelbase is 57.1 inches. The People GTi300 weighs in at 364 pounds with 2.4 gallons of fuel. MSRP is $5,399 and includes a two-year factory warranty.
Wait. Did I just say "29 horses"? I thought these scooters put out something like 19 or 20 horses at the most. Yes, the closest comparable scooters (Piaggio BV300 & Aprilia SportCity 300) get about 22 horses from 278cc. The Kymco GTi 300 is VERY nearly a "real" 300 with 298.9cc to work with. At 364 pounds, that's 12.5 pounds per horsepower. The 363 pound Piaggio is at 16.5 pounds per horsepower. Some "performance" motorcycles are in the 10 pounds per horsepower range so these scooters are no sluggards in most commuting situations.
Speaking of commuting situations, the Kymco People 250, People 'S' 250, and now the GTi 300 are configured to be "do-everything" machines. They have bigger wheels for stability, shorter wheelbases for quick handling, upright ergonomics for comfort, low centers of gravity for easy low-speed maneuvering, and automatic power transfer for easy operation. I have spent several years utilizing my 2005 People 250 for everything from parkway cruising to interstate traveling. Off we go to try this newest People.
First up came the testing. With a GPS unit mounted, I began by checking speedometer accuracy. UNLIKE just about every other scooter or motorcycle I've tested, the Kymco People GTi300 was fairly accurate indicating just shy of 3% optimistic. That is to say that when the speedometer indicated 60 MPH, the actual speed was about 58 MPH. The odometer was even more accurate. Most scooters I test are 10% to 15% optimistic. The top speed I saw on the GTi was 85 MPH. That's on a new not-yet-broken-in scooter with 100 kilograms (my way of saying 220 pounds) of rider aboard. I'm guessing that a broken in machine with a smaller rider would top out at about 90 MPH. In 200 miles of mixed (city and highway) riding I got 72 MPG. I consider that quite good. When I'm keeping the speed down (around town) on my 2005 People I get about 70 MPG and it falls to 58 MPG when cruising on the highway. Again, after break in and with some less-than-spirited riding I wouldn't be surprised to see the People GTi300 return 80 MPG around town.
I found the Kymco People GTi300 to be very comfortable. At 5' 9" (just) I can't touch flat-footed, but parts of both feet are on the ground at stops. I would say that most people from 5' 7" to 6' 2" are likely to find the ergonomics of this scooter will work for them. The riding position is upright and the reach to the controls is average. Not so far as to cause a lean and not so close as to feel cramped. From a dead stop the GTi300 accelerates adequately. At about 15 MPH the "oomph" kicks in. Mid-range on this scooter is nothing short of evil fun. Acceleration continues to be strong up to about 70 MPH. Getting the remaining speed out of the People takes a little longer. Roll-on is just great. No, evil, really. I found myself looking for excuses to snap the throttle open at 30 MPH just to shoot right up to 45 MPH like nothing. Just for the fun (evil) of it.
There is a tiny little windscreen-like object on the front which does nothing to limit buffeting at highway speeds. The body of the People GTi does a good job of protecting the rider from wind, rain and road dirt from the lower torso on down. There's not really anyplace to tuck when searching for top speeds and I am guessing that the aerodynamic "wall" is a limiting factor in how fast this scooter will go.
Handling is responsive and neutral. Not as quick as a 10-inch wheeled scooter, but predictable and low-effort. The combination of 16-inch wheels and a low center of gravity make maneuvers at city speeds easy and still allow the highway ride to be stable and jitter-free. Braking was on the strong side of sufficient. If I were trying to haul the GTi300 down from highway speeds very quickly with a passenger and some luggage I might wish for a second disc up front. In every condition I encountered riding solo, the brakes were just fine and easy to modulate.
There are fold-up passenger floorboards and a fairly comfortable seat for a passenger. My wife Beverly rode with me a couple of times and felt just fine on the back of the People.
The Kymco People GTi300 comes equipped with very good lighting including a halogen headlight and LED tail-lights. There is a 12V accessory plug in case you feel the need to charge your mobile phone or plug in heated riding gear in the winter. The multi-function switch (ignition, seat release, front end lock) also has a small security door that is opened with the side of the key. The front legshield includes a locking glove box. There is SOME storage under the seat, but don't plan on putting your helmet there. The underseat area is more of a tray. The fuel filler is under the seat and the battery and coolant reservoir are accessed from the floorboard. Probably because there is so little underseat storage, the People GTi 300 comes equipped from the factory with a color-matched trunk. The trunk is adequate for a helmet and some small stuff but does not hold a standard-sized messenger bag.
The dash features a large round speedometer indicating miles per hour. To the left and right are indicator lights. Below those are two buttons for operation of the digital module right below the speedometer. The digital display includes engine temperature, fuel supply, clock and tripmeter/odometer. Everything was easy to see at a glance. The fuel gauge is pretty accurate, unlike a lot of other scooters I have tested.
After a couple of hundred miles, the Kymco People GTi 300 turned out to be a wonderful scooter. It's got more than enough power and very good handling and ergonomics. Like it's predecessors, this People is capable of anything from city commuting to highway touring - a true do-everything scooter. I like this scooter a lot. So much, in fact, that I traded in my venerable 2005 People 250 and bought this one. The lack of wind protection and storage are the only things preventing me from naming the Kymco People GTi300 the "perfect" scooter. I'm going to spend some time resolving those two minor issues and will report on that project in a future issue.
If you're looking for way to get around just about anyplace while getting terrific fuel economy and having a great time, take a good hard look at the Kymco People GTi300.
Thanks to SCOOTERVILLE for providing this scooter for review.