The 2018 Kymco Xciting S 400 | ROAD TEST
The original Xciting was a great machine, in fact, I was close to buying one after riding the test machine to Scotland and back in our road test (read about it here). Even so, this updated one is worlds apart. Kymco have come a long way since I first started doing this job back in 2003. Back then, although their scooters were good enough, they lacked the finesse and finish of the more mainstream brands. 15 years later not only are they up there with the Japanese and European manufacturers but they’re actually above some of them in terms of quality and innovation.
Aside from a thorough and impressive revamp, the Xciting also boasts a new higher screen. It’s adjustable to five positions and can be moved by using the lever located inside the middle of the screen.
The lever itself is a bit fiddly so it isn’t easy enough to operate on the move and adjusting the screen is a two hands job. At least you don’t need to get any tools out to adjust it.
Most riders will find their favourite screen position and leave it there so it’s not like you’re moving it on every ride. I found at the highest position I got a fair bit of turbulence at motorway speeds, then I tried it on the lowest position and found it was way too noisy, even with earplugs in, so it soon went back up to the top. To be honest I preferred the sports screen fitted to the previous Xciting 400 and I’m sure there will be an aftermarket option for this model so it’s worth considering if you’re likely to be doing plenty of motorway miles.
To begin with, the scooter felt a little cramped compared to the AK or TMAX but within a few miles you get used to the differences and it’s certainly comfortable. The redesigned seat has a larger rider backrest and is tapered towards the front to stop your legs being splayed, which gives your feet more of a chance of touching the floor. The front of the seat splits when you open it, leaving the rear part where it is.
Passenger comfort is also very good. My other half will moan about most scooters but actually enjoyed being on the back of this one (praise indeed). My longest trip was a 300-mile day and I would have happily carried on riding. No aches or pains, just what you expect from a scooter. Try a 300-mile day on most bikes and you’ll need manipulation to put your vertebrae back in alignment.
I’ve spent most of this year riding either classic scooters or our long-term TMAX. Having jumped off the 530 Yamaha the Xciting S 400 felt slightly underpowered to begin with but it is actually a decent engine and makes slightly more power than the old Xciting 400. In fact it produces a best in class 35.53bhp, and 28.32 ft lbs of torque. That’s almost 3bhp more than the Yamaha XMAX 400 we tested here.
The Xciting can still be ridden on an A2 licence, which is one of the reasons why you’ll opt for a 400cc scooter, rather than the AK550.
To further improve rigidity and its prowess on the road the engine hanger has been redesigned, as have the front forks. They feature a ‘double bridge’ or twin clamp set up (like many motorcycles) which again helps to keep things nice and rigid to aid cornering and braking.
It’ll top 100mph (the highest recorded speed was 102), cruise nicely at around 88mph and has plenty of mid-range grunt for quick overtakes. It’s a nice smooth engine and not as thirsty as a full-on maxi scooter so the tank range is good. It’s a noticeable power jump from a 300 class machine to the 400. The Xciting sits nicely between the 300 and a larger maxi. It’s also 37kg’s lighter than the AK550. That’s almost six-stones in old-school weight. You’ll notice that difference as you paddle it around when parking. If you’re small any weight saving is an obvious advantage.
Although the underseat space is slightly disappointing the Xciting also has two small compartments behind the front fairing. One houses a 12v charge point and both lock automatically when you put the steering lock on, as does the seat. Central locking on a scooter? Cool. You can also open the seat when the key is in by either pressing a button on the handlebars, or by twisting the key. This Kymco comes with a conventional key rather than one of those new-fangled keyless ignition jobbies, which isn’t a bad thing.
Like many larger scooters, the Xciting also has a parking brake, a good idea to stop it rolling off the stand or being pushed off it accidentally.
Both the front and rear brake levers are adjustable to accommodate the differing needs of the rider and of course, it helps to stop your knuckles getting in the way when changing from lightweight summer gloves to thicker winter ones.
I didn’t know the scooter had hazard warning lights until I noticed them flashing whilst riding. I checked everywhere for a button to turn them off but couldn’t. Eventually, they stopped (by accident). I later found out that the starter button also doubles up as the hazard button. Of course an owner would know all this from reading the manual (or SLUK).
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On the road
The Xciting S 400 is billed as a Sports Tourer, rather than out and out sports scooter, not that that stops it being good fun of course. Great chassis, decent engine, plush suspension and powerful brakes mean it can be whatever you want it to be. I wasn’t keen on the tyre profile at first, our test scooter steered slightly slower than I expected but the man from Kymco had already told me they are changing the tyres over from Maxxis (as fitted to the test bike). All UK scooters will come with Metzelers as standard so the handling characteristics may well change. This scooter does get around corners well enough though, it just didn’t drop into corners as quickly as I expected when I first got on it
The front suspension is very good and the radially mounted twin front brakes offer loads of feel and plenty of stopping power. The callipers aren’t the more exotic Brembos as fitted to the AK550 but they’re more than up to the job. Of course, the scooter also has ABS as standard.
I mentioned the storage space earlier and it is one thing that lets the Xciting down a bit. As you can see from the 2016 and 2018 models above the useable space has shrunk slightly. I ended up using a rucksack most of the time to add carrying capacity. If you’re from a biking background though any storage space is a bonus and you can easily get your sandwiches (or a bit of shopping) beneath the seat.
The more I rode the Xciting S 400 the more it grew on me. Ok the screen causes a bit of buffeting and storage space is limited but other than that it’s a great all-rounder. It’s a fine looking scooter as well, the matt blue paintwork looks great and accentuates the panels from certain angles. It’s a very well finished, nicely put together scooter with a quality feel to it. It could easily be mistaken for something Japanese but the Xciting has an identity of its own.
If you’re looking for a mile-munching middleweight scooter with style, a good pedigree and an attractive price tag then you’d better get yourself down to your local Kymco dealer, or visit them at Motorcycle Live. The Xciting S 400 can be yours for £5599, that’s around £600 pounds cheaper than the XMAX 400 and Burgman 400…
We saw recently that Kymco are already ahead of the game with their electric Nex geared superbike. They also have their Ionex transport solution, as well as a nifty looking three-wheeled scooter in the pipeline. This is a company that aren’t just looking to the future, they’re reinventing it, investing in it and bringing us two and three-wheeled innovation. Long may it continue.
Words, photos and video: Iggy
Action shots: Linsey
Kymco Xciting 400 specs
Engine Type: Single cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, OHC
Maximum power: 35.53bhp
Torque: 28.32 ft lbs
Front suspension: Telescopic forks
Rear suspension: Twin shock absorbers (5-step preload adjustment)
Front brake: Twin 280mm discs
Rear brake: 240mm single disc (Bosch ABS)
Front tyre: 120/70-15” Maxxis tyre (Metzler on UK models)
Rear tyre: 150/70-14” Maxxis tyre (Metzler on UK models)
Seat height: 810mm
Fuel capacity: 12.5 litres
Weight: 189kg (dry)
Kymco AK550 gallery
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