“Say, who makes them things, anyway?”
I was standing by the gas pumps near Telluride, Colorado when the plump 70-ish man asked me about the big, sleek-looking scooters we were preparing to ride the 100 miles back to the Gateway Canyon Resort. He told me he used to ride Gold Wings, but he has hip problems and can’t swing his leg over a big tourer. “I want something the wife and me can ride on the highway. Those things fast enough?”
Oh, yes, my friend. The new-for-the-USA Kymco Myroad 700 is plenty fast for you and your wife and probably a bunch of your stuff as well. In fact, it’s the largest-displacement (and heaviest) scooter sold in the United States—and for many buyers, that may be enough.
You wouldn’t think it, but I’ve been anticipating this introduction for a long time, since Kymco started selling the bike in select European markets in 2008. Kymco first showed the bike at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, and it was notable for its tech-heavy nature—keyless ignition, tire-pressure monitors, electronically adjustable suspension, ABS and a liquid-cooled, twin-cylinder motor that promised better than 50 horsepower—big numbers for a CVT-equipped scooter. Kymco was flexing its muscles, trumpeting its status as a global supplier of high-quality, advanced-design scooters and motorcycles.
And then four years went by. I pinged Kymco, who had been promising a ride on the Myroad for some time. “Soon,” came the answer.
Well, “soon” turned into “June,” when I found myself on a commuter jet, headed to the same ritzy Western Colorado resort that hosted the 2011 Victory press launch. Weird, right? That region is arid, at high altitude, with beautiful winding roads—wide-open country best enjoyed from the back of a big touring rig, not some little scooter.
Luckily, the Myroad isn’t some little scooter. It’s some big scooter, all 600-plus pounds of it. Though it has some innovative features, it’s a pretty traditional design, contributing to the big weight. A high-tension, tube-steel, double-cradle frame bolts to the drive unit, which combines the engine, transmission and final drive and is suspended by a pair of electronically adjustable (for damping—preload is still done the old-fashioned way) dual shocks. In front, a conventional fork—also with electronically adjusted damping—is equipped with a pair of trick-looking radial-mounted four-piston brake calipers and 280mm discs. ABS is standard. Wheels front and back (a roomy 63.6 inches apart) are 15-inchers, shod with grippy Maxxis radials.
The motor isn’t a technical marvel, but it is pretty advanced, a liquid-cooled, eight-valve, dohc Twin. Fuel-injection and (I assume) engine management systems are provided by Synerject, which is a joint venture between Continental tires and Orbital—the company that got attention in the late-’90s developing direct-injection, clean two-stroke technology. Transmission is CVT, naturally, and Kymco claims a maximum of 59 horsepower and 46 lb.-ft. of torque at the crank.
The package is finished in stylish, modern bodywork. An adjustable (sadly, only with tools) windscreen protects the rider’s chest from windblast, while a wide, supportive seat keeps him or her comfy. Passenger footrests flip down when the rider pulls a lever on the dashboard. Two small gloveboxes are accessible while the bike is moving, and the underseat stowage is both lighted and cavernous, able to gobble up a pair of helmets with ease, and there’s a 12-volt socket for your cell phone or other accessories. The passenger can enjoy a broad and comfortable perch with a large grabrail to hang onto.
At $9,699, the Myroad isn’t an inexpensive scooter — but you do get a lot standard. Rather than getting the customer in the door and then hitting him with a long list of expensive options, the Myroad comes with ABS, electronic suspension adjustment, LED taillight and blinkers and tire-pressure monitor. I found the fit and finish to be above average for an Asian product; it felt well-built and solid.
We flew to Colorado to ride, and that’s what we did—a lot. The scooters were waiting at the Grand Junction airport for us, and we rode to the Gateway Canyons resort to enjoy the friendly service and swank amenities there. The next morning, we were out on the road, riding at a sedate pace on the way to Telluride—over 100 miles each way.
Plastic-wrapped, futuristic looks aside, the experience of riding a big, heavy scooter like the Myroad is similar to that of a middleweight cruiser. The seating position is the same, weight distribution and handling feel alike, and the vibration and throttle response are also familiar. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon—or many afternoons— I had another journalist (who lacked a motorcycle endorsement) on board with me, and we were both comfortable for the 200-mile round trip, though towards the end he complained of the passenger pegs being too high. The seat was roomy enough, and the suspension good enough, that I almost (almost being the key word here) forgot he was there. I’d wager there’s more room under the seat than most middleweight (or even heavyweight) baggers offer in their stock luggage, and I could get used to having the crotch-level storage box in the front of the seat, which is great for stashing your sunglasses, tolls or even a small water bottle.
If you also compare the performance and handling to a middleweight bagger, the Kymco does just fine. Power is enough to get you into trouble, even testing it at high altitudes (4500 to well over 9000 feet). Midrange is good, and it seems to build as the speeds get into extra-legal numbers.
Handling is good, but this is not a scooter you are going to be embarrassing sportbikers with. Though the steering was precise and light, the rear suspension—no doubt burdened by the great unsprung mass of the motor and drive unit—was overwhelmed, wallowing slightly in high-speed turns and feeling harsh over bumps. You’ll have a good time, but you have to reset your expectations for how this scooter handles—he’s a big fella.
The trick-looking brakes work well, with the Bosch ABS cycling well and providing reasonable stopping distances, but again, the weight of the bike means you’ll need a hefty squeeze with all 8 fingers. The brakes are linked, back to front, so the rear lever gives you more stopping power than the front, though using the front alone is fine for brisk sport-riding.
Kymco doesn’t expect to sell a lot of these in the USA—competition is stiff in the form of large displacement scooters from BMW, Suzuki and Honda, and the market is limited. So why offer it? Prestige, said Kymco’s sales manager. Perhaps a customer wanting a big scooter may enter the Kymco dealer looking for the Myroad and ride out on an Xciting 500i or even the very good Downtown 300i. It may be a good match for riders like the former Gold Wing owner and the growing number of Boomers looking for a fun, trouble-free riding experience. In any case, it shows Kymco can run with the big dogs in the scooter market and make Kymco a household word…in scooter-riding households.