Going Downtown! (My Kymco Downtown 300i review)

Discussion in 'Battle Scooters' started by Cortez, Jun 5, 2011.

  1. Cortez

    Cortez BAZINGA!

    Apr 22, 2006
    Being rather persistant payed off 2 weekends ago!

    Applying a rather constant 186Nm or force directly to the importers left
    arm carefully placed in an armlock for a few months resulted in a weekend
    long test ride of a brand spankin' new black 2011 Kymco Downtown 300i with about 5900km (3700 miles) of abuse on its odometer.


    The idea was to get to know the bike as much as possible on friday
    afternoon, get as much miles on as many different roads as possible on
    saturday, and try to use the bike for daily errands and what was thrown
    my way on sunday, including some 2 up riding with passangers ranging from
    ~115lbs to 235lbs, added to my 5'11" and 200lbs of pork.


    [Boring background stuff..]

    I've test ridden a lot of different scooters in the last 5-6 years.
    Working at a local scooter shop in 2003 & 2004 resulted in a scooter
    addiction added to the motorcycle bug that started a long time ago,
    and that same job (and the next one in a local newspaper) got me some
    nice test rides for my own benefit, as much as for the mentioned newspaper's
    car&bike section.

    When I decided to get into the 'sport' with my first bike, I actually wanted
    a Burgman 650, but that was way over reasonable budget for a 25 year old on
    a tight income, so I figured a Kymco Xciting 500 would have to do.

    I've been carefully watching the Kymco line evolve ever since, but unfortunately
    my first bike ended up being the Kawasaki ER6F that I still own.

    ['nuff history, let's get to the review!]

    I got the call from the dealership that the bike has arrived, some 29 seconds
    later I was on it, puttin' down a mental not that full throttle launches result
    in a sideways slide that's NOT a common 300cc scooter trait, but a very welcome
    party trick! ;)

    Yes, this thing rolls!
    The acceleration is right up there with some of the heavier 400 and even 500cc
    scoots, at least up to around 70mph, which is plenty fast. I've clocked the
    bike at around 10,5 seconds to 62mph which is one of the worst DT300 results
    I've seen to date, and can be due to the mentioned period of abuse.

    The rear brake pads were 90% shot, I assume the roller weights and maybe even
    the belt was up for replacement, since a newer DT300 with only a few dozen miles
    that I tried later had much more get up and go and launched at some 500rpms more
    then the one I had for 'review'.

    The adjusting period that was to take place on friday afternoon actually took place
    in the ride from the dealership to my home, which is a 2 mile ride. That was more
    then enough.

    The Downtown is one of those bikes that you feel right at home with INSTANTLY.
    Considering the bike's weight (same as my 650cc kawasaki) I expected a scooter
    that will be heavy to manouver, and not exactly light on it's feet. Boy was I in
    for a surprise! This thing changes direction just a fraction slower then my
    Agility 125 that's virtually half it's size!

    Thumbs up for Kymco for that one! I suspect small(ish) wheels (14" and 13") have
    a lot to do with it. A lot of people commented on how those wheels are too small
    and that Xciting is probably a better choice.. maybe, in some conditions, but
    overall the Xciting is a fat pig and it shows. Downtown is something else.

    The 'around town' agility is remarkable.

    Did I mention the rear tire was half worn?


    Gear up, throw away the $30 half helmet and flip-flops, bring on the Schuberth C2
    and proper riding gear!


    Fill'ed her up, and hit the highway to reach the 'good stuff'
    as fast as possible, and see how the Downtown performed at speeds over 70mph.

    Indicated top speed went from 84 to 94mph depending on wind speed and direction.
    90mph was possible in most conditions, but considering the 8200rpms showing on
    the dash, I wouldn't recommend doing that for long periods of time.

    If I remember correctly, 62mph was at 6000rpms, and 75mph was at 7000rpms.
    You CAN NOT hear the engine at ANY speed over 30mph, only at WOT.

    Speaking of noise, the bike sounds a lot more agressive then (for example) the
    Beverly/BV300ie that I tested recently. Throaty, evil growl way above the 300cc
    mark. Some might find it even a bit too loud, but it all depends on your right
    wrist. Smooth as silk, quiet as a yawning panda take-offs ARE possible.

    Twisty roads for the next 3 hours got me to the 3rd great thing on the DT
    (the first two being agility and great engine).


    The brakes!
    This thing has more initial bite and brake power then my Kawasaki up to 70mph!
    That should be praise enough! Bare in mind that the DT has only one disc up front!
    Trust me, you DO NOT need another one.

    I was able to follow a guy getting used to his (new to him) Honda CBR1100XX Blackbird
    on 50-75mph twisty roads and I probably would have been even faster on the same roads
    if the bike would spin up over 5600rpms when I gave it WOT as speeds under 60mph, but
    it didn't happen. The other, new DT300 would hit 6200rpm at WOT from zero and accelerated
    a lot faster.

    After 60mph when the engine speed picks up, the DT WILL fly and pull a lot better then
    you'd expect from 60 to 75.

    I was not able to scrape any body parts on the road, not trusting the OEM Kenda tires
    (which are great, btw!), but both side of the scooter were already scraped before, so
    it's more then possible.

    Fast switching from left to right and back was a non-issue and I do believe I was riding
    those roads faster then I would have on my Kawasaki.

    The suspension is stiff, maybe a bit on the harsh side, but it keeps the scooter on track
    even at 80mph full lean corners when you can feel some of the typical scooter wallowing..
    frame doing it's thing. Minor stuff, especially when you consider the asking price and
    that we're actually talking about a mid sized scooter, and not some $10k performance

    After some 400 miles on the bike, I've got some complaints, of course.
    I always do.

    The windscreen DOES NOT WORK for my height, and I've seen others of similar height
    comment on the same issue. I'm 5'11", and this is one of the worst buffeting I've
    experienced on a faired scooter/motorcycle. My girlfriend said it was even worse
    at the back seat, and anything over 65mph had her knocking on my helmet to slow down,
    since the noise and buffeting was unbearable.

    The screen needs to be at least 5" shorter, or higher, what ever floats your boat.
    Leg protection was fine. Comfort for the passanger at least was above average. My
    girlfriend commented how it was the most comfortable back seat yet of all the bikes
    we rode on.

    That includes the Peugeot Satelis 500 which I found to be more comfortable then the
    DT, but that was a true GT scooter, and the DT, in reallity.. is not, but tries to

    The front seat should be softer.
    It looks comfy, and feels comfy on short rides, but after an hour or two, it's the
    same story as with my kawasaki. The backrest works great though.

    Legroom is fine, but the upper leg position is ackward and not really usable.
    Maybe for a while.

    That's about it.
    The bike works great in general and is the fastest 300cc scooter out there without
    a doubt
    , and would be my choice in this market segment, even for sporty rides, not
    just the relaxed cruising that this bikes does effortlessly.

    Combined fuel consumption was exactly 4l/100km (59MPG).
    Measured on one tank (about 200 miles before I filled up and did the math) with
    70 miles of flat-out highway, a lot of wOT acceleration runs and top speed runs,
    and some high spirited riding 50-75 curvy roads. 20% of that tank was taking it
    easy and taking in the scenery.

    This is a great result IMHO, and I seriously doubt the MPG figures can go much
    lower then this, only higher with some adjustment in the right hand.

    Build quality seems among the best too.

    I won't get into the technical stuff or stuff you can find on other sites or
    from reading the specs, so I hope I covered everything.

    It's no Burgman, but I could more then live with it as my only bike.

    If anyone got any specific questions, shoot!

    BTW - SHeeP HapPens!

    Meanwhile, enjoy the pics and greets from Croatia!

    Hi-res (somewhat) pictures in the gallery here:

    And a quick sheep attack captured on film!

    0-62mph run:

    Hope you enjoyed!
  2. techguy

    techguy Scooter Trash

    Oct 13, 2008
    Sacramento, CA
    Money aside... do you have enough knowledge to know how the DT compares to a Burgman 400?
  3. SpannerX

    SpannerX Adventurer

    Apr 4, 2009
    Excellent review, thank you! It's good to see what it can do after being abused for that long. Seriously though, how badly was it abused, and based on that, what do you think the reliability of it is going to be?
  4. Cortez

    Cortez BAZINGA!

    Apr 22, 2006
    No, sorry, the Burgman was not one of the scooters I had the opportunity of
    riding, BUT, from all I've read, and if the Burger is comparable to the Majesty
    400, it's a different beast.

    The Downtown rides more or less like your normal/mid sized scooter with
    mid sized wheels, feels a lot lighter and smaller then it really is, and it's ride
    is more on the stiff side then what a Majesty or any other 'proper' GT scooter
    should offer.

    It's closer in it's ride 'type' to the People 250, or the BV250/200, or the
    Geopolis 400 then to other big maxi scooters. The 'Downtown' name describes
    it very well, THAT's where it belongs and is as good as it gets, a great
    alternative to the big wheeled and slim city scooters.

    It's very much unlike the Piaggio X9 / Peugeot Satelis and the Piaggio X8,
    other then looking like those, and offering comparable wind protection.

    I expected the Downtown to be the Burger/Majesty/SW400 material, but it's
    more Gilera Nexus/Scarabeo/BV kind of mix, WITH boot space.

    The performance figures up to 70 or so are comparable to the Burgmans
    though, they should do 0-60mph in about the same 10 or so seconds, but
    the Burgman is probably more relaxed at higher speeds.

    Even though I saw a dyno chart showing both of them around 26hp at the
    wheel (IIRC), If I didn't know the specs I would say the Downtown is
    probably comes a bit short on the 30hp factory spec (or it's all down to

    I don't think that the Burgman and Downtown are comparable in their
    supposed application, if you know what I mean (read: if my english is good
  5. Cortez

    Cortez BAZINGA!

    Apr 22, 2006
    Thank you!
    Twas fun 2 hour of typing! :D

    The abuse would not have been noticed IF I didn't have the chance of riding
    a brand new one just shortly after the one I had for the weekend.

    So, realistically, there was nothing wrong with the test bike, other then
    the half-worn rear tire and worn rear pads.

    The wear on belt and/or the roller weights is just an assumption based on
    the difference in acceleration on the newer bike. I DID NOT check them

    The test bike would launch around 5600-5700rpm and keep it there
    until 60mph.
    The other bike would launch between 6000 and 6200rpm resulting in a
    greater kick in the a$$, both from standstill and rolling on the throttle
    when overtaking.

    However, I DID experience a few higher RPM launches on my test bike
    after riding for a longer period of time near the top speed (freeway..).

    Once it cooled down, it was back to under 6k.

    The engine was working flawlessly, was smooth, would rev freely up to
    8600rpm without noticeable vibration and the plastics didn't rattle one
    bit except on huge bumps.

    Take note, Kawasaki! :deal

    It's not as smooth as a Piaggio QUASAR (250-278cc), but considering
    the difference in power, it's well worth the odd shudder when you open
    it wide..
  6. Phipsd

    Phipsd Older but not wiser.

    Oct 30, 2010
    West coast British Columbia
    If the Downtown was a horsepower bike it would run stronger past 70 mph. People like to focus on HP but it isn't very important for a midrange scooter that runs a CVT.

    What Kymco has done here is smart. Clearly the bike has been tuned for torque rather than high rpm HP. This is power that would make the bike more responsive in the real world; giving the grunt to break a tire loose or run quick up to 70 mph without strain.

    When you combine this tuning with relatively short gearing; that makes absolutely the best use of the power that is there.

    I don't fit on a Downtown comfortably, but if I could and the bike were mine I would keep the speed down to a maximum of 80 to keep the rpms down to a reasonable level for maximum reliability and durability.

    Lightly modded with 13.5 gram Dr Pulley sliders the bike can hit an indicated 100 mph but I can't help but wonder for how long. Fun snappy gearing has a price.
  7. Cortez

    Cortez BAZINGA!

    Apr 22, 2006
    I'll agree that the torque and how the bike pulls even before it hits 6000rpms
    is great, but the jump in power between 6000 and 8000rpms is huge and
    the only way to get 30hp from only 300cc is from higher revs.

    While most other scoots I've ridden between 300 and 500cc usually don't
    have the noticeable 'bump' in acceleration when revs start to rise, the
    Downtown's power increase is probably the most noticeable of them all.

    I can't help but wonder how well this engine would work in a light chassis
    supermoto or naked/standard bike. With gears you could keep the revs
    pinned high and really fly, but yeah, scooters are (usually) not about that.

    What DT needs is an electronic CVT with 2 operating modes (like the
    Burgman 650), but IMHO almost all scooters would benefit from that kind
    of setup.
  8. btcn

    btcn Long timer

    Jul 1, 2010
    Morgan Hill CA

    Yes, this is one reason why I love V-Twins. That nice torquey feel even below 2,000 RPM. Harley's have TONS of torque right off of idle.

    But yea for performance high end torque is more important. Thats how the Ninja 250 is just about the fastest 250 stock bike you can buy right now. That bike is gutless until you wind it up. But when you wind it up the thing really moves.

    On smaller displacement motorcycles and scooters its important to have this. They can't be like a 600+ cc Twin and have mostly low end power for low RPM cruising, as if they did they'd have low power, real low power if max torque was at 2,000 RPM.

    But its nice to have decent low end power.

    And yea it would be real nice if they'd use more CVTs like the Burgman 650. But they don't because its much more complicated and would add lots of cost to it to where a Burgman 650 would just make more sense at that point.
  9. Phipsd

    Phipsd Older but not wiser.

    Oct 30, 2010
    West coast British Columbia
    Engineers design machines for a purpose. A Ninja 250 will cruise along at 10,000 rpm til hell freezes over. It needs to spin that rpm or higher to work properly.

    Scooter typically are a different animal; they are not only tuned for good low end and midrange to work with a CVT but high rpm power is deliberately capped to optimize long term durability.

    In parts of the world where scooters function as the family car a quality brand like Kymco or my SYM would be expected to still be humming along happily at 100,000 km or further. Also In much of Asia scooters are not allowed access to high speed motorways. When they are being designed that is not the expectation about how they will be used.

    You can be sure that Kymco went to a great deal of trouble to give the Downtown maximum durability stock. The Downtown may run well from 6000 to 8000 but there is a reason for the relatively conservative top speed on the stock bike. It's not because the engineers are stupid or lazy and don't know how to make the bike go alot faster.

    Stressing a relatively large single to much higher rpm and power levels than originally intended will result in a large reduction in service life. Just because a bike can be easily made to do it does not mean that the bike should be made to do it.
  10. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

    May 28, 2008
    Rocket City
    Modern 600cc sport bikes put out over 120 HP. That means each 150cc cylinder puts out over 30 HP. Put one of those in a scooter and you'd have a 30 hp 150cc scooter. It would also be very expensive and cost more than much larger scooters. I'm not sure how long it would last since it would need to redline at around 16,000 RPM. Since CVTs tend to keep engines in their powerband, that engine would mostly be spinning at well over 10,000 RPM. Not the best thing for fuel mileage or longevity.
  11. Cortez

    Cortez BAZINGA!

    Apr 22, 2006
    While I do agree with everything you wrote, I'd like to add something to
    the bolded part of the qoute.

    Are you aware that the 'conservative' top speed you mention is around
    8600-8700rpms, WAY above the maximum rated power (@8000rpm).

    You can't really call that not being stressed.
    Maybe it will run for years like that, but I'd want to run at least 1000rpm
    below the maximum power revs to be able to say I'm not pushing it too

    However, subjectively, that engine NEVER sounds stressed, it's crazy smooth.
  12. Phipsd

    Phipsd Older but not wiser.

    Oct 30, 2010
    West coast British Columbia
    Agreed. In another post I said I wouldn't want to take the bike over 80 with stock gearing. I did see a u tube awhile ago of a comparison between a stock Downtown and another with 13.5 gram Dr Pulley sliders.

    The Dr Pulley bike really came alive at about 110 kph , left the stocker for dead and managed nearly 20 kph higher top speed. That's crazy high rpm for a scooter motor and can't be good.

    There seems to be a fixation with many between scooter riders and speed. It really doesn't make alot of sense to me. That's why sportbikes were invented.

    A honda 600 Sportbike is still understressed running at warp speed. A bike like that can easily last 200,000 km even used with enthusiasm, with care.
  13. btcn

    btcn Long timer

    Jul 1, 2010
    Morgan Hill CA
    I agree as well.

    But about the Sport bike and each 150 cc cylinder putting out 30 HP, you may not get quite 30 HP. That power rating is with all cylinders working together, as in 2 of the cylinders are helping the other 2 compress during the compression stroke, etc. Multi cylinder engines generally can put out more HP than a single with even a similar design for a number of reasons. But still one of those cylinders would still put out way more power than a typical 150 cc engine.

    But yes I agree on everything else. Different engines are designed for different purposes. I do believe its best for an engine not running 100 RPM below redline all the time. That redline is there for a reason. Just cause you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD if you want the bike to last forever.