Words: Zack Courts Photos: Brian J. Nelson
Taiwanese brand Kymco might be a small player in your world of motorcycling but it’s a major force in the global market, so if you aren’t familiar with Kymco here’s a chance to brush up. Founded in 1963, Kymco has now grown into the number-one producer of scooters in Taiwan, moving 262,000 units domestically in 2012, and exporting an additional 185,000 to 86 countries. To give an idea of Kymco’s domestic market, the Taipei Times reported 14.85 million registered scooters in Taiwan in 2010: In other words, more than half the population.
The U.S. market represents a small slice of Kymco’s empire, at around 12,000 units sold in 2012, but an important market none-the-less. For proof, look no further than Kymco’s latest offering to American shores, the MyRoad 700i. While the model has already been on sale overseas, 2014 represents the first availability of the big-bore 700i stateside.
The engine’s 699.5 cubic centimeters make it the largest powerplant currently available in a showroom scooter, albeit only 53cc bigger than BMW’s C-series and 62cc more than Suzuki’s Burgman. The motor’s claimed output is 59 horsepower at 7250 rpm, but there are a couple of caveats to that. First, our ride took place in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, with elevation ranging from 4700 feet to nearly 9000 feet above sea level. This means power output was down 8 to 12 bhp for most of the trip due to altitude.
Second, and more importantly, the 700i’s CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) holds power delivery around 5000rpm, well under peak power but right in line with the engine’s 46 lb.-ft. of torque at 5500 rpm. Only at freeway speeds does the clutch engage fully and allow revs to spin up toward the peak of the power curve.
Although it was down on power, the 700i performed well, carrying a spirited pace through the mountains with even enough power on tap to make use of passing zones. Throttle response and clutch engagement are predictable and make acclimating to the CVT easy, while standard Bosch ABS performs admirably. Overall stopping power is surprisingly good despite the MyRoad tipping the scales at a hefty 608 pounds.
The substantial weight is most noticeable at parking lot speeds, where steering starts to feel heavy and the sheer size of the super scoot is apparent. Once on the open road, however, the 700i is plenty agile and easy to command. The upper comfort zone for handling can be found by bumping speed up in fast sweepers, where the MyRoad’s bulk will overcome the damping in the shocks and start to oscillate clumsily.
Damping in the shocks is adjustable electronically, via a toggle on the handlebar that allows the rider to dictate three settings—soft, medium, and hard. The modes are similar, but compression damping is discernably higher in the H setting; a nice touch if you’re riding two-up or the cargo hold is heavily loaded. Both of which are easy to do, by the way, with a plush perch for the passenger and 50 liters of under-seat storage (equipped with an automatic LED light, incidentally).
Wind protection, too, is ready for long distances. I’m 6-foot-2, and the stream of air from the windscreen hit me mid-helmet but with minimal buffeting or turbulence. Aero coverage is adjustable, but you’ll need tools to slide the screen up or down. Where my lanky frame caused trouble was the seat. There is ample padding, but toward the back of the seat there is an evident slope that pitches the rider forward, and in my case pushed my knees into the dash. Our test fleet included a bike equipped with aftermarket seat option that offered a deeper rearward pocket and in turn more room for long legs.
Overall, Kymco’s MyRoad 700i is a capable package, with distance-ready comfort and aerodynamics, copious storage, and plenty of giddy-up to make use of all three. It all comes at a price, to the tune of $9699, but the fact is that’s the going rate for a big-bore scooter these days. That base price slots the 700i in between BMW’s two C-series models but well under the $10,999 Suzuki Burgman.
Kymco’s record in the scooter industry is unquestionable, but matching the sophistication of BMW or the refinement of a model as long-standing as the Burgman has fallen a little short. Ten thousand dollars is a lot for a scooter, no matter how you slice it, but in our book BMW still has the bar set. However, with half a million machines being produced annually it’s hard to imagine this is the last we’ll hear from Kymco, scooter or otherwise.