It’s kind of unusual for us to have two reviews of similar scooters in the space of a few weeks. We just completed our Kymco People GTi300 review, and the Kymco Downtown 300i became available. No complaints here, both scooters are a lot of fun to ride. The Downtown 300i looks like a modern maxi-scooter, but it’s lighter than any maxi in it’s class. It certainly has highway capability and would make a good choice for touring (with some additional luggage). It’s also agile enough for easy riding at city speeds. The Downtown 300i is not without its faults, but it certainly looks like Kymco dealers will have another winner in their offerings.
Kymco (Kwang Yang Motor Company) was established in Taiwan in 1963. Over the years they have grown to be one of the premiere scooter/motorcycle manufactures in a country that’s not lacking when it comes to world-class product quality. For a little over a decade now, Kymco has been selling scooters in the US (under their own name) and they have built an impressive dealer network. The lineage of the Downtown can be traced to the Kymco Dink. Yes, that’s right and, no, they didn’t bring those scooters into the USA under THAT name. The Downtown is probably closest in design criteria to the Grand Dink (Grand Vista here, and that’s what I’ll call it from now on) with a little Kymco Xciting thrown in for good measure.
Bob Hedstrom at Scooterville called me over and let me uncrate the Downtown myself. I believe going over a scooter starting with it’s shipping container is a good indication of the build quality of the machine. Kymco is darn near the top of the heap in this area. The Downtown 300i was packed in a well-engineered way that included (relative) ease of final assembly and protection of the scooter. Under the supervision of Neil Sikkora (Scooterville’s Service Manager) the front wheel was, eventually, correctly installed and the pre-delivery process was completed. Charge up and install the battery, gas up the fuel tank, and the Downtown 300i fired right up. Man, I just love high quality fuel injected scooters.
Speedometer Reading/Speed/Fuel Economy
Step one, attach GPS mount for testing. On some scooters this can be a challenge, but the mirror stalk held the mount like it was meant to be there. Just like the Kymco People GTi300, the Downtown was a pleasant surprise so far as speedometer and odometer accuracy is concerned. Most scooters I test are VERY optimistic (10% – 15% on average) but the Downtown came in at about 3% optimistic. At an indicated speed of 60 MPH the actual speed was 58 MPH. The odometer was just about spot on, showing 10.1 miles after a GPS verified 10.0 miles. This was a new machine, so I didn’t push the limits to search out the absolute top speed but I did see a GPS verified 86 MPH with just a touch of a tailwind. After break-in I would expect something darn close to 90 MPH as the actual top end for the Downtown 300i. In the course of a few days, I rode 200+ miles and included city and highway routes, though the majority of miles were at highway speeds. The overall fuel economy was 69 MPG which I consider more than adequate for a scooter with this level of performance capabilities. In my review of the Kymco People GTi 300, I got 72 MPG overall, but those miles were less at highway speeds. If ridden at city speeds without a lot of hard acceleration, one could probably see 80 MPG. Of course WHY anyone would NOT accelerate fairly hard on this machine would be a mystery to me.
The Kymco Downtown 300i 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 shocks in the rear. Braking is by disc, front and rear. The factory specifications say that the seat is 30.5 inches from the ground, but I was able to sit on the scooter flat-footed and I have a (barely) 30 inch inseam. I suppose my 220 pounds may have (ahem) compressed things a bit and brought the seat height down a touch. The wheelbase is 60.8 inches and, frankly, it feels even longer when riding. The Downtown 300i weighs 367 pounds and carries 3.4 gallons of fuel. MSRP is $5,599 and includes a two-year factory warranty. It’s available in white, silver, and the burnt orange pictured.
The combination of 29 horses and just 367 pounds make the Downtown 300i a quick and fast machine. The closest competition would be the Yamaha Majesty and Suzuki Burgman 400 – both of which are 400cc scooters. The Majesty puts out 33 horses, but weighs 467 pounds. The Burgman 400 cranks out 34 ponies, but is even fatter at 489 pounds. Both the Majesty and the Burgman are significantly more expensive than the Downtown. In the comparison chart I included the Downtown’s stable mate – the People GTi 300.
The Kymco Downtown 300i comes nicely equipped. I immediately noticed the adjustable brake levers on both sides. There are four positions that allow one to set the distance, or “reach”, for the levers. The dash is easy to read at a glance and includes a mix of analog and digital. The speedometer is located on the left side and is biased toward miles-per-hour. Kilometers are show on the inner (smaller) ring. On the right is the tachometer. Inside the tach display are the warning lights. Between these two is a digital pod that includes temperature, fuel level, odometer/trip meter and the clock. Below that are three small buttons. As near as I can tell, the center one (labeled TPM) does nothing.
Lighting on the Downtown 300i is exceptionally good. The quartz halogen headlights do a good job of illuminating the road around the front of the scooter and the highbeams cut through the dark like lasers. I was riding down a St. Paul industrial road at night and when I flicked on the highbeams I could see the reflective parking signs on buildings several blocks away. The front turn signals are integrated in the rear-view mirrors and the rear lights are bright and large. The multi-function ignition switch has an anti-theft cover and serves to open the seat and lock the front fork. Be sure and retain the key number when you get a Downtown. This would be needed to get a replacement key of the correct type to release the security cover.
The underseat storage on the Downtown is vastly superior to the Kymco People GTi300. Kymco claims room for two helmets, which is technically correct, as long as one of the helmets is a small shorty. The front helmet spot would not even come close to accommodating my 3/4 XXL AGV. Of course one can “post” one’s helmet on the front holder and utilize the underseat space for other things. There is also a glove-box-type compartment in the port side of the fairing. It shuts with a latch and NOT a key, so it’s not lockable, but can be accessed with the scooter running. There is a 12V accessory plug inside this compartment. Perfect for powering your mobile device. One thing it cannot be utilized for is charging the battery. I tried this with a Battery Tender™ adapter and the unit would not function. I also tried the same set-up on a People GTi and an Xciting with the same result. The same set-up worked just fine to charge the battery on a Genuine Buddy. There’s a swing-out hook below the headset and the top of the central tunnel is wide enough to set a bag on with the handle to the bad secured by the hook. The fuel door closes with a latch and covers a locking gas cap.
When seated on the Kymco Downtown 300i, one is enveloped in a comfortable compartment. Well, comfortable for some, but more on that in a minute. Turn the key to on position and the dash cycles gauges, hold the brake lever and press the starter button. That’s it. No choke, no fiddling with the throttle, just fire it up. The Downtown quickly settles into idle and is ready to roll. Oh yes, and roll it does. Like the People GTi300, this is quick and fast scooter. The throttle is responsive and smooth. There is power available throughout the RPM range and the mid-range punch is nothing short of wonderful. The Downtown 300i’s engine is a marvel. Everyone who rode it (including dealers of competing brands) commented positively on the engine. Cruising on an Interstate at 65 MPH was no problem and I easily passed a truck on an incline. Even cruising at 70 MPH left the scooter with another 15 MPH (or more) in available speed.Braking is good with single discs front and rear. I didn’t find any braking issues until I had a passenger on the scooter with me and executed a hard stop from 65 MPH. Not a problem mind you, but I felt a second disc up front would have been nice.
Handling is precise and can be tuned to your specific requirements by means of adjustable rear shocks. I am fairly heavy and like a firm ride, so a higher setting is appropriate for me. In all situations requiring a change of direction, the Downtown went right where I pointed it. Set your line in a turn and the scooter stays there. Passing over a road with expansion joints, I noticed a touch of “see-saw” action from the suspension, but it wasn’t intrusive. The 14 inch front, 13 inch rear and about 61 inch wheelbase along with the relatively light weight of the Downtown make for good handling in a variety of city and highway situations.
The ergonomics of the Kymco Downtown are pretty limiting. A variety of people rode this scooter, from a 5′ 4″ young lady to a 6′ 2″ gentleman with a long inseam. Nobody “loved” the seat. A few people hated it. One person who wasn’t all that tall thought the seat should be classified as a torture device by the Geneva Convention. At 5′ 9″ with a 30″ inseam, the ergonomics were fine for me. Kymco says the seat height is 30.5 inches, but I had no trouble flat-footing the scooter. Of course that MAY be due to the 100 kilograms of “compression” on the seat at the time. I would label the Downtown as short-person’s (or at least a short-legged person’s) scooter. My 6′ 2″ rider has a 35″ inseam and he was miserable on the Downtown. There is no adjustment in the seat. The rider sits in a “cup” with a (some would say intrusive) support on the back. Other scooters allow for some fore-aft adjustment of this support. In some cases, taller riders have removed the support completely to set the riding position to their liking. Nothing like that here, if the Downtown doesn’t fit you, you’ll need to spend on custom seat work.
At this time, no other seat is offered by Kymco. This bothers me. The Downtown also has a relatively short reach to the handlebars. Simply offering a seat set up for the driver in a further rear-ward position would open this scooter up to a much wider range of potential customers. Customizing a seat is a common procedure. Nearly every Honda Silverwing rider I know has either customized their seat or purchased an aftermarket one. As of this writing, a base seat for a Silverwing from Corbin is $500, add a couple of backrests and it’s nearly $1,000. I chatted with a local upholstery shop that does motorcycle/scooter seats and explained what I thought would need to be done to the Downtown seat for a taller rider. They told me $800. It bothers me that a taller person would spend $5,600 for their new Downtown and then have to spend another $800 to ride it comfortably. I’d think it would be to Kymco’s benefit to offer one or two other seats based on rider size and have an exchange program. I’d gladly pay $100 – $200 to swap my seat for a factory one that was appropriate for my size.
Having just reviewed the People GTi300 and having purchased one, I’d like to compare these Kymco siblings. As I’ve mentioned, they share an engine – the fine 299cc fuel-injected liquid-cooled marvel. They are close in price with the People being $200 less than the Downtown. The Downtown is more of a maxi-scooter configuration with more body to it. It’s wider, longer, heavier (though not a lot) with a real windshield and excellent coverage for the rider. The People GTi has a shorter wheelbase and taller tires. To me, the GTi’s configuration is better suited to “do everything” use. In performance, the People is slightly faster up to about 60 MPH, but gives up aerodynamic advantage to the Downtown at higher speeds. The ergonomics of the People GTi cover a MUCH broader range of riders than the Downtown. I am still considering some seat modification on my People, but that may well be limited to the installation of gel insert under the cover and just a touch of foam re-shaping, to increase the LONG distance comfort as I plan to use my People GTi for some touring. Assuming the ergonomics of either scooter worked for me, I would put a good topcase on the Downtown and I’d have a very fine maxi-scooter for highway and touring use. For city use, I’d still pick the People GTi as the “winner” in this case. FYI, Kymco does make available a topcase adapter for SHAD. The part number is KOSP19ST and it costs about $80. I think a SHAD SH48 would look great on the Downtown and make it practical for touring.
Kymco Downtown 300i and Grand Vista
The Kymco Grand Vista 250 (Grand Dink outside the USA) is another fine scooter and one that has built a big following, especially among shorter-legged riders. I was very fortunate to have a young lady in the Twin Cities offer her opinion after riding the Downtown. Lynn is a Grand Vista owner. She’s about 5′ 4″ and I know better than to guess at a young lady’s weight, but safe to that Lynn is probably on the slim side of average. Yes, she’s also attractive, but that had nothing to do with selecting her for this review. Really. We’re both married. Here are comments after a short ride that included both highway and city speeds.
• seat position – seems and feels more upright – OK for short, not certain for longer rides.
• seat comfort – nice fit for my bottom, suitable for short term, not sure for longer rides — but, OK knowing gel could be added.
• seat height – perfect for me (I am 5’4″)
• handle bars – seem higher to reach.
• brake handles – would add the dog legs for easier reach, less strain. Even position “1” seemed to far away.
• mirrors – seem higher, and almost annoyingly visible to me, but compromise knowing the directional lights are on the back side of the mirrors – which offers more street visibility. Would love if the mirrors folded in like Grand Vista.
• feet position on the floor boards – is much more confining, especially with the hump in center.
• width of floor board is much wider than the 18″ on the Grand Vista – so feet and legs are spread farther apart – may be more fatiguing, floor board outer edges contact inner ankles when stopped – not a big deal.
• tires – seem more stable while on highway in general, (would be an improvement especially in rain or wind conditions) as compared to the Grand Vista.
• turning ability – much better as compared to the Grand Vista. I tested figure eight pattern in parking lot and it felt more stable and not like it would tip over. Instilled confidence. More versatile in situations where turning around is critical.
• underseat – not as spacious as the Grand Vista, because that is the largest underseat ever, but, suitable. Would need an extra storage box added for my use.
• backing out – of a garage or parking lot – I did not try this. Concerned if it is much heavier than the Grand Vista.
• center stand – I did not try putting it on the center stand or taking it off. Again, if this is a heavier scooter or more difficult for me to do, that would be a concern.
• color – not fond of the dark orange (at least it is not bright orange) – white or silver would be my preference.
• better – lights, brakes, tires – those are overall good items when considering an upgrade based on my type of riding.
Fit and Finish
My expectations are high when I approach a new Kymco. I’ve had several years of ownership experience with Kymco scooters and have mentioned several times that I consider them to be the equal in fit and finish of anything from Japan. The new Downtown 300i doesn’t disappoint in this area. Body panel tolerances are close and uniform. The finish on the burnt orange colored panels is top notch. The controls and switches feel solid and I expect they will hold up over time as well as my 2005 Kymco People 250 has. As I mentioned earlier, I got to do a fair amount of the prep work on this scooter and the high quality of Kymco’s components and manufacture shows during this process. I could not find anything to complain about in the area of fit and finish. I’ll save my complaining for the lack of seat adjustment/options.
If it fits you, the Kymco Downtown 300i is an outstanding scooter. It will really shine at highway commuting and touring. With it’s solid handling and engine performance, the Downtown 300i would make an excellent weekend escape machine. I expect Downtown owners will be rewarded with low maintenance, little or no warranty issues, excellent fuel economy, and a ride that is just plain fun. Considering the components and performance of the Downtown, the price is reasonable. Add a good topcase, turn off the phone, find a good road, and get ready for an escape to weekend scooter paradise.
THANKS to Scooterville in Minneapolis Minnesota for providing the scooter used in this review.