June, 2007 – I’ve wanted to review the new Kymco People 250 ‘S’ ever since news of its release. Not only did I get to spend a fair amount of time with one, I got to set up a 3-way direct comparison with its sibling, the standard People 250…. AND a new Vespa GTS 250.
Once again, Bob at Scooterville came through for me and set aside a People 250 ‘S’ for me to play with for several days. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Kymco scooters in general and the People 250 in particular. I’ve owned one for some time and have been very pleased with the performance, quality, and just plain fun of the People 250. I do have to admit to being a little “hesitant” about the look of the new ‘S’ version. I’ll get over it. The People 250 ‘S’ has some improvements over the standard including braking (dual front discs) and relocated fuel filler. I’ll go through my findings during the review first, and then it’s on to the shoot-out!
Speedometer Reading and Fuel Usage
The speedometer of the People 250 ‘S’ is optimistic. SURPRISE! OK, pretty much every scooter I’ve tested has an optimistic speedometer, some are VERY optimistic. The People 250 ‘S’ was not terribly far off indicating about 6 percent faster than actual speed. When the speedometer showed 50 miles-per-hour, the actual speed was 47.25 miles-per-hour. Fuel consumption was 56.5 miles-per-gallon. Not quite as good as I expected, but the scooter was new and mileage would likely improve after break-in. Also, I was a bit…. just a bit… twist-happy with the throttle. Yeah, like you wouldn’t be.
Features of the Kymco People 250 ‘S’
The People 250 ‘S’ is powered by a liquid-cooled four-stroke single-cylinder engine that displaces 249cc. It has disc brakes front and rear (two up front), decent storage space under the seat and a standard luggage rack. There’s a power socket under the seat which is advertised by Kymco as a “cell phone charger” but of course it works for a wide range of devices needing power including electric cold-weather gear (if you are so inclined).
The instrument cluster has a large center speedometer with kilometers in white on the outside edge and miles in red beneath the kilometers. To the right is the fuel gauge which was a more accurate reflection of what actually exists in the fuel tank than on the standard People 250 that I have. The gauge does stay on or near full for a good bit, and it does move through the display towards empty rather quicker than one might expect, but nothing like as severely as the standard People. There is a digital pod to the left of the speedometer for time and distance and can be set to either miles or kilometers. The front windscreen is small – too small for my taste. It deflects wind from one’s chest, but I experienced some buffeting at helmet level when riding at freeway speeds.
The controls layout is “normal” with the kill switch and starter button on the right side, headlight, turn signal and horn on the left. There is also that very nice flash-to-pass high beam “trigger” on the left side which could be easily adapted to act as a firing mechanism for the ion cannons (available as an accessory to assist in the removal of road obstacles – yeah, Kymco said they’d get back to me on that one).
Lighting is bright and well integrated with the exception of the front turn signals. There are lights in the front panel that act as the front turn signals in other countries, but not here. In the good old US of A we get added-on front signal lights up near the handgrips. The standard People 250 has integrated front signal lights. Of course you would never remove the access panel, connect the wiring for the integrated lights and remove the add-on lights…. that would be breaking the law. The fuel filler has been moved to the floorboard from the leg-shield. This was one of my complaints with the standard People. The tank is easy to fill with no spillage. There is a slight hump in the middle of the floorboard on the ‘S’ version.
OK, let’s fire this beast up and see how she is on the road. The People 250 ‘S’ starts easily and runs well, settling into a fairly smooth idle (it is a single-cylinder “thumper” after all). At least it seemed smooth until I rode the Vespa, but more on that later. Stephen Heller (Hellcat), a fine scooter mechanic and author of Random Scootering, discovered that the ‘S’ version of the People 250 has about 1.4 more horsepower than the standard version. It also weighs about 20 pounds less. This is apparent in the top-end speed areas of the two scooters. The People 250 ‘S’ would do an indicated 90 MPH (actual speed of 84.5) or nearly 5 MPH faster than the standard People 250. Acceleration is smooth and brisk from take-off through about 70 MPH with the very top end coming up after a little more effort.
Handling of the People 250 ‘S’ is exceptional at both low and high speeds. It’s not as quick to respond as a smaller-wheeled scooter, but it is very stable and confidence inspiring at all speeds. The brakes are wonderful – powerful and easy to modulate – ALMOST the best scooter brakes I have experienced (The Genuine Blur still has the top position).
Ride comfort and ergonomics are wonderful with the exception of the too-small windscreen. The seat is even better than the standard People 250 and passenger accommodations are very nice. The passenger foot-rests fold out, and are larger than conventional “pegs”. There is more leg room on the People 250 ‘S’ than on the standard version. I would say that the seating/riding position should work out well for a wide range of people. I am about 5′ 9″ with short legs and I could touch (not flat-footed) at stops and had plenty of leg room. One of our test riders is 6′ 2″ and he had no “space” issues with the People.
Fit and Finish
Kymco has a well-earned fine reputation for build quality. The People 250 ‘S’ only adds to that reputation. The fit and finish are excellent, equal (or very nearly equal) to the scooters from Japan (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki). The panels fit together well with no undue gaps and the scooter appears tight and solid. Having had a standard People 250 for some time, I can say that the quality is very good and the scooters hold up well over time.
If you are expecting me to say that the Kymco People 250 ‘S’ is a great value, you are correct. If you expecting I will suggest that everyone rush out and buy one, well………. I have learned that what you get for your money is only part of “value”. Yes, Kymco has a great warranty and excellent dealer support – but is there a dealer near you? Yes, the People 250 ‘S’ fits me well and I’m starting to like the new look – but does it fit you? Do you like the look? As I learned during our “shoot-out” how you fit on your scooter and how much you just plain like it have a lot to do with whether a particular model is the right choice, the greatest value, for you.
A Kymco People 250 that’s a couple of years old, a new Kymco People 250 ‘S’ and a pretty new Vespa GTS 250, is this really an “apples-to-apples” comparison? I mean I can see the two sibling Kymcos… but the Vespa? OK, I freely admit that this is one of those “because I can” sort of things. If someone was silly enough to let you have a new scooter for several days and you already had it’s sibling in your garage what would you do? Let’s add to that a friend who just purchased a new scooter who was willing to not only participate but to let other people ride his new scooter? Come on! How could I not do this?
The maroon People 250 is mine, the new People 250 ‘S’ was generously released by Bob at Scooterville, and the Excaliber Gray Vespa GTS 250 belongs to my friend John Wolfe. John is a Harley-guy. I’m pretty sure he owns, and probably wears, Harley-Davidson undergarments. He and his wife are recent scooter purchasers. John lent both his scooter and his time to this shoot-out (thanks buddy).
Here is a chart comparing the specifications of the three scooters:
As you can see, the Vespa is $2,000 more expensive than the standard People 250 and $1,600 more than the ‘S’ version. It is also fuel injected; metal bodied, and utilizes a more complex suspension. It’s also the best-looking of the three, especially from the back:
This is not just my opinion; everyone who rode or even looked at the three together said the same thing. In fact, when I would ask someone which if the three was the best-looking, I would usually get that are-you-crazy-or-something response.
So how are they to ride? How fast? How comfortable? We ran several tests including a side-by-side rotation that had each scooter ridden “against” each other scooter over the same route. Yeah, it took some time and we started to get a little bored with the route towards the end but it was still a blast.
The scooter that felt the quickest was the Vespa. In fact, the quickest off the line was the standard People 250. This may well have something to do with the fact that my People 250 is completely broken in as opposed to new. The fastest was the Kymco People 250 ‘S’ by about 5 MPH. The quickest roll-on (15 MPH to 50 MPH) was the Vespa. Coming to a stop, especially a fast stop, the People ‘S’ really stood out. Handling at lower speeds the Vespa was the uniformly favourite, nudged out by the People 250 ‘S’ for high speed handling.
Comfort is a tougher one. The best seat, by far, was on the Vespa. Around town, the Vespa was a very comfortable ride. At highway speeds the standard People 250 did very well, offering better wind protection than either other scooter. The seat on the People 250 ‘S’ was superior to the standard People. With a taller windscreen, the People ‘S’ would probably be the best highway ride of the bunch. The Vespa felt a little twitchy on the highway compared to the others.
Earlier I mentioned how (relatively) smooth the People 250 ‘S’ felt. That is until it was compared to the Vespa. Riding both of the Kymcos, vibration, even at idle, doesn’t seem that bad…. until you jump off the People and get on the Vespa. Wow. I had to check to be sure the Vespa was running, it’s that smooth.
The Vespa has the most toys with lots of digital goodies available on the instrument cluster. Storage space on the standard People is excellent with the underseat area easily swallowing up a big helmet. The People 250 ‘S’ could not take a big helmet, but my 3/4 dragon fit under there just fine. The Vespa could not take an XXL 3/4 helmet under the seat.
Favourite scooters was no great surprise. For around town, with occasional highway use – the Vespa, IF the price is not an issue. After all, for the price of the Vespa, a person could get a People 250 AND a nice 50cc scooter. For best value – the standard People 250. For best all-around IF a taller windscreen were added, the People 250’S’ and in its current stock form, the 250 ‘S’ was the best choice for (ahem) sporty riding.
A big “Thank you” to those who helped out with this comparison. Depending on your taste and riding needs, ANY of the three scooters would be a good choice.