UPDATE – 2012 The WONDERFUL Kymco People 50 2-stroke scooter is no more. If you find a good previously owned one BUY IT.
If a person was to describe a perfect moped-legal scooter they would likely say it had a clean, EPA-certified 2-stroke engine for power, a CVT automatic transmission, big wheels to help combat pot holes and give a stable ride, good brakes, comfortable ergonomics, a retro-influenced design, excellent build quality and strong manufacturer/dealer support. They’d be describing the Kymco People 50 scooter.
In Minnesota, a scooter is classified as a “moped” if it has an engine displacement of 50ccs or less, puts out 2 horsepower and is restricted to 30 MPH on a level surface. The Kymco People 50 meets all three of those requirements. With a “moped” license plate on it, the People 50 can be parked in a bike rack (in many cases, verify the rules for the specific bike rack you want to park at) and requires only a valid driver’s license to operate, NOT motorcycle endorsement. In my opinion, a person should not let the ‘motorcycle endorsement’ part of this equation get in their way when selecting 2-wheeled transport. The process to get that endorsement is not difficult and it opens up a larger world of choices. IF, however, you have parking issues, a moped-legal scooter can be a wonderful machine.
The People 50 is manufactured by Kymco which is the Kwang Yang Motor Company of Taiwan. They have been around since 1963 and have built an excellent reputation for high quality manufacturing. The “People” line of scooters has been sold in the USA since 2002 and the People 50 has seen next-to-no changes since that time. There’s good reason for that – it’s a proven design that works quite well.
Speedometer Reading/Speed/Fuel Economy
I am NOT a small person, and the People 50 managed to move my 220 pounds without overly straining itself. The People 50 used in this review had been de-restricted. In this case, that means removing an exhaust restrictor and CVT governor. The normal restricted top speed of 30 MPH was gone and I got the People 50 up to a GPS-verified 40 MPH on a level road with maybe a slight decline. A lighter weight pilot would probably see a top speed of 43 – 45 MPH on this scooter. Speaking of GPS, the speedometer on the People 50 reads optimistic by about 10%. That is to say that when the speedometer indicates 30 MPH the actual speed is about 27MPH. The odometer tested as accurate. I road exactly three kilometers as indicated on the GPS and that’s exactly what the odometer showed. In a total of about 50 miles of riding, the fuel economy was 80 MPG. Not bad considering the variety of riding conditions, speed, and the size of at least one of the riders (the other riders were gorgeous young ladies – one tipping the scales at about 125 pounds and the other at 110).
Four our comparison chart, I selected a Honda Metropolitan and Genuine Buddy 50 to show along with the People. These models were picked due to price and popularity. Looking at the People and the Buddy, we see a certain commonality in price, warranty, drivetrain, brakes, etc. – BUT they are very different machines. The Buddy’s 10 inch wheels (compared to the People’s 16 inch wheels) result in a ride and “feel” that is different from the People. The Honda Metro is a 4-stroke 50cc scooter and is slower in both acceleration and top speed than either the People or the Buddy.
The Kymco People 50 has a 49cc air-cooled 2-stroke engine that is oil injected. Under the seat, one has access to the fuel tank (which holds about 1.5 gallons) and an oil reserve tank. The correct amount of oil is automatically mixed in with the fuel prior to combustion. A carburetor feeds the mixture into the engine and a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) gets power to the rear wheel. Both the front and rear wheels are 16 inchers with the front tire being a 80/80-16 and the rear a 100/80-16. The scooter rides on a conventional telescoping fork in the front and a single shock in the rear. Braking is handled by a disc in the front and a drum in the rear. The People 50 has a 51 inch wheelbase, weighs in at 210 pounds and the seat is 30.8 inches from the ground.
Controls are conventional for this type of scooter. The throttle is on the right-hand grip, just twist it and go. The front brake is controlled by a lever on the right and the rear by a lever on the left. The right-hand control also includes the engine-stop switch and electric starter. Headlight, turn signal and horn controls are on the left-hand side. The dash includes a large and easy to read speedometer that is biased to kilometers. The odometer indicates kilometers. There is also a fuel gauge and a clock. Below those gauges are indicator lights for left and right turn signals, high-beam headlight and low oil.
To start the scooter, one turns the key to the “ON” position, makes sure that the engine-stop switch is in the “RUN” position, and presses the starter button while holding the rear brake lever. One can also kick-start the scooter. The Kymco People 50 used in this review was a little slow to start sometimes requiring some throttle to fire. It also idled low and stalled at stop signs a couple of times. Both issues could certainly be resolved with minor adjustment and that would likely be done at the first service or “break-in” service which should happen in the 300 – 500 mile range (remember, the odometer is kilometers so that would be 485 – 810 km).
The Kymco People 50 has a small locking glove box that is half taken up by the battery. There is a hook to hang bags from that would rest between the legs of the pilot, some storage under the seat and a nice aluminum rear luggage rack. The seat is for solo riding with the rack immediately behind it. There is a buddy seat available for the People 50 that allows the carrying of a passenger (there are passenger foot pegs) AND the mounting kit re-locates the rack further back. One doesn’t have to give up the handy luggage rack with the passenger seat.
The People 50 isn’t really a good choice for carting passengers around – it’s best as a one-person machine. There is also the question of the legality of carrying a passenger on a moped-licensed scooter if one does not have a motorcycle endorsement.
The ride on those big 16 inch wheels is smooth and stable. Most moped-legal scooters ride on 10 inch wheels and while the handling can be incredibly nimble on those small hoops, the big wheels do a better job of absorbing variations in the road (pot holes, cracks, bumps, and so forth). Braking is strong and easy to modulate with the levers needing minimal pressure to operate. At 5′ 9″ with a 30″ inseam I found the ergonomics of the People 50 to be perfect. The floorboards are a little limited and someone with large feet might be cramped. A tall or long-legged person may well feel a bit confined on the People 50.
Acceleration was adequate. Again, I am NOT a small person and the People 50 was able to get me out into traffic, if not with speed at least with reasonable forward momentum. Climbing a longish steep hill, 28 MPH was all I could maintain. A lighter pilot may not notice these limitations as much.
Regular contributor Jordana also rode the People 50, but her current work schedule prohibited getting her review written in time for this article. Jordana did mention that she was not thrilled with the People 50 and I suspect that may be due in part to the fact that she regularly rides a 150cc four-stroke Genuine Buddy scooter which has WAY more acceleration and speed than this, or any 50cc scooter. My wife Beverly was glad to take the People 50 for an afternoon and had this to say:
The look is nice and simple – it’s meant to be a fun scooter to zip around on in the city. The seat is comfortable and has a nice storage space under it. It comes equipped with a luggage rack and I would certainly add a good trunk if it were my scooter. The dashboard is nice, but the speedometer takes some getting used to as the speed in kilometers is large and miles are small and harder to read at a glance. Switches like the turn signals are easy to use and feel very solid.
Having ridden mostly 150cc scooters, I was unaccustomed to the 50cc level of power. Riding with someone on a faster scooter, I found I was running at full throttle to try and keep up. The People got up to speeds that were fast enough for the flow of traffic, but didn’t get there as quickly as I am used to on my bigger scooters.
The suspension of the People was phenomenal. You would expect a small scooter to feel every bump – not on this one. I even road through a couple of patches with “Warning: Bump” signs and thought, what bump? Riding was effortless and I felt secure on the People’s bigger wheels. The rearview mirrors are large and serve their purpose well. Turning? No problem, the People responds smoothly and doesn’t feel at all “twitchy” like some smaller-wheeled scooters I have been on. Slowing down was the same – smooth. Overall, a nice machine.
Fit and Finish
The fit and finish of the Kymco People 50 is very good. The switches and other components feel solid and well-made. I have owned a Kymco People 250 for several years and continue to be impressed with the durability and quality of Kymco machines.
If you’re looking for a moped-legal scooter, you’ll have a hard time finding a better machine than the Kymco People 50.
Thanks to SCOOTERVILLE for providing this scooter for review.