Engineers down at the Kwang Yang Motor Company built the Downtown 300i to plug a hole between the nearly motorcycle-like maxi scooters, and the campus runabout 50 cc variety. As indicated by the name, this scoot runs a nearly 300 cc mill that pushes into entry-level motorcycle territory and can get the rig up to around 90 mph or so — plenty for highways and interstates. Storage options couple with rider protection to make it a viable commuter as well as a light tourer, and KYMCO’s accessory catalog can expand those capabilities even further. In spite of its success both in the scooter sector and as a manufacturer of outsourced engines for BMW and Kawasaki, KYMCO remains relatively unknown in the U.S. market, but that’s gonna change.

Continue reading for my review of the KYMCO Downtown 300i.

  • 2014 - 2017 KYMCO Downtown 300i
  • Year:
    2014- 2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    4-stroke
  • Displacement:
    298 cc
  • Price:
    5399
  • Price:

Design

2014 - 2017 KYMCO Downtown 300i
- image 710294

KYMCO completely shunned the classic Italian look in favor of a completely modern visage that incorporates many of the features one might expect on a non-retro ride. A pointed entry leads the way at the front fairing with paired headlights recessed well out of harm’s way, and the front turn signals come sunk in the mirrors.

Up top we have a pared-down windshield that protects at least the shorter riders from excessive head buffeting and below the lights, the fairing forms the typical pocket of protection for the rider’s legs. KYMCO designed in a substantial tunnel that interrupts the step-through, and naturally, that kills the between-feet storage. Yeah, it’s a minor complaint, but there it is anyway.

The inner fairing comes with a molded-in spot for the rider’s feet — sort of a highway-peg position— but if you are taller than about 5-foot-8, you are going to have clearance problems with your knees. Same thing with the rider triangle. The deep-scoop seat prevents the rider from sliding back to get more legroom, and the padding in said seat leaves a lot to be desired. It’s enough to suggest a conspiracy between KYMCO and the manufacturer of the Hardest-Production-Seats-In-The-World title, KTM. The seat flips forward to reveal a lighted storage compartment with a gas-shock rod to hold the thing open for ease of loading/unloading, and a wide pillion pad finishes off the seating.

KYMCO offers a luggage rack, but the shape doesn’t work well with most aftermarket trunk boxes, and so buyers are virtually forced to stick with OEM accessories. Not a deal breaker by any means, but there it is.

Overall length measures in at 86.6 inches, and the wheelbase falls out at 60.8 inches between centers, so the Downtown definitely falls toward the upper end of the scooter scale even if it isn’t particularly long-inseam friendly.

Chassis

2014 - 2017 KYMCO Downtown 300i
- image 710304

A proper underframe serves as the bones of the beast, and that’s a feature I’m always glad to see as I never was a fan of the monocoque-style unibody assembly. Telescopic front forks support the front end with no adjustability in the hydraulic damping values (no surprise), but the dual, coil-over shocks in back come with adjustable preload so at least you can dial in for variable cargo and passenger weight.

KYMCO holds the front stems in place with a full tripletree that bears both the upper and lower clamp, and this is an improvement over the norm, which usually consists of only a single clamp, because it’s much stronger. The factory left the rear drum brake in the history books where it belongs, and went with all-around hydraulic discs. A 14-inch front wheel and 13-inch rear mount the 120/80 and 150/70 hoops, respectively. All of this gives the Downtown decent tracking and a nice ride with ample brakes that run without the complication of ABS. Center of gravity is low, and the shape at the front of the seat allows for an easy shot from hip-to-ground, thus again showing this ride to favor the shorter crowd.

Drivetrain

2014 - 2017 KYMCO Downtown 300i
- image 710293

KYMCO tapped a four-stroke, liquid-cooled thumper for propulsion duties. Ever-so-slightly oversquare, the mill runs a 72.7 mm bore and 72 mm stroke for a total displacement of 298.9 cc. A SOHC times the four-valve head with electronic fuel injection and a throttle body to manage induction, help the engine meet CARB emissions standards and turn in a 66 mpg mileage rating. The engine cranks out a claimed 18 pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm and 29.5 horsepower at 8,500 rpm, but as always, the bottom line here lies at the top end.

Wide-ass open, the Downtown will do at least 90 mph if you have the nerve for it, and so owners won’t have to be any more concerned about being rear-ended than the rest of us. The top speed along with the almost motorcycle-sized tires definitely makes highway travel less dangerous than most vehicles that fall in the scooter category. As usual, a CVT tranny provides twist-and-forget riding convenience.

Price

2014 - 2017 KYMCO Downtown 300i
- image 710296

You can score a current Downtown 300i in Matte White or Gloss Black for a base MSRP of $5,399. KYMCO covers your ride with a two-year factory warranty.

Competitor

2015 - 2016 Honda Forza
- image 677045
2014 - 2017 KYMCO Downtown 300i
- image 710292

Honda has just the thing for my head-to-head section with its Forza scooter. It runs a similar modern look complete with windshield and recessed lights, and is neck-and-neck with the Downtown in sleekness. Honda placed an emphasis on the rider’s saddle, and it’s definitely the dominant feature when viewed in profile as it pushes into the step-through with a significant backrest berm ahead of the pillion pad. I would point out that the short windshield on the Forza will allow for better ventilation through your helmet vents, but the trade off is a bit of head buffeting.

Honda skips the drum brake as well, and in addition to the rear disc, the factory offers an optional combined ABS that not only prevents loss of traction due to overbraking, but also sends some pressure to the front caliper when the rear brake is engaged for balanced braking. Suspension and frame construction is similar, and there is little to choose between the two here beyond the brake difference.

KYMCO packs in a few more cubes than the 279 cc Honda manages, and puts out more power as well. The 29 ponies from the KYMCO mill out does the 24.5 horsepower from the Honda, and to me, this is the most powerful indicator yet of KYMCO’s worthiness because one could reasonably expect the Honda to beat it in power despite the minor size difference. We shouldn’t be surprised; after all, KYMCO builds range-extender engines for BMW, so it must be doing something right.

Honda lets go of the Forza for $5,599, only a couple of bills more than the $5,399 Downtown. One could be tempted to accuse KYMCO of overpricing, but that sticker falls in the appropriate range, and it’s probably safer to say that Honda is undercharging by leaving name power off the tally. No matter what the real scoop is here, the bottom line is that the KYMCO offers a viable alternative... as long as your inseam isn’t longer than about 31 inches.

He Said

My husband and fellow motorcycle writer, TJ Hinton, says, “Meh, I’m not really a modern scooter fan, and vastly prefer the classic retro-rides, so to me the thing is just kind of ugly. It’s a little cramped, too. Top speed is decent, and though I wouldn’t ride it on the interstate, I must concede that it would probably handle it at least as well as some of these 250 cc crotch-rocket larvae bikes on the market.”

She Said

"This is a nice size ride for short folks like me. Even at just a couple inches over five feet tall, my feet easily touch the ground for confidence at stops and the low-center of gravity makes the weight easy to handle. The engine is big enough that I can travel on the highways without trepidation but small enough to still have decent gas mileage. Traveling at highway speeds, I still have plenty of roll-on for passing or avoiding trouble."

Specifications

Engine Type: SOHC 4-Stroke 4-Valve
Displacement: 298.9cc
Bore x Stroke: 72.7x72mm
Claimed Horsepower: 29.5hp@ 8500rpm
Claimed Torque: 18ft lbs@ 6500rpm
Fuel Management System: EFI Throttle Body
Cooling: Liquid
Ignition: Electric
Transmission: CVT automatic
Front Suspension: Telescopic Forks, Upper and Lower Triple Tree
Rear Suspension: 5 Position Adjustable Dual Shocks
Tires-Front: 120/80-14
Tires-Rear: 150/70-13
Front Brakes: Disc
Rear Brakes: Disc
Length: 86.6"
Width: 31.8"
Height: 45.2"
Wheelbase: 60.8"
Rake/Trail: N/A
Claimed Dry Weight: 367 lbs.
Seat Height: 30.5"
Underseat Storage: Yes - Lighted
Fuel Capacity: 3.3 gal.
Estimated MPG: 66 mpg est (based on EPA data)
Instrumentation: Speedometer, Tachometer, Odometer, Trip meter, Clock, Fuel & Temp, & 12 Volt accessory outlet
Colors: Matte White, Gloss Black
Warranty: Two-Year Factory Warranty
C.A.R.B. Compliant: Yes
MSRP: $5,399.00

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended.

Image Source: kymcousa.com, powersports.honda.com

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