Handles More Like A Motorcycle Than A Scooter

KYMCO takes the next step in its quest for a slice of the maxi-scooter market with the new AK550. This newest addition takes the company into some hotly contested territory with its business-class looks and motorcycle-like engine displacement that is sure to reach a more demanding customer base. Comfort and weather protection were front-burner topics for the designers, as were safety considerations, evidenced by the riding modes feature and ABS. What else does KYMCO’s top-shelf commuter/tourer have in store? Let’s find out.

Continue reading for my look at the KYMCO AK550.

  • 2018 KYMCO AK550
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-2
  • Displacement:
    550 cc
  • Price:
    8879
  • Price:

2018 KYMCO AK550 Design

2018 KYMCO AK550
- image 784503
A very professional-looking scooter that should appeal to mature riders, but only when viewed like art: from six feet away.

Classy. That’s the first thing that came to mind when I initially put eyes on the “AK.” It starts out with a wide front fairing that uses a combination of angles and sweeps to arrive at the final look with paired headlights tucked away under the brow and an adjustable, vented windshield up top. The fairing lowers form an almost sportbike-ish scoop with recessed turn signals set right at the top of the legguards that flow down to meet at the bottom to form a chin fairing.

Head on, the AK cuts a figure not unlike some current sport-tourers, and of course that works out well as the factory bills this ride as a “super-touring maxi-scooter” with an emphasis on sporty handling. Don’t believe it? Check out the photos of the riders dragging a knee around the corner and get back to me. Yeah, they had to work mighty hard to get it down, but they got it there, and that speaks to a ride that has potential to be a lot of fun whether you’re commuting, touring or just messing around.

A deep brow around the backside of the screen shields the all-digital instrument cluster ahead of a neat-and-clean handlebar fairing that keeps all the unsightly stuff hidden away. Among the hide-aways are the wires for the heated handgrips with three heat settings that come as part of the stock equipment package. Too bad there’s no handguards, but I guess there’s always next year.

There’s a pair of small-item compartments in the inner fairing with a USB port to tend to the charging of your electronic devices. A beefy tunnel interrupts the step-through to leave minimal clearance for mounting/dismounting, but an ample reservoir for beskirted riders to stow her excess material and have some modesty whilst climbing aboard.

As you’d expect, the flip-up seat conceals a dry storage compartment, but in spite of the AK’s overall size it will only carry a full-face helmet and an open-face so if your passenger wants the full protection, be prepared to lug that bucket around with you. A wide pilot’s seat comes with an adjustable lumbar support (more of a butt-stop, really) and continues full-width back into the pillion pad with generous grab rails for your passenger’s security and comfort that double as bungee-net anchors for a little extra cargo capacity.

The taillight runs with a highly stylized look that would probably not be very visible if it weren’t for the all-around LED technology that makes it work, and it comes braced by vertical turn signals to complete the rearward lighting. A mudguard/plateholder contains the fling from the rear wheel to wrap it all up.

Overall, a very professional-looking scooter that should appeal to mature riders, but only when viewed like art: from six feet away. Any closer and the fit-and-finish becomes more of an issue, especially compared to some of the top-shelf competition.

2018 KYMCO AK550 Chassis

2018 KYMCO AK550
- image 784498
Big wheels help the AK meet its goal of handling more like a proper motorcycle than what you would normally expect from a scooter.

At just under 500 pounds dry, the AK is rather hefty, but not from a lack of weight-saving measures by the factory. Aluminum bones roll on aluminum wheels to help reduce both the sprung and unsprung weight. Lightweight hoops line the rims with a 120/70 up front and 160/60 out back, both in a 15-inch diameter that helps the AK meet its goal of handling more like a proper motorcycle than what you would normally expect from a scooter. I believe the largest production scooter tires right now are 16 inchers, so these 15s are right near the top of the scale.

It runs hydraulic disc brakes front and rear, so no ridiculously old-fashioned drum brakes here. There’s a pair of 270 mm discs up front and a 260 mm disc out back with Brembo anchors and the Bosch 9.1 ABS that prevents skidding due to overbraking at both ends, not just the front. In another surprising move, KYMCO used a set of 41 mm inverted forks to float the front end and tucked the coil-over monoshock into the left side with a horizontal arrangement that minimizes its visual impact to a large degree. Only the rear comes with any kind of adjustment at all, and then, it’s limited to the minimal spring-preload tweak.

Front suspension: 41 mm Inverted Fork
Rear suspension: Horizontal Trailing Arm
Front tire size: 120/70 – R15
Rear tire size: 160/60 – R15
Front brakes: 270 mm, Brembo Dual Floating Disks
Rear brakes: Hydraulic disc, 260 mm
ABS: Bosch 9.1 ABS front & rear

2018 KYMCO AK550 Drivetrain

2018 KYMCO AK550
- image 784508
In a break from the norm, the drivetrain is mounted a bit farther forward than usual to give the rear suspension a better chance of maintaining its traction.

Power comes from a twin-cylinder, 550.4 cc powerplant to the tune of 52 horsepower at 7,500 rpm with 41 pounds o’ grunt at 5,500 rpm. Dual over-head cams time the four-valve heads with electronic ignition control and induction management, but the fandanglery doesn’t end there, oh no. The factory graced the AK with a “Riding Mode” feature that comes with two channels, “Full Power” and “Rain,” so you can dial in engine response to the prevailing conditions. While the Full-power setting delivers the natural power curve and sporty acceleration, the Rain option curbs the engine’s enthusiasm just a bit for a gentler throttle response and slower spool-up. Not quite as cool as a proper traction control system, but still far better than nothing at all.

The rest of the drivetrain is typical; a continuously variable transmission that uses a drive belt and pulleys to crunch the drive ratios and keep the engine in its usable power band for the usual scooter-tastic twist-and-go operation. In a break from the norm, KYMCO mounted the drivetrain a bit farther forward than usual and mounted the rear wheel on a proper swingarm to help reduce unsprung weight at the rear wheel and give the rear suspension a better chance of maintaining its traction.

Engine: Liquid Cooled, In-Line, 2 Cylinders, DOHC, 8 Valves
Displacement: 550.4 cc
Max. Power: 52.7 hp (39.3 kW) @ 7,500 RPM
Max. Torque: 41 lb-ft (55.64 Nm) @ 5,500 rpm
Fuel system: Electronic Fuel Injection
Ignition: ECU
Starting system: Electric
Transmission: Wet Clutch, CVT Automatic

2018 KYMCO AK550 Price

2018 KYMCO AK550
- image 784500
The Brits are looking at close to a £9k sticker, so American riders can probably expect to shell out something in the neighborhood of 10 grand if it makes it here.

It looks like KYMCO is testing the market in the decidedly more scooter-friendly territories across the pond first, so I have no U.S. price yet, but the Brits are looking at a £8,879 sticker, so American riders can probably expect to shell out something in the neighborhood of 10 grand if KYMCO brings it to the U.S.

Color: Space grey
Warranty: 3-year factory program
Price: £8,879

Competitors

2018 KYMCO AK550
- image 784505
2017 - 2018 BMW C 650 Sport / C 650 GT
- image 781452
At the end of the day, fit-and-finish carries the C 650 GT quite nicely.

KYMCO is a large company, to be sure, but it just doesn’t enjoy the same brand recognition over here that marques like Yamaha and BMW enjoy. Unfortunately for the Chinese manufacturer, it’s just exactly those brands that it’s trying to take business away from, so it’s those machines it needs to beat. Let’s see how it did.

Priced as it is, the AK550 finds itself rubbing elbows with Beemer’s top-shelf scoot, the C 650 GT. Right off the bat, KYMCO’s weakness is readily apparent in the fit-and-finish. BMW beats the pants off it with mature/business-class looks, great paint and the attention to detail that we’ve come to expect from the Bayerische.

The “C” sports a bit more storage in the under-seat compartment than does the AK, but only a bit, and the electrically adjusted windshield is way ahead of the kinda clunky system on the AK. KYMCO picks up a minor win with standard heated handgrips while Beemer considers same to be optional equipment. Both rides carry abbreviated step-throughs with naught but a skirt reservoir forward of the seat, but Beemer’s saddle comes with a much beefier lumbar support and more sumptuous pillion perch.

Suspension is more or less a wash, but Beemer tucks the monoshock away for even less visual impact while still leaving it accessible enough to easily adjust the spring preload. ABS is constant across the board, but Beemer trades the riding modes for a proper traction-control feature that imparts even more safety to the rider.

The engine in the C is also a bit shinier with more displacement (647 cc), hence more power. You can count on 60 horsepower from Beemer’s twin-cylinder plant, only 8 ponies more than KYMCO’s mill, so close enough on that count as well. At the end of the day, fit-and-finish carries the C 650 GT quite nicely. The sticker rings up at $10,995, so you pay for that quality, but if the AK550 were a few grand cheaper it would offset that discrepancy, especially with budget-minded riders.

He Said

“Nice. KYMCO makes a good showing with its 50th anniversary gift to the world. Comparable looks to the XMAX with a larger engine to boot, the AK550 fits well with the maxi-scoot genre, but the price tag is going to be a problem if KYMCO can’t bring it down a skosh; there’s just too many viable options with tighter quality control to be had.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “This could easily go up against the Yamaha TMAX or the Suzuki Burgman, as well, in that whole maxi-scooter scene. We were treated to a preview of the AK550 at the 2016 EICMA and so far, it is received favorably. Power delivery is smooth and there’s plenty to go around when climbing hills and tackling the twisties. You can feel the weight, however, on slow-speed maneuvers, but it is agile enough at speed. Overall, it rides like a maxi-scooter should so it shouldn’t disappoint.”

2018 KYMCO AK550 Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid Cooled, In-Line, 2 Cylinders, DOHC, 8 Valves
Displacement: 550.4 cc
Max. Power: 52.7 hp (39.3 kW) @ 7,500 RPM
Max. Torque: 41 lb-ft (55.64 Nm) @ 5,500 rpm
Fuel system: Electronic Fuel Injection
Ignition: ECU
Starting system: Electric
Transmission: Wet Clutch, CVT Automatic
Chassis:
Front suspension: 41 mm Inverted Fork
Rear suspension: Horizontal Trailing Arm
Front tire size: 120/70 – R15
Rear tire size: 160/60 – R15
Front brakes: 270 mm, Brembo Dual Floating Disks
Rear brakes: Hydraulic disc, 260 mm
ABS: Bosch 9.1 ABS front & rear
Dimension & Capacities:
Length x Width x Height: 85.2 in x 31.3 in x 55.1 in (2,165 mm x 795 mm x 1,400 mm)
Wheelbase: 62.2 in (1,580 mm)
Seat Height: 30.9 in (785 mm)
Fuel capacity: 4 gal (15 L)
Dry weight : 498.2 lbs (226 kg)
Details:
Color: Space grey
Warranty: 3-year factory program
Price: £8,879

References

BMW C 650 GT

2017 - 2018 BMW C 650 Sport / C 650 GT
- image 752232

See our review of the BMW C 650 GT.

Yamaha XMAX

2018 Yamaha XMAX
- image 733844

See our review of the Yamaha XMAX.

Yamaha TMAX

2015 - 2016 Yamaha TMAX
- image 697964

See our review of the Yamaha TMAX.

Suzuki Burgman

2016 - 2017 Suzuki Burgman
- image 733842

See our review of the Suzuki Burgman.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: kymco.co.uk, kymco.com, yamaha-motor.com, suzukicycles.com, bmwmotorcycles.com

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