Taiwanese motorcycle giant KYMCO (Kwang Yang Motor Co) adds to its MY18 motorcycle lineup with the pocket-size Spade 150. This bumps the total number of motorcycle products available in the U.S. up to five, and brings a decidedly ’70s flavor to the lineup. The funky little Spade packs a 12-horsepower thumper into a sporty and agile little frame with two-up capability for some cheap thrills and fuel-efficient transportation. I like to cover KYMCO’s products; the factory has really made some inroads into defeating the stigma attached to the “Made in China” label. Don’t believe it? I would make mention of the fact that Kawasaki and BMW both have partnerships with KYMCO, and if that isn’t an endorsement, I swear I don’t know what is.

Continue reading for my review of the KYMCO Spade 150.

  • 2018 KYMCO Spade 150
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-1
  • Displacement:
    149 cubic inches
  • Price:
    2999
  • Price:

Design

2018 KYMCO Spade 150
- image 722368

Ankle-biter. It may not be an official classification, but it should be, especially since more and more manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon. Honda’s Grom, Kawasaki’s Z125 PRO, Suzuki’s VanVan and even KYMCO’s own K-Pipe 125 aren’t out of place beside the Spade, though the VanVan is certainly the closest in the looks department. The Spade channels the custom culture with blackout treatment across the machine to include the tripletree, headlight can, twin instrument clocks, mirrors, engine, exhaust and more.

A sporty, monochromatic front fender leads the way with a sportbike-like cut that doesn’t quite match the retro looks of the rest of the machine, but it doesn’t exactly stick out like a sore thumb or anything. The round headlight can gives way to the flanged fuel tank and bench seat that rides up over the trailing edge of the tank. This area, more than anything else, gives the Spade its retro vibe as it channels the ’70s.

The bench seat will haul rider and passenger, but only if they’re good friends (and if they aren’t when they start the ride, they may be by the end). A grab bar around the rear of the seat and fold-up, swingarm-mount footpegs complete the passenger’s amenities, and a high-mount rear fender finishes the subframe with teensy turn-signal whiskers and plateholder.

It amazes me that the same people who designed all the cool features on this ride also signed off on that exhaust system. The design is decidedly un-cool, and the coarse welds just make the system as ugly as a mud fence. C’mon guys, tighten up your rod-burners and run with a more mundane muffler next year. Trust me.

Normally, I don’t get into the accessories catalog, especially not the aftermarket products, but I’m making an exception in this case. MNNTHBX (Man in the box) has a proper cafe’ racer kit that transforms the Spade in spectacular fashion. Not only does the cafe’-tastic sheet metal give the bike a

racing

and ran with a mechanical drum in back, but all things considered, that’s probably plenty good enough considering the 266-pound wet weight.

The bench seat rides at 28 inches off the ground with a “hidden convenience trunk” below, so this is a fairly low machine overall and should be easy to flatfoot by the vast majority of riders. Also, its maneuverability and compact nature make it a blast to ride. Once at your destination or back home, you have a choice between a sidestand and centerstand when you go to park.

Drivetrain

2018 KYMCO Spade 150
- image 722367

KYMCO uses its air-cooled, 149.9 cc thumper to power the Spade. A single, over-head cam times the four-valve head, and unlike the K-Pipe, it uses electronic fuel injection to meter the induction rather than a carburetor. Beyond that, this is a relatively simple engine that provides predictable, non-threatening power delivery.

About the power; the mill pushes out 8 pound-feet of grunt at 6,500 rpm with 12 ponies on tap at 8,500 rpm. A standard clutch couples engine power to the five-speed transmission, and the combination of power and gearing gives the Spade a top speed around 60 mph. Not exactly enough for interstate territory, but plenty for around town. At 91 mpg, the Spade delivers its fun with zero guilt and no pain in the wallet.

Pricing

2018 KYMCO Spade 150
- image 722363

Not only are operating costs low, but the initial impact is low, too. You can score an ’18 Spade 150 for the everyday low price of $2,999, so if you’re looking for cheap wheels and scooters really ain’t your thing, this is certainly an attractive alternative.

Competitors

2018 KYMCO Spade 150
- image 722497
2017 - 2018 Suzuki VanVan 200
- image 684323

Though we have a number of ankle-biters available, none of them have quite the same retro vibe as the Spade save one; the VanVan 200 from Suzuki. In fact, these rides look very similar, though mostly due to the overriding bench seat, flanged tank and fugly exhaust. To be fair, the VanVan’s muffler isn’t quite as ugly as the Spade’s, but it ain’t winning any beauty contests anytime soon, either.

The frames are likewise similar with tubular-steel construction and yoke-style swingarms. While the VanVan’s tires are a bit larger than the Spade’s, they come with a tread that can manage softer surfaces than you traditionally find on the blacktop, and so makes the VanVan a sort of casual dual-sport of sorts. Suzuki runs the same combination of disc and drum as KYMCO with no ABS or brake-linking bollocks to complicate things. Suspension is likewise similar, which is no surprise since adjustable forks would probably increase the asking price by half-again more. Don’t believe it? Check out the sticker on the Ohlins hardware for the KYMCO and get back to me.

At 199 cc, the VanVan packs in another 25-percent more cubeage, with a predictable increase in power for a total of 16-ponies and 11 pounds o’ grunt versus the 12/8 Spade. Beyond that the air-cooling, fuel injection and five-speed transmixxers are a constant across the board.

KYMCO spanks Suzuki like a two-year-old in K-mart at the checkout, though. At only $2,999, the Spade will be mighty appealing to buyers on a budget, and I’m not sure Suzuki’s brand power and name recognition is enough to save it in this particular genre with its half-again-higher sticker of $4,599.

He Said

My husband and fellow motorcycle writer, TJ Hinton, says, "Right. I grew up seeing bikes with this overall panache, but unfortunately they were out-of-style by the time I was aware of them, and they still seem out-of-style to me now. First impressions are hard to get past, even erroneous ones, but there it is. Looks aside, it looks like more fun than a barrel of monkeys.”

She Said

"Like the Grom and the Z125, this is a fun bike to ride. Why? Because it’s a whole lot more fun to ride a slow bike fast than it is to ride a fast bike slow. While it isn’t appropriate for the interstate, commutes through urban and suburban areas will be a lot more fun on the Spade 150."

Specifications

Engine: 149.4cc SOHC, 4-Stroke, 4-Valve, Single Cylinder
Seat Height: 28inches
Transmission: Five-Speed
Fuel Delivery: Electronic Fuel Injection
Wheel Diameter: 12 inches
Max Horsepower: 12.0HP/8500rpm
Max Torque: 8.0 Ft. Lbs./6500rpm
Miles Per Gallon: 91 MPG (38 Km/L)
Standard: Secret Convenience Trunk, Side Stand and Center Stand, Power Outlet on Dashboard
Colors: TBA
Price: $2,999

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: suzukicycles.com, kymcousa.com; Photographer: Michael Spain-Smith

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