The new Kymco AK550 has the curves of a super touring scooter and wouldn’t look out of place on the set of a new Batman movie. It fills the senses with more than just a nice side-on, or a tantalising tail-end view. From all angles this Taiwanese machine pours gorgeousness into your life.
The futuristic front end reminds me of an alien spacecrat from an episode of Star Trek, while for some reason the cockpit takes me back to the original Battlestar Galactica TV series. Suddenly I’m back to being a small child wanting desperately to be Starbuck, launching in his Colonial Viper to ight the might of the Cylon Empire.
Without even turning on the keyless ignition system I was dreaming of blasting through the skies, let alone along B-roads and dual carriageways; as looks go, this is one mighty fine scooter.
The underseat storage space (which has a weight capacity of 10kg) takes a standard open face helmet, or a small-shell full face, plus a few extras (say a set of waterproofs). What is a nice touch is the LED light that comes on when the seat is lited.
Additional storage space is provided by two small front compartments, one of which houses a standard 12v power output to charge your phone or sat nav.
It’s a little bit of a ‘rabbit in the headlights’ scenario, looking at all the switches and buttons when first placing yourself in the captain’s chair of the AK. But what’s seemingly a baling collection of controls soon makes complete sense. All the basics are just where they should be, and they seem reassuringly sturdy.
With the remote key fob in your jacket pocket, pressing the ignition switch fires the AK into life. The dashboard lights perform their pre-lit-of sequence, and the centre of the instrument panel comes up with the name Noodoe – eh? What’s Noodoe?
Turns out, it’s Kymco’s purpose-built sotware system and app that links your mobile phone to your scooter, giving you options to change the look of your centre screen with customisable clocks, weather reports and maps. In the very near future, it will also be updated to link to whatever sat nav app you’re using on your phone – super smart and super cool.
The three sections of the instrument panel are clear and uncluttered; on the right is the speedo, plus fuel and engine temperature gauges; on the let is rpm, odometer and trip. hen with a lick of the function switch, front/rear tyre pressures and battery charge can
be seen. With regards to the brake levers, both have four-point span adjustment to help get the right distance from handlebar grip to lever just perfect.
The feel of the AK at rest is one of a low centre of gravity and balance. Yes, the claimed dry weight is 226kg, but that’s just a figure, and the feel of the bike is nowhere near that. The AK550 has one of the simplest and easiest centre-stand operations of any bike I’ve ridden and the scooter is a doddle to manoeuvre about.
The added parking brake (situated on the let handlebar) locks the rear wheel when engaged, giving extra safety and conidence should you need to park on any kind of slope.
In operation, the sound from the liquid-cooled, inline, two-cylinder, DOHC, eight-valve low-slung engine was orchestral and full of depth and bass. The throttle response was swit yet smooth, pushing me back slightly as I wasn’t expecting quite as much oomph as I received.
That’s due to the peak power of 52.7bhp (39.3kW) at 7500rpm, and the maximum torque figure of 41lb-t (55.64Nm) at 5500rpm. It’s also handy to know that the small rider’s backrest (bum retainer) can be moved forwards or back (about 3in) to make the seating position correct for your leg length.
The first few miles was spent getting used to the scooter’s controls before I could really find out what it was all about. I discovered that the indicator switch is possibly the nicest
one I’ve used; it just feels right. Cancelling is a simple press of the switch, but it happens with a wondrous little click that makes it somehow comforting to do; it also makes an unobtrusive clicking when the indicators are on (like the old solenoids in 1980s cars) to make sure you don’t leave them on.
Comfort-wise, the AK is not quite ‘Club Class’ – but it’s damn close with loads of room and the option of a feet-forward riding position, making for a journey that’s not taxing or tiring. here was no backache or stiff legs, even when pushing a 60 mile, cold day sprint to the coast and back.
The scooter’s screen and aerodynamics give you a small, yet adequate, still-air pocket to be sat in – the exception being that your hands, on the very cold days are open to the worst of the wind chill – so it’s just as well that the AK comes with heated grips as standard with three heat levels being available (level one gives 45ºC, level 2 55ºC, and level three, 65ºC), so even in the cold you can still ride with warm fingers.
Suspension is catered for with upside-down front forks and a coil-over rear monoshock; these enable you to take the rough and the smooth with ease, wating you along without jolts, jarring or vibration.
Braking comes courtesy of Brembo dual pistons and loating discs on the front at 270mm and on the rear a single 260mm disc with an active ABS system that gives brilliant feel and response. Not once did it feel like I was trying to pull the Titanic to a quick stop.
Running on 15in rims shod with Metzeler 120/70-R15 on the front and 160/60-R15 on the rear just adds to the balanced sturdy feel when banking into tight corners. The attention to detail has proven to be far above my expectations. It’s a true touring machine.
I always try to take a night-time ride to make sure the lights are up to scratch – can you still sit at 60mph on the main roads at night and feel safe, even on dip when cars are coming in the other direction? I can safely say yes, the LED headlights are more than good; the AK happily sat at 60mph on dipped headlights and when on main beam, the distance the light is thrown gives you great visibility and conidence.
What the Kymco AK550 ofers in abundance is aggressive styling and cutting edge tech, combined with a seriously usable body that wants to eat up miles and convey you to wherever your heart desires in style and comfort. The AK550 is a true contender to the super scooter crown!
I’m sure I’ll run out of bottle well before it does. It’s a scooter that I’d be more than happy to add to my garage collection without hesitation.
Engine: 550cc inline 2-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8 valves
Power: 52.7bhp (39.3kW) @ 7500rpm
Torque: 41lb-ft (55.64Nm) @ 5500rpm
Power modes: Standard (full power), Rain (reduced power/engine braking)
Suspension: (F) 41mm upside down forks; (R) coil monoshock
Brakes: (F) 280mm discs, Brembo calipers; (R) 260mm disc. 9.1 Bosch ABS brake system
Seat height: 785mm
Fuel capacity: 15 litres
Dry weight: 226kg