The Kymco People 250 came onto the USA scooter scene just a scant few years ago. Since that time, it has garnered quite a reputation for quality and functionality. In the summer of 2004, the Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly team put a Kymco People through a 24 hour torture-test. CLICK HERE to read the article. It was this article, along with the recommendation of the fine people at SCOOTERVILLE that lead my purchase of the 2005 Kymco People 250 pictured above.
A “Do Everything” Scooter
I had returned to the scootering world after several years of “motorcycle only” riding (see ABOUT US) and had acquired a Genuine Stella and a Yamaha Vino 125. The Stella was (and is) a great scooter and a blast to ride and my wife was very happy with her Vino (she latter switched to a Genuine Buddy). I was looking for something else that would be suited to regular highway use, two-up riding, and daily commuting. It had to be reliable, inexpensive to operate, have LOTS of storage space (I often have to carry a lot of stuff around for work), fit me well (no easy task) AND be fun to ride. I suppose the argument could be made that the Stella could potentially cover all of that criteria, but I just wasn’t comfortable with it as a highway cruiser in daily traffic.
I looked at the Honda Reflex, Yamaha Majesty, Suzuki Burgman 400, and even looked for a good used Honda Helix. Finding a good used Honda Helix turned out to be pretty tough, and the purchase price of the other scooters was more than I wanted to spend. I did come VERY close to getting a used Scarabeo… but the price was still pretty high and I was nervous about service and parts availability. It was at this frustrated juncture that I read the mentioned Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly article. I was off to Scooterville to talk to Bob.
Bob had nothing but good to say about Kymco and the People 250. He mentioned the Xciting 250 & 500… but the potential arrival of those models was a bit too far in the future for me. (Of course they are both now available. At first I thought about trading, but I’m glad I stuck with the People.) One serious look was all it took, I bought a 2005 maroon People 250.
Features of the Kymco People 250
One of the most prominent features of the Kymco People is the “big wheel” layout. Traditionally, scooters have come equipped with relatively small tires. This is part of what makes them so quick handling and fun to ride. 10″ to 12″ tires are common these days. Even some Maxi-scooters have 13″ tires. The Kymco People 250 has 16″ tires front and rear. This makes for a more stable high-speed ride and somewhat more “motorcycle-like” handling overall. I find the People 250 to be a good compromise ride – yes, the tires are big, but the weight is low as is the center of gravity.
The “guts” of the Kymco People 250 include a liquid-cooled four-stroke 249cc single cylinder carbureted engine and CVT automatic transmission. There are single disk brakes front and rear and conventional telescopic forks in front and dual shocks in back for suspension.
As shown above, the Kymco dash is well laid out and has good at-a-glance display of information. One thing that some would say is “missing” is a tachometer. I’m kind of torn on this, I mean it’s an automatic scooter – does one really need a tach? The speedometer (and odometer) are set up to reflect kilometers. Miles per hour are shown on the “inside” of the speedometer ring. I’ve heard some people complain about this, but it’s easy to get used to and hasn’t bothered me. One thing that does bother me is the virtual uselessness of the fuel gauge. When one fills the tank, the gauge goes to “full” and stays there…. and stays there…. and stays there. When it starts to move “down” it moves very quickly to just above “empty” and then stays there…. and stays – you get it. It’s been my experience that there is still about half a gallon in the tank when the gauge is at empty.
The engine temperature gauge seems reasonably accurate and I like having the clock on the dash. The “engine kill” switch and starter button are on the right-side controls along with the throttle and front brake. The high-low beam switch, horn and turn signals are on the left-side controls along with the rear brake AND a flash-to-pass “trigger” that is actually quite handy.
The ignition switch is a multi-function affair that locks the front end, opens the seat, and releases the fuel filler cap in addition to its more routine functions. There is also a fairly rugged plastic luggage hook that swings out. I have heard some people comment about splashing and spilling when filling the fuel tank. This hasn’t been a problem for me, but I can see how it can happen if one isn’t careful. The fuel capacity is a bit small with just over two gallons maximum.
Once a person has twisted the key and popped the seat open, that person will find reasonable storage. That’s my 3/4 helmet in the picture above, and I haven’t had any trouble holding a full-face helmet under the seat. There is also a handing accessory power plug of the cigarette-lighter variety. Kymco’s marketing material refers to this as a mobile phone charger, I haven’t made that particular use of it, but it works great if you have “electric” riding apparel.
As I mentioned earlier, LOTS of storage was an important criteria fro me. Within a few days of purchasing the People 250, I installed a Givi trunk and have been VERY happy with it. The factory luggage rack from Kymco is a very solid piece of equipment and it took to the Givi mounting system like a fish to water…. or like a fat old scooterist to a cheap buffet (ahem).
Comparison With Similar Scooters
I fully expect that a lot of people will disagree with my definition of “similar scooters” as I kept to those of the big-wheeled configuration. As far as scooters competing for your purchase dollar, the Honda Reflex, Honda Helix, Yamaha Majesty and Suzuki Burgman 400 would certainly make the list. I went with the chart below mostly because of the relative similarity in purchase price. The Honda Reflex has an MSRP of $5,549, the Honda Helix is at $5,349, the Yamaha Majesty $5,799 and the Suzuki Burgman 400 is at $5,899 – none of these is within $1,000 of the Kymco People 250.
First the bad stuff – the cable that opens the fuel cap from the multi-function switch stretched and I had to use a couple of screwdrivers and a knife blade to open the cap. This was corrected under warranty by Bob at Scooterville who made a point of telling me how easy it was to do and that the factory had provided an adjuster for just such a situation. The only other problem was VERY occasional stalling at stops after extended riding in hot weather conditions that required minor carburetor work, also covered under warranty.
That’s it. No other mechanical problems or concerns of any kind. The wildly inaccurate fuel gauge is something that I consider a design flaw and not a “repairable” warranty issue.
I have about 3,000 miles on my People 250 as of this writing and am very happy with it. The speedometer is a little more than 5% optimistic, which is better than most other scooters. Fuel economy is good at about 60 MPG when I’m pushing the throttle and 70 MPG when I’m being a good boy.
The seating position is upright and comfortable. What? Did you expect I would have a picture of me? Let’s see… 5 foot 9 inch 220 pound old man or…. You should be thanking me. The stock seat is comfortable and there is adequate leg room. If you are of the long-legged persuasion, you may wish for more forward leg room. The stock factory windscreen works just fine for me. Again, taller riders may wish for an inch or two more height to the screen.
I have found acceleration to be brisk – faster than a Helix or Reflex – and with my chunky butt in the saddle the top end is just a hair under 80 MPH. Handling is wonderful. The big tires make for a smooth and stable ride. With disk brakes front and rear, bring the People 250 to a stop is easy. The brakes are progressive and strong.
The quality of the components and construction of the People 250 is outstanding – as good as anything from the big Japanese companies. The maroon finish is deep and glossy and the panels fit together with precision.
As if you hadn’t guessed it by this point, I’m a big fan of the Kymco People 250. It has performed very well in every type of riding I have exposed it to. From highway runs with the local Maxi-Scooter club to cruising around the Twin Cities as a commuter, it’s been a wonderful machine.
For mostly highway riding and touring, I would probably have been happier with a Kymco Xciting. For that matter, I think that the Majesty or Burgman 400 would have been better choices than the People 250 other than the cost issue. For surface street use, I usually jump on my Stella – I confess that I like to shift gears for myself.
When it comes to a do-everything scooter, that is reliable, relatively inexpensive, of excellent fit and finish, and just plain fun – the Kymco People 250 is awfully tough to beat.
My Kymco People 250 continues to be an outstanding scooter. With 8,000 miles on it, I have to have a minor exhaust repair done, and the fuel cap release mechanism has been replaced.
After years of outstanding service and fun, I have traded in my Kymco People 250 for the NEW Kymco People GTi300. It was the fuel injection that really did it for me. I have nothing but good to say about the “old” People 250. I guess I just have to admit that I fell victim to the desire for just a little “more” and so far the GTi300 is certainly providing.