Full of curves and amazing little vistas, the AK550 fills the senses with more than just a nice side-on, or tantalising tail-end view – as looks go, this is one mighty fine scooter Mr KYMCO.
At this point I’m actually a bit apprehensive; I’m sat aboard an important piece of machinery (not to belittle any other brand I’ve ridden in the past), but I’m performing the first official UK road test, so a lot depends on what I say about the scooter.
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It’s a little bit of a ‘rabbit in the headlights’ scenario you know, looking at all the switches and buttons when first placing yourself in the captain’s chair of the AK. What was seemingly a baffling collection of controls soon made complete sense (not that a well-versed rider would have this kind of issue). All the basics are just where they should be and reassuringly sturdy.
Now the excitement begins to mount; I have the remote key fob secreted in my jacket pocket and pressing the ignition switch fires the AK into life. The dashboard lights perform their pre-lift-off sequence and the centre of the instrument panel comes up with the name Noodoe.
What’s Noodoe? It’s KYMCO’s purpose-built software 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 left is rpm, odometer and trip. Then with a flick of the function switch, front/rear tyre pressures and battery charge can be seen. With regards to the brake levers, both have 4-point span adjustment to help get the right distance from handlebar grip to lever just perfect.
On the road
The feel of the AK at rest is one of a low centre of gravity and balance. Yes she weighs-in 226kg, but that just a figure right, as she’s dressed impeccably and feels nowhere near that. She has one of the simplest and easy centre stand operations of any bike I’ve ridden and she’s a doddle to manoeuvre about. The added parking brake (situated on the left handlebar locks the rear wheel when engaged, giving extra safety confidence should you need to park on any kind of slope.
In operation, the sound from the 550cc twin water-cooled, low-slung engine was orchestral and full of depth and bass – an almost Harley-style burble at tickover (no insult to either I assure you). The throttle response was swift yet smooth, pushing me back slightly as I wasn’t expecting quite as much oomph as I got. It’s also handy to know that the small driver’s backrest (bum retainer) can be moved forwards or back (about three inches) to make the seating position correct for your leg length – nice touch KYMCO!
The first few miles was an orientation to the scooter’s controls before really finding out what she’s all about; I found the indicator switch is possibly the nicest one that I’ve ever 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 its 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. There 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 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 45 degrees C; level 2, 55 degrees; and level three, 65 degrees), 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, wafting you along without jolts, jarring or vibration. Braking comes courtesy of Brembo and an active ABS system that gives a brilliant response and it never felt like I was trying to pull the Titanic to a quick stop. Traction is supplied by Metzeler Feelfree tyres on 15-inch rims.
Should I buy one?
Aggressive styling and cutting edge tech, hidden in a seriously useable body that wants to eat up miles and convey you to wherever your heart desires in style and comfort. A true contender to the super scooter crown! I’m sure I’ll run out of bottle well before the AK does. It’s a scooter that I’d be more than happy to add to my garage collection without hesitation.
Words: Jonathan Schofield
Images Gary Chapman
FOR THE FULL REVIEW OF THE ALL NEW 2018 KYMCO AK550, CHECK OUT ISSUE 11 OF ON2WHEELS – AVAILABLE AT ALL GOOD DEALERS. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON O2W, CLICK HERE.
ENGINE: 550cc, in-line twin cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8 valves
POWER MODES: Standard (full power). Rain (reduced power/engine braking);
FRAME: lightweight aluminium
FRONT SUSPENSION: 41mm upside down (USD) forks
REAR SUSPENSION: horizontal trailing arm
BRAKES: Twin 280mm front rotors, twin Brembo calipers; 260mm rear rotor; 9.1 Bosch ABS brake system
OTHER FEATURES: Noodoe dashboard technology; LED lights; on-board USB port
SERVICE INTERVAL: 3000 miles intermediate/6000 miles full service
BELT REPLACEMENT: 12000 miles
WARRANTY: 3yr factory warranty