Back in 2018 when Kymco celebrated their 50th anniversary they launched their flagship AK (Anniversary Kymco) 550. The bike wears a subtle ‘Super Touring’ badge on each of its flanks. OK, so you say you can tour then… What better way to put that to the test, as well as discover what this Scoot is about, than to do a day trip to Barberton in Mpumalanga and back. Smashing 750k’s on some highway, secondary road and a mountain pass or two, should reveal all!
Kymco claims to have endowed the AK 550 with a low centre of gravity, 50/50 weight distribution and proper suspension, to provide top class handling and a quality ride. Thrust is from a parallel twin, DOHC, liquid-cooled motor delivering 52,7 horses @ 7,500 rpm and 55,6 Nm of torque @ 5,500 rpm, which is where the motor spins most of the time.
The AK has sleek, modern good looks which are complimented by snazzy LED lighting. It looks long, low and purposeful. As is the modern trend, the bike is bristling with electronic trickery. It has a large key fob that works to activate the functions of the bike via a centrally located circular switch.
The dial looks for all the world like that on a hi-tech washing machine. Keep turning it after pressing the power button engraved on the periphery of the switch and it lights up, turning on the dash display. At this point, you can press the starter whilst holding a brake and the AK fires up. As long as the side stand is up, that is.
You start and stop the AK as well as open the seat and fuel flap with this dial. I shudder to think of the consequences of this dial going belly up. The start button brings the engine to life with an exhaust note that is delightfully fruity, with a grumbly rumble which suggests that there is a 270-degree crank down there somewhere.
The dash consists of three screens, with a rev counter and information display on the left. Info being odo, trip meters, battery voltage, tyre pressure monitors and a drive belt service counter. Average and current fuel consumption numbers are also displayed. These functions are accessed via a rocker switch on the right handlebar. Values are reset via an orange button on the same switchgear. Reasonably intuitive it all is too.
The central display has a choice of three screens. One is a conventional speedo, the second is a large clock face, and the third is the interface for ‘Noodoe’, Kymco’s connectivity app. Not having the owner’s manual to help me navigate through this function, I did not even go there. It seems it even has a weather app built in! What next. On the right is a digital speed display, with the ABS and other idiot lights, as well as the heated hand grip display. Yes, the AK has those too, used to good effect passing a chilly and misty Belfast.
I rode out of Pretoria at sunrise in sunny yet crisp and still cool weather. The screen, whilst not adjustable, provides really good wind protection, with minimal wind blast. The foot position is a choice of a typical foot forward, almost cruiser posture, or closer towards you in the typical sit up and beg scooter seating position. This is common to most scooters and is comfy for the short-haul. Long trips tend to put strain on your lower back as the foot forward position tends to bow, rather than straighten your lower spine.
I found that putting my feet on the passenger pegs for a while rocked my pelvis forward, relieving the bowed back. It leans your upper body forward into an almost sporty riding position. The seat is beyond reproach. Both in terms of shape and consistency. It is all-day comfortable.
The AK is smooth at the best of times, but gets even smoother at highway cruising speeds. The CVT gearbox keeps it in the power all the time, with it feeling especially pokey in the low and mid-range. When the speed exceeds 140 kph the power tails off somewhat, giving an effective top whack of around 150 kph. I say effective, because although I saw over 160 on the odd downhill, it really is happiest at typical touring speeds of 120 plus VAT.
Fuel consumption is decent. My first tank saw 21,66 km/L. The second, on the mountainous ‘fun’ part of the ride, 20,65 km/L, and then, cruising back with a bit of a tailwind, 24,12 km/L. An average of 22,14 km/L overall, giving a range of over 300 kays on the 15L tank. The fuel reserve light is rather conservative and starts blinking at around the 220 k mark, resulting in lots of fuel calculations until the next fill-up.
The mountains are a pleasure on this bike. In fact, the suspension is the stand out feature on the AK. There is no choppiness, which is a common scooter trait. The almost cantilever rear shock and USD 41 mm front forks do an incredible job, both comfort-wise, as well as keeping things tidy through the bends. This scooter is truly endowed with proper sports touring handling.
Ground clearance is no issue and the low centre of gravity and neutral weight distribution are apparent when you attack the bends and high-speed sweeps. It feels almost PlayStation like as you sit scooter style, yet tilt the horizon at crazy angles with total confidence. Nothing seems to deviate the AK from its line. Spring rates and damping are absolutely spot on.
This attribute, allied to the punchy power, lends credence to the Super Tourer badging. Playing a big part in this equation too, are the superb Brembo brakes. Two 270 mm discs up front and the 260 mm rear haul the scoot down from speed with aplomb. The seat height of 785 mm, allied to all the heavy bits being located really low down, make the bike feel significantly lighter than its 226 Kg dry weight.
The frame is alloy and the mag wheels are die-cast and hollow, all aimed at keeping the weight down. The wheelbase is a long 1580 mm. By comparison, a Yamaha Tracer has a 1530 mm wheelbase. This endows the AK with excellent high-speed stability, yet it still turns properly, probably courtesy of its mass centralisation and low COG (Centre of Gravity).
So what is the bottom line? I did a 750 k round trip and can confirm that the Kymco AK 550 is without a doubt a super touring package. The under-seat storage and the two oddments cubby holes make for typical scooter convenience. The weather protection is decent. The performance is good. The handling and ride are class-leading and good, even compared against any motorcycle out there. The fit and finish is generally decent too. The elephant in the room is perhaps the price of maxi scooters. They are so well-engineered, designed and built, that they don’t come cheap.
Saying that, the AK normally retails at R154,950, however, it is a steal at the current ‘March Madness’ KYMCO offer at R134,950. The AK makes a really compelling statement at this price, so if you are serious about economical, fun-filled commuting and holiday touring, then look no further.
Kymco AK 550
For more information on the bike that we tested in this article, click on the link below…