REVIEW: KYMCO AK550 MAXI SCOOTER
The KYMCO AK550 takes Maxi Scootering to the next level. Max power, max luxury, max electronics and max handling, without the max price
If you haven’t ridden a Kymco AK550 you are missing out on a great experience. Not only are they huge in every way from storage options to seat size, they are damn fast. Open that throttle and watch others at the lights shrink in the mirrors… It’s addictive, fun and oh so easy.
The Kymco AK550 is the most powerful Maxi scooter on the market and the most feature packed.
You can read the Tech Talk breakout below for the detailed information on this flagship Kymco, but in short, the $12,990 Ride Away AK550 is packed with features. First of all is that powerplant, which is a DOHC eight-valve parallel-twin. It’s a long stroke motor and produces 39.3kW and 55.64Nm, more than the new $16,599 Ride Away 560cc TMAX, with at 35kW and an equal 55Nm with its 10cc advantage. The value for money is up there, and it comes with a three year warranty.
The frame is a lightweight aluminium perimeter frame and the engine is isolated from the horizontal trailing arm rear suspension. Add in the beefy 41mm inverted forks, 15in wheels with wide rubber and whopping Brembo brake package and the AK550 is packing some serious kit for a scooter.
The AK550 also has plenty of electronics to take it up yet another level. Firstly it features the Kymco Noodoe dashboard connectivity technology. This allows users to download an App on a smartphone and connect to the AK550 dash, where the layout can be customised, you can receive notifications from all Apps on your phone, utilise navigation and even display images as a background on the full colour centrally mounted screen. Check out the video of the Noodoe system.
I rode the AK550 after testing the Kymco Downtown 350i the previous week. Check out the Downtown 350i ABS review here. The 350 is a middleweight scooter that, thanks to lightweight and 23kW, combined with fantastic CVT ratio and big wheels, is a fast accelerating yet proficient highway cruiser in its own right.
It’s the Supersport model of the scooter World in my opinion. It does a lot that a Maxi can do and does it faster, however, if bigger miles and open roads are your thing, you can’t beat a Maxi and with camera gear, video gear and Heather in tow I found out just how capable the big AK550 is.
Sleek bodywork in Space Grey and a sweet Akro sound on our AK500 test bike. This thing turned lots of heads…
Unusually for a bike test, my first few hours on the AK550 are being spent with a photographer pillion on the back (aside from when posing for action shots). Heather and I have left our car and taken the AK550 for the day to test and shoot it in the Newcastle area. This gives me the chance to experience just how the AK is for a two-up bike.
Not only is there loads of storage for two people, the seat is huge, room is generous and thanks to the low centre of gravity, low seat height and overall balance of the machine. I really don’t notice any negative effect of a passenger as we ride at super low speed and work through the CBD traffic of this stunning City.
However, it is a lot of bike to navigate low speed traffic on and I am needing both feet firmly on the ground at each stop, with the low speed crawling a little wobbly. Trying to use rear brake and throttle doesn’t work to balance the bike, but switching to Rain Mode helps thanks to a slightly softer throttle and thus gentler power delivery from the grunty twin.
The AK550 ABS is fun and heading further into town as we make our way towards the coastline, we’re agreeing that it’s also really comfy. I’m mucking around with the dash at each traffic light stop and trying out the heated grips. Heather is enjoying a broad, comfortable seat, good view above my head thanks to the height of the pillion perch, a decent grab rail and proper footpegs.
Heather is totally independent of me (just the way she likes to be!) and is enjoying the smoothness of the CVT ride and just being able to check out the surrounds rather than hang on for dear life. The AK is a perfect pillioning machine. The only issue is the width of the seat makes it a little challenging for Heather to hop on and off.
I’m comfortable on the 550, although moving my feet from the flat position on the floorboards to the feet forward, I basically can’t fit my legs/feet in that position comfortably. For some reason, Kymco have overlooked taller riders here, the very riders that need feet forward seating! It’s a disappointment but not a deal breaker. Aside from that, the footwells are a tad narrow at the back, restricting the freedom of foot movement for me with my size 12 flippers. Again, an oversight. It’d be nice to see this fixed in the future, at least for Western markets.
The AK550 ABS with Akrapovic pipe. It was the ultimate machine to explore greater Newcastle on. Fast, comfortable, feature packed and although there is room for improvements, $12,990 Ride Away is good.
The switchgear is easy enough to navigate, no real surprises there. The dash will take some more time to adapt to for me. I’m mucking around with it on the fly but it has quite a few features and today I’m having trouble connecting my iPhone to it, so not testing of the Noodoe. Aside from the Noodoe part, the rest is per usual with the normal info on display, speed on the right and the other info left.
I like the handlebar positioning on the AK550. The ‘bars are sports-touring in position, with a slight downward and rear-swept bend, contributing the ‘motorcycle’ feel of this Maxi scoot’. The levers are not full size but they are big enough and fall to hand comfortably and naturally. The mirrors are large, vibe-free for the most part and mounted on the fairings, a fair way away.
It makes adjusting a job best down at a standstill. They have a stylish shape but I’d prefer larger, traditional shaped mirrors for a bigger view. Oh.. the horn is loud, used that a few times in Newcastle already. I leave the screen height alone. I think it is adjustable… Stopping for shots, I’m am impressed with how easy it is to pop the big beast onto the centre-stand.
I spent plenty of time in Newcastle City on the AK550 before heading West. The bike would happily commute to a CBD daily. It’s not too big for lane filtering or heavy traffic. If you lived outside, with a highway commute, and wanted a weekend tourer – it’d work no problem. I used Wet mode in town, for smoothness. Still drags all cars off the lights!
The braking package is nothing short top level for a scooter. The brakes are powerful and offer good feel for the average speed stops from 50, 60 – 70km/h for red lights. But I am getting a pulsating and vibe through the lever when trail braking around town or stopping from very low speed, with gentle lever pressure. It’s either a rotor issue or an ABS glitch.
After posing around the esplanades and then grabbing a feed at Harry’s Cafe De Wheels, the pillion in a million and I head out of town to stretch the belt on the AK. As soon as we hit the first 80-zone, then 100-zone, the 550 begins to relax and come alive. Freedom at last! This is the home of the AK550.
Cruising capability is nothing short of sensational. In Full Power Mode, the 550 is just ticking along at 80km/h, effortlessly, with the deep note of the Akro the only noise. No wind noise, no engine noise. There are no stand-out rattles or vibes, loose panel sounds or buzzing. The AK is top quality, shown in the high-level fit and finish.
The suspension is soaking up the undulations of the crappy concrete link road we are travelling and with a twist of the wrist, the AK lunges forward with the urgency of a large capacity sports-touring motorcycle. I have no idea how Kymco got that little twin working so well but the gearing and fuelling are getting every ounce of useable power and torque from it. Stunning stuff and again, like in town, bloody good fun.
Fast, flowing country roads bring the best out on the AK550 ABS. It’s seriously capable and great fun…
I head off for a solo test and find some fast twisty sections of road. The wide tyres offer plenty of feel and feedback. There’s no TC but the parallel twin is extremely tractable and predictable and it’s not going to spin up. The TC would be a nice feature around town in the wet though.
As I up the pace, I’m increasingly impressed with the suspension and the chassis feel of the AK550. The forks, which offer a comfy ride over bumpier sections, are now supportive on smoother, grippier hotmix, not diving excessively through the stroke under brakes (hard braking!) and keeping the front hoop on deck. Out the back, the ride is impressive considering the weight.
There is good support and I can’t fault the rear set-up on the smooth stuff. Pushing on the bumpier faster sections, the rear shock does lose control of rebound and there are some heavy hits where the shock bottoms over bigger bumps. Overall though I’m seriously impressed with the suspension over a broad range and load.
On or off the brakes, two-up or solo, the AK550, with its proper chassis and suspension, loves the corners and will surprise you. There’s plenty of mechanical grip and more than enough ground clearance.
The engine character is really engaging and is the beating heart of this bike. With the Akro, the experience is that extra bit more special. Just playing with the smooth throttle between corners is enough to bring a smile to even the most hardened motorcyclist and convert most to the fun of a Maxi. It pulls from right down low, but it’s that 4000-7000rpm range I most enjoyed and the CVT set-up seems to be telepathic in getting the most from the motor at any given time. It’ll rev hard, too, if that is what you want, and it will hold those revs for a top speed of approximately 180km/h.
I do some acceleration and braking tests next. Zero to 100km/h, then back to zero. Multiple times, until the brakes smell. Jamming both ends on and letting the ABS take over for emergency stop testing, the AK550 stops like a beast. This will out-brake just about any bike in the same weight category. It’s eyeball popping and fade-free. It’s a system that can be relied on and with such a big mass, nice to have it there for back-up. With Heather back on for a pillion brake test, the results are equally impressive, thanks to the support from the forks, the strong headstock area and the Brembo’s.
Heading back to town to drop the bike back to Graeme Morris Motorcycles, we take the M1 Motorway and head south to Link Rd. It starts to rain lightly, we kick back behind the screen and fairing, lock in 110km/h and relax. No talking, no testing for data, just zoning out and enjoying the ride. As the raindrops are cleared from the screen by the wind, the exit sign appears. 1km to Link Rd.
I turn and look at Heather. She looks at me. We don’t need to exchange any words. She’s thinking the exact same thing I am. That right here, right now, on the AK550 ABS, we just want to go straight past the exit and let this brilliant machine takes us away from it all for a while. We feel younger, kid free, stress free and ready for adventure thanks to this Maxi Scooter.
The last time we felt this way and rode past the exit we were in Europe ended up riding around Germany on a Hayabusa for a month. But with four kids to feed at home, things are different now. It is nice to have that feeling of freedom from a bike rather than just feeling like we are out together to get images and video assets in the bank. The AK550 gave us that feeling of freedom and fun.
At the very last second, I indicate and take the exit off the M1, back to the real World… We drop the AK550 back and thank the team, before jumping in our Kia Carnival people mover to make our way home, 100km South on the M1 motorway. Plenty of time to plan a future trip on an Maxi Scooter.
2019 KYMCO AK550 Tech Talk
The AK550 is a large and heavy scooter but at 785mm has a low seat height, to give the rider comfortable ergonomics and confidence. The AK550 also has a low centre of gravity and near 50/50 weight distribution, creating neutral handling characteristics.
Performance braking is also featured with twin Brembo radial-mount four-piston calipers on dual 280mm floating petal rotors up front, and a single Brembo caliper and a 260mm rotor on the rear. The Bosch 9.1 ABS is the lightest, shortest stopping and fastest acting ABS system on the market.
Dual Brembo front brakes with Bosch 9.1 ABS as standard, along with 280mm petal rotors.
Underneath the bodywork there is a 550cc twin-cylinder liquid-cooled DOHC engine that produces 39.3kW and 55.6Nm, while power-to-weight is .236:1. Bore x stroke is 69 x 73.6mm and the gearbox is a CVT automatic. Two power modes are available on the fly from Normal (performance) to Wet, which offers a more reserved power delivery.
Underseat storage is ample and the seat wide and comfortable.
Up front 41mm inverted forks are matched to three-stage reducer technology that separates the weight of the engine from the swingarm/gearbox, and a horizontal trailing arm rear suspension system on the rear. The wheels are lightweight alloy with 120/70-15in and 160/60-15in Metzeler tyres. There is no TC.
The new Kymco Noodoe dash features Bluetooth connectivity that enables navigation and more.
The AK550 is equipped with KYMCO’s Noodoe dashboard technology. Noodoe is an interactive dash that connects your smart phone to the scooter providing on board notifications, smart navigation options, customisable dash display options as well as the ability to create your own unique layout.
550cc, in-line twin-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8 valves powerplant in the KYMCO AK550.
For further information on KYMCO’s AK550, get in contact with your local KYMCO dealer.
KYMCO AK550 Highlights:
- 550cc, in-line twin cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8 valves
- New Noodoe dashboard technology
- Aluminium lightweight frame
- 41mm Upside down (USD) front fork
- Horizontal trailing arm rear suspension
- Twin 280mm front rotors, twin Brembo calipers, 260mm rear rotor, 9.1 Bosch ABS brake system
- 15-inch front alloy wheel with 120/70 METZELER tyre
- 15-inch rear alloy wheel with 160/60 METZELER tyre
- Low centre of gravity and near 50/50 weight distribution
- Low seat height, great ergonomics and confidence when manoeuvring
- Carefully structured exhaust system to enhance the distinctive twin-cylinder sound
- Spacious under seat compartment (easily fits two helmets) and twin front glove box compartments
- LED lights, on board USB ports
- 3 year factory warranty
- Available colours in Space Grey and Matt Black
2019 KYMCO AK550 Specifications
Price: $12,990 Ride Away
Colours: Space Grey or Matt Black
Claimed Power: 39.3kW[52.7hp]@7500rpm
Claimed Torque: 55.64Nm[41lbs-ft]@5500rpm
Dry Weight: 226kg
Fuel capacity: 15L
Engine: Liquid-cooled, inline parallel twin, DOHC, 8-valve, four-stroke, bore x stroke 69 x 73.6mm, 550.4cc, EFI, Electric start, Euro4, Ride Modes
Gearbox: CVT Automatic
Clutch: Wet clutch
Chassis: Alloy lightweight perimeter frame, engine isolated from horizontal trailing arm rear suspension/swingarm, alloy sub-frame.
Rake: N/ATrail: N/A
Suspension: 41mm up-side down fork, N/A travel, horizontal trailing arm, N/A travel
Brakes: 270mm Brembo dual floating petal rotors (f), Brembo radial-mount four-piston calipers and conventional master-cylinder, 260mm rotor, Brembo caliper (r), Bosch 9.1 ABS system
Wheels & Tyres: 15in cast alloy, (f) 120/70 – 15, cast alloy (r) 160/60 – 15, Metzeler tyres.
Seat height: 785mm
Ground clearance: N/A
Overall width: 795mm
Overall length: 2165mm
Overall height: 1400mm
Instruments: Multi-function LED dash display with dual clocks, Noodoe Bluetooth connectivity.