BY  @bikereview

Now in its 10th year and with over 100,000 units sold in 40 countries, the Kymco Downtown is legendary. A major update and capacity increase a few years ago saw the arrival of the Downtown 350i ABS. Here’s our review…. Test: Jeff Ware


Score: 8.3 out of 10


The Verdict: The Kymco Downtown 350i proves to be a versatile mid sized scooter capable of CBD duties or outer Urban use, even touring is not out of the question. Worth a test ride…


Have you ever considered owning a scooter? If so, would it be your only two-wheeler or your daily back-up while your real bike is parked up waiting for the weekends? I’ve always been a scooter fan and in the past have found that having one in the household is always good, as long as it’s a back-up runaround only. Well, that was until I rode the Kymco Downtown 350i – now this is a scoot I could own as a solo ride…
I picked the Downtown 350i ABS up from Graeme Morris Motorcycles in Newcastle and spent an arvo riding around the famous Coal City. It’s a fantastic place. Surrounded by beaches, a stunning industrial harbour that has been completely revamped and made trendy – while maintaining that working-class Aussie feel that somehow takes me back the the 1980s when I was a kid… the fibro houses, the pubs on every corner, the odd Holden Kingswood. Bloody awesome place and cruising around on the Downtown with no particular destination was a great way to spend an arvo…
I had spent the morning testing the Lambretta V200 Special so the first time I opened the throttle on the Downtown felt like I’d jumped on a superbike, such is the acceleration. It really is impressive and thanks to the highest power-to-weight ratio in the class the 350i is quicker off the mark up to around the 80km/h area than the bigger AK550 sibling or even a TMax 530. It feels faster than the more expensive and higher spec 350cc BMW C 400 X and its closest competition in price and specification – theYamaha XMax 300. The Yamaha is almost identical to the Downton in power and weight, however it is powered by a smaller capacity but higher spec DOHC engine, 292cc longer stroke versus 320.6cc square bore x stroke.
I have to admit that being a rev-head through and through I can always find ways to hoon, even on a scooter, so it wasn’t long before I found myself hooked on the drag race off the lights – hoping for a red light at every intersection! The CVT transmission is spot-on and so is the clutch take-up/throw-out. The revs are just right on take-up and the 320cc single launches the 173kg scoot with impressive oomph. In town from 0 – 60km/h the acceleration is grin-inducing to be honest. Out of town from 60km/h to 100km/h the speedo climbs rapidly and it doesn’t end there. The Downtown keeps powering on and revving quickly as the pace rises to an estimated top speed a nudge over 160km/h.



Lane filtering is easy, just as easy as it is on a lightweight smaller scooter. The 350i is long and carries the weight low so it is well balanced and with a smooth throttle is easy to work through stopped or tight traffic. Feet up full lock U-turns are very easy to do and parking is a cinch. At no stage in town did I feel the need to put my feet down at low speed or to keep the scoot balanced with throttle and rear brake, the way the heavier Maxi scooters like. The 350i would be a comfortable and confidence-inspiring upgrade for a newer rider coming from a smaller capacity two-wheeler, not just an experienced rider.
The sidestand is handy and easy to flip down and the centrestand leverage ratio is great, a slight lift on the large grabrail has the machine propped up – no effort required. Seat height is taller than most scooters, 30mm more than the C 400 X standard seat and the XMax as well. At 810mm it suited me at 185cm tall. Shorter riders shouldn’t have any issues, as the seat is narrow enough at the front to hop on and off by stepping through the footwell and sitting back from there. It is a bit of a step up through the tall footwell – the price to pay for a proper tubular steel trellis styled frame. Well worth it…
The footwells themselves are big enough for my size 12 Dririder boots with a little room left forward and backwards but I couldn’t comfortably use the feet forward footboard area, I’m just too tall. Out of the CBD and into the outer suburbs, the Downtown 350i came to life and the 60 to 100 kay zones are where the CVT works so well extracting the most out of the 320cc single. The scoot cruises effortlessly but a twist of the wrist is all it takes to launch forward faster – passing is no issue at all and the engine turns over just under 6000rpm at 110km/h, so is not working hard.
Vibes are there slightly, a little through the ‘bars and feet, but nothing out of the ordinary and the mirrors are completely clear and vibe free. The screen is not quite right for my height so I copped wind blast right in my eyeline. A screen 25mm taller or 25mm lower would sort the problem for me. In saying that, I was still really comfy on the freeway on the 350i and could happily tour on it. I rode it for four hours non-stop without any issues. The instruments are trick, with the speedo and tacho dials on either side of an LCD display that is multi-function but unfortunately sun glare does make it difficult to read. The blue LED backlighting is a nice touch though… Switches are all standard and decent quality. ‘Bar mounted control of the dash functions would be better than the small centrally located buttons.

Chassis-wise the Downtown 350i is a gem. The ‘proper’ frame helps give the scooter motorcycle feel and handling. The forks are non-adjustable but well sprung and damped, offering good support on the brakes, over bumpier roads and undulations. During emergency stops testing the ABS, the forks did not collapse through their stroke suddenly, they held up well and are progressive. Out the back the preload adjustable twin shocks were set on the second from softest step. They are easy to change as each shock has a lever welded to the preload collar, so it is a job that can quickly be done without the need for any tools – perfect for those carrying pillions from time to time. I left it standard, second from softest, as it gave a nice compliant ride.
Braking performance is impressive. The 260mm front and 240mm rear triple-piston equipped (front) brakes are strong. Initial bite is progressive enough to be friendly but power is there with a gentle squeeze. The Bosch 9.1M ABS backs up the braking performance and works well – I tested it with multiple emergency stops, some loose gravel stops and even managed a wet road stop in some roadworks. The front brake alone is strong, the rear not quite enough on its own (as it can be on some scoot’s), however, the two combined really pull the Downtown up rapidly. Impressive stuff…
Fit and finish is good for the price point, storage is amble with enough space under the seat for a full face and a half face together, or a full face and jacket/groceries/beer for later! The two gloveboxes are deep and one has the 12V charge point. Another nice touch are the proper fold out pillion ‘pegs and larger grabrail as well as the large pillion seat.
There is a lot to like about the Kymco Downtown 350i ABS. Owner’s reviews online are almost all positive, the price of $6990 + ORC is sharp and as far as flexibility and versatility goes, it is pretty much spot on… Definitely worth a look if you are in the market for a larger scooter.
Take me to the Downtown 350i ABS