Review: 2018 Kymco Like 150i ABS, The Manic Pixie Dream Scoot

In​ ​this​ ​article,​ ​I’ll​ ​review​ ​the​ ​Kymco​ ​Like​ ​150i​ ​ABS. The mountains around Asheville, NC, coupled with frequent spells of hard rain, provided an appropriately challenging setting for this machine.​ ​


Visually,​ ​the​ Kymco ​Like 150i ABS​ ​is​ ​an​ ​obvious​ ​love​ ​letter​ ​to​ ​Italian​ ​classic​ ​style — from​ ​the​ ​classically​ ​broad​ ​cowl​, ​to​ ​the distinctively​ ​waspish​ ​backside. Eye-catching​ ​color​ ​combos,​ ​like​ ​grey​ ​paint​ ​with​ ​a​ ​burgundy​ ​seat,​ ​signal​ ​the completion of a decades-long transition ​from​ ​a utilitarian​ ​body​ ​to​ ​Euro​ ​breeziness.​

​With​ ​the​ ​front​ ​wheel​ ​fetchingly​ ​canted​ ​at​ ​a​ ​come-hither​ ​angle,​ ​the Kymco Like 150i​ ABS ​is​ ​a​ ​cute​ ​and​ ​flirty​ ​piece​ ​of​ ​curb​ ​candy.

The​ ​$2,599.00​ ​MSRP​ ​pretty​ ​much​ ​dares​ ​any​ ​fence​ ​sitters​ ​to​ ​find​ ​an​ ​extra​ ​corner​ ​of​ ​the​ ​garage​ ​for all this European​ ​style.​ At​ ​that​ ​price,​ ​it’s​ ​also just​ ​about​ ​ridiculous​ ​to​ ​expect​ ​ABS​,​ ​but​ ​Kymco​ ​has put​ ​it​ ​front​ ​and​ ​rear on the Like 150i.

Kymco​ also seems to be betting heavily in ​the​ ​accessories​ ​game​ ​with​ ​an​ ​appealing​ ​selection of​ ​chrome​ ​crash​ ​bars​ ​and​ ​luggage​ ​racks​ ​in​ ​anticipation​ ​of​ ​the​ ​American​ ​hunger​ ​for​ ​add-ons.​ Want​ ​a smoked​ ​Faco​ ​windshield?​ ​You​ ​got​ ​it.​ ​Maybe​ ​you​ ​prefer​ ​a​ ​touring​ ​windshield​ ​instead? ​No​ ​problem.

photo by Miccah Duckett

I​ ​loved​ ​the​ ​lighted​ ​cargo​ ​space​ ​and​ ​the​ ​USB​ ​charger​ ​in​ ​the​ ​glove​ ​box.​ ​Also​ appreciated​ ​was​ ​another feature​ ​I’d​ ​not​ ​experienced​ ​on​ ​a​ ​smaller​ ​scooter:​ ​a​ ​self-retracting​ ​side​ ​stand. This​ ​made​ ​dismounting​ ​a much​ ​more​ ​elegant​ ​affair​ ​that​ ​that​ ​to​ ​which​ ​I’m​ ​accustomed.

Since Kymco is bringing the fight to the Italians,​ it’s tough not to make comparisons to the Vespa, so I will indulge in a few. Blinker and headlight buttons; handlebars and brake levers: these all felt fine. Everything was easily accessible with minimal learning curve.

Fit and riding

The Like 150i ABS initially ​felt​ like​ ​a dinkier​ ​version​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Sprint. I’m not implying that construction was sub-optimal; only that it was clearly made for a smaller body than that which I inhabit. The knee​ ​pads in my riding pants​ rubbed​ ​dangerously​ ​against​ ​the handlebars​ ​on​ ​even​ ​modest​ ​turns,​ ​forcing​ ​me​ ​to​ ​shift​ ​my​ ​legs​ ​around​ ​to​ ​avoid​ ​the​ ​ultimate embarrassment​ ​of​ ​pitching​ ​my​ ​knees​ ​out​ ​like​ ​a​ ​meth​ ​head​ ​on​ ​a​ ​Tau​ ​Tau.​ Perhaps I could have adjusted backwards on the saddle, but I was sitting at the usual angle that secures my center of gravity while riding. The Like 150i ABS simply has less leg space that comparable Vespa models.

​At​ ​our​ ​first​ ​stop​ ​in​ ​town,​ ​I removed​ ​my​ knee ​pads​ ​and​ ​was​ then ​able​ ​to​ ​fit​ ​my​ ​six-foot​ ​frame​ ​tolerably​ ​well​ ​onto​ ​the​ ​Like 150i ABS,​ ​but​ ​it ​never​ ​felt expansive.

Around town

Regarding posted speed limits, as the French say, our ride leader ne les comprends pas. And when he led our sweet-looking parade of tricked-out scooters and small motorcycles through downtown Asheville, people stopped in their tracks and heads swiveled to watch. In a way, this photo sums up the magical appeal of scootering: people just dig it.

On bigger roads

After​ ​a ​brief​ ​stint​ in town ​our group was​ ​guided​ ​onto​ ​an​ ​intimidating​ ​stretch​ ​of​ ​wet,​ ​narrow​ ​mountain​ ​roads littered​ ​with​ ​scree​ ​and​ ​pine​ ​needles.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​when​ ​I​ ​stopped​ ​rolling​ ​my​ ​eyes at the legroom and started appreciating the Like’s power and agility.​ ​

I took the 2018 Like 150i ABS to places I’d never ride my Vespa.​ Clearly, our ride leader expected great things of the Like 150i ABS, and it behooved us to do the same. I was strongly encouraged to gun the Like up narrow asphalt strips which might pass for roads, and then immediately to brake for my life on the way back down. This is not a style of riding that I’d ordinarily engage in, and I felt uncomfortable maintaining the speeds expected of me. Blind turns; slick leaves; rain-washed roads; and extremely narrow lanes are part of the scenery in the mountains. I did a lot of riding the brakes on the way down, and aggressive throttling on the way up.

Either you can trust a scooter or you can’t. The quick access to power when I wanted it, combined with the light weight, made the experience easy on the mind. I didn’t have to worry about logistically piloting a large vehicle, so I could regard the Like as an extension of my own body instead. Perhaps the one advantage of taking a small scooter out on such a course is that it’s an extreme environment under which I think the Like really shone as a performer. On one particularly scary corner, I lost my nerve and had to abruptly brake to save myself from veering off the road and into… you get it. This is exactly why I wouldn’t engage in this kind of riding. But no matter the circumstance, the Like pulled up smartly and then peeled off with admirable agility.

I dislike being jostled, and feel that the suspension on the Like is about on par with the ride I get from a Vespa Sprint. It’s a scooter, not an armchair, but the only major disturbance to my bottom came from a set of train tracks. I tried to avoid dips and potholes because it was clear that this machine wasn’t going to carry me over in style; a lightweight frame combined with pavement abnormalities equals more risk than I want to take. So, I babied it. This is what I’d expect from the smallest scooter in the fleet.

I’ve not experienced enough scooters to talk with any level of expertise about handling. I’m not able to, say, hold up a favorite and a least-favorite bike as examples here. What I can tell you is that, when compared to my Vespa S 150, the Like is possibly a bit more flickable, but I was never comfortable enough to try any significant leaning or any more cavalier handling … simply because my knees were hindered. I was super-conservative because I didn’t feel free to use the full turn radius.

I’m not a tester of ABS brakes; that is a task better left to people with a ton more riding experience. Essentially, I need brakes to respond with a “yes ma’am” under all circumstances. I also tend to accelerate aggressively on a straightaway to rejoin a group that is rapidly leaving me behind. The Like handled it all. No​ ​pothole,​ ​hairpin​ ​turn​ ​or terrifying​ ​forty ​degree​ ​slope​ ​could​ ​faze​ ​the​ Kymco ​Like 150i ABS.​ ​

In conclusion

With​ ​its​ ​manic​ ​cheeriness​ ​and​ ​unhesitating​ ​throttle response,​ ​this​ ​little​ ​bike​ ​demanded,​ ​and​ ​eventually​ ​won,​ ​my​ ​complete​ ​trust​ ​and​ ​admiration. In​ ​essence, I​ ​was​ ​riding​ ​the​ ​Rick​ ​Moranis​ ​of​ ​scooters:​ ​a​ ​skinny,​ ​nebbish​ ​guy​ ​who​ ​gets​ ​handed​ ​an​ ​overwhelming​ ​task, and​ ​delivers​ ​like​ ​a​ ​true​ ​movie​ ​hero.​

The Like’s ​four-stroke,​ ​four-valve​, air cooled ​engine​, makes​ ​13.5 hp,​​ but​ ​only​ ​once​ ​did​ ​I​ ​twist​ ​the​ ​throttle​ ​all​ ​the​ ​way​ ​open. The​ ​longer​ ​I​ ​rode​ ​the​ ​Like,​ ​the​ ​more​ ​I​ ​appreciated​ ​its easy acceleration and firm braking.​ ​I​ ​wish​ ​I​ ​had​ ​felt​ ​a​ ​bit​ ​more​ ​comfortable​ ​as​ ​a​ ​taller person,​ ​so​ ​I​ ​can’t​ ​recommend​ ​it​ ​for​ ​anyone​ ​over,​ ​say,​ ​5’11”.​

​If​ ​you’re​ ​a​ ​slighter​ ​person​ ​craving​ ​style married​ ​to​ ​economy,​ ​this​ ​may be​ ​the​ ​bike​ ​you’ve​ ​been​ ​waiting​ ​for. The​ Kymco ​Like​ ​150i​ ​ABS​ ​arrives​ ​at​ ​dealers​ ​in​ ​late​ ​September​ ​of​ ​2017.

Special thanks to Kymco and Michael Spain Smith for contributing photography to this story.

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