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.
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.
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.