First Ride – Rock Stars

First Ride – Rock Stars

2013.kymco.uxv500i-sp-baja.yellow.front-right.riding.up-hill.jpgA few months ago, we tested a KYMCO UXV 500i Side x Side in the rocks of Moab, Utah.  Recently we had a chance to try an all-new 2013 MOAB Special Edition UXV 500i across the road from Charlotte Motor Speedway.  KYMCO had a big surprise waiting for us with the Moab Special Edition UXV 500i, but it wasn’t their only new model.  They’re also introducing two new ATVs, including one with their biggest engine yet.  

New UXV 500i Special Edition – The Rock Star

Walk through the pits of any ride area and you’ll quickly realize almost nobody leaves their machine in stock form.  Most owners love to customize, and three of the most common items for customization are new tires and wheels, a roof, and new shocks.  KYMCO recognized the trend also and now they offer the UXV 550i SP, a limited edition version of their UXV 500i model.  Known as the BAJA model, the new UXV is inspired by the rock crawlers and desert racers of the southwest.  It offers a host of upgrades already installed from the factory at much better prices than you could get on your own and without any installation hassles.  Pick it up from the dealer and head to the dunes or trails.  2013.kymco.uxv500i.yellow.front-left.riding.down-rocks.jpg

The UXV 550i SP is based heavily on the standard UXV platform and features the EFI equipped 499cc SOHC, 4-Valve Liquid-Cooled engine.  While the 500cc engine places the UXV squarely in the mid-sized category, we found it performed very well on the trails and never once did it feel like it was underpowered.  The EFI equipped engine runs crisp and smooth with good acceleration, and peak power is listed at 36hp.  Top speed is approximately 55mph.  Mated to the engine is a CVT style transmission with High, Low, Neutral, Reverse and Park, although KYMCO gave the transmission different gear ratios for a more sporty power delivery and to accommodate the larger tires of this model.  Shifting between gears is done with a short lever between the driver and passenger seats, and in our experience, the transmission always shifted easily with positive engagement.

No Baja style package would be complete without 4wd and a huge set of tires.  Black, cast aluminum wheels are shod with 26” KENDA Bounty Hunter tires for a tough, ready to take on any terrain this side of the moon look, and 4WD is engaged with a simple switch on the dash.  When things really get sticky, there is a switch to engage the front differential lock as well.  A sealed shaft drive gets the power to the ground, and when it’s time to stop, the UXV features dual hydraulic brakes up front and a shaft-mounted hydraulic disc brake at the rear.  We found the brakes work very well and never faded even when crawling down steep hills.  We could make the tires slide at times, but the brakes never let us down by losing their grip.   

Styling on the UXV 500i definitely takes its cues from desert racers and in addition to the larger tires and wheels, KYMCO gave the UXV 500i SP the following upgrade items.2013.kymco.uxv500i-sp-baja.yellow.landing.on-dirt.jpg

  • KAIFA High-Performance Shocks
  • Overhead front Light Bar with four LED Lights
  • Mesh Driver & Passenger Doors
  • Rear Cab Net
  • Black Aluminum Alloy Wheels
  • 26” KENDA Bounty Hunter Tires
  • Half Windshield
  • Soft Top Roof
  • Rear Tailgate Cargo Net, (comes with stock tailgate as well)
  • Spare Tire Rack with Spare 
  • Two-Tone Seat Covers  (Red & Black)
  • Tube style rear bumper

Custom sewn seats give the cab area of the UXV SP a racy look, and centered in the dash is a very nice digital display with a cool, graph style readout and a host of warning lights carefully monitoring machine function.  Overall, the interior of the UXV is well thought out and functional, but as competing models become more refined, KYMCO will need to upgrade the cab area of the UXV as well.  Switch upgrades and different passenger hand holds would be our first choices.  

Our recent test of the UXV 500i proved it to be tough, capable, reliable, and sporty.  We tested it up steep hills, through deep water and mud, over rocks, and through deep whoops and it never had so much as a hiccup.  With a list price which is about the same as many large displacement, full-sized ATVs, you can’t beat the price on the UXV Special Edition either. The KYMCO UXV 500i SP is the real deal.      

2013 KYMCO UXV 500i SP – Baja Edition – MSRP  $10,499

All New ATVS for 2013 – On the Gas

We have to give KYMCO credit – in an economy that seems stuck in Low, and while other manufacturers hold back development of new models, KYMCO has shifted up a gear and is releasing new 500cc and 700cc ATVs for 2013.  This strategy should work very well for KYMCO. After all, the best time to pass the other guy is always when he’s not on the gas.


The New MXU 500i

The first new model in KYMCO’S ATV lineup is the MXU 500i.  Although KYMCO has offered a 500cc ATV in the past, this model has enough changes that it must be considered a new machine, and the changes began with the chassis. 

The goal of the new chassis design was to make the MXU 500i more nimble and maneuverable while improving suspension response.  At the front there are longer A-arms for less geometry change through the suspension stroke, resulting is less camber change, less distance between A-arms pivots (to accommodate the longer A-arms), and a relocated engine.  Engineers slid the engine back slightly for better weight distribution and decreased steering effort.  Front suspension travel and reaction has been improved, and at the rear, a swaybar was added to help control body roll from the Independent Rear Suspension.

Powering the MXU 500i is a single cylinder, liquid cooled, 499cc DOHC 4-Valve engine fed by EFI.  Mated to the engine is a dual range, CVT transmission, but KYMCO goes the extra mile and uses a centrifugal clutch on their CVT system for longer belt life as well.  Overall power delivery is smooth, but at times we feel KYCMO would do well to coax a little more power from the motor.  On our day of test riding, we could climb and conquer anything we wanted and the five position preload adjustable shocks controlled the ride well, but it will be nice to get it on our turf for a long term test.  Suspension travel is listed at 6.5 inches and the 26” Kenda Pathfinder tires did a good job of hooking up on our test ride.

Styling on the new MXU 500i is unlike any other ATV.  From many angles, the front end looks more like a pickup, and overall the bodywork fits well with tight seams between panels.  Transition areas such as from seat to tank are smooth with no pointy edges or protrusions to catch on your boots or dig into your knees while underway.  The seat is thick enough for comfort, firm enough to provide support, and we like how it has been sculpted to be comfortable on your thighs.  It also looks great!  At both ends, the MXU 500i gets a sturdy set of racks, and for hauling anything else, there is a storage container on each fender (one with a lock) and a third storage box under the fender.  For towing a trailer, there is a two-inch receiver hitch rated for 1,050 lbs. of load as well.  For riders looking for a few extras, KYMCO is offering a 2013 LE model featuring a 3,000-pound capacity winch, cast aluminum alloy wheels, and 26 inch Kenda All-Terrain tires.               

2013 KYMCO MXU 500i Highlights

  • Sporty, yet aggressive styling
  • Good control layout and DUAL handlebar mounted brake levers (Thank You!)
  • New, easy to use thumb activated 4wd engagement switch
  • 499cc DOHC 4-Valve Liquid-Cooled engine 
  • Electronic Fuel Injection
  • CVT Automatic transmission with H-L-N-R-P and Differential Lock 
  • Shaft Drive with Shift on Demand 2WD/4WD
  • Digital Display on Dash (clock, mph, trip, fuel, odometer)
  • Heavy-Duty Front and Rear Racks
  • 2” Rear Receiver Hitch
  • Dual A-Arm Front Suspension with Fully Independent Rear Suspension
  • Disc Brakes
  • Available in Black, Green, or Red

2013 KYMCO MXU 500i – MSRP  $7,499    MXU 500i LE  –  $8,299

Big Bore Wars – The New MXU 700i

To complete the ATV lineup, KYMCO needed a large displacement ATV and now they’ve got one.  For 2013 they’re introducing the MXU 700i with the largest displacement engine KYMCO has ever built for an ATV, or anything else that we know of.

The new MXU 700i shares much of the basic chassis platform with the MXU 500i, but with changes for the 695cc engine.  Interestingly, because of optimized design, the 700i actually weighs less than the 500i.  From the rider’s seat, all of the controls are in the same place and we love how KYMCO includes a brake lever for each hand, plus the foot lever for complete control of the hydraulic disc brakes.  In the center of the bars is a nice, digital instrument cluster, and on the throttle housing is a unique 4wd engagement switch.  While most OEM switches slide, KYMCO uses a thumb roller type switch on the MXU.  It took us a minute to get used to it, but once we did, it was easy to press the button and roll your thumb to engage 4wd, all without taking a hand off the handlebars.  It’s cool!  Throttle pull was also very good with the 700i as well and it never tired or strained your thumb.  

On the trail, the MXU 700i has tons of power, and it reminded us of a Yamaha Grizzly in a slightly larger package.  The new engine runs very smoothly with no detectable vibration, and we were thankful for the easy access to the dip stick and oil filter.   Overall handling was pretty good, although we would like a little more wheel travel.  The one area KYMCO needs to make a significant change, though, is with front end geometry.  On flat terrain the MXU700i steers very easily thanks to a shallow positive caster angle.  However, when riding down a hill or under heavy braking, the geometry goes to NEGATIVE caster.  What that means is the top ball joint is actually ahead of the bottom ball joint.  That’s a bad thing, and it makes the wheels want to turn to either side -shopping cart style.  KYMCO can fix this by changing the upper A-arm, the lower A-arm, or both, or by building 5 to 10 degrees of rake into the chassis.  It will steer slightly harder with more positive caster built in, but it will also increase stability everywhere.  Until then, keep a good grip on the bars when going down

Overall, we liked the MXU 700i.  It’s stylish, it has tons of power, and knowing KYMCO’s stellar requirements for reliability testing, it will probably live forever.  Just like with the MXU 500i, there is a Limited Edition model as well with a 3,000-pound winch, cast aluminum alloy wheels, and 26 inch Kenda Bounty Hunter tires.  

2013 KYMCO MXU 700i Highlights

  • Sporty, muscular styling
  • Good control layout 
  • Dual handlebar mounted brake levers
  • New, easy to use thumb activated 4wd engagement switch
  • 695cc SOHC 4-Valve Liquid-Cooled engine 
  • Electronic Fuel Injection
  • CVT Automatic transmission with H-L-N-R-P and Differential Lock 
  • Shaft Drive with Shift on Demand 2WD/4WD
  • Digital Display on Dash (clock, mph, trip, fuel, odometer)
  • Heavy-Duty Front and Rear Racks
  • 2” Rear Receiver Hitch
  • Dual A-Arm Front Suspension with Fully Independent Rear Suspension
  • Dual Disc Brakes Front / Single  
  • Available in Black, Green, or Red

2013 KYMCO MXU 700i – MSRP  $8,599    MXU 700i LE  –  $9,399

KYMCO’S New Stars

We can’t wait to put in some extended trail time on KYMCO’S new rock stars, the UXV 500i SP, and the MXU 500i and 700i ATVs and we’ll be doing full tests soon.  

KYMCO is committed to the ATV and Side x Side market.  They’ve got the resources and the ability to build anything they can design, and they’ve earned their place amongst the major manufacturers.  Perhaps the most telling statement we heard from another highly experienced test rider though was, “You know, these KYMCOS just get better and better each year.”  We agree.

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December 3, 2012

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