We off-road motorsports enthusiasts are kind of funny (odd?) sometimes.
We might be in the market for an ATV or side-by-side and start looking around, but once we hear or see a certain manufacturer doesn't have anything bigger than a 500cc engine in its vehicle lineup we just look past that company. And we might not even be looking for something bigger than a 500; it's just the perception that hey, they don't make anything very big so that company must not be a serious player in the off-road market.
Well, if you're one of those, then there's no reason to look past KYMCO anymore, especially not past its 2013 offering. KYMCO unveiled an exciting new 700 engine in late June at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. So, in addition to its standard 500 engine offering in its ATVs, KYMCO now adds a 700, along with new body styling.
We had heard rumblings this past spring of a new and bigger engine coming from KYMCO; we just weren't sure if it was going to be in its MXU ATV line or the UXV side-by-sides. That question was answered in Charlotte. We're guessing the 700 will make its way into KYMCO's side-by-sides in the near future, although we have no official word from the company to back that up. Just a hunch.
That isn't to say KYMCO's side-by-side lineup was completely left unchanged for 2013. The company also unveiled its new Baja- and Moab-inspired UXV 500i SP in Charlotte.
Looking At The 700
First the MXU 700i, which also comes in a Limited Edition version.
The new 695cc engine is fuel injected and liquid-cooled and is the first 700 and biggest engine KYMCO has made for its off-road vehicles. It's a single overhead cam design with four valves and generates a company-claimed 45 hp-that compared to KYMCO's 500i, which has a horsepower rating of 36. You would expect a noticeable difference between the 500 and 700 and we definitely noticed on the eight-mile course KYMCO carved out of the woods on Charlotte Motor Speedway property (actually, just across the road from the track). If you're wondering why the KYMCO connection with the Charlotte Motor Speedway, go to www.dirttoysmag.com/powersport-news/display.cfm?ID=273 and read "KYMCO USA Goes Racing With Charlotte Motor Speedway."
We found the new 700 to build good speed down the straightaways and coming out of corners rather than arm-stretching power that is sometimes tough to manage, especially in technical terrain. The engine is predictable and smooth, the same as what we find on the company's 500 powerplant.
According to Joe Wofford, who is over KYMCO USA's service, parts and warranty department, there are no common components between the 500 and 700 except the EFI, which was introduced in KYMCO ATVs and side-by-sides about a year ago. Additionally, the 700 engine is wider than the 500 as you might expect on a bigger engine. Wofford also pointed out that the engine is a little further back in the chassis compared to previous MXU models, which helps the vehicle's steering.
While the 700 is big news for KYMCO, it's hard not to notice the new styling on the 2013 models, which is spread across the entire line of MXU ATVs, not just the 700s. The new styling, inspired by the automotive industry, "gives KYMCO a more modern face; a distinctive look," Wofford said.
Catching Your Eye
Indeed, if there was a "knock" against the KYMCO ATVs, it was that they were perhaps too conservative (some say boring) in their looks. The new styling features new halogen headlights and new LED marker lights. The edges and lines are sharp but not boxy and the new styling carries over to the front rack as well as the grill and bumper. The pod between the handlebars has also been updated with new styling. If you upgrade to the LE, the MXU 5 and 7 both feature silver painted plastics, as well as a factory-mounted winch (3,000 lb.) and 14-inch cast aluminum rims on 25-inch tires.
The new styling definitely has more of a "wow" factor.
KYMCO also redesigned the switches for 4WD, located on the right handlebar near the throttle, so that the driver can't accidentally engage the 4WD if he doesn't mean to. The MXU still features on-demand 2WD/4WD.
Changes for 2013 that aren't so visible include moving the control arms more to the center of the chassis as well as moving the steering spindle to the middle of the rim to make steering more predictable and increase suspension travel (6.2 inches in the front, 6.8 inches in the rear for next season). KYMCO also slightly moved the A-arms forward (less than a half-inch) to help control the weight bias of the engine. The chassis is actually a bit narrower than 2012 models but only slightly and that is basically the only change to that part of the vehicle.
UXV 500i SP
As for KYMCO's side-by-sides for 2013, scan the lineup and you won't see any changes for next season-until you get to the UXV 500i SP, which really jumps out with its yellow coloration and added features.
Those features include alloy wheels (14-inch rims on 26-inch Kenda tires), a soft top, half windshield, a monster light bar with four LED lights, rear cab net, rear cargo net, spare tire rack with a spare tire (26-inch with aluminum wheel) and tire cover, rear bumper and two-tone painted plastics.
The LED lights were developed by KYMCO and include one single bulb in each light with each bulb emitting 7 watts, equivalent to a 55-watt Halogen. We didn't get to see the lights in action but we're pretty sure it will cast a pretty good swath of illumination.
"This (UXV SP) is Moab-inspired," Wofford said, referring to the unique terrain found around Moab, UT, a popular off-roading area with plenty of technical riding. "We've learned a lot at Moab. It was very educational to ride out there."
He continued, "Ground clearance on our side-by-sides was clearly an issue there, which is why we went to a different tire and rim."
Adjusting For Taller Tires
Because of those taller tires, KYMCO made a change in the gear ratio so as to not lose any climbing power. KYMCO uses the same Kaifa shocks as in its other UXVs but did change the stroke (lengthen by 5mm) and valving and adjusted the compression and rebound.
One change that was made across the board on all UXVs is an improvement in the CVT, specifically a heavier torque driver, lighter spring and heavier clutch spring. Wofford said the intent is to make the CVT "more compatible" with off-road terrain such as what you would experience in Moab.
KYMCO, as evidenced by its 2013 changes, continues to make inroads into the coveted U.S. market. Our wish list on the KYMCO includes adding power steering, which would reduce the feedback to the handlebars when you're covering bumpy terrain at slow speeds. We think power steering would have really upped the ride quality on the MXUs.
While we're on the subject of ride quality, we should have played with the shocks a little to try and improve the ride in Charlotte on the ATVs. The MXUs feature five position adjustable shocks with dual rate springs, which gives you some latitude to play with. And we're willing to give KYMCO the benefit of the doubt on the vehicles we rode. From what we understand, the vehicles were taken right off the ship, the tires put on and aired up and taken to Charlotte Motor Speedway. There was no real seat time from KYMCO's U.S. staff to set them up for us to ride.
Overall, we like what we see and feel with the new MXU 700 and UXV 500i SP. The new 700 engine definitely helps KYMCO be more competitive in an already competitive ATV market by broadening its offerings and appeal. And we can't wait to try the UXV 500i SP in Moab.