The new learner legal Kymco K-Pipe is slightly different to the normal run of the mill bikes. That’s thanks to its prominent tubular steel frame and semi automatic gearbox, which give it a distinctive style all of its own. It’s available as a 50 and a 125 and is in the shops now.
That pipe like frame structure, or ‘Spinal Column’ as the folk at Kymco like it to be known is made from tubular steel and has been designed specifically for the K-Pipe to make the bike lighter and more agile. The K-Pipe also has naked bike styling and a few subtle touches, like the curved swinging arm and mono shock rear end. The bike also features a four speed semi-auto gearbox, which is quite unusual; it’s the type of transmission usually reserved for the likes of the old Honda C90 and other lightweight modern commuting equivalents. I’m not 100% convinced that the four speed semi auto is necessary on a bike like this but it does make the K-Pipe a bit different and it’s a step closer to a manual transmission for anybody who has been used to an auto scooter. It basically means you don’t have a clutch lever to worry about, to shift gears you just prod the lever down (or up) with your left foot. It’s a heel/toe pedal so you can go back up the gears using your heel, although I found the position of the pedal made it a bit tricky to use my heel to change down, I ended up using my toes like I would on an ordinary sequential gearbox.
The K-Pipe is quite a skinny looking bike, that’s partly thanks to the fuel tank, which follows the lines of the frame quite closely, rather than sticking out either side. It is a relatively small tank though at 4.5 litres but Kymco claim the four stroke engine to be their most fuel efficient yet at 40.25kml, or 161km to the tank, that’s 100 miles for about a fiver. The integrated front indicators and stacked headlights help to keep the bikes profile to a minimum as well, they also give it a stylish feel. In fact the only area that let’s the bike down are the K-Pipe stickers which could have been designed a lot better, get them off with a hairdryer if you buy one!
The four stroke engine is quiet, as most of them tend to be but I was surprised at just how well it pulls away, it’s quite nippy, especially for an engine that’s not been run in and it was happy to sit on fast A roads. The bike is very light and agile so it lapped up the twisty rural roads during my test ride and had enough grunt to overtake the odd slower car. I recorded a top speed of 59mph on my GPS, so expect to see a little over 60mph once the bike has loosened up fully. Like most conventional bikes, the K-Pipe uses a chain rear drive which means you need to keep on top of lubricating and adjusting it, not a problem but worth bearing in mind if you’re a lazy rider who doesn’t like having to do regular maintenance. The Kymco gets around corners quite well on it’s 17” Kenda rubber, not that I found too many bends to challenge a 60mph 125 but the suspension is competent enough, which is nice to see on a bike built to a budget of just £1699. That isn’t a bad price for a bike from an established and well respected manufacturer.
The bike has quite a short wheelbase so it’s agile enough and the 800mm seat height is ok for most riders to touch the floor without perching precariously on tiptoes, making it a great first bike for a novice rider. Equipment wise the Kymco has a single front 276mm disc and rear drum brake, both of which work well enough to haul the 103kg machine to a stop easily enough, so no complaints there either. Kymco have gone to town a bit with the electrics, the digital instruments are well set out and include speed, fuel, time and a tacho, some of the functions are a little small which makes them tricky to read on the move but once you get used to how it’s laid out you’ll still be able to get the information you need with a quick glance. The stacked headlights are good looking and powerful too; they use HS1/H8 bulbs and give off a decent beam, the rear taillight uses 14 high-lumen Caribe LED bulbs, which means you should be noticed from the rear as well. The K-pipe is a good looking machine and isn’t pricey either, it costs just £1699 and comes complete with a two year manufacturers warranty.