Wednesday, June 6, 2012
R.I.P. Kymco Venox 250
By Scott Araujo
So I saw this bike some years back and actually test rode it, thinking of maybe buying one. I looked on the U.S. website the other day and was sad to see it was discontinued, at least in the U.S. It's still on their non-U.S. website so maybe it's available elsewhere.
The Kymco Venox 250 is a pretty cool bike but also a bit of an odd ball. It's a full-sized motorcycle built by a scooter company. It's a cruiser with a V-twin engine, but 90 degree and liquid cooled.
Now there are a few 250cc cruisers out there from the big motorcycle manufacturers, but they're fairly unexciting. They fill the niche for an entry-level cruiser, but they don't get many updates and they are small in a bad way. If you're over 5'8", you're not likely to fit on one too well. And if you do, you'll probably look a bit goofy.
The Kymco was different. While it's only a 250, it's a fairly big bike by size; I was able to fit my 6' frame on it without feeling cramped or looking like a gorilla riding a tricycle. It looks even bigger because it's usually sitting on the lot or in the showroom next to a bunch of scooters.
While certain aspects of the bike show that it's been built to a price point, the fit and finish was quite good. The seat is simple but comfortable. The overall lines and proportions of the bike are what you'd expect from a custom cruiser: raked out forks, big tank, big fat rear tire on a solid aluminum wheel, and a tall, skinny, chopper style wheel in front. Some bits, like the twin side exit exhaust, look a little cartoonish and the whole bike looks like maybe it's trying just a hair too hard in the styling department. The engines "cooling fins" are just tacked on plastic bits, it's water cooled after all. There's plenty of chrome-plated plastic to help simultaneously meet the minimum bling factor and keep the bottom line down.
The engine is a water-cooled 90-degree v-twin, and it runs smooth as a sewing machine. The exhaust note is a little more muted and mellow than most cruisers. It ran great, no problem keeping up with in town traffic and it got up to freeway speeds with no duress. The front brake has a braided stainless line and great feel, the rear is a drum and adequate. The suspension does it's job but isn't anything to write home about. The handling is good with one minor exception: The front end tends to flop to the side under 5 MPH. This was a common problem on older choppers before front end geometry was well understood. I'm guessing the styling department had more input on the front end than engineering but it's a small problem and doesn't spoil what is otherwise a thoroughly enjoyable bike to ride.
Sadly, and maybe predictably, it didn't sell well in the U.S market. The 250cc cruiser market isn't huge to start with. I'm sure being a model only sold at scooter shops didn't help it carve out its own slice of the pie. Still, I'm sad to see such a nice little bike fail to make it. Farewell Venox.