2005 Kymco Venox Road Test
I know what you’re thinking. To answer your first obvious question, Kymco is an acronym for Kwang Yang Motor Company, a Taiwanese firm that now has five manufacturing plants in Asia and distributes its products in 63 countries. At this time Kymco claims 400 U.S. dealerships, and its powersports lineup here includes 11 scooter models, four ATVs and one motorcycle, the Venox. To answer your second obvious question I’ve got to say that from my extensive riding experience on the Venox that Kymco-despite a name that reminds one of Ronco kitchen products and SNL’s Bass-o-Matic comedy routine-makes an impressive product.
Assuming you haven’t peeked, guess the displacement of the Venox. After considering its 63-inch wheelbase and those wide cylinder fins, most riders are astonished to learn that this 90-degree V-twin displaces a mere 249cc. Actually, there’s some deception: Those faux fins are actually rubber-mounted covers attached to rather industrial-looking liquid-cooled heads, and they’re much wider than the heads so as to give the impression of a massive engine. Beneath those fins, however, lies an honest engine. This little guy features dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder, which is state of the art for any sporty bike.
That free-flowing, custom-look bodywork includes a steel 3.7-gallon fuel tank, and plastic fenders and side panels. Those chrome-style accents on the tank and over the shock absorbers are also plastic, but the chromed engine covers are for real and add a touch of class.
Despite its diminutive displacement, the Venox feels like a big, dense motorcycle. At 436 pounds wet it has some heft, and its 29-inch seat height is well in keeping with that of a larger bike. The wide handlebar furthers the impression that this is a big bike, one on which even a 6-footer won’t feel confined. The feet are nicely spread on its pegs, the seat nicely cushioned, and from the seat the rider may well have the impression that this is a 500- or 650cc machine.
At least until he or she rides it away. Pull the choke knob under the left side of the tank, punch the electric starter button and the little guy thrums to life. The Venox’s V-twin offers a bore and stroke of 58.0 x 47.2mm, and chain final drive. The cable-actuated clutch requires only a light pull, and the bike moves out easily, necessitating only a small amount of clutch slippage.
Acceleration, for those used to riding more powerful bikes, is leisurely at best. Its powerband gives the impression that the Venox’s engine was designed for use in a sporty chassis rather than a cruiser. There’s little torque at the low end, and leisurely wind-up, but a nice power hit brings the engine alive high in the rev range. As there’s no tachometer, we can’t tell you where that is. Of course, as it’s “only” a 250, how much torque can one reasonably expect?
Once on the road the rider notes the subdued exhaust note and settles in comfortably. The seat is relatively firm, a bit narrow for a full-size rider but comfortable enough for a hundred miles at a crack. In a pinch, the dual seat will hold two full-sized riders, though the passenger will be praying for a short ride.
In the twisties we found that, especially for a cruiser, the Venox can be quite entertaining if the rider keeps the revs up, and it offers satisfactory cornering clearance. The five-speed transmission shifts as well and as smoothly as anything we’ve ridden from Japan, and there was no faulting the single front disc with a twin-piston caliper, or the drum rear brake.
Park it at your favorite roadhouse, especially this yellow version (it’s also available in blue/black or gray), and riders will soon begin to congregate. You won’t feel embarrassed to be seen on such a little bike as its displacement is not listed anywhere, and your secret’s safe with us. You would be advised not to accept any foolish challenges such as racing for pink slips, as the Venox is pretty well tapped out at an indicated 70 mph; we saw a top speed of 76 on the speedometer. And though we were riding it pretty hard the Venox averaged 55 mpg, which should climb into the 60s with a sane rider aboard.
People will notice the additional niceties such as the aggressive pair of chromed exhausts jutting from the right side, the disc rear wheel, the twin chromed shocks, the frenched-in taillight and that custom-look, clear-lens headlight with the fluted reflector. Hey, it’s got a braided steel front brake line, a nicely chromed instrument nacelle on the tank and carries Maxxis Classic tires, a 120/80-17 front and a 150/80-15 rear. The prominent bungee hooks allow for carrying a small amount of luggage on the rear portion of the seat. There’s no tachometer or centerstand, however.
Our only serious wish is that the Venox came with better shocks; they’re fine over the usual easy stuff, but pothole edges and nasty bumps will jolt the rider. The fork, by contrast, is well controlled yet plush enough.
Want to get serious? The Venox sells for $3,999 (higher than other venerable 250s from Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha), and comes with a two-year factory warranty. Available accessories include a light bar, saddlebags, two tool pouches, a tank cover, two backrests (standard and high) and highway bars.
I was impressed by the Venox. The bike has a lot of presence for a 250, and fit and finish were quite good. I will say that, in my opinion, Kymco has a real future here, especially if it develops larger bikes with the same level of styling and quality, and at a comparably reasonable price point. Hey, if Ronco built a better motorcycle, I’d buy one!
Kymco USA is based in Inman, South Carolina, and you can locate your nearest dealer from the company Web site at www.kymcousa.com.