Plenty of motorcyclists look down their noses at scooters, and that’s understandable. They don’t have as much power as their cousins, their handling is more challenging and I wouldn’t exactly describe them as the most macho of two-wheel vehicles. But, they are definitely charismatic—there’s a reason there were mods and rockers–and despite the aforementioned drawbacks there is a cult of scooter fanatics clearly attracted to their good looks and obvious riding fun, as well as people who simply find them to be an economical and/or convenient source of transportation. Certainly, a run down to the local 7/11 for a quart of milk is better handled on a scooter than a GSX-R1000 or Big Dog K9.
Style-conscious riders will look to the Italian offerings from Piaggio (Vespa, Aprilia and others), while the Japanese machines appeal to those looking for reliability above all. Kymco, a Taiwanese manufacturing company, is there for the scooter aficionado with a taste for something a little different. Even the name of this machine, the People 150, is a bit odd (though not as strange as some other Kymcos—how’d you like to ride a Grand Dink 250?).
As it turns out, the People 150 is a competent scooter. The environmentally friendly 152cc four-stroke motor is quiet and 50-state legal, while still managing to produce decent power. I was able to hit an indicated 70 mph on a downhill and 65 mph on flat ground. Even at those speeds, the People 150 is stable. The 16-inch wheels give it an edge at higher speeds, yet it remains a nimble performer in traffic, as it weighs a mere 245 pounds.
There’s enough acceleration to sprint away from most automobiles, though you will want to preload the fully automatic belt/pulley transmission for the smartest launches. Suspension exceeded my expectations, providing a surprisingly plush ride over the sometimes poorly maintained byways in west Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.
Storage is under the seat, as usual, and will handle a bag of groceries without complaint. The centralized storage has minimal effect on the handling of the People 150, even when full. The front disc brake has excellent action and just the right amount of stopping power. So, for $3,199 you can stand out from the crowd, without finding out that there’s a reason the crowd is riding something else!