2011 Quannon 150
A trip to India will tell you one thing for sure - Indians take their 150 sport motorcycles seriously. As trick as some of these bikes are, none of the 150s find their way to America. But there is a single exception - the Kymco Quannon 150.
Made by Kymco - Taiwanese scooter and ATV specialists - the Quannon 150 is quite unlike any other sportbike sold in the United States.
First things first - the Quannon 150 is powered by a 149cc (no, not 150cc as the name implies) SOHC four-stroke motor that utilizes forced-air cooling (just like many of the Kymco scooters and ATVs).
Don't get the idea that it's some sort of high-performance motor - it is not. At redline in fifth gear, you're looking at 60 mph.
In California, the Quannon 150 is not freeway-legal. However, there certainly is a good application for the motorcycle - a starter sportbike for the most cautious of owners (or the owner's parents).
Even for a beginner, the Quannon 150 is not intimidating. Kymco has tuned the little thumper to put out almost all of its power between 6000 rpm and its 8000 rpm redline.
Below 6000 rpm, the Quannon 150 produces just enough power to move it...slowly. Even in that 2000 rpm powerband, there isn't anything that will startle a rider.
It simply will pull through those engine speeds rather than struggle. So, if you are looking for a learner bike that will not intimidate under any conditions, the Quannon is perfect.
Or, if you are a parent whose son (or daughter) wants a Hayabusa and you think his first-choice bike is reflective of his judgment, you can put him on a Quannon 150 and rest easy that he won't have many opportunities to do anything stupid at any speed above 60 mph (75 mph if he's willing to ignore the redline - more on that later).
The only downside to the Quannon 150's powerplant for a new rider is that it won't teach you throttle control.
It requires healthy doses of throttle for forward motion. From a stop, you can't simply roll on the throttle as you let out the clutch.
The engine must be revved and the clutch slipped. This isn't really that difficult, and because the power is limited, it is a skill that can be learned quickly and safely.
There is zero chance of unwanted wheelies or the rear end breaking loose. The only risk at stops is inadequate throttle and the bike stalling. Fortunately, the starter fires the Quannon right back up and you can be on your way.
The chassis is more than up to the task of the Quannon 150's power output. Handling is quite good in the canyons, and the Quannon can really hang it out on tight downhill roads.
That's right - downhill roads. Going uphill, the bike is going to struggle unless it is in that 6-8000 rpm range. In the sweet spot, it moves along okay, but gravity still holds sway.
At the same time, the 140 Cheng Shin rear tire is more than capable of handling every foot-pound of torque the one-lunger can produce.
Just keep the throttle pinned and the reliable (though not slick) five-speed gearbox working. The Quannon weighs less than 300 pounds (dry claimed) and, along with a 53.3-inch wheelbase, is as nimble as that sounds.
Cornering clearance exceeds anything a novice will throw at it, and even experienced riders come back with a smile once they learn how well the Quannon will corner.
The best way to test the Kymco Quannon's cornering prowess in on long downhill runs. As acceleration doesn't rocket you from corner-to-corner, more time is spent tucking in and simply diving through corners with abandon.
The front Cheng Shin doesn't sound impressive (it's a cheapie tire brand from way back), but it works well. The front end doesn't push at all under sane behavior.
The biggest risk you'll find on the Quannon 150 is oversteering due to excessive rider input, partially due to the compact (but not tight) ergonomics.
When that happens, you'll find yourself making mid-corner corrections, something the Quannon does willingly. After making that error a few times, you realize that all you have to do is gently point the bike where you want it to go and it will go there.
If there's a 35 mph corner on your ride on a full-size sportbike, feel free to take the Quannon through at that speed - maybe faster!
To sum it up, the Kymco's handling is good news for the budding sport bike rider--light, nimble, forgiving, and predictable (once you understand it).
If braking is needed, the single discs fore and aft are more than adequate and have a friendly initial bite. Someone with sloppy brake habits won't get into trouble quickly, adding to the new-rider friendliness of the Quannon 150.
One might wonder about the reliability of Kymco products. Don't. Kymco has built a strong reputation in the ATV world, particularly for youth quads (and we all know how hard kids are on those!), as well as the scooter market.
When we first took delivery of the Quannon 150, one of our test riders took it out for an afternoon. When he returned, he made a sheepish admission.
He hadn't seen a redline on the tachometer, so he assumed he could rev the motor up to the 10,000 rpm maximum on the tach. He had spent much of the ride screaming the little guy at between 8000 rpm and 10,000 rpm, getting as much as he could out of the 125 cubes.
Then, toward the end of the ride, he made an observation. The "8," "9" and "10" numerals on the tach were in red (as are other markings) and numerals "1" though "7" were black. Uh-oh. He realized that he had been running the bike above redline for most of his ride.
The bike never complained or coughed (though it is cold-blooded at startup and the auto choke doesn't work well). The rest of the test period saw the Quannon 150 make nary a complaint, even though there were subsequent above-redline excursions.
It is one bulletproof motor, which you would expect for a bike that has to hold together with little maintenance from those who ride the rugged and crowded streets of cities like Mumbai and New Delhi.
The 2011 Kymco Quannon 150 is not a bike for the experienced rider, obviously. But it does make a great platform for a new rider who may have suspect throttle control, but wants to learn the ins and outs of sport bike riding.
It also performs its yeoman duty without putting the rider on some goofy looking bike (the oversized, outboard muffler being the only fashion faux pas of the fully-faired motorcycle) that has a "beginner" stigma.
If you do ride bigger bikes and get a chance to wring a Quannon 150 out, take it. Keep the flawless five-speed gearbox in action, keep your momentum up in corners, and have a go.
If you ride the Quannon 150 on its terms, you'll find it to be an unexpected pleasure, as well as a glimpse into India's riding world.
2011 Kymco Quannon 150 Specs
- Motor...4-stroke SOHC
- Bore x stroke...62x49.5
- Cooling...Forced air
- Front suspension...Telescopic fork
- Rear suspension...Single shock
- Front brake...Single disc
- Rear brake...Single disc
- Front tire... Cheng Shin 110/80-17
- Rear tire...Cheng Shin 140/70-17
- Seat height...31.5 in.
- Wheelbase...53.3 in.
- Fuel capacity...3.6 gals.
- Dry weight...299 lbs.
- Colors...Blue, Red
- Helmet: Z1R Jackal Pandora
- Jacket: Joe Rocket UFO Solid
- Gloves: Held Titan
- Pants: Cortech Mod Denim
- Boots: Tour Master Solution WP Road
Photography by Kelly Callan