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2021 Kymco KRV 180

Kymco premiered the KRV 180 in 2020 for the 2021 model year calling it a compact scooter, although maxi scooter styling is more than obvious. Larger engine displacement aside, a full LED lighting package, sharp contemporary styling and stylish, easy to read display are just the beginning of the KRV’s features that help Kymco’s offering stand out from the competition.
OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
03 Feb 2022

All manufacturers dedicated to practical motorcycling have a range of scooters to offer in their line up. Although scooters aren’t for everyone, their effectiveness as fuel sipping urban navigators is undeniable. Their relative ease of use and storage capacity, coupled with instant go from a stand still make them no-brainers. Perfect for consumers looking to address practical needs with an easy to use solution.

Kymco premiered the KRV 180 in 2020 for the 2021 model year calling it a compact scooter, although maxi scooter styling is more than obvious. Larger engine displacement aside, a full LED lighting package, sharp contemporary styling and stylish, easy to read display are just the beginning of the KRV’s features that help Kymco’s offering stand out from the competition.

From a distance, the KRV looks bigger than it is. That’s quite the plus point. Thankfully though, come closer and you’ll realize it comes in very regular dimensions and so the 17 horses coming out of that 180cc aren’t overworked. In developing this scooter, Kymco dug in deep. The KRV looks handsome and serious for a small city commuter. For example, LED sequential turn signals on the front. These sequential lamps are mounted under the handlebar. Not exactly big budget, but just one of those things that make you go oooh I want that too.With that, good cosmetics isn’t the only thing to be found here.

According to Kymco, the KRV is intended for spirited riding, weighing in at 133.5kg and designed with a 50:50 weight distribution. The KRV incorporates a relocated transmission Kymco calls the Power Transmission Matrix. The benefit of this was that Kymco was able to utilize a motorcycle style monoshock equipped swingarm on the rear.

In Kymco’s press release, this swingarm reduces claimed weight by 8.1kg and was taken off the KRV’s larger sibling the AK550. What it does is reduce unsprung weight and improve suspension through the newly developed KSS or Kymco Suspension System. Unsprung weight creates unwanted inertia that causes tyres to lift off the ground when contacting bumps and potholes on the road. By reducing this through the use of the swingarm, the KRV ends up holding the road better and leading to sharper, more responsive handling without any unsettling wobbling or rocking.

Getting on the KRV, we could immediately feel that the weight was fairly down low, using less effort to right the scooter up off the sidestand. Starting is a cinch, press the keyless unlock button on the bar, turn the knob and thumb the start button. Three simple steps. The same knob unlocks the fuel cap and seat with a… err… hold on a sec. With so many icons on the dial, that part of the operation takes a little memory work. In the end, it's press-and-turn one way for the fuel cap, the opposite way for the seat.

On the go, the KRV and its weight distribution properly embarrasses the sub-200cc competition in handling. The sub 200cc market is strongly contested by the Japanese, Taiwanese, Italians and French. A ride on the KRV, shows that Kymco’s efforts did not go to waste. The low centre of gravity makes for sharp handling and direction changes are easy as can be. The KRV lacks the typical sluggish rear-end feel of a scooter. Kymco’s spirited riding claim? Check. OEM tyres from Maxxis are also up to the job and grip well, in both wet and dry conditions.

Ergonomics were fair but the seat was a recipient of mixed views. The folks across the team bumped their knees doing low speed turns with their feet set on the floorboards. Being above average height however, everyone agreed that the majority of riders wouldn’t feel such space constraints. Riding foot forward was far more comfortable, made even better when cruising longer distances on the KRV. The KRV’s seat has a gentle curve for a bum stop and the seat wrapping was not slippery either. Padding was also sufficient, comfortable enough for long haul rides. Riding 2-up may present some challenges for space however, depending on rider and pillion sizes.

The KRV’s 175.1cc engine is fairly larger than most of its competition. Power delivery from a standstill is clean and snappy, responsive with no bogs in the fuelling. We enjoyed that on the go it was smooth, accurate and predictable. In retrospect, we have covered bikes with odd fuelling, making engine outputs unrepresentative of throttle inputs. The KRV’s engine was smooth, gave little to no vibrations and no heat at our ankles when we stopped at traffic lights. Stopping was adequate too. Equipped with discs in the front and back, braking was consistent. Great feel through the levers made braking predictable and matched our inputs with perfection. Traction Control and Dual Channel ABS by Bosch top off the package.

Suspension on the KRV was a mix. The nonadjustable rear shock performed well and the KRV was not prone to rocking. Good road manners coupled with stable clean cornering, the KRV makes for a fun and engaging ride without the need for gear selection. Even when 2-up riding, that 50:50 distribution shines and the KRV stays sharp. Riding 2-up however, we found the rear suspension bottomed out over humps. Make no mistake, it still glides over flat roads but maybe 2-up runs at the edge of its limit. The front end dived a little more than we wished it would under hard braking too. Thankfully without wobbling in the handlebars. An aftermarket suspension upgrade is possible with options on the market if required.

The only 2 shortfalls to pin on the KRV, are its under seat storage and the unprotected glove compartment. A very common plague, the under seat storage on a number of sub-200cc scooters will not fit a full face helmet without using some force to lock down the seat and this is no different on the KRV. Using force could damage the hinge and we’d hate to mark the KRV down for this common gripe. The other, being the glove compartment. A quick charge USB port with protection against the elements will not change the fact that the glove compartment below comes without a cover. The KRV makes for a great package as a whole but the absence of that lid is like Ariana Grande missing a note or Emma Watson’s smile missing a tooth. The KRV is such a good execution that just missing that lid, it’s jarring.


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