The first scooter tested by MD was the 2002 Honda Silver Wing. Up until that point, it seemed rather unlikely that MD would test scooters at all. Since that time, of course, we have tested several, and the U.S. market has become more and more accepting of scooters.
In particular, large displacement scooters are being looked at by motorcyclists as practical, comfortable transportation. No shifting, superior wind protection for your lower body, and the ability to move your feet into different positions to create even more comfort on a long commute. The other demographic looking at large displacement scooters is older motorcyclists, who, frankly, no longer desire to throw a leg over a full-size motorcycle, and for physical reasons find it much easier to step through a scooter design.
We have tested the Suzuki Burgman 650 before, but that was several years ago. The Burgman has received many updates since then, but remains a large, powerful and comfortable luxury scooter. The Burgman comes with a 638 cc parallel-twin engine featuring a modern DOHC, 8-valve design. The CVT transmission has two automatic modes, Drive and Power, as well as a Manual mode that allows the rider to shift by pushing handlebar-mounted buttons. This transmission is very refined, reflecting the fact that Suzuki has worked hard to improve it over the years, increasing efficiency and smoothness. In our test, the transmission performed extremely well.
The braking system includes twin discs in front and a single disc in back. Together, they provide excellent stopping power, while the chassis maintains a characteristic (of scooters) flat attitude under hard braking. The low center of gravity found on the Burgman 650 allows it to brake hard without the front end dive characteristic of most motorcycles.
The Burgman 650 is a large machine weighing a claimed 613 pounds wet. It has a long wheelbase, and features large tires for a scooter, including a 15 inch front and a wide 14 inch rear, which carries a 160 section tire. Fuel tank capacity is 4.0 U.S. gallons. The current ABS unit incorporated into the brake system is 55% lighter than the one found on the prior model.
Suzuki claims that the current model also uses 15 percent less fuel thanks to a number of refinements, including reduced mechanical losses and transmission changes. One of the nice things about large scooters is the storage space, and the Burgman 650 delivers in this category with a large under-seat compartment that can hold two full-face helmets, as well as three compartments on the dash below the handlebars, one of which contains a DC outlet.
The instrumentation includes a large analog dial for both speedometer and tach, as well as a digital display with an enormous amount of information available to the rider, including but not limited to fuel consumption, coolant temperature, ambient temperature, clock, drive mode, and a gear position indicator for the Manual mode. The rider can push a button on the handlebar to retract the rear view mirrors electrically in order to fit into tight spaces. An interesting feature.
Riding the Burgman is a relaxing experience for an experienced motorcyclist, once you get used to the fact that you do not have to shift the transmission, and both the front and rear brake are operated by handlebar levers. The seat is broad and comfortable, and there is plenty of room on the floorboards to adjust your foot position during a longer ride. The large fairing and windscreen provide plenty of wind protection, and even kept wind buffeting at a reasonable level for our 5 foot 10 inch test rider.
At speed, the Burgman handles well, reflecting its low center of gravity. Although it changes direction relatively well, it is not nearly as nimble as some of the smaller scooters out there. In exchange, the Burgman is extremely stable at high speeds, and is capable of speeds far in excess of the speed limit here on California roads. The Burgman has plenty of power to cruise comfortably at 75 mph or higher.
Taking the Burgman 650 off its side stand reveals its heft and low-speed handling can be somewhat awkward.
Although the transmission encourages the rider to experiment with the different modes available, and all of them work well, I eventually left the Burgman primarily in the standard Drive mode. The Power mode does wring-out the engine further in each gear, and is useful when you need to hustle.
During our test, we averaged roughly 47 mpg while riding the Burgman 650 harder than most typical commuters.
After riding the Burgman for a while, I really missed having the ability to carry items with me on my motorcycle without wearing a backpack, for instance. The Burgman can spoil you in other ways, as well, when you are looking for a comfortable, low drama cruise. You have to experience relaxing your feet, and having the ability to move them into several different positions, in order to appreciate how comfortable this is. In addition, the lower body wind protection is hard to match on any motorcycle, including luxury tourers.
With its speed, comfort, economy and luggage capacity, the Burgman will be an interesting and attractive alternative for many motorcyclists who are looking for a relaxing way to commute or tour. At $10,999, the Burgman offers a lot of value. Note that our Pearl White test model was a 2013, which has been replaced by the Metallic Grey 2014 model that carries the same MSRP with minor changes. Take a look at Suzuki’s web site for all of the details.