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Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS: MD Ride Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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39 Comments

  1. Russ says:

    I love my Yamaha 400 Majesty.
    I use it all week, and ride my BMW on the weekend.
    It is so much easier to ride in town,just twist the throttle and go. Although maxi scooters do weigh more than I would like.
    They are easier to handle cause the weight is lower than a motercycle, the gas tank is at the bottom.
    This makes a huge difference in handling.

  2. MichaelJ says:

    I have a 400 burgman and it gets 55MPG on the freeway (80MPH) and I use it to commute to work. I fits for my 6’2″ frame well, especially after I removed the seat backrest and installed my own design bar backs.

    I really liked it until a dead battery/jump start combo fried the stator. After removing all the plastic and Tupperware to diagnose the problem and finally get to the stator, I see why the Burgman is expensive to maintain – $600 to $700 is typical for a full service (belt, valves, plug, oil & filter, ect.).

    While working on the bike and waiting to get the stator rebuilt (Thanks Ricks Motorsport Electrics!), I’ve riding my FJR to work for the past month. I had forgotten how wonderful it was to have a machine that has suspension that works and power on demand.

    I’m now thinking about selling the Burgman once it is up and running as my old bones just cannot handle the crapy suspension of the Burgman.

    • Gary says:

      How many miles were on it when the stator fried? Did you get decent service life out of it?

  3. Jay Dee says:

    Frugal or smart mans new Gold Wing

  4. ABQ says:

    I bought a 2005 Burgman 650 new. It was a sweet ride while it lasted.
    What did the Burgman in was the transmission. At about 33 thousand miles a plastic gear broke in half. Plastic! it took an insane amount of money to replace the transmission. But I did it because I really enjoyed that bike. Another problen with the Burgman 650 was all the plastic. Eventually it rattles and breaks. I ended up taping mine up with reflective tape and glue. After trading it in for a used BMW I think I will just keep the memories but never get another Burgman.

    • Gary says:

      Wait … plastic gears in the transmission? Was it an idler gear or sumthin?

      • ABQ says:

        After the gear broke in half all it could do was idle.
        As for the speed of the Burgman 650, I regularly rode it at an indicated 100mph. Once I got it up to 120mph going down La Bajada hill south of Santa Fe

        • ABQ says:

          I just sold my BMW r1150GS. Since the amputation of my right foot last july I just couldn’t get comfortable on it. Especially since my prosthetic leg fell of while riding. So, it looks like I will by a used Honda Silverwing. These maxiscooters are great for those of us with mobility issues.

  5. GevoC4 says:

    Dirck, what are the safety stats on scooters vs. similarly sized commuter bikes? Do people fare better on one over another type?

  6. Gary says:

    Would love to have one to scoot around on. Not sure it could be my only bike, but I might change my mind as I get even older; even crustier.

  7. Vrooom says:

    “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.” You guys should really get a bike with hard bags, lot’s of nice aftermarket options out there.
    Can’t say this holds a lot of interest for me, but know an older guy who tours on his.

  8. Frank says:

    Had a chance to drive one of these back in ’02 /’03…smooth, comfortable, handled just fine. And these new ones are going to be even better. Price hasn’t change much since then either. If you don’t like the way they look that’s fine, but the styling cues do bear a strong resemblance to that of today’s over sized sport tourers, with the exception of their enormously wide bags which give them all that stylish ‘fat ass girl sitting alone at the end of the bar’ look. When lane splitting space narrows down as it often does, this thing will be easier to hustle through than one of those.

    And speaking of, you can afford to lose a few pounds, why does a 650, (638) cc twin have to weigh over 600 lbs?

    How about a comparison to the new 2014 Kymco 700..

  9. Jamo says:

    What’s the next size smaller, how much does that one cost and how does it work? Still crusin’ on the highway? If it’s over 600 lbs and over $10K like this one, it is still a little too much.

    • Jamo says:

      I went and looked and answered my own questions. The next size down is the Burgeman 400 ABS. It weighs 490 lbs and costs $8K. THat’s more like it!

      • Mark says:

        Jamo,

        I have a 2011 Burgman 400 ABS, and it’s great! If you usually ride alone, it’ll be more than enough for you. Even if you ride two up, you’ll be ok. Anyway, the Burgman 400 is still light enough to be good in the city, yet have enough weight and oomph to handle the freeway too. You can’t be it!

        Mark

  10. motowarrior says:

    During Bike Week I participated in a Craig Vetter motorcycle mileage run (unofficial results version). There was a 500cc new scooter entered that got just over 50 mpg on the 72 mile run. My BMW F800GS got 67 mpg. I often wonder about the need for big scooters. Smaller ones, like my Scarabeo 200 are quite fun and do a good job of zipping around the city, and get 70+ mpg. Sometimes I think there is a Peter Principal in scooters and cycles – they grow bigger until they reach their level of incompetency.

    • mickey says:

      Don’t think it’s about the gas mileage. Couldn’t you get better mileage on a 125 than on your 200? Want to travel cross country or try cruise at 75 with luggage and maybe a passenger on the freeway on your 200?

      • motowarrior says:

        Uh, Mickey did you miss that I have BMW F800GS? I have been from Florida to Oregon and Florida to Ontario on it and it worked out pretty well. The Scarabeo is for around town, as I previously wrote.

        • mickey says:

          Oh…yea I did lol

          But big scooters still have a valuable place and would be comparable to your Beemer in that they are not reLly meant for around town, they are meant for traveling. With a hip replacement and 2 knee replacements my wife can no longer mount a regular motorcycle, but she can swing her leg thru the center gap of a scooter and thanks to maxis she can still travel.

  11. JohnS says:

    I love my Burgman 650.. Like others, I admit to being almost 65.. I find the Burgman to be a great machine.. I added a laminar lip to beef up the OEM windshield and to improve wind buffeting.. Because the windshield can be raised and lowered, the addition made me appreciate this fature as I lower the windshield on 2 lane roads and raise it on the slab.. I have noo issues with space.. I am 6′ tall.. I removed the stock butt rest and added a back rest and this gave me over 2″ more knee room.. I also added a Givi E55 topcase and now I can not only store a full face modular helmet under the seat.. my 1 piece heavy cold weather riding suit fits in the top box.. very stable while cruising at 75.. and on twistys still a lot of fun.. the power button increases engine breaking so the downshifitng becomes “automatic”..

  12. rider33 says:

    I know these things are supose to be wonderful but do they really have to look like a jet ski?
    Also, why does a 600# scooter seem to offer me less room than my large frame Vespa (I’m 6’2″)?

  13. Tommy See says:

    Brother went from a Beem KLT for the Burgman 650 and says he loves it!

  14. allworld says:

    I had a Vespa back in 1980, fun for getting around the city. Later I had a Majesty and then a Tmax. The Burgman 650 and Tmax have an advantage over traditional scooter designs, that is the engine is mounted to the frame and not the swing arm. Suspension quality remains an issue for today’s maxi-scooters, but things are improving. I do miss my Tmax, and unfortunately Yamaha no longer imports them to North America.

  15. johnny ro says:

    It is what it is. 12th year now. Dedicated fan base.

    The article missed some of the downers- truly horrendous suspension, somewhat easily rectified. Short range, somewhat improved on this version. Windshield situation easily rectified. High price new easily avoided by buying used.

    Its not a sport bike, its a heavy large scooter. I like mine. I find myself wishing it did not have a step through, instead more of a 3d frame with more tankage.

  16. mickey says:

    As a member of the older group of motorcyclists, I see a trend of formerly dedicated cyclists are trading their Goldwings, Concours, FJRs, Harley Dressers for these Maxi Scooters which are quite capable machines, capable of transversing the country if one so desires. Sure it’s heavy, but it’s up to 300 pounds lighter than the bikes they are trading them in for. The ability to sit on the seat and slide your leg thru the tunnel really appeals to those with arthritic joints, or artificial hips and knees, and the ability to raising and lower the shield electronically, store stuff under the seat, and either twist and go, or paddle shift are really nice. More and more are showing up at the retired and riding groups around the country, as well as more conventional trikes and Can Am Spyders. Older bikers are simply finding ways to continue riding, and the maxi scooter is a good alternative.

    $11000 , ha…price a trike kit or Spyder lately? These are a bargain in comparison.

  17. Dave Joy says:

    I exchanged my Sportster 1200 for one of these 3 years ago, but kept my Bonneville T100 so I still had a “real” motorcycle! The Bonnie started to be neglected so I sold that 2 years ago! The Burgman is now my only bike, great for commuting and even better for touring. I’ve got past the embarrassment of the “scooter” jibes, and love this bike for what it is…….a fast, comfortable and capable all rounder!

  18. billy says:

    Well, I don’t know where to go with this one. A 600lb scooter? I thought I’d seen everything. You know some people physically need a step-through.

    • Hot Dog says:

      I had a Zuma, I could fit 4 cases of beer on the floor between my legs. I was a real chick magnet when I arrived like that. I got rid of it because my daughter wouldn’t wear a helmet and I was so sorry, I bought a Majesty. I can’t carry volumes of barley soda on the Majesty but with a little rubber platform, my hound rides everywhere with me. I’ve blown by Pirates on their boutique chandeliers, run 400 miles in a day on the super slab and can carry everything I need from the grocery store. I’m 6’2″, 200 pounds and I love using a “scooter” to troll for chicks by riding around the rest home until one takes the bait and comes for a ride (April Fools). Seriously, a scooter is a blast, swallow your pride/image and try one. Come on Yamaha, bring back the TMax.

  19. Dave says:

    Tall riders (indeed not too much over your 5′ 10″ pilot) need not apply.

    • Fred M. says:

      I’m 6’2″ and I test rode one. It seemed perfectly comfortable to me. Yours is the first comment that I’ve seen suggesting that it was designed for smaller riders.

      • Dave says:

        Cycle-Ergo.com; I plug my ergos into the site and see that (on this scooter) my elbows are against my sides and my knees are in the dash – and I’m the same height (6′ 2″) as you. Same with the Honda Silverwing, Kymco Xciting 500, Yamaha T-Max, BMW C650, Aprilia Scarabeo 500, etc. I have found the ergos really accurate for bikes I have tried out so also trust the site for scooters. I really wouldn’t mind trying out a scooter but have not seen one that fits my ergos enough (on screen) to warrant trying it out in person. Maybe being cramped-up is a normal scooter thing.

        • goose says:

          At 6′ 4″ I’ve riden a Burgman 650 and not felt overly cramped. I think you need to spend less time on web sites and just go to a few shops.

          Goose

          • Fred M. says:

            Hear, hear!

          • Dave says:

            “Not overly cramped” is not very confidence building. I’ve also seen reports of 6′ 4″ people riding GSXRs and VFRs and saying they fit just fine. Not me.

            Not very many scooters at the major dealers around here, but when I did sit on a Honda Silverwing it fit me just like cycle-ergos showed. It also corresponded to reports I’ve read from several owners on the Battle Scooters sub-forum on AdvRiders.com. Now the Kymco GT 300i looks interesting to me. Unfortunately the closest Kymco dealer is over an hour away (and mostly sells ATVs).

  20. Gary says:

    $11,000 for a 650 scooter. Yowwwsa! I wouldn’t exactly call that “a lot of value”, but at 613 lbs. it is a lot of scooter.

    • Jason says:

      How about $11k for a 650cc touring bike? The Burgman has more in common with a Goldwing then a Vespa.

  21. TimC says:

    Oh I meant to also attribute “live like you wanna live” to Chuck Berry (“My Ding A Ling” live in London IIRC)

  22. TimC says:

    I know there are those that like these. Fine, live like you wanna live!

    That said, “It’s a disgusting blob” – Ghostbusters