MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

  • July 23, 2014
  • Gabe Ets-Hokin
  • Joseph Agustin
  • 59 Comments

MD First Ride: 2014 Suzuki Burgman 200

072314top-i

072314side1

What’s the perfect two-wheeled vehicle? No way it could be a lowly scooter, right? Well, judging from the rants posted by our wise and noble readers, it’s inexpensive, light, low to the ground, handles admirably, seats two comfortably, gets stellar fuel economy, offers good wind protection, plenty of locking storage for touring and has a simple, reliable, yet satisfying powerplant. Well, that sounds like a scooter to me, boys. More specifically, it sounds like the scooter I rode around San Diego county not long ago, the new-for-the-USA-market Suzuki Burgman 200.

Hey now! Put down the pitchforks and hear me out. I know this is a big “if,” but if you’re willing to overlook that the Burgman is a scooter (and refrain from sharing the joke about how they’re like full-figured women because we’ve all heard it and it’s not that funny), it really may be the perfect motorcycle for everything but hardcore, extra-legal uses. Suzuki, I’m sure, hopes you agree.

So let’s get to it: what makes it so good? I’ll admit it’s not the most earth-shaking scooter of its generation, but it does have some credible chops that Suzuki’s moto-PR man (and AMA Pro road racer) Frankie Garcia pointed out during our technical presentation. It’s mostly your basic Euro-market maxi-scooter, a sub-genre that offers enough storage, weather protection and power for inter-city commuting, an important segment in areas where gasoline is $8 or more per gallon and there are fewer parking spaces than liquor stores. It may be “maxi,” but it’s still much smaller and lighter than its big-brother parallel-Twin-powered 650 Burgman and other scoots in this class.

072314middle1

That’s because it gets a liquid-cooled, four-valve OHC 200-class (note: Suzuki’s US web site has the wrong bore and stroke numbers of 63mm by 53.4mm – it is actually 69×53.4, or 199cc) powerplant producing a claimed 18.1 horsepower at 8,000 rpm, significantly more than many air-cooled motorcycles of similar—or even bigger—displacements.

Other notable touches: Nissin ABS (the same electronics as the Hayabusa’s) is standard, the windscreen is wind-tunnel designed, the rear shocks are adjustable, and there’s room for a pair of full-face helmets under the remotely opening seat. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) uses a fixed-spring design, that Suzuki claims reduces vibration. Some dimensions: seat height is a low 28.9 inches, the wheelbase is a not-unreasonable 57 inches, and it weighs in at 359 pounds wet (2.8 gallons of fuel).

Sounds like pretty standard scooter stuff. That’s how I felt as we started the press ride, but I’ve ridden a lot of scooters, and I’m pretty impressed by the micro-Burg. It’s a remarkably well-thought-out product that can do a lot of things very well, particularly considering the bike’s price and displacement.

072314middle2

For newbies, it’s easy to ride, thanks to the low seat, good steering lock, well thought-out fuel mapping and low center of gravity. Despite the long wheelbase, the smaller wheels and wide bars let you make quick, easy U-turns and shorter riders (like me) should feel confident paddling around to park or start out from a stop. The brakes are plenty strong—if you use all your fingers and both brakes—and the ABS works the way it should. We all tried to get our back tires to lock, but could only succeed in getting them to make little chirping sounds. Instead of tire-smoking hooligans, we sounded like a nest of cheeping baby birdies: the price of safety, I suppose. That makes it a good choice for beginner riders, and Frankie proudly pointed out that Suzuki has four entry-level, freeway-worthy machines (check your own state’s requirements for divided-highway legality—in California it’s 150cc or larger, but other states want 250): the Burgman 200, the standard GW250, the retro-hip TU250X and the newly restyled DR200S.

For experienced commuters there’s a lot to like, too. At lunchtime, we discussed the buffeting-free wind protection and asked parts and accessories man Jeff Walters if he had swapped out the stock screens for the higher-and-wider accessory item… nope, it’s stock. Impressive, as the ride at 70 mph or greater was relatively quiet. When you reach your destination, there’s room under the seat for not one, but two full-face helmets, side-by-side even, so there’s room for a bit more stuff as well. That’s a lot of locking storage for the money, and it’s buttressed by the little glove boxes in the front.

Fuel economy and range is also good, making the Burgmini-me a decent light-touring companion. There’s a current-mpg estimate on the digital display (that’s updated many times a minute) that showed fuel economy in the 60s, even with ample use of the throttle. If we had been slaves to the green “ECO” light that appears when you accelerate more slowly and keep the speeds down, 70 or greater mpg would have been possible. We rode around 120 miles and the fuel gauges were still indicating a half to a third of the 2.8-gallon remaining, hinting at a 180 or greater mile range. That’s better than some big touring bikes I’ve tested—add in the spacious trunk and good wind protection and why wouldn’t you tour on the Burgman 200? Oh, yeah, manly pride. There is that, but swallow that and you could ride it almost anywhere. I would.

072314middle3

My only serious complaint about the scooter during our test loop was the seat. It’s low and comfortable enough, but it could put you in an awkward position, with your knees above the line of your hips, especially if you’re taller. There’s enough legroom for taller riders, but my butt and lower back started to ache towards the end of the ride.

For sporty riding, the Burg-boy shows off its Suzuki heritage. Garcia mentioned use of Hayabusa design language, and that may be so, but he didn’t mention that the GSX-R designers got into the chassis and suspension as well. The suspenders are crude, but the rates are well selected and there’s some damping, which masks the bulk of the engine/swingarm drive unit. Combined with some of the best cornering clearance I’ve experienced on a scoot, the package utilizes the zesty-feeling engine and low center of gravity to give you a pretty good time on twisty two-lane roads. It’s equally nimble yet confidence-inspiring on city streets, though you won’t forget it’s a maxi-scooter.

So is this a good deal? The anti-scooter brigade will howl at the $4999 MSRP, but you do get ABS and it’s less money than scooters offering less performance and utility—Honda’s Forza is not much faster and costs $6099, and the PCX150, though $1550 less, lacks ABS and will be but a shrinking dot in the Burgman’s weird, square-shaped mirrors. We saw 80-plus on the speedometer and probably could have squeezed out a few more mph given some downhill and a few miles of clear roadway.

Okay, it may not be perfect, and you may not rush out to buy one, but it’s a well-designed product that would be good enough for most of the riding I do, and further proof you shouldn’t dismiss it as “only a scooter.” Remember, it’s not the tool, it’s how you use it, and a scooter like the Burgman 200 will stand up to a lot of use. Hey, along with all that practicality (Fuel range, lockable under-seat storage and excellent wind protection), I had fun riding it.

072314bottom

59 Comments

  1. Dana M says:

    I’ve had a Honda Silverwing for a few years now. I changed the windscreen to a Clearview sport screen (looks like a Hayabusa from the front now), put some Pirelli Diablos on it, aLeo Vinci stainless exhaust and some heavier fork oil. I’ve had it up to 116 mph indicated and it handles pretty decent and hauls all my stuff on trips. What’s not to like?

  2. Bender says:

    But how many 12-packs and bags of ice will it carry ?

  3. Tommy D says:

    My daughter is around 5 foot tall and loved my old ’84 125 Honda Aero due to its low seat height and twist and go simplicity. She would love a SPORTY scooter that is capable of highway travel. A replica racer paint job is her favorite much like the Aprilia SR’s. She may end up on a Grom to get her used to shifting. Yes its not highway capable but its a good tool to learn on.

  4. Eric says:

    Why buy this instead of the 400? Gas mileage seems very similar. Once you get above 30-40MPG, there is not much fuel cost left to save – diminishing returns.
    Would be interesting to see them side by side, I assume the 200 is smaller.

  5. Provologna says:

    Gabe,
    Next time on the Sunday Morning Ride, ask Dave and/or another old timer about when Craig McClean (of Motorcycles Unlimited, RIP) appeared on a scooter and beat most of the guys to the Stinson Beach (ahem, cough, cough) “cigarette” stop.

    You might still have been in day care at that time.

    Of course, Bolinas Lagoon, all bets off.

  6. Gronde says:

    Well, at least there’s enough storage to put your helmet and your purse. What’s not to like?

    • paul246 says:

      I managed to get my purse, my Browning 1911 and a few extra mags in there along with a flask of good malt even with a full face helmet. Life is good.

  7. RRocket says:

    Gabe,

    Please revise your review to reflect that the newly-revised-for-2015 Honda PCX150 is $1500 cheaper than the little Burgman. For that, you get a 75lb lighter scooter, better looks, better lighting, more sensible seating and 50 percent better (at least) real world fuel economy. I’ll be waiting for your comparo once the ’15 PCX is available in the USA for testing. As it is, I still think the PCX is the better scoot, and the Suzuki doesn’t justify the price premium. Oh… and $1500 saved by buying Honda posts for plenty of fuel.

    • Dave says:

      The PCX is a highway enabled town scooter. This is a fully capable small displacement scooter. It’s a great product but not the same category at this.

  8. Provologna says:

    Please, oh please, Suzuki, I double dare you. Please make it just a little bit uglier! That must have been one ugly-faced wind tunnel.

  9. Jdilpkle says:

    I wonder if the GSXR motor will fit…

  10. Buzz says:

    Who is Suzuki targeting with that seat height? Midgets?

    You can see Gabe’s explanation of his knees being too high are accurate by looking at the photos.

    And Gabe isn’t exactly the tallest person you’ll ever meet.

    I test rode the BMW 650 scooter and really liked it but couldn’t get myself to throw down ten grand for it. I don’t know if I could throw down 5 grand for this.

    I think a scooter is great for a grocery getter and I use my 2008 Vino 125 for the gym and the beach. I keep my swim fins in it and can always find a parking space in the summer. There is even a surf rack that fits it.

    I guess these scooters wouldn’t be priced like that if the dealers didn’t think they could sell them.

  11. falcodoug says:

    Love that helmet, if it only came in hi-viz.

  12. Rick says:

    The 650 Burgman motor is half a ‘Busa–so the line of its “big-brother, V-Twin-powered 650 Burgman” is inaccurate. Love your writeup though.

  13. GMan says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but when did this Burgman 200 artical turn into your local forum for off topic banter? But I digress. Love the Burg 200, fun to ride, does everything extremely well. Definately a good buy.

    • mkviz says:

      party pooper

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “When did this Burgman 200 article turn into your local forum for off topic banter?”

      From the very beginning it appears. What else are we supposed to do? It’s a scooter article for crying out loud!

  14. Dave Joy says:

    I love my 650 Burgman! The only thing I miss from other motorcycles I have owned is the chrome!!Throw a bucket of soapy water over the Burgman and its clean. No hours polishing and admiring…..then again, that’s more time for riding ain’t it!

  15. Fred says:

    I’ve been riding big motorcycles, and touring all over America for the last 40+ years. I still do. For the last 15 years I have also been doing that on what are now small displacement maxi-scooters. In addition to Harleys, Honda, and big airhead BMWs, I’ve owned and ridden 250cc Kymco and Honda scooters, and some 150cc scooters as well. As I’ve aged, I’ve slowed down a bit (as I understand my own limitations and try to stay within them), so for me cruising at 65-70 mph (which most 250+cc scooters will do with no problem), works just fine for me. The comfort, storage capacity, and fuel mileage of the scooters are all pluses for me. And I’m old enough now, that I don’t care at all what anyone thinks of what I ride — so scooters are just fine for me. I have also been saying for years that I don’t care what anyone else rides either — as long as they ride. Smaller engine bikes and scooters have intrigued me for a long time, and there are still so many to own and so few years left. But for me it always comes back to my personal favorite of the last 40 years, the 250cc Honda Helix. My current one, my second one, fits me to a T, and I just love to stretch out and enjoy the nearly recumbent seating position, as mile after effortless mile ticks by.

  16. Norm G. says:

    re: “I had fun riding it.”

    it’s powered by ICE ICE baby. what’s not to like…? ship it.

  17. dashui says:

    How come the Elio “car” can cost $6999, with a 100 hp, 3 cylinder, ac, radio, while motorcycles and scooters cas twice as much?

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Because you look at and ride in an Elio car and think, “there is no way I would pay more than $7,000 for that.”

      Then you go for a spin on a Ducati Monster and and think, “Thank you, sir! May I have another?”

      Seriously, though, I read that 90% of the parts on the Elio come from current, off-the-shelf automotive parts. Anything produced at the mass scale of automobile parts is going to be pretty cheap compared to motorcycles. $7K is still an impressive price point for something with A/C and three airbags, though.

      • KenHoward says:

        Seven thousand dollars IS an impressive price point, though the company has yet to prove they can sell the thing at that price and stay in business (or that the actual production vehicle will even be desirable to own and drive).

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Yeh, I’m not holding my breath. It seems like an impossible price point. I don’t believe there is enough demand or margin in that thing to stay (or even start) in business.

    • Jason says:

      The Elio car doesn’t exist. Not a single one has been produced and sold to a customer. It is one things to promise a low price and collect deposits, it is entirely another to manufacture a product and sell it to actual customers.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “It is one things to promise a low price and collect deposits, it is entirely another to manufacture a product and sell it to actual customers…”

        …profitably.

        and there it is.

      • motowarrior says:

        Elio may be more real than you think. Google it and you will come across a lot of interesting info. They just announced a million+ sf manufacturing facility in Shreveport, LA. All ne cars/motorcycles are long shots, but this one is really interesting.

        • Jason says:

          I am familiar with Elio and I like the concept. However, I know that they will never actually produce a real vehicle and sell it for that price.

          Elio didn’t purchase the old GM factory that they are planning to use as a production facility. They convinced the Caddo Parish purchased the facility and agreed to lease part of it to Elio. Elio also only has a 30 month lease and after that it is free to rent to another company or scrap the building.

          Also Elio has also just announce ANOTHER push back in delivery dates. The first car were originally going to be sold to customers in summer 2014, then Fall 2014, then spring 2015, and now they are saying fall 2015.

    • red says:

      About the same way Santa Claus can fly around the world with a reindeer powered sleigh full of toys

    • toad says:

      What Elio car?

  18. frank says:

    Piaggio BV 350 – $5099…about 33 hp, about the same gas mileage, and long maintenance intervals..(again, please include that information in your reviews). The Suzuki is a nice scooter no doubt, but if your commute includes significant freeway miles, or you plan on some higher mileage one or two person week-end getaway’s, you might want to give the BV 350 a good long look.

  19. Scorpio says:

    I dated a woman once who had the 400. Never took scooters seriously before, but that machine really opened my eyes! I wish my Bonneville or my Sprint ST had that kind of storage (with a trunk light no less) and seat comfort, not to mention gas mileage! She rode that thing all over the state of Arizona, including the interstate. I miss that scooter.

  20. Brian says:

    Actually, I think the PCX150 is more like $1,500 less. If I were in the market for one of these (and I probably would be, if I didn’t already have too many motorcycles), that’s the direction I’d go.

  21. Michael H says:

    My wife rides a Burgman 400. It’s perfect for her, holds a lot of stuff, and has enough power to run at 70 mph all day. Which is what she does, sometimes, riding on interstates from one place to another. A 200 wouldn’t have adequate power to do this, in my opinion.

    I rider her 400 to the store, etc., but for me the suspension is a bit primitive and harsh, but then again, I weigh about 150% of what my wife weighs. It’s just right for her.

    The 200 may be a decent commuter scooter, but lacks the hp necessary for more than that. It’ll do 70mph, sure, but doing a lot of riding at that speed is going to shorten the engine’s life.

  22. allworld says:

    I have always liked Maxi scooters, for commuting you they really have the upper hand. My all time favorite Maxi was the Yamaha T-max. In the USA, scooters are a niche in a niche market, but where I live they are ridden year round in all kinds of weather, unlike the HD park and polish crowd who look down on them.

  23. ABQ says:

    I used to own a Burgman 650, and I now have a Honda Silverwing 600.
    I assure you that there is nothing more fun on the street than a maxi-scooter.

  24. Sean says:

    I stopped reading after 18hp and plenty of space for touring lmao!!

    • paul246 says:

      Go right ahead and laugh. You are the one missing out. Don’t knock it til you try it.

      I’ve owned bikes from the Valkyrie on down. Currently riding a Honda CBR125R… most fun bike I have ever owned. Bought it used with only 500 miles on it for $1500. Lots of guys around the world are touring on these, they’ll go anywhere, super reliable, 100mpg at 65-70mph, just regular oil changes and chain lube.

      So I can imagine these scooters are just as much fun and cheap to operate, the smile factor is what really counts, not what some other idiot might think of your ride.

      • Sean says:

        I will ride just about anything on two wheels and find a way to have a good time on it, I don’t care what others think. The problem is that these maxi scooters are not cheap and for me the only thing that they offer is practicality. I look to bikes for fun and excitement not practicality. I already have an SUV I don’t need room for a bag of groceries on my bike but thats just me. For the money scooters just don’t make sense. The motors are crap, they are ugly, smallish wheels, crap suspension, crap brakes, but plenty of storage? . Like I said I’m sure I could have some fun on one but I could have much more fun on other bikes. And as far as touring goes my driving style not to mention CA highways does not lend itself to a 70mph top speed and a 18 hp engine.

      • Klaus says:

        I agree with you, paul246. After riding 650+cc bikes for years including a ZX9R, K100RS and a 1400 Intruder I moved to Thailand and discovered how much fun small bikes can be. I ride a Yamaha Nouvo 135 to work every day, had a CBR150R (water-cooled, 4 valves, DOHC) and now have CRF250M for “fun in the city”. I don’t even want a big, heavy bike anymore!
        200cc is perfect for over here, not too heavy, good for relaxed touring on the weekends and still economic. I just wish Yamaha would make a 200cc version of the T-Max and offer it here.

  25. Tank says:

    650 Burgman engine is not a V-twin. My last bike was a 400 Burgman and it was a nice bike to ride in winter because you could haul all sorts of jackets and in summer it was great because you never felt any engine heat. The only problem with these scooters is that they are maintenance nightmares. I hope the 200 is easier to work on than the 400.

  26. Motowarrior says:

    Since almost no one seems to care about this, I’ll repeat a prior comment dealing with another scooter. A motorcyclist needs something between his legs. Step-throughs work best when you are wearing a skirt. Just a little 2-wheeled humor…

    Now there are 3 comments.

    • casatomasa says:

      Scooters are fantastic for the short jaunt to our local Celtic games where the cool breeze blowing up me kilt preps me fer the caber toss. Oh and by the way, the storage is more than ample for 5# bag of ice and 12er of Gueinness!!

  27. mickey says:

    I find my 400 Majesty to be an excellent alternative to my car for running errands and the like. I have packed 6 bags of groceries in mine with an optional tail pack. I know it’s capable of much more than errand running, but I have other motorcycles to do those jobs…. and you are right about not only the convenience, but the storage, wind protection, and gas mileage of these scooters… And tires are dirt cheap lol. Btw my Majesty also requires both hands 4 fingers each for serious stopping, two fingers each hand if you get to plan your stop.

    Few true ” motorcyclists” will give much credence to them, but I think the maxi scooters are pretty cool, and a lot of fun to ride.

  28. arbuz says:

    Thx for the review.
    Seems like a great solution for folks looking for a scooter. great mpg, anti-lock breaks and luggage capacity.

    I do wonder though, how the justification process for this works, though.
    If a buyer is in the lower income bracket, and can only afford 1 two-wheeler, what makes them justify a 5K scooter ?

    • todd says:

      It’s not for lower income people. They pick up free, 30 year old motorcycles, get them running and ride the snot out of them until the rear cords are showing…

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I do wonder though, how the justification process for this works, though.”

      wonder no more.

      Q: If a buyer is in the lower income bracket, and can only afford 1 two-wheeler, what makes them justify a 5K scooter ?”

      A: REGARDLESS of what income bracket a person might be in, anything and everything in the 2-wheeled space are LUXURY GOODS end of. don’t believe me…? call your insurance company and you’ll see more clearly.

      so there isn’t any sort of “justification process” (that’s something we tell ourselves). no matter the mental machinations you go through, it all comes full circle back to one inalterable truth…

      a person either WANTS (places value) on a particular vehicle/item/watch/smartphone/etc (insert desirable object here) and is willing to come off the dime for it…? or they aren’t…?

      there is no alternate rationale.

      • todd says:

        Au contraire, my ’82 Seca is much less expensive and trouble free than any car or any form of public transportation. I figure, the only way I can make it to work any cheaper would be to stand on the side of the road and waive my thumb.

    • Norm G. says:

      (SHORT ANSWER)

      re: “If a buyer is in the lower income bracket, and can only afford 1 two-wheeler, what makes them justify a 5K scooter ?”

      the same thing that makes the buyer in the high income bracket shell out for a LaFerrari.