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2018 Suzuki Burgman 400: MD First Ride


When MD began testing large displacement scooters here in the United States many years ago, it was more than a novelty. Let’s face it, scooters were considered inferior to motorcycles for several reasons, and some of our readers even scolded us for covering them (“This is a motorcycle magazine, damn it!”). First and foremost, scooters were considered transportation for beginners, or, worse yet, sissies. They lacked the performance and style of motorcycles, and most motorcycle riders simply did not want to be seen on a scooter.

While that attitude still exists, to some extent, things are changing. In Europe and Asia, of course, scooters are hugely popular. They are considered the best, most economical, form of transportation in large, congested cities, for instance. In the United States, with our relatively wide open spaces, small scooters simply don’t work, often times. Enter the “luxury scooter” category.

Large displacement scooters often give up nothing to small-to-mid-displacement motorcycles. With comparable performance, the conveniences offered by a scooter, such as the Burgman 400, become more of a focus. These include large, standard storage compartments (the Burgman 400 has a very large under-seat storage area, as well as two smaller storage areas on the dash), an automatic transmission (here, a CVT), more efficient, and effective, wind protection for a rider’s legs, and the ability to change foot positions along the floorboard (even allowing you to stretch your legs, while they remain protected from the wind).

I wasn’t surprised when Suzuki told the assembled journalists at the press launch of the new 2018 Burgman 400 last week that the largest group of Burgman 400 purchasers consists of experienced, male motorcycle riders. In part, these riders are looking to extend their two-wheel days with a lower seat height and a step-through mount. Would you believe that some riders move from a Honda Gold Wing to a Suzuki Burgman? That they continue their cross-country touring habits on a Burgman — even two-up with luggage? It happens, both on the Burgman 400 and the Burgman 650.

For 2018, the Suzuki Burgman 400 receives several changes over the outgoing model. A larger front wheel (now 15″ in diameter versus 14″) and changes to the fuel-injected 399cc single cylinder engine for improved low-speed engine response, reduced emissions and better fuel economy, according to Suzuki. These are the highlights, but they just begin the list of the new features for 2018.

The engine achieves its performance boost from a number of changes, including refinements to the fuel injection system and a new five-liter air box (which, according to Suzuki, emits an exciting intake sound). Frame rigidity has been increased this year, and the styling is all-new – narrower and sportier with LED lights front and rear.


The Burgman 400 remains the only scooter in its class with a single rear shock operated through a linkage (for more progressive damping, and an increased ability to handle a wider range of rider weight and cargo loads). Preload adjustment is available on the rear shock, and the suspension is otherwise non-adjustable.

For 2018, the Burgman 400 has lost some weight (the amount wasn’t specified at the launch), and the machine is hauled to a stop by excellent triple disc brakes with ABS. The analog tach and speedo are very legible, and the instrumentation, overall, offers a wealth of information to the rider, including odometer, twin tripmeter, clock, ambient temperature, average fuel consumption, fuel level, and coolant temperature readings. Other colored LED indicators provide turn signal, headlight, freeze and service function alerts. An “Eco Drive” indicator on the dash helps the rider stay in a fuel efficient zone.

As part of the re-styling, the new Burgman 400 incorporates a different windscreen. Much smaller than the previous screen, Suzuki claims it still offers better wind protection for the rider. That wind protection complements a very comfortable seat with an adjustable backrest (it can be moved fore-and-aft over a 1″ range) and other seat changes that result in a more upright riding position. A cut-away in the floorboards makes it easier for the rider to put his/her feet down at stops.

It has been a while since we tested the older Burgman 400, but stronger acceleration from a stop was immediately noticeable on the 2018 model. You no longer need to give the throttle a hard twist, and endure a slight delay. The new Burgman 400 pulls smartly from a stop with just a moderate application of the throttle.

The seat seems more comfortable as well, and we will be sure to try the lumbar support in different positions as we perform a longer-term evaluation here at MD.

We got to evaluate the new windscreen during an extended 80+ mph highway trip back to the MD offices. The new screen is lower, and even shorter riders should be able to see over the top of the screen now. Despite this, wind protection was good with no noticeable head-buffeting (for a 5’11” test rider).

One of the two front storage compartments contains a DC power outlet. You can use a key element to swing a security cover shut to prevent tampering with the ignition switch.

The new, larger 15″ front wheel seemed to improve stability at highway speeds as well. The Burgman 400 still won’t track as steady as a large motorcycle at speeds over 60 mph, particularly when changing lanes, but the 2018 model should offer all the stability needed by commuters and tourers.

The new Burgman 400 corners with confidence, although we will push it through the twisties harder as we continue to test near MD’s offices. The larger front wheel helps absorb bumps and potholes on the new model, and suspension compliance is generally good, although a larger rear wheel (as opposed to the 13″ fitted) would smooth things out further. As it is, rear suspension compliance beats most of the competition with its linkage-controlled single shock.

The CVT appears to have slightly lower overall gearing that may have reduced top speed (still 90+ mph). This may have been part of Suzuki’s strategy to improve acceleration, which is surprisingly good, even at highway speeds. We will report on fuel economy after our long-term test. Suzuki claims the 3.6 gallon tank provides 200+ miles of range.

The triple disc brakes on the new Burgman 400 perform superbly. Physics dictates that a long two-wheeler with a low center of gravity, such as the Burgman 400, can more efficiently utilize brakes (including the rear brake) for shorter stopping distances. The Burgman 400 stops on a dime, and offers excellent feel and feedback in the process. We jumped on the brakes hard enough to activate the ABS more than once, without creating any worry or drama.

The 2018 Burgman 400 offers several useful improvements to an already excellent luxury scooter. It is available in a single color, Pearl Glacier White, at an U.S. MSRP of $8,099. Visit Suzuki’s web site for additional details and specifications.

60 Comments

  1. Tommy See says:

    Open minds and in the wind . It does not matter what you ride it’s that you ride !

  2. DCE says:

    I think the major scooter manufacturers are really missing the boat here. The motorcycle world is just too staid to accept any different design other than what has predominated for decades; scooter companies are somewhat staid but have more room to be different. How about doing something that most riders have complained about forever – adjustable ergonomic points to fit riders from 5′ to 6′ 4″? Most cycle frame designs make this too hard, but scooter frames should be able to accommodate widely differing seat heights and handlebar positions while keeping the foot pegs (yes, pegs on a scooter) at a high enough level for good cornering but still in good ergo position for knee comfort, balance, control, and standing when the road conditions demand. Not feet-forward like the goofy cruiser crowd. This would accommodate more like 98% of the world’s riders instead of the 60% or so currently. Make it even easier to transition from cycles to scooters too. I’d be up for a 650cc, parallel-twin, auto-shift maxi-Ruckus with adjustable ergos, 17″ wheels and good suspension travel. Or a 2018-version postie with adjustable ergos, 350cc engine and auto-shift. Or a maxi-XF350/C3/Vox/Giggle with adjustable ergos, larger wheels and 350cc engine. Scooter designers – don’t get trapped in a design convention like cycle designers! Keep it light, comfortable/easy to ride, useful, and adjustable for everyone!

    • Dave says:

      The problem is, you’re describing the US market, and we’re a relatively small part of the motorcycle “world”. Scooters like this are perfect for the markets where they sell best, where people over 6′ (how many cm’s is that?) are WAY on the edge of the bell curve. Much of the world market doesn’t differentiate as much between scooters and motorcycles the way we do, either.

      I’d like to see adjustable ergos (I’m on that end of the bell curve), but that’s rare on premium bikes, let alone scooters.

  3. Vrooom says:

    I’ve ridden an older friend’s Burgman 650. It’s not horrible, if you can get used to your feet being in front of you. When I hit 70, you might find me on a scooter, should that sort of thing still be available. Can’t imagine touring on a 400 single though, that would get tiring after 3-400 miles. Even touring on a bike with a 650 single is tiring.

    • WSHart says:

      Well said. The 400 looks like a good scoot and the 650 might be even better but maybe only for longer rides/trips. Both have triple disc brakes with ABS and relatively (for scooters) large fuel tanks so you can actually go somewhere without stopping for gas every 90 miles. Good job, Suzuki. Dirck, I look forward to reading more from you about on the 400 and perhaps a comparison (NOT a “comparo”) between the two.

  4. Scottie says:

    I’m getting older and in 15 years I doubt I’ll be tossing around an 800 lb. cruiser. I like options to stay on two wheels.

  5. Alan Loo says:

    Funny thing is that Scooters outsell Motorcycles in the world. I owned an 07 Burgman 400 and loved it. Curious on how the 2018 Suzuki Burgman 400 compares to the 2018 Yamaha XMAX 300. I think that the TMAX and XMAX has changed the maxi scooter world.

  6. ABQ says:

    I had a Burgman 650 for a few years. I would regularly ride it over 100 mph. I once got it up to 120 mph. It was a blast. I later had a Honda Silverwing. That was a little tame, but still fun. Changing the oil and filter was easier on the Honda Silverwing. The drain and fill hole were accessible without removing plastic covers. Not so on the Burgman.
    I had met people that would take their daily commute on the freeway at 80 mph riding the Burgman 400. I met another person that toured cross country on their Burgman 400.They are very capable machines.

  7. Frank West says:

    Any thoughts on the interaction of the small front wheel with diesel or ice on the small front wheel, even a proper motorcycle with a sixteen inch wheel flipped away without any warning and with all the weight rearwards I suspect the scoots will be even worse. I have done high mileage on a proper step-thru, a mere 125cc but with decent wheels and all the engine weight down low in the middle of the machine and that was actually brilliant in treacherous conditions (not an C50 with trailing links forks, though).

  8. James says:

    I have a TMax 500. It has storage under the seat for riding to the train station and keeping my gear in it. It has a nice wind screen for cold days. It’s excellent in traffic without having to shift all the time. Could use better suspension. But we could use better roads in the Northeast as well. What have they NOT dug up, potholed, manholed etc? I like it. Fast and plenty of power. So I think the Burgman is fine. It takes oil to make plastic and these things have a lot.

  9. DP says:

    “They lacked the performance and style of motorcycles, and most motorcycle riders simply did not want to be seen on a scooter.”

    Oh, maybe I am om wrong page??? I thought this was for motorcyclists, not scootrists. Not to say I am against technology, but it counts HOW it is used and for who’s benefit. That’s where dividing line is AFAICT. Scootrist has no interest in his/her machine; they just want to haul ass.

  10. Kitty says:

    I’ve been riding (so far) for over 40+ years. For the first 30 or so I rode ever larger road bikes, then about 10 years ago I bought my first scooter, a Honda Helix, one of the original maxi-scooters, although at 250 ccs they’re not so maxi any more. I’ve grown to love maxi-scooters and I don’t miss my big road bikes at all. I don’t care what anyone but me thinks of what I ride, and I don’t plan on owning and riding anything but maxi-scooters in the future. But I will certainly NOT be spending $8K+ on one of these new Burgmans, as I buy all of my scooters used, and of the last 6 I’ve owned, the most expensive one only cost about $2500.

  11. Dave Joy says:

    I’ve had my Burgman 650 for 7 years now. I do 2 tours a year along with buddies on their big cruisers. From our homes in Vancouver BC we have traveled through Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada and Utah. Plus nearly every weekend through the summer I do a 1000Km round trip to our summer place. It has never let me down (except the time a rock slide nearly took me out, and a small rock bounced off the front tire and punched a hole in the oil filter!) I get through tires fairly quickly….one of the problems with smaller wheels! I also keep a second bike and in those 7 years I have had a Gold Wing, 1200 Sportster, Triumph Bonneville T100, Triumph Speedmaster and Honda 750 Magna but the Burgman does everything I ask of it. Still have a second bike…a Suzuki Van Van 200 for exploring all the back roads around our summer place. I hit 70 this year but still like to mix it with the younger guys when we hit the twisties, and the scoot can certainly lose them big cruisers in the mountains!! I would like to upgrade to a new Burgman but $12,000 is now out of my budget especially on my pension!!!! Finally, for all those guys that poo-poo scooters, when you get into your older years and those big bikes get harder to handle, try a scooter. You may be pleasantly surprised!

  12. downgoesfraser says:

    $2500 more than Ninja 400, hmmmmmmmmmmmmm…………

    • Provologna says:

      By comparison the Ninja has virtually no wind protection and no cargo capacity, both of which the Burg has in spades. Apples to oranges.

      But I get your point.

      • Random says:

        Well the Ninja has another cilinder and I bet engine internals are expensive too, not disregarding the usefulness of scooters but I also wonder why they are so more expensive for (what looks to me) a little more plastic. Maybe an interview with some factory engineer could answer that?

  13. shmitty says:

    I just wonder how much longer until we see these things with electric drive instead of gas engines. I think for commuters, electric is the way to go. Long distance riding is going to stay in the realm of petroleum power for a while longer, but if a person is doing under 50 miles a day, why not go electric? Gas is on the way out, folks, and it ain’t going to come back.

  14. Jim Quinn says:

    Mickey, here’s an Amazon link for one of the many small battery packs on the market. The price here is almost twice what I paid for the identical unit at CostCo; I got mine for $50 on sale! It works fine on bikes and can supposedly jump–start a diesel truck, so it packs a punch. And it packs into a small hard case that’s easy to store in a saddlebag or car trunk.

    https://www.amazon.com/Winplus-Jump-Start-Portable-Power/dp/B01LXDIO79

    • mickey says:

      Thanks Jim, I’m going to try and pick one up. Sounds like a good thing to have on trips for my regular motorcycle as well ( I do carry mc specific jumper cables in the trunk) but this sounds like an even better deal since I won’t need a jump vehicle.

      Btw I’ve not needed to use the cables yet, but you never know.

      • Hot Dog says:

        Up here in Dakota, most every vehicle carries jumper cables. The only thing that gets jumped more is our Ladies, and even then they’re hard to start when it’s cold.

  15. EZ Mark says:

    I’ve had 45 motorcycles over the years so I’m not a beginner. Because of a couple of health issues, I started riding maxi-scooters about 6 years ago. I’ve owned a Majesty, a 650 Burgman and I’m currently on my 4th Yamaha Tmax. I’ll tell you first hand that these big scooters are just as capable as any shifty motorcycle. In fact, some day when I get that hip replacement I will still be riding my Tmax with zero regrets. Don’t knock em till you try em.

    • thoppa says:

      I bought my first scooter 2 years ago and now have serious respect for it – a Sym Citycom 300. It has been fully reliable, always comfortable, needing very little maintenance and has been cheap to run too. Absolutely a great way to commute and I’ll definitely get another. But the handling is jelly wobbles compared to my Kawasaki Ninja. I expect the TMax is better for handling but I can’t agree that it would be as capable as any motorcycle.

  16. Tank says:

    I owned an ’07 for a couple of years and really enjoyed it. The only turn off is the maintenance.

    • Randy says:

      I had an 06 myself, de-beveared the rear fender, put a short screen on it with a Levo Vince pipe and a Maloossi clutch. It would do a 100 plus if you could hold it straight. At those speeds with the little tires the other lane was just a sneeze away. I regularly ran I-40 here in AZ passing semis and churning away the miles at 80+. Lets just say I went from it to a M109 with little problem, just getting used to shifting again.

    • cinderbob says:

      In what way(s) is the maintenance a turnoff?

  17. Bill says:

    Probably the best all-around scooter on the market today-especially for tall folks.

  18. Rennie says:

    Tried the Nazi scoot for 4 months. Kymco300 could not adjust to the feet forward thing. Could no deal with the cat when picking the thing up coming out of a corner. Otherwise easy to live with. Ordered a crf250 yesterday:)

    • Randy D. says:

      Riding a scooter does take awhile to adapt to since on mine it’s like sitting on a chair instead of riding a bike. But when you accept it isn’t a MC and add it’s other benefits vs. a MC, I changed my attitude over time. First time I demo rode my Aprilia 500GT @ Laguna Seca superbike races and couldn’t down shift to 2nd to accelerate faster to catch up to the other demo bikes I was following I thought, this thing isn’t for me. 2 years later I owned 1 after I quit comparing it to a MC and took it for it’s own features.

    • mickey says:

      I used to pull my feet back and ride with them under me just like they were on motorcycle pegs all the time on my Majesty scooter. Those long floor boards make moving your feet around to different positions easy. Sometimes I would have one back and one forward. It really is a nice set up.

      although the text on this one says they have cut outs so people can get their feet down easier. Depending on where those cut outs are, you might not be able to pull your feet back on this scooter.

  19. mickey says:

    I loved my Majesty 400 scooter, what a fun little 2 wheeler. Fast, comfortable, rider friendly and great on gas. My only issue with scooters (well on the Majesty an issue was how dirty the dual air cleaners got in only 5000 miles and how pricey they were to replace) is the same issue I have with DCT motorcycles and electric bikes too, and that is that you cant bump start them if the battery dies. If you turn the key and it doesn’t start, you are dead in the water. At least with a manual trans you can bump start it to get to the dealer for a new battery.

    • Randy D. says:

      Those days are over. I have a jump starter that’s 4″x6″x1″ thick with cables that will not only start any of my bikes/scooters but even my car for about $45 and can fit under my scooter seat or in my MC jacket pocket. It has a light, is AC rechargeable and you can charge your cell phone too. Your complaint doesn’t hold water any more.

      • mickey says:

        Very cool. Going to have to get one of those. Name or link please.

      • Dino says:

        I bump started my 750 nighthawk once in the 90’s… Still walking a bit funny when I think about it.
        Go for the little jump start batteries like Randy talks about.. Or you can jump from a car (just the battery, you don’t need to have the car running).

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Sure, but can he renew two filthy dual Majesty air filters with it? Yeah, that is what I thought. Fail!

        • mickey says:

          Lol. Funny. Yep that was pretty sad. My motorcycle filters still look good after 25,000 miles, but those Majesty filters were nasty after 5000. Black! Think it has to do with proximity to belt. At any rate seems like they were about $50 apiece. Cheap German that I am about had a stroke lol.

          Still I’d rather pay for air filters than a tow truck.

        • Randy D. says:

          If an air filter is plugged up on any vehicle you can’t start it. Sounds like someone better stick to electric vehicles.

        • Bill says:

          Jeremy, I know what you’re saying. I had a Maj 400. What a crap designed scooter. Air intakes right near the rear wheel. I sold it and have been happy ever since. Will never own another Yamaha product again because of it.

  20. fred says:

    I have always had a love for scooters.spent a winter in Houston on a 200 Vespa back in the 80s. My BMW had a tranny noise so I road my wife 400 MP3 to the Moto GP in Indy ,1500 ml. round trip. I own 2 great motorcycles 1200GS and a 1290 ktm , but if I need to run up town or go on a casual ride I will jump on her 400 Burgman, great wind protection plus 65-70 mpg.

  21. Jim S says:

    This is a motorcycle magazine, damn it!!!
    Having said, while at a meeting last year in Ischia a colleague insisted that we rent scooters to explore the island. I don’t remember the brand or displacement but those things were a hoot and perfect for the cause. My Italian friend lives in Rome and owns a scooter so he lead the way on an adventure of switchbacks, lane splitting, and dodging in and out of oncoming traffic that resulted in significant puckering and a grin that stayed with me for a while. Not sure I’ll ever own one but I understand the global interest better after that experience.

  22. Randy D. says:

    As an oldster(74) former amateur road racer in my 20s and now 55+ years of cross country riding glad to see you talking about a maxi-scooter. I currently have 3 -2 Piaggio MP3s & a `04 Aprilia Scarabeo 500GT, among 4 MCs. At this point in my life the scooters get ridden more than my bikes as they are easier to ride, more economical and carry more stuff effortlessly w/top cases. GT even has detachable saddlebags and is great for 2up trips. It has 16″ wheels and from the front looks like a European fully faired MC. The MP3s handle just as good as most MCs in the corners. At my age raw speed is no longer important. But my 400 MP3 goes up to 90 mph fully loaded w/camping gar and the GT goes up to 95 mph. Both will cruise @ 80 mph all day if needed. Once you get a hang on how to maintain the drive belt/rollers it’s no big deal. Since they’re all 4 valve, water cooled, EFI, like a car you just turn on the key and they start up like a car. No choke to deal with.

    When I got my first maxi-scooter I looked @ a current 400 Burgman but at that time they had you leaning backward and I didn’t like that, so got something else.

    • Dave says:

      Yes, that came as a surprise. I have an interest in the Yamaha X-Max300 and seeing this article raised my eyebrows, until I read that. The X-MAx 400 (not available in the US) sells for ~6,000euro/UKP, though I couldn’t easily find the new Burgman’s price in those currencies to directly compare.

      My eyebrows have returned to their normal orientation.

      • sliphorn says:

        The Piaggio BV350 is worth considering. You can find ’em under 6K brand new out the door. I’m one of those experienced male motorcycle riders the article mentions and have had many bikes over the years. I now have a BV350 and a Honda NC700 DCT. No regrets. This Burgman looks like a great ride, but pricey!

        • Dave says:

          I’ve looked into those. They sound like great scoots. Rare birds around me so I’m not sure how I’d get a test ride without traveling a way.

          • sliphorn says:

            Yup, there’s not a lot of Piaggio dealers around. Damn shame too. I think if more motorcyclists new how good the BV350 is, there’d be a whole lot more of ’em on the road. They really are that good!

            Before I got the BV350 I rode a Triumph Sprint ST1050 for 10 years and over 60K miles. So………Ya dig?

    • CrazyJoe says:

      I think the Honda DN-01 700 went for 8500. Close to the price of the Burgman. It came with good wind protection, a DCT and some storage. I’ll just assume it came with better components. It was also fugly. Could they build a 400 for 5000? As much as i appreciate the concept of scooters why are they so expensive?

      • CTSex700 says:

        DN-01’s msrp was $15,500, (yeah, I got mine for $8k after a couple of years sitting at the dealer’s showroom), the stock windshield was useless (it actually directed the wind towards your helmet), it wasn’t a dct (look for honda’s HFT tranny), and NO storage whatsoever or even an option to ad some.
        Now, the CTX700 DCT with saddlebags would be IMHO, a not-so-direct worthy competitor to these maxi scooters, without the risk of lowering your testosterone levels 🙂

  23. VLJ says:

    From the Ducati V4S Panigale straight to a Burgman scooter. Yep, that’s our beloved MCD!

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