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Scooter Review

Suzuki Burgman 650 Review

Here is one that's escaped us since its inception. Now that we've had time to get to know one another, we're both better off for the experience.

Allen Drysdale

Suzuki Burgman AN650 Review

The Suzuki Burgman 650 feels like it's been around for as long as I can remember, first being released in Australia back in 2003. The big Suzuki is often associated with the older crew, the ones that find the step-thru design far more forgiving and easier to live with over a motorcycle. After spending time commuting, touring and even using the Burgman as the daily shop-runner, I can tell you the big Burgman offers far more day to day convenience than one might first think.

Firstly, forget about the perceived size and weight. The Burgman might look big or feel bulky, yet it's very easy to manoeuvre at low rolling speeds, and once up to speed, the Burgman will react quickly to sudden changes of direction. The only time you feel the weight is when you're moving the Burgman around stationary, and when you become accustomed to the balance points - even that's not a hard thing to do. A major bonus are those big wide mirrors that can electronically retract, a major benefit for parking or even better when filtering through long lines of traffic. I mostly used the side stand for parking, yet it wasn't hard to place all 266 kg's of Burger on the centre stand if on uneven ground.

The screen also adjusts electronically from the right hand switchblock. In its most upright position I was able to fit under the air stream thus remaining reasonably comfortable at all speeds. Any taller, as many people are, you may encounter turbulence. Thing is, it's a simple thumb of the switch, trial and adjust on the go.

 

Sitting on the Burgman and it's a reassuring feeling getting both feet on the ground, a big part of why the Burgman feels so easy to ride. The riders backrest is adjustable and you can place your feet in a forward or sit-upright position on the boards. From the seat itself there's plenty of things to play with. Adjust the screen and mirrors electronically, the ability to change gears manually or choose either power or economy modes. Then you have all the normal functions like blinkers, horn, hazards and lights. Gauges for both speed and revs are by two large analogue dials, the two odometers, external temp, fuel usage and time, are all situated in a centrally positioned digital panel. There's even an economy drive indicator that flashes green, a guiding reminder for when you're riding in a fuel efficient manner.

The Burgman runs a twin cylinder, fuel injected, liquid cooled, DOHC engine. Capacity is 638 cc and power is rated at 40.5 Kw's in total. For final drive, Suzuki uses what it calls SECVT or Suzuki Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission. This allows the rider to thumb through gears as needed, just like you would in a sequential auto gearbox. The transmission also allows the rider to engage power mode or you can just leave it in standard drive. Fuel economy is said to be improved by 15%, all thanks to the new transmission as seen here. Around town we were getting on average 20 kilometres to the litre, this gives the Burgman a 300 kilometre range(City).

The Burgman runs a 15 inch wheel/tyre on the front and 14 inch on the rear. The front suspension is a full telescopic fork arrangement, the rear is by adjustable twin shocks, we adjusted them up a notch for fast riding. As expected brakes are fully optioned with ABS and provided a nice quality feel. Twin discs on the front and a single disc on the rear. The Burgman also features a park brake that's easily engaged and within easy reach of the rider.

Under the seat itself we have a fairly sizeable "two full face helmet" storage area (50L). You can also hook 2 helmets outside the scooter if additional storage is required when parked. Two fairly sizeable glove compartments reside on either side of the the dash, one containing a 12 volt power supply. There's also a big weatherproof and lockable glovebox found in the front legshield area. The seat compartment contains a light that can be switched on and off as needed. The seat itself opens via the ignition key, surprisingly the Burgman does not have an electronic button to open the underseat storage compartment.

On the road and the Burgman was surprisingly agile around the city. Who would have thought the big Burgman could commute, and commute very confidently. With the mirrors retracted the Burgman feels like it would get through most places a normal scooter or smaller motorcycle would. Sure it's still a big scooter, but once you're accustomed to the weight and size, the Burgman feels somewhat commuter friendly. The wheel size helps, as does the low 755mm seat height. The engines strength is in its smoothness and it almost reminds me of "dare I say", a diesel engine. Not only does the Burgman sound like one at times, there's torque everywhere and the smoothness under acceleration is immediately apparent. Get up over 5000 rpm and things start to boogie and the Burgman jumps into life and speed builds fast. It's a nice fluid process.

Handling-wise, the Burgman is a mixed bag. Potholes are certainly not the Burgman's friend in a city-type environment, the Burgman will tend to crash over anything major at low speeds. This is in direct contrast when out on fast flowing country roads, the Burgman feels magic. Once you've built some speed, things become relaxed and very refined, effortless even. Heading up my favourite set of twisties and the low centre of gravity was apparent, this thing is quick and in the right hands the Burgman could even scare a big bike or two. Here is where power mode helps keep the Burgman in the upper rev ranges. No scrapes, no scary moments, no wallowing, the Burgman is easy to ride fast. On the freeway, we don't even have to go there, the Burgman is one of the best tourers going.  

 
  

Conclusion

The Burgman was a surprise in more ways than one. You'd expect it to be pretty good over longer distances and a fairly competent freeway performer. I never would have predicted its competency around town or its ability to take a controlled fast line through a corner.

The Burgman isn't perfect. The big burger gets a little choppy around town, especially on poor quality roads at low speeds. The switchgear to me looks a little dated and the amount of switch options can also get confusing - I'm sure you'd get used to this. For 99% of my riding, I locked in the optimum screen height, left it in drive and let the Burgman do its thing.

The Burgman is a very well sorted machine that offers convenience and practicality. I hadn't spent a lot of time on the big Suzuki, but now that I have, I'm much better for it. It's easy to see how the Burgman could easily fit the role of big bike alternative. It will perform daily commuting duties with little fuss, there's a shed-load of storage and a really relaxed torquey engine with pulling power everywhere. Top weather protection also. Get to the weekend and you could easily dial up an interstate trip, one up or two, you wouldn't even have to think twice.   

The Burgman 650 is jam packed full of features and retails for $13,590 plus on-road costs. See more at www.suzukimotorcycles.com.au

 

 

 

published 4/12/2013

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