Suzuki AN 650

2013 Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS Test Drive And Review: The Scooter For Motorcyclists?

I’m a cruiser owner. I’ve got to admit that image has something to do with my pride of ownership. I like how my bike looks, and I like what it says about me.

I recently parked my cruiser in Brea, California at Suzuki Motor Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. headquarters, and rode off on a Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS for a two-week test drive.

The Burgman is a mega-scooter. A casual observer might not immediately recognize the difference between a scooter and a motorcycle, but to riders it’s self-evident. A motorcycle is built around its engine, which occupies the central position in the bike.

The rider straddles the engine, in essence, resting his or her feet on footpegs or floorboards outside of the bike. A scooter moves the engine further back, near or over the rear wheel, which frees up the space in the middle of the bike for a pass-through space and floorboards within the bike. In order to mount a motorcycle, the rider must swing a leg over the seat.

To mount a scooter, the rider just steps through the frame and sits down. If a Harley-Davidson Harley-Davidson Softail is a prototypical motorcycle, then a Vespa is the prototypical scooter. Picture the Harley rider reclining in the seat, feet out in front, hands up high on the bars.

Now picture the Vespa rider, upright on the seat, feet flat on the floorboards, in a posture that could be transferred to an office chair.

Burgman’s continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) operates simply and seamlessly. There’s no manual clutch to engage, just a throttle twist grip on the right side of the handlebars. With the CVT, the engine revs at its optimum rpm range while the transmission adjusts to deliver the right amount of power to the wheels. The resulting performance is smooth and predictable. Suzuki provides three transmission modes to allow you to fine tune your ride: Drive, Power and Manual.

Drive is the everyday mode, tuned to give a smooth, efficient ride. Power packs more wallop, getting the most out of the engine. Manual allows you to emulate the performance of a stepped gear transmission — kind of an unnecessary mode for the way I like to ride.

I spent most of my time in Drive, finding the power delivery sufficient and the smoothness desirable.

Burgman’s seating position is extremely comfortable for short rides, but I found it to be a little cramped for longer rides (over an hour). Riders under 6′ might not have the same complaint. I appreciated the fact that there was enough room on the floorboards for me to ride with my feet flat and my knees bent, or to stretch out a little with my feet tilted up and my legs a little straighter.

The electrically adjustable windshield made finding a clean pocket of air quite easy, and I was extremely comfortable during my rides.

Burgman’s storage options are great. There’s a big 50-liter locking storage compartment under the seat, big enough to hold my ginormous full face helmet and my wife’s medium-sized helmet at the same time. A clever cable lock makes it possible to secure your helmet to the side of the body if the storage compartment is in use.

There’s additional clever storage in the fairing, and a 12V DC power outlet for charging cellphones, GPS units and other gadgets.

Riding the Burgman is surprisingly easy and fun. It has a 15″ wheel up front and a 14″ wheel in the rear, which is big for a scooter, small for a motorcycle. The wheels are big enough to lend a good sense of stability, especially at speed. Some scooters with small wheels feel very squirrelly at highway speeds — not a problem for Burgman.

Floating discs and ABS braking (operated by hand controls only) works great, too. The engine is so quiet and smooth that the speed and agility come as somewhat of a surprise. The riding position is so upright that it’s not quite like riding a motorcycle — but it is very close.

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