Review: Suzuki Burgman king of scooters

Suzuki's flagship scooter is a highly capable all-rounder, with one or two surprises up its sleeve

Suzuki's flagship scooter is a highly capable all-rounder, with one or two surprises up its sleeve

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AFTER 220 miles of the most fantastic scenery, stunningly quiet roads, mountain views and fabulous riding on board such a well-sorted maxi scooter, my whole perception of Suzuki’s flagship scooter has changed. Previously I thought it was only suited to, let’s say, the more mature rider. How wrong could I be?

The 2013 Burgman 650 Executive’s appearance has been softened slightly with a larger headlight, a new taillight and LED daytime running lights to help give it an instant presence on the road.

There’s an improved screen, black wheels and an upswept silencer. The new instruments now have two stylish analogue clocks (speedo/tacho) and a central digital dash with all the useful info you’d expect, including an “Eco” light which helpfully (or not) illuminates when you’re riding in an eco-friendly fashion.

There’s a trip computer with ambient temperature, ice warning, two trip meters, MPG, time, fuel consumption and more. You still get a dual heated seat, heated grips and an electrically adjustable screen. You even get electric mirrors that fold in at the flick of a switch. And there’s plenty of built in storage, with 50 litres under the seat, plus a 5.2-litre lockable and colour-coded glove box and a couple of 1.3 litre cubbyholes.

The 638cc, fuel-injected, twin-cylinder liquid-cooled engine produces 54bhp and around 46lb ft of torque to play with through a continually variable transmission. Riders have the option to operate the scooter in three different drive modes using toggles on the left handlebar; a common feature on two-wheelers these days.

You can swap between two fully automatic modes, Drive and Power, and manual. Power mode holds onto revs for longer and increases engine braking, while Drive is slightly more relaxed, gives better fuel economy and isn’t as harsh in town.

The engine produces plenty of urge in Drive mode, where giving it a handful of throttle brings brisk acceleration. This is no “old man’s bike”. It’s a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing and would surprise a few “proper” bike riders in the right hands.

Manual mode allows you to go up and down the six-speed ’box at the flick of a button, albeit without a clutch. The engine has also been fettled to increase fuel efficiency by a claimed 15 per cent.

The Burgman isn’t in the slightest bit intimidating. It might look big and heavy but the weight quickly becomes irrelevant, and its low seat height and scooped-out footboards mean you can paddle it around easily enough, and the new clutch has helped with that too. Once you’re moving, it glides along effortlessly.

As you’d expect in Scotland, we had rain or wet roads for most of our 220 miles, but the weather protection kept most of it at bay and the
Bridgestone Battlax tyres gripped enough to give me the confidence to see what the Burgman is capable of. Its ABS kicked in a few times on the wet roads, which was reassuring 
rather than worrying.

The scooter gets new floating discs for 2013 and they’re superb, with more bite than the local midges – which believe me is saying a lot.

Although the Burgman looks quite lardy, and the styling is conservative, it feels like a sports scooter when you’re on it. It changes direction very quickly, it’s agile, it handles fantastically well and the engine is a potent lump that will see a top speed of around 110mph.

If I’m perfectly honest, I spent most of the day using the Power mode, which doesn’t do fuel economy much good. It dropped from 49mpg in Drive to 42mpg by the end of the day.

Is there anything I’d have preferred to ride? To be frank, in that weather and on those roads, I don’t think there are many all-rounders to beat it.

VITAL STATS

MODEL Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive

PRICE £8,799 (plus on the road charges)

ENGINE 4-stroke, fuel-injected, liquid-cooled two-cylinder

POWER 54bhp

TORQUE 46lb ft

TRANSMISSION Continually variable transmission

KERB WEIGHT 277kg

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