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Suzuki Burgman scoots along in style

November 03, 2006|by ARV VOSS / Motor Matters

Yes, there was an earlier version of the Burgman 400 scooter, and even a 650 model as well.

What is a Burgman anyway? It's a scooter manufactured by Suzuki - not an ordinary scooter, mind you, but rather what is today commonly referred to as a maxi or super scooter.

Burgman seems an unlikely moniker for a Japanese-produced two-wheeler, thus I felt compelled to ask where the name came from. I was told that it originated from the German term "burg" for town or village governed by a leading man. Guess that makes sense, but I'm not sure my information source wasn't just pulling my leg.

Regardless of its name or how it originated, the Suzuki Burgman 400 is an extraordinary scooter that, when viewed from the front, looks for the entire world like a sport bike. Only when an onlooker moves around to the side for a better look does it takes on the persona of a scooter, with no visible engine and a step-through mounting.

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There are several maxi or super scooters in the marketplace today, ranging from 400 cc to 650 cc in displacement, but the Burgman 400 seems to rank a cut above the others in terms of its styling. The light, rigid chassis and sleekly designed, curvaceous bodywork not only give the scooter a sporty appearance, but an aerodynamic advantage as well at higher freeway speeds.

The widely-spaced "cat-eye" headlights and rakish windscreen with a lower vent add to the purposeful sport bike look up front, creating a smooth airflow over the rider, while the updated taillights wrap deeply into the body sides for a clean effect.

Power comes from an all-new 400 cc, four-stroke, DOHC, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, fuel-injected motor. Power is delivered to the rear wheel through a Continuously Variable Transmission (automatic) via an enclosed final V-belt drive, that at first glance appears to be a shaft drive assembly. The 3.6-gallon fuel supply ensures a range that consistently measures in excess of 150 miles, even when the scooter is pushed hard.

The Burgman 400 rides on tubeless Bridgestone tires: 14-inch up front and 13-inch on the back. The Bridgestone rubber is mounted on five-"Y" swirl-spoke alloy wheels. The front suspension setup consists of telescopic forks, with coil springs, and oil damping with 4.3 inches of travel. Rear suspension is a link-type configuration with a coil spring, oil damping and a 3.9-inch travel. Stopping chores are handled by double-disc front brakes and a single-disc rear brake.

Set on a 62.4-inch wheelbase, the scooter stretches 89.4 inches overall and weighs in dry at 440 pounds. The stepped dual-seat height measures a comfortable 28 inches and is designed to carry the rider and a passenger in comfort.

An adjustable, five-position rider backrest allows for lumbar support, while the passenger is provided with integrated side handgrips. The instrument cluster is both comprehensive and easy to read, with an analog speedometer and tachometer, odometer, twin trip meters, a clock, ambient temperature gauge, running average fuel consumption indicator, fuel level and coolant temperature.

Other useful and thoughtful features include an easy-to-operate parking brake lever and dual stands - a center stand and a side stand. Secure storage is not an issue with the Burgman 400 - the bodywork in front of the rider provides three lidded storage compartments and a DC power outlet for charging mobile phones or operating a radar detector (yes, it easily exceeds the speed limit). In case that doesn't seem like enough, there's a 62-liter, lighted, locking main storage bay beneath the seat, capable of accommodating two full-face helmets, with a smaller compartment alongside.

Want to carry more stuff? Simply attach extra gear using the convenient tie-down hooks. Floorboards are cut away for a comfortable stopping posture, and the ignition switch features a tamper-resistant magnetic cover, along with a special cutaway section that allows for the utilization of a chain-type lock for securing the frame and bodywork to an immovable object. There's also a fork lock.

SUMMARY: The designation "scooter" often turns off the testosterone-laden male rider, but trust me, there's nothing wimpy about riding the Burgman 400. OK, there's no "potato, potato, potato" exhaust note, but how many V-Twins enjoy the same fuel economy?

The 400's riding position is very comfortable, with room and flexibility to place your feet in a variety of positions. There's no clutch to worry about, or a foot brake for that matter - both front and rear brakes are operated by handlebar-mounted hand levers.

The ride quality is smooth and the handling characteristics are indeed similar to a sport bike. The Burgman 400's balance is exceptional at any speed, as is the stability - I was surprised to look down at the speedometer heading out of San Francisco toward Sonoma on the 101 Freeway and note that it was registering between 85 and 90 mph in a cruising mode at less than full throttle. Leaning through the twisties brought not stress or nervousness, but pure joy.

It's hard to imagine all of the Suzuki Burgman 400's style, comfort, convenience, practicality and fun for little more than $6,000. The base price is set at $5,899. Dealer handling costs will vary, and there are several optional accessories available to elevate the sticker to a higher level. This is a scooter that may be ridden by guys without any feeling of emasculation.

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2006

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