Drag site icon to your taskbar to pin site. Learn More

2011 Suzuki Burgman 650 Comparison

Monday, June 27, 2011

Videos Our Sponsor
2011 Suzuki Burgman 650 - Scooter Shootout Video
Click to view video
Jump in the cockpit of the largest scoot in our lineup in the 2011 Suzuki Burgman 650 - Scooter Shootout Video.
There are few scooters on the market that better fit the Maxi Scooter moniker than the 2011 Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive. This is as big as scooters get. In fact, with a 638cc engine and 626-pound wet weight, it’s a stretch to consider the Burgman a scooter in the true sense of the word. Then again, none of the machines in this shootout share much in common with a ‘traditional’ pass-through scoot, so we decided to roll with it – or in this case float with it, as that’s exactly what it feels like to pilot Suzuki's big bomber.

When you are looking to propel a two-wheeler in excess of 600 pounds, be it a scooter or not, it’s no easy task. But with a scooter that becomes even harder, as it must make enough power to get up and going but still be able to run a clutch-less CVT transmission, and not some massively heavy car unit; something relatively light. To achieve this it gets the Suzuki Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission. This design relieves some of the stress through various electronic aids, taking strain off of the internal clutch. As an added bonus, it allows the rider the option of selecting a manual mode to ‘shift’ gears via a toggle switch on the left handlebar.

2011 Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive
The Suzuki Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission allowed the rider to manually  change gears through a toggle switch.  
I’ll admit that I scoffed at it upon first sight, chalking the SECV up to some gimmick Suzuki employed to make the machine seem more ‘fancy’ and worth the 10K price tag. But truth be told the manual mode works far superior to just letting the CVT work, as in fully auto mode it has a hard time finding the right gear and feeling as if it’s continuously slipping the clutch. This is especially problematic when maintaining throttle mid-corner – not an ideal place to lack throttle control. It shifts quite quickly as well, grabbing the next gear as fast, if not faster than most of the sportscars which feature this floppy-paddle gearbox. I’m not talking supercars here, but it definitely does it smoother and faster than my previous BMW M3, so that’s saying something.

Creating the Burgman propulsion is a 638cc Parallel Twin. The dual-overhead-cam engine features a bore and stroke measuring 75.5 x 71.4mm. Fuel injection is standard, and while the scooters would not fit on our dyno, when it comes to acceleration numbers the Suzuki gets 0 to 60 mph roughly half a second faster than the 135-pound lighter Yamaha (8.28 sec vs 8.83 sec) and hits a top speed of 115 mph on our gps. There’s no question the Burgman engine is the horsepower king of this group, though added weight equals more inertia, which is much tougher to slow down. Even so, it’s 60 to 0 mph braking distance was a respectable 153 feet, only six longer than the Yamaha and, believe it or not, some eight feet shorter than the Kymco, a machine that weights 104 pounds less.

But while the technological wizardry and sheer numbers posted by the Suzuki are quite impressive, what truly matters is real-world capabilities, and for some of the smaller riders in our testing posse, a 600-plus pound machine, no matter how well built and designed, was less than ideal.

2011 Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive
Despite its size the 2011 Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive had some of the best acceleration and braking of the group.
“The Suzuki Burgman may have been my least favorite scooter of the day,” says Ross, who is a petite but very adept rider. “It was much larger than the rest of the scooters and it felt much heavier. The handling on the Burgman was very soft and kept pogo-sticking a bit in the long sweeping corners of Ortega. Where the Burgman made up for its shortcomings was in fast straight lines; clearly this scooter was meant to be a freeway commuter. It definitely has the juice and size to take on the busy Los Angeles freeways, and that’s no easy task, but I would be concerned about its handling capabilities, especially in cramped metro areas and the other typically tight confines where having a scooter becomes advantageous.”

Another area hard to ignore with the Suzuki is it’s price. Though a well-spec’d Yamaha is somewhat hefty already at $8590, the Burgman is barely a shade under 10K at $9899. Add in taxes and you are well over the 10-grand mark, some even approaching 11K. Not to mention that the  37.4 mpg is the least economical of the bunch, and is actually down on what many small-to-moderate sized motorcycles make.

With the dust settled on our massive scooter shootout, the two bikes left standing were the Yamaha and Suzuki, but both for very different reasons. This is why, what it really comes down to in a comparison like this is value: Does the Suzuki provide $1500 more worth of features and amenities than the Yamaha? Associate Editor Dawes seems to think so, as MotoUSA’s man-of-many-talents puts a premium on the cloud-like ride, leisurely prowess and sheer straight-line speed of the Burg-meister.

2011 Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive
With its cloud-like ride and strong engine performance, the Suzuki 650 Burgman proved a favorite for one of our testers.
“If I had to cross the continent on a scooter this would be the one. The wind protection and creature comforts are insane and that’s why this is my top pick,” remarks Justin. “Although the handling and clutch action were not as good as the TMAX, for me a scooter isn’t really about performance as much as usability – if a want to tear ass all over town I’ll ride some kind of sport-derived motorcycle. When I want to take it easy going to the market the Burgman is perfect.”

But one out of four isn’t a majority, so while we all love that heavenly freeway ride, Suzuki’s 2011 Burgman 650 Executive ranks only the second-best in our first-ever maxi scooter shootout.

Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Slideshow
2011 Suzuki Burgman 650 Quick Specs
2011 Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive
Engine: 638cc Parallel-twin DOHC
Cooling: Liquid
Final Drive: Gear
Weight (full fluids): 626-lbs
Fuel Economy (measured): 37.2 mpg
Acceleration 0-60 mph: 8.28 secs
Braking 60-0 mph: 153 ft.
Top Speed (measured): 115 mph
Colors: Silver, White
MSRP: $9899
Recent Scooter Reviews
Riding San Franciscos Scoot Networks
Gridlock in San Francisco got you down? Don’t worry, there’s an app for that. MotoUSA’s scooter expert samples Scoot Networks system of electric scooter rentals.
Vespa 946 Scooter Review
Vespa's 946 is a thing of beauty, but does the show match the go? MotoUSA's scooter expert weighs in with this scooter review.
2015 Yamaha Smax Scooter First Ride
Yamaha’s Smax scooter impresses with its easy handling and freeway-capable speeds making it a choice transportation solution for an urban lifestyle.
2011 Maxi Scooter Shootout 0-60
2011 Maxi Scooter Shootout 0-60

Login or sign up to comment.

carewser   December 21, 2012 01:12 AM
DocNick, your 1400 Intruder may be slightly lighter but i'll bet it can't accelerate or corner much better than my Burgman. I'll bet you also can't fit two full helmets inside it either. Can your stock 1400 intruder keep most of the wind and rain off you too, like the Burgman? I'll concede your 1400 Intruder looks cooler but in terms of comfort and practicality, i'll take my Burgman any day. Here in Canada anyway, my insurance would be quite a bit cheaper than your intruder as well. Justin, when I watched the video I scratched my head over your comments about the transmission hunting for a gear, especially since you weren't the only reviewer that noticed that. In about 15,000 miles of riding, mine has NEVER done that and i've never heard of anyone else's doing it. If it were a common problem a Suzuki recall would be well known by now. As you said, Suzuki tested it before you guys rode it, so it's very unlikely there was anything wrong with it. Bizarre. As for your complaining about the name "Burgman" and "Executive", I think that shows how far you had to look to find something negative to say about it. bikerrandy, shifting gears on a motorbike doesn't take your eyes off the road at all so I don't know how you figure that an automatic transmission helps you see things around you better. Don't get me wrong, I love my Burgman tranny but that has nothing to do with being able to see things.
DocNick   July 3, 2011 06:34 AM
SIX HUNDRED TWENTY SIX POUNDS????? My Intruder 1400 weighs less than that!!! No sale, gentlemen.
Justin Dawes   June 28, 2011 09:28 AM
Colchicine - You got me on the roller weight comment; thank you for bringing it to my attention. I did not study the clutch/cvt exploded view before riding and making my assessment of the clutching. I was incorrect with my statement of the roller weights or the lack there of. With that said, having a considerable amount of years riding and testing motorcycles, scooters and ATVs for a major manufacturer before my role here at MotoUSA, I still say the Burgman has clutch slippage issues. It should lock up much sooner and should not backshift and hunt for the optimal ratio as much as it does, especially in corners. The engine braking was not the issue, as we experienced the undesirable trait during steady throttle and during acceleration. Our test unit came straight from Suzuki after being prepped by their tech team, so I have my doubts that there was a problem with our scooter. Even so the Burgman was my pick for the best scooter in this shootout because of all the features you listed. Thank you for taking the time to comment, and I appreciate your enthusiasm for the Burgman.
Colchicine   June 28, 2011 05:18 AM
The review on the Burgman 650 was very poorly done. Reviewer Justin Dawes lacks the fundamental knowledge of how the 650 is constructed. He used the words "roller-weights" to describe the clutch. The 650 has a wet clutch like a conventional motorcycle. There are no roller weights to adjust like in a conventional scooter. They also continually describe problems with the clutch / CVT slipping. Unless you had a defective unit, this is completely unfounded and also shows all of the reviewer's lack of knowledge. There is no clutch slippage issues with the 650. Instead, they are likely having trouble adjusting to the heavy engine braking associated with the CVT. The engine braking requires some adjustment in riding style, and is not a problem to control for an experienced motorcyclist. For a thorough explanation, see: http://burgmanusa.com/bkb/650+CVT+Info#Engine_Braking In response to screamer69's comment, I can assure you there is no motorcycle that has 15 gallons of built in storage space, as effective wind protection, and the ease of a fully automatic transmission for $10K. Those relying on features and functionality to base their decision on, and not their ego, will find the Burgman 650 the best all-around bike available.
bikerrandy   June 27, 2011 09:59 PM
True, but when you get old enough throwing your leg over the bike every time you ride starts getting old, so it's quit having to do that or quit riding altogether. And riding in town w/o having to shift repeatedly is nice too. It gives you more time to see what's going on around you. Twist and go, baby !!
screamer69   June 27, 2011 05:35 PM
10k for a SCOOTER!?....u can get a real MOTORCYCLE for that kinda coin...