A Better Burgman
Suzuki ups the ante with its middleweight Burgman 400.
It might be one of the best-selling scooters on the globe but that didn’t keep Suzuki from giving its midsize Burgman 400 a ground-up overhaul. It was time for a change. With just about anything, there is always room for improvement.
Suzuki took the old Burgman and figured that in order to make it better, it had to be slimmer, more comfortable to sit on, easier to live with, and more appealing to look at. Performance-wise, they wanted to make it accelerate with more authority, handle better, soak up the bumps better and stop quicker. The end result is the all-new 2018 Burgman 400.
I’ve just spent the last few weeks living with the new Burgman 400, and that includes running errands around town, commuting to work and making one fairly long 100-mile haul on the freeway, and I can confirm it does all of these things remarkably well.
By Kit Palmer
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JULIA LaPALME
Even though I’ve logged hundreds of miles on the Burgman 650 Executive in my time, before now, I had never thrown a leg over the 400 (or even the smallest of the Burgman family, the 200), so I was anxious to give the middleweight Burgman a go; I was most curious about the smaller displacement engine. Would I be disappointed with the reduced power compared to the 650, which is downright fast? Surprisingly, I wasn’t disappointed at all. This thing rips.
I’m your typical Californian that spends half their life on the freeway, so having a motorcycle that is capable of keeping up with the flow of traffic (when it’s moving) is a must, and the Burgman 400 is plenty capable of doing that. It’ll easily reach 80 mph before you start feeling guilty, but it’ll hum along happily and quite contently at 70 mph for as long as you want. I was impressed.
The Burgman gets up to those speeds rather quickly, as well. Grab a handful of throttle and you’ll be joining the race to the next off-ramp in a few seconds. Merging onto freeways won’t trigger anxiety attacks. High-speed acceleration is a different story though; you have to plan your passes well in advance when you’re already up to speed.
From a stop, the engine likes to spool up a bit before you start moving, but the whole process is smooth and easy. You just roll on the throttle, pick up your feet and away you go. No clutch, no shifting, no worries—all thanks to the Burgman’s seamless CVT transmission.
I was also extremely impressed with the Burgman’s stability. I couldn’t help but look at those small wheels (small for a motorcycle but big for a scooter) and not feel a little apprehensive about the prospect of hitting speeds up to 80 mph on it, but the Burgman is as solid as a rock while the throttled is pinned. It doesn’t wallow or shimmy at all when you’re asking the Burgman to give you everything it’s got; instead, it feels as stable and solid as a Hayabusa, even when tilted over deep into a bumpy turn. A fairly long 62.2-inch wheelbase, a low center of gravity, a larger-diameter 15-inch (formerly 14-inch) front wheel, wide Dunlop tires and overall weight (at 472 pounds, the Burgman is anything but light) all contribute to the Burgman’s planted and secure feel at speed. Even at slow, parking-lot speeds the Burgman handles just as good. It’s so well balanced that it’s never in a hurry to tip over on its own.
The ride is nice, but I wouldn’t call it plush. Road imperfections are transferred through the chassis and delivered to your arms, back and butt, but the ride is well balanced and generally pleasant enough. Rear preload is your only available suspension adjustment.
Brakes are strong. You have twin 260mm discs up front, and a 210mm single disc in the rear, which is no longer linked to the front. Just using the front (right lever) brake is usually sufficient, but if you really want to stop, like now, grab the left lever in unison with the right and the dime is yours. ABS does a fine job keeping hard braking in check.
A parking brake is also at your disposal if needed, usually on hills.
The Burgman is typical-scooter comfortable, but maybe a tick cramped for my 6’1” frame, but there’re plenty of places to move your feet around on the floorboards to stretch out a bit or to just change things up. And speaking of the floorboards, they’re cut out just behind where the driver’s footpegs would normally be to give your feet a straighter path to the ground. The seat’s lumbar support is adjustable (via a wrench). From the stock position, you can move it forward two notches for a total of 1.2 inches, but if anything, I needed it to go back (which is doesn’t). Even with my long legs, I appreciated the Burgman’s low 29-inch seat height.
Wind protection is excellent. The non-adjustable windscreen, which got a major redesign, does a good job shielding the windblast off your midsection without excessive buffeting. I could see easily over the screen, rather than through it, which is the way I like it.
Storage. Ah, the best thing about scooters. Under the seat there is plenty, 42 liters to be exact, and if you need more, there are two smaller, non-locking cargo compartments in the front fairing, and one of them houses a 12V socket for power, but there is no USB port, which I’ve come to expect these days. The under-seat compartment can accommodate both a full-face helmet and an open-face helmet, but not two full-face helmets.
For me, it’s nice being able to haul a lot of stuff under the seat rather than dealing with bulky side bags, which is something a lot of other Californian motorcyclists will appreciate, too. It makes splitting lanes that much easier and safer.
The dash looks modern and offers all the usual information, as well as a freeze indicator, which I actually saw come on once, and an Eco Drive Indicator, that I saw all the time (almost to the point where it’s annoying), to help you get the most out of your precious fuel.
Okay, maybe this is actually the best thing about scooters—fuel economy. I comfortably got 200 miles between fill-ups out of the Burgman and fill-ups were only a few gallons! (The Burgman holds 3.2 gallons.)
Other nice features include LED lighting, front and rear, and a theft-deterrent ignition switch. The list of color options, however, is short: white.
Yes, scooters might not be the “coolest” wheels on the road, but when it comes to the Burgman I flat out don’t care. I just don’t, mainly because the Burgman is actually a handsome-looking scooter that is ridiculously efficient to own and super-easy to live with. And, it’s actually a hell of a lot of fun to ride.
Okay, I might not be ready to make a scooter my one-and-only two-wheel machine in my garage yet—number two, maybe, but only if it’s the Burgman. CN
2018 Suzuki Burgman 400 ($8099)
Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, 4-valve, DOHC, single
BORE X STROKE:
81.0 x 77.6mm
Dry shoe, automatic, centrifugal type
Three-phase A.C. generator
41mm, telescopic, coil-spring, oil-damped
Link type, coil-spring, oil-damped, 7-way preload adj.
FRONT WHEEL TRAVEL:
REAR WHEEL TRAVEL:
RAKE / TRAIL:
40° / 4.02 in.
Twin disc w/ABS
Single disc w/ABS
120/70-15M/C 56S, tubeless, Dunlop/Scootsmart G
150/70-13M/C 64S, tubeless, Dunlop/Scootsmart G
12 month limited