When previous Burgman owners spoke  Suzuki listened. The company made many Burgman-owner inspired changes to the 2013 Burgman 650 ABS.

When previous Burgman owners spoke, Suzuki listened. The company made many Burgman-owner inspired changes to the 2013 Burgman 650 ABS.

I’m pretty much a function-over-form kind of guy, especially when it comes to one of my daily rituals – my 100-plus-mile commute. When you’re logging those kinds of miles on a daily basis, things like comfort, practicality, affordability, durability and realistic performance all take precedence over things like looks, image and racetrack performance. That’s why I’ve become such a big fan of the Suzuki Burgman 650 and the latest Burgman - the 650 ABS.

For 2013, the Burgman got a major overhaul and is now offered in just one package. Previously, Suzuki sold the Burgman 650 in two variants – standard and Executive. Compared to the standard, the Executive had more goodies, such as electronically folding mirrors, an electronically adjustable windscreen, and a passenger backrest. Suzuki dropped the standard model in favor of the Executive model, but it no longer carries the Executive name. Now it’s simply the Burgman 650 ABS, but it enjoys all the amenities of the previous Executive. In Europe, however, Suzuki still offers an Executive model and it comes with heated grips and seat, which are available only as accessories in the U.S.

Suzuki made many changes to the 2013 Burgman 650 ABS, but focused on certain areas that previous Burgman owners have been squawking about for a while. One of those is styling, something that hasn’t changed much since the Burg’s birth some 10 years ago.

So the 2013 Burgman 650 has a more modern look. It’s not a dramatic difference, but when you compare the previous Burgman to the new one, side by side, the differences become obvious. The new Burg’ has sleeker lines, more angles, and a narrower profile, especially when viewed from behind. The seat is also narrower, as well as a little taller. The dual headlights are sportier looking, as is the tail section.

Even the cockpit has a more modern appearance. The “dashboard” has been completely reworked, utilizing a mixed bag of analog (tach and speedometer) and digital (everything else) readouts. There is plenty of information to be had, including a fuel consumption meter and a permanently displayed clock (no longer do you have to toggle around to find out how late you are).

You’ll also notice a brand new readout – an eco drive indicator. It glows when you’re getting the best fuel consumption at certain throttle, rpm and speed settings.

The number-one complaint previous owners had with the Burgman 650 had nothing to do with riding it but pushing it – it didn’t roll easily. The culprit? The clutch. Suzuki redesigned the entire clutch system and managed to reduce drag by 35 percent. As a result, the Burgman is far easier to maneuver in the garage or in the parking lot. The clutch redesign had other advantages as well. Combined with other refinements to the Burg’s Suzuki Electronically-controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (SECVT), and a reduction in mechanical loss, it all contributes to what Suzuki claims is a 15 percent boost in fuel economy.

Other notable improvements include the Burg’s braking system. The entire ABS system has been upgraded and is now 55 percent lighter. And there is a new triangular section muffler, which also gives the Burgman a more modern look.

Living With The Burg’

We took delivery of our 2013 Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS three months ago and I nabbed it. Since that time, many “cooler” rides (i.e. test bikes) have passed through our garage doors but none of them could sway me away from the Burgman when it came to my commute – for many reasons.

Actually, there are so many of them I don’t know where to start. How about practibility?

For three months my backpack laid dormant in my closet. With so much storage space available in the Burgman, there’s no need to strap a pack to your back. Most of that storage space is found under the pop-up seat, which can easily contain two full-face helmets, or one helmet and a bunch of stuff. (There’s also a cable lock for your helmet outside to make space for luggage inside.) A “trunk” light that automatically turns on and off when you open and close the seat definitely makes life a lot easier in the dark. And if that’s not enough storage space for you, there are more nooks and crannies below the handlebars where you can conveniently and safely store away things like a wallet, transponder, a bottle of water, envelopes and/or keys. One of those compartments is locking. Suzuki redesigned the lockable compartment so items don’t fall out as soon as you open the door.

I’m all about comfort when it comes to my commute and comfort is a big plus with the Burgman 650 ABS. Being a scooter in design, climbing on and off the bike is super easy and you have lots of room to move your legs once on board. You can position them pretty much straight out on the foot boards, straight down or even a little rearward, so you’re never locked into one position. And the seat, which is only 29 inches from the ground and provides some lower-back support via an adjustable backrest, is comfortable – it’s fairly wide and firm, yet still cushy. My 6’1” frame fit the Burgman just fine, though I had to crunch down a bit if I wanted to get completely protected by the windscreen, which is electronically adjustable via a switch on the right handlebar. In the screen’s full upright position, it takes a fair amount of rain before you start feeling wet. Overall, wind and rain protection just doesn’t get much better than this.

The Burg’ does have a DC outlet, which is great for heated vests, which is simple to get to.

Although Suzuki claims no power gains over the outgoing Burg’, the new Burg’s 638cc DOHC parallel-twin motor is still impressively strong. Don’t think for a moment that just because it’s a scooter that it’s not fast. It’s plenty fast. It might not sound like it at idle, but when you twist the throttle it certainly goes. Beating cars across intersections is not even a challenge on the Burgman but is always a kick in the pants, and it has no problems keeping up with the flow of traffic at freeway speeds - even at 80 mph. And, yes, the Burgman will reach triple digits while still feeling as stable as a rock.

The Burgman’s “automatic” SECVT transmission changes gear seamlessly. You just don’t feel the transition from one gear to the next, at least not much, and, of course, it does it all on its own. And with the SECVT transmission you have two operating modes – “drive” (standard) and “power” – to chose from that you operate via a button on the left handlebars. It doesn’t really increase power but instead changes shift points, which makes it feel as though you gained a few ponies. Pressing the power-mode button is like downshifting just before grabbing a handful of throttle when you need quick initial acceleration at speed, something we all do on smaller-bore bikes all the time.

You’ll see about a quick 1500 jump in RPMs on the tach when the power button is depressed and then the Burg’ will respond much sportier when the throttle is twisted. The revs will remain at a high pace until you press the button again and you’ll return to the more relaxed and more fuel-efficient standard setting. Power mode is very useful and I took advantage of it all the time, mainly while in heavy traffic when I needed a quick burst to get past another vehicle. Once things spread out and speeds increased, I’d go back to the standard mode, which feels as though you’re clicking into overdrive.

Manual shifting is also available with the SECVT “five-speed” transmission, via two thumb buttons on the left handlebar, but I hardly used it. At first it was kind of fun banging the buttons to change gears, but the novelty wore off quickly; and once I started really living with the Burgman, I completely forgot about the manual shifting mode. Besides, the upshift and downshift buttons are placed way too close to each other and it can be difficult to tell which one is which by feel (especially with thick gloves on) so you actually have to eyeball them as you shift. A trigger switch for upshifting would be a much better idea.

Another novelty that I never really used much was the Burgman’s electronically folding mirrors. Again, it’s a nice feature but… really? I guess in Europe lane splitting can get a little tight, as can parking your scooter among a thousand other scooters by the outdoor cafes.

The Burg handles well at both high and low speeds.

The Burg’ handles well at both high and low speeds.

As mentioned earlier, the Burgman is very stable at speed - even with those small 14- and 15-inch wheels. It also feels well balanced at low speeds and is remarkably steady in the turns. You can push it a lot harder than you think through the bends. Eventually, the centerstand will gently kiss the tarmac, letting you know – no mas! Luckily, you’ll hear it touch ground before you feel it.

The overall ride is pretty good, but not great. Suspension is a little on the bouncy side and will give you a bit of a jolt over the square-edge bumps at both ends. Not a whole lot of damping going on down there.

The Burgman’s linked brake system is strong, though the right lever felt a little mushy at times. For those occasional panic stops – both levers are needed, though the ABS system works very well. You feel only slight modulation when you really crank down on the brake levers.

Making it back and forth to work each day was never an issue as far as fuel range, not with that four-gallon fuel tank and decent mpg. I averaged anywhere from 45-50 mpg on the Burgman, which included mostly highway riding. The fuel filler is located on the left (kickstand) side of the bike and is easy to use.

All Good Things Must Come To An End

Unfortunately, I couldn’t live forever with the Burgman and was sad to see it go back to its rightful owners. My commutes won’t be the same. I already miss the Burgman’s outstanding storage capabilities, excellent weather protection, the smooth, electric-like power delivery, and pleasing ergos. Heck, I even miss the just-grab-the-throttle-and-go transmission. The Burgman is simply a fantastic commuter and around-town go-getter. It’s so good at all those things that I didn’t even care that I was on a scooter! In fact, I kind of liked it. And it helps a lot that the Burgman is pretty sporty looking, especially viewed from straight on, where it looks like a full-on motorcycle. The LED position lights give it some flare, as well.

Unfortunately, the Burgman 650 ABS ain’t cheap. As good as the Burgman is, $10,999 is a lot of dough for 650cc scooter, but at least it does have tons to offer for the commuter and around-towner. For that kind of money, however, I really think Suzuki could have fitted heated grips onto the Burg. After all, this bike is designed to commute and commuters commute in all kinds of weather, including the cold – if not most of the time. If Suzuki chose not to equip the Burg’ with heated grips because of cost, I’d just as soon have them ditch the electronic folding mirrors and manual shifting (though I doubt that would be possible) in favor of some hot rubber on the handlebars, and maybe even a heated seat. But, hey, maybe that’s just me.

Still, heated grips or not, the Burgman 650 ABS could very well be the ultimate commuter.

SPECIFICATIONS

2013 Burgman 650 ABS

ENGINE TYPE:      Parallel, two-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke

BORE X STROKE:                   75.5mm x 71.3mm

DISPLACEMENT:                 638cc

HORSEPOWER (claimed):                54 (approx.) hp @ 7,000 rpm

TORQUE (claimed):           46 lb.ft (approx.) @ 5,000 rpm

COMPRESSION RATIO:    11.2:1

FUEL SYSTEM:     Fuel-injection

LUBRICATION SYSTEM:   Wet sump

CLUTCH:                 Wet multi-plate, automatic, centrifugal typ

GEAR SHIFT:         Automatic and manual shift

TRANSMISSION:                  CVT

PRIMARY REDUCTION RATIO:      1.333 (88/66)

AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION RATIO:         1.800-0.465 (Variable)

SECONDARY REDUCTION RATIO:                  3.934 (39/31 x 43/25 x 40/22)

FINAL REDUCTION RATIO:               1.580 (32/31 x 31/32 x 34/31 x 49/34)

DRIVE SYSTEM:  Gear drive

IGNITION:              Electronic (transistorized)

FRONT SUSPENSION:        Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped

REAR SUSPENSION:           Swinarm type, coil spring, oil damped

FRONT WHEEL TRAVEL:  4.3 in.

REAR WHEEL TRAVEL:     3.9 in.

STEERING ANGLE:               41-degrees

CASTER:                  25-degree/25 minutes

TRAIL:    4.1 in.

TURNING RADIUS:             8.9 ft.

FRONT BRAKE:    Dual disc

REAR BRAKE:        Single disc

FRONT TIRE:         120/70R-15 in.

REAR TIRE:            160/60R-14 in.

O/A LENGTH:      89.2 in.

O/A WIDTH:        31.9 in.

O/A HEIGHT:       55.9 in.

WHEELBASE:       62.4 in.

GROUND CLEARANCE:    4.9 in.

SEAT HEIGHT:      29.7 in.

FUEL CAPACITY:                  4.0 gal.

WEIGHT (curb):  613 lbs.

COLOR AVAILABLE:          Pearl Bracing White

MSRP:   $10,999

 

 

Kit Palmer | Off-Road Editor

Kit Palmer started his career at Cycle News in 1984 and he’s been testing dirt and streetbikes every since – plus covering any event that uses some form of a knobby tire. He’s also our resident motorcycle mileage man with a commute of 120 miles a day.

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