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Discussion Starter #1
As you may or may not know, I recently bought my 04 B400 and have over 1300 miles on it. The bike was replacing a 1999 Helix that I had ridden for two years.

The impressions when I first got the bike was how rough it rode. But I liked the extra power. As it broke in, the seat got more comfortable AND I didn't notice the rough ride as much. Most of all, the handling simply blew me away.

Just last weekend, my father and I went riding. He lives in the rural areas of Ohio and we never see a cruising speed over 60MPH. He has a 1993 Helix and we switched up for a while. My impressions were as follows:

-The seat on the Helix, at first, seems much more comfortable. But the same soft padding that makes it comfortable for the first 10 miles has you sitting on the seat pan with no padding within about 60 miles.

-The hand brake took a bit of getting used to on the Burgie, but now it's second nature. The foot brake on the Helix is a pain in the butt, even if you are used to it.

-The acceleration of the Helix, while slower than the Burgie 400, is acceptable, at least up to about 55MPH. The B400 doesn't even seem to hit it's stride until 60-65 though.

-The ride is much better on the Helix, however there is a mighty tradoff. The Helix feels like both tires are flat. I checked them and they were up, but the bike feels like it's got it's own agenda at anything over 60MPH. It drifts, moveds, blows, and wollows anywhere it wants, or so it seems.

In the end, the Helix was a great first stab at a "Luxoscooter" but I think my back to back ride showed me just how far these scooters have come in 20 years.

My father wishes that they would somehow integrate some of the benefits of the B400 while keeping the footbrake (he's old school, ok?) and the items that make a Helix a Helix. He would like a trunk with an opening big enough for a helmet and about another 50cc's. Since Honda doens't put a radio on the helix anymore, the dashroom for the small storage areas left and right of the handlebars is available. Why not?

I think that there is still a market for the Helix, albeit a small one. My father is not a big fan of the Burgie, but he does see the appeal and understands why I traded up.
 

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bechtoea said:
The Helix feels like both tires are flat. I checked them and they were up, but the bike feels like it's got it's own agenda at anything over 60MPH. It drifts, moveds, blows, and wollows anywhere it wants, or so it seems.
I enjoyed your whole write-up, but this description of handling characteristics is priceless! Reminds me of my old Jeep Wrangler at highway speeds...

bechtoea said:
I think my back to back ride showed me just how far these scooters have come in 20 years.
This statement made me think. Unfortunately, there was practically no development in scooters for almost 20 years (in the USA). The Helix was it - excepting the little 50cc "toy" scooters. It has just been in the last two years that we've seen a quantum leap in scooter capabilities. It's almost like leaping from a Model A Ford to a Taurus, all at once. I didn't even notice when the Reflex came on the scene. It wasn't enough to catch my attention. But that day last year when I was cruising down I-29 at 70 mph on my V-Strom, and a super scooter went gliding past me in the fast lane... Now that got my attention. :shock:
 

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I'd bet if your father spent a couple of weeks on the 400, he wouldn't miss the footbrake anymore. It's all a matter of what you're used to. I'm curious, what about the ride of the Helix was more confortable?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
A perfect example is the expansion joints on one section of road on my way to work. When I hit them on the Burgie, the firmly sprung forks transmit it in such a way that it feels like the front wheel is coming right off of the road. The ole' Helix noticed them, but that was about it. Please note that these expansion joints are the size of small speedbumps and are not the sort that you would see everyday, so we are talking about out of the ordinary. Railroad crossings are another item that the Helix seems to ride over better than the Burgman.

But the tradeoff is handling, or a lack of handling in the case of the Helix. Compared to the Burgie, the Helix is almost unsafe.
 

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bechtoea said:
A perfect example is the expansion joints on one section of road on my way to work. When I hit them on the Burgie, the firmly sprung forks transmit it in such a way that it feels like the front wheel is coming right off of the road. The ole' Helix noticed them, but that was about it. Please note that these expansion joints are the size of small speedbumps and are not the sort that you would see everyday, so we are talking about out of the ordinary. Railroad crossings are another item that the Helix seems to ride over better than the Burgman.

But the tradeoff is handling, or a lack of handling in the case of the Helix. Compared to the Burgie, the Helix is almost unsafe.
I complained about the way the Burgman suspension handles those items from day one. We have lots of cement roads in this part of the country, and the slabs lose alignment over time giving the "expansion joint" effect. We also have heavy freight train traffic - badly worn railroad track crossings are common. Add sunken manhole covers to the list (I dodge them when I can).

Switching to the Pirelli radials helps quite a bit. They help dampen that sharp jarring that was getting through to the handlebars. The other thing that should help is changing the weight of the front fork oil. I have not done that yet. It requires a lot of disassembly, and I don't have the confidence to tackle it myself. I'm guessing that it would cost about $200 to have the dealer do it.

Replacing the stock rear shocks with Ikons, also helped.

I'm thinking that it is easier to improve the ride on the Burgman, than to fix the handling on a Helix. Even if you did improve the Helix handling, you'd still have a scoot that would be Interstate challenged in the power department - and to my eye they are ugly compared to any of the newer scooters.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
All of those changes you speak of would make the ride more complient, but wouldn't handling suffer. This thing handles better overall than any scooter or motorcycle that I have ever ridden. I am not willing to give that up.
 

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bechtoea said:
All of those changes you speak of would make the ride more complient, but wouldn't handling suffer. This thing handles better overall than any scooter or motorcycle that I have ever ridden. I am not willing to give that up.
No. Handling has not suffered. The Ikon shocks are very tunable, and can improve handling. The Pirelli radial tires had no noticable effect on handling either.

Now - fork oil: Stock fork oil is 10w. There are two approaches to this. Both have been tried by different forum members. You can go to 15w. This will provide a firmer, but better damped (more controlled) fork action. Allwalk took this approach and liked it. Combined with Ikon rear shocks, this would be the setup for the performance handling enthusiast - and would also improve ride via the more controlled suspension action both front and rear. The other approach is to drop down to 5w oil. This would provide a softer, plusher, front fork action. AEHanson took this approach and I think it worked out for him. It would probably not be the right approach for the "centerstand scrapers" in the group. But for those who ride a more sedate pace, I'd assume that handling would still be well within the acceptable range.

(We may have had others experiment with fork oil too - but those were the ones who immediately came to mind.)

It is definitely possible to enhance both ride and handling on the 650.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Of course, the way to enhance the ride and handling on my 400 is to jack up the seat and slide a 650 underneath, eh?
 

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Or convince your father he needs your 400 and go get a new 650 for yourself. ;)
 

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bechtoea said:
Of course, the way to enhance the ride and handling on my 400 is to jack up the seat and slide a 650 underneath, eh?
Hah! Sorry, I wasn't paying attention again... :roll:

Actually, the fork oil change may be the only viable option. The bias ply Pirellis for the 400 are under fire in another thread for poor wear characteristics... And I don't know if anyone makes an aftermarket rear shock for the 400 yet.
 

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Try rear shock at max - that is certainly the advice in UKconditions for optimal handling comfort for the Svelte Burger!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I have the rear shock cranked up pretty good right now. Also, let's be honest, I am comparing it to the Helix and the Helix rides better in a straight line than 95% of the motorcycles AND scooters out there right now.

But there is a curve coming out of the place I work that I took on the Helix at a max of 32-33 MPH. Any faster and I was going to be picking my bike up off of the pavement or out of the ditch.

The very first time I went into the corner on the Burgman, I wasn't really watching my speed until I noticed about half way through that the horizon was tilted pretty good. I glanced down at the speedo and I was at 42MPH...and this was just cruising. The bike felt glued to the road. I have hit it faster since.

And really, the ride is pretty good when compared to my other bikes, especially my 79 Hondamatic 400.
 
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