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So before I bought my 2013 BMW C650GT, I searched the web for a comparison between the pre 2013 Burgman 650 and BMW C650GT. I couldn't find anything of relevance from someone who actually rode the Burgman and switched to the BMW. In fact, most of the reviews I read about the BMW, totally ignored or glanced over the Burgmans existence, making it sound like BMW really innovated and almost created a new segment.
I picked up my C650GT on Saturday morning in Tampa, FL and rode it home to Rockville, MD. I've also had three days to scoot around on it around town. These are my initial impressions (AKA, what I already miss about the Burgman). I debated about writing this because it's going to sound awful, like I hate the BMW. I really don't, I'm just used to certain things that the BUrgman spoiled me with and will have to get used to doing things a bit different.

First, a little background. I bought a 2004 Suzuki Burgman 650 in 2006. Although I've owned other bikes before and during this time, the Burgman was the one constant and my favorite because of the ease and convenience. In the time I owned the Burgman, I was in two minor accidents, each leaving the Burgman with some quirks. One, a front disc slide got tweaked so the front brake always rubbed mildy. Second, the fairings under the right side footboard didn't fit together flush and when wind would get in there at high speeds, the rubber mat would wobble (which was pretty alarming at first when you weren't expecting it). Third, the forks probably needed relaxing because between 70-75, the whole front end would weave. Finally, the check engine light would come on if you used power mode or really pushed it. The code was 'intermittent connection' and no local shop could figure it out. These quirks made my favorite bike only my daily driver. I decided I'd sell it and buy another one in better shape.
The 2013 Burgman had just come out but I wasn't looking to spend that much. I found a 2012 Burgman (which was an upgrade as all 2012's were "Executive" models) with 915 miles for $6,499. Then I saw the BMW C650GT for sale in the BurgmanUSA classifieds for $8,500. I did a little research, visited a dealer to see one in person, and decided I didn't want to buy the same bike I've been riding for 8 years, it was time for a change, something new.

The first thing I noticed about the BMW was the storage. I had seen this at the dealer that the BMW had only two dash compartments, no center glove box. Also, the under seat area looked smaller. This didn't hit home until I arrived at the airport (4.5 hours late because of a flight delay, very patient seller!), went to throw my backpack under the seat, and it didn't fit. I had to readjust things that would have easily fit in the Burgman. My L-XXL helmets don't fit either, well not without pushing the seat closed after it makes contact with the helmet.
The dash compartments were not as practical as the Burgman either. The right side one is small with different indentations and levels, it's not a square box with a single flat surface. The left one is larger, with an accessory outlet on the back wall. This one locks with the ignition and fits a soda bottle, but would you want a soda bottle with it's condensation in the pocket with the 12V outlet? (for the record, I had installed a 12V accessory outlet in the center glovebox of my Burgman but still had the two dash pockets for all my other items). Also, the hinges on the dash pocket (and seat) seem very cheap and flimsy and are almost guaranteed to break eventually. I'm also not sure why the dash pocket doors fold down so far and are so extensive, although this did seem to keep things in a bit better than the Burgman while accessing the pockets while riding, which I don't do often. But I could open the dash pocket door into my knee and reach in and grab what I needed. The design of these doors coming down so far has made finding a practical tunnel bag difficult (as mentioned on WebBikeWorld) as the tunnel bag would have to be very narrow in order to open the doors.

The under seat storage is lit by a light on the side of the compartment that comes on with the ignition and stays on a short time after the ignition is turned off. This is a nice feature so that you don't forget to turn the light off, but being on the side, instead of under the seat, makes it useless because as soon as you put something in there, basically in front of it, it blocks all the light.

On the top of the seat, the butt rest is not as adjustable as the Burgman. The manual says you can unscrew it, release some bumpers and reattach it, but this doesn't seem like it would be much of an adjustment and is a lot of work. I never needed to adjust my Burgman seat but was surprised that it wasn't there.

The BMW sits taller than the Burgman, which I was uncertain about, but I actually prefer. The distance between the seat bumper and front floorboards seems longer too, as I can stretch my legs straight without having to sit ON the butt rest like I did with the Burgman. The floorboards however, have a little flex to them when I do this, which I don't remember on my Burgman. The metal in the floorboards looks nice too, but I'm afraid over time this accent piece will start to look poor.

The paint on the center hump makes you have to be careful and conscious as to not scuff or scratch, and the hump is angled, not flat. On long road trips, I used to occasionally place my feet on the hump. Can't do that on the BMW. The center hump feels wider than the Burgman, and the footboards feel narrower, especially towards the rear.

The BMW does not have the ignition cover or the ignition position to turn on the rear brake light. No power mode for passing (or just fun!) and no parking brake. The brake does come on when the side stand is engaged, but this doesn't help at a stoplight on an incline unless you want to stop the engine to engage the brake and remove both hands from the handlebars. This also caught me off guard as I killed the engine and dropped the side stand while coasting into a parking spot. I use the side stand much more than on the Burgman because getting the BMW on the center stand is even more difficult than it was on the Burgman. I parked on a steep decline using the side stand and the scooter stayed in place very well. As I walked away, I imagined the day in the future that I rely on the brake engaged side stand, the brake isn't adjusted properly, and I watch the scooter slowly roll forward onto it's side.

The BMW seems to have better element protection than the Burgman did stock. A Clearview XXL and then a GIVI XL improved my Burgman, but the side fairings on the BMW seem to direct the wind/rain better as I barely got wet in the storms on the ride home. The downside to the BMW fairings is that they stick out further than the dash pockets, creating a surface that is good at snagging your shirt, backpack, or skin on your knee if you dismount the scooter too quickly without thinking about it. Depending on how fast and strong you are hooked, you could possibly pull the scooter over with you.

The adjustable windshield is very nice, although this is an option on the Burgman too (and standard depending on the year). I can't wait to install n aftermarket windshield on the BMW as the factory one is too short for my taste. The option currently is whether I want wind on my head, on my chest and head, or somewhere in between. I really want the option of no wind, or wind.

When behind the windshield, the BMW is very quiet. You don't hear much, it's just you and the bike. The BMW sounds more like a Burgman 400 to me than a 650. It has that Jetsons sound to it and whine that I hear more on the Burgman 400 than it's larger counterpart. Unfortunately, this is sort of the case with the power too. The BMW is slower than the Burgman 650 with a lower top speed. When I asked the seller how he compared the BMW to the Burgman, he said that he thought the BMW felt more sturdy. I find the exact opposite. The Burgman seemed more planted and the BMW seems more affected by wind. I often would be riding the Burgman and would look down to be surprised by a speed of 100+ mph (indicated). The BMW starts weaving and shaking right after 80 mph (indicated). In fact, I tried a few times on my 14 hour trip home to hit BMW's 109 mph max speed claim. The closest I got was on a road with not another car in site (it really wobbles with anything else around) when I hit 105 mph (indicated). I was not comfortable at all and wanted to get back to my 80-85 mph comfort zone quickly. I once got a ticket for doing 115 mph on the Burgman (122 mph indicated, 115 on the radar). I felt like I was doing 60.

The BMW has heated grips and seat, which I'm sure are nice but I haven't had to use yet (you can add these to the Burgman aftermarket, I think factory on the 2013). It also has random pull out panels beneath the windshield that I can only imagine are element protection. They're random because I don't notice a difference no matter what position they're in, and whatever holds them in place when you pull them out feels like it will wear out and they'll eventually only stay in the rear (or closed) postion. I haven't actually looked up what these are supposed to do so I may be way off.

The BMW mirrors are mounted high, unlike the Burgman. Mounting high on the stalks gives you a sport bike-like view of your arms. You need to bring your elbows in to see behind you. The mirrors also vibrate and shake more since the mounts aren't as sturdy. On mine specifically, the left one much more than the right. The Burgman of course gives you a clear, steady view from below your arms.

The BMW gas tank access is under a panel at the front of the seat, sort of like the Yamaha Zuma 125. The difference is that if you pop the panel open to access the cap (it's the opposite direction of opening the seat), and you open the seat while that panel is open... the panel breaks off. BMW says they are aware of the issue and it will be resolved in a future generation.

Once you squeeze the gas pump nozzle fully into the tank and wait for the auto shut off to stop pumping gas, you'll need to pull the nozzle out, rest it against the guard and top off the fuel until you see it puddle a little or your gas gauge may not read completely full. The gauges on the BMW are quite informative, giving you an analog gauge for the speedometer (going up to 120 mph which you'll never hit) and digital gauges for everything from fuel and tach, to average MPG, average speed, temperature and more. I'm not sure how accurate the temperature gauge is, as it always seems to read higher than actual temp. Today it read 120 degrees at one point.

When you hit reserve fuel, the odometer automatically becomes a counter indicating how many miles you've ridden on reserve. Using your average MPG and knowing that the reserve is about a gallon, and you've got a while to make the next gas station once this starts.

My Burgman had the bungee hooks which I used often with a bare bungee net. The BMW does not have these, or a place for them to screw in. Using a net with hooks will scratch the grab bars more than the style on the Burgman.

The headlight on the BMW is not as bright or reach as far as on the Burgman. I use the high beam as often as possible without blinding other drivers. Also, when going around turns, you can't see in front of you. The BMW light reflects in a very distinct triangle. Imagine a triangle with the tip at the headlight and the wide base on the street about 15 feet in front of you. When you turn, the corner of the triangle base comes in towards the direction you are turning, and the other corner goes outward. This is a solid flat line on the road though so you can't see beyond the point (almost pointed straight down in the corner closest to you) where the light hits the ground straight across. Hard to explain but very obvious. I had seen a video somewhere where BMW has a complicated electronic headlight system that's supposed to help in turns, I had never had the problem they showed in the video so it looked like an infomercial selling something solving a problem that didn't exist. If this is how their non adaptive headlight system works, I now see the need. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cB_9H7NtT0. The tail lights on the BMW fog on the inside also. The fog disappears in a circle where the bulbs heat up the plastic lens.

Although slower overall and weighing more than the Burgman, the BMW feels much more nimble and corners much better than the Suzuki. It's been a long time since I looked through a turn on a maxi scooter without being conscious of the lean angle of the bike as the Burgman center stand grabbing the road taught me not to do that. The BMW with its taller stance and stiffer suspension feel almost sport like and make me want to try more twisties than I've tried to find on my Burgman.

When I first bought my Burgman in 2006, it was still relatively new and peoples reactions to it were fun to see. When I first rode it I thought it should have BMW emblems on it because it felt very luxury and well refined. Now that I own an actual BMW scooter, I think Suzuki deserves the credit for making a solid machine that has stood the test of time with minimal changes. After all these 'gripes', I still love the BMW. It's exactly what I wanted, a large scooter that can compete with the Burgman but isn't essentially the same thing I've been riding for 8 years. I'm very happy with the price I paid and the reactions on peoples faces when they see it (especially the second looks it gets once they see the emblems and the stares from BMW automobile drivers on the road). My KIA Soul had this effect in 2009 when I first bought it, as did the Burgman in the early days at gas stations and parking lots, sparking conversations about things I enjoyed chatting about. It's fast enough for my daily commute and keeps me out of trouble on longer weekend trips.

I knew that Apple had it's fan boys but had never experienced the BMW ones. From the comments at gas stations to the guy that rolled his window down to tell me "nice bike" as I merged in front of him at a highway construction zone, it gets a lot of respect. It's comfortable too. I make the trip from the DC region to FL once a year and on the Burgman, as I approached my destination, I was ready to get off the bike. After the 14 hour ride this weekend, I walked in and asked my girlfriend if she wanted to hop on and continue my ride with a 2.5 hour trip to the beach. She told me that I was crazy and to come inside.

It's a little sad to me that Suzuki has had the maxi scooter mastered for years but some only pay attention and take it seriously because a 'luxury' brand creates one. BMW definitely didn't innovate or create anything new here. They need some refinement to really compete with the convenience and practicality of the Suzuki but at least they decided that it was a worthwhile segment to enter and brought another option. Other riders and friends, who have seen me on my Burgman plenty of times, have now seemed to notice what I'm riding. "BMW puts a lot of engineering into their products", "Wow. Nice bike, luxury...", "This looks a lot better than your last bike". It's funny what some plastic emblems will do. But I'll take it.

If I were considering a BMW for $12k or a 2013 Burgman 650 for 13k, I'd probably lean towards the Burgman. But not foreseeing anyone giving up their new Burgman for a while for close to $8k, I'm glad that someone decided to list a BMW in a Suzuki forum.
 

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I was considering the BMW when I bought my Burgman 650 Exec. This review makes me very glad I bought the Burgman. Thank you.

Namaste'
Doug in Kentucky
 

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Good review - I did not have enough time on the same BMW to really evaluate - some things I liked - some not - but I also think my Burgman Exec is the better machine.
If Suzuki would do something about suspension it would be even better.
 

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You're right...the review comes across negative. However, I also picked up a few other things...

  • The BMW is more comfortable on a long trip.
  • It is more fun on twisty roads.
  • The wind management makes it quiet enough to notice the difference.
That's some of the basic things of a scooter. If they aren't met, the rest of the convenience factors don't mean as much.


Chris
 

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Many thanks for taking the time and trouble to post a very detailed appraisal of your user experience of the new BMW scoot compared to your prior Burgman 650 experience.

To that end I did not find it either positive or negative but other readers will pick out what they find helpful to them in reaching a purchasing decision.

An informed purchaser would do well to read your report slowly and in detail, they will find it helpful. However, they should bear in mind this report does not compare the BMW to the 2013 variant of the Burgman 650, nor does it claim to do so.

Thank you once again for an excellent piece of work, enjoy your new acquisition and please keep in touch of how the ownership experience develops over time.:eek:ccasion5::wave:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this, I thought it was a bit long. One other thing I forgot, every time I get off the scooter, my shoes are full of rocks. Whether I'm wearing my Speed & Strength sport bike over the ankle shoes or dress shoes.

The more I ride, the more I realize that the BMW should really be compared to the Burgman 400. It feels, sounds and stores more comparably to the 400 than the 650. I'm also getting used to it's capabilities more and are enjoying the ride.
 

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Snipped

The more I ride, the more I realize that the BMW should really be compared to the Burgman 400. It feels, sounds and stores more comparably to the 400 than the 650. I'm also getting used to it's capabilities more and are enjoying the ride.
So it sounds like a lawn mower then?;)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So it sounds like a lawn mower then?;)
Tractor seems to be the consensus

I took a test drive on a 650GT today. It had 400mi on it. I was thinking I might like it but I didn't. It sounded like a farm tractor, it seemed slow off the start, and the steering seemed wobbly on a bumpy road. It had less storage space. The seat was comfy but too high for me at 5'4". I thought if I liked it, I might trade the ZZR in but not a chance.
 

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Most places test rides on new motorcycles are out of the question.

To iamuncreative: how is the transmission compared to the Burgman?

Is it quick enough to gear down and up, and does it do what you think it should?

I only use manual mode to reduce revs, but often power mode to overtake quickly and to increase engine braking, mainly because my CVT-mod has moved power mode to act like halfway between the original power and auto modes, and auto mode similarly towards less revs and engine braking than standard.
 

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Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this, I thought it was a bit long. One other thing I forgot, every time I get off the scooter, my shoes are full of rocks. Whether I'm wearing my Speed & Strength sport bike over the ankle shoes or dress shoes.

The more I ride, the more I realize that the BMW should really be compared to the Burgman 400. It feels, sounds and stores more comparably to the 400 than the 650. I'm also getting used to it's capabilities more and are enjoying the ride.
I didn't think your review too long at all. I thought it was thorough. And I agree, it didn't put either bike in a bad light. My decision to buy my Burgman 650 was influenced by my finding my bike used at a good price, the BMW was going to cost me more. I really like my Burgman 650. Some are going to like the BMW more. That is good too, it helps get more big scooters on the road. The more of us that there are, the more aware the public will be of the big scooters. It is all good.

Namaste'
Doug in Kentucky
 

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Why would you buy a machine like this w/o riding it first...even at a dealer?
I've had BMWs since the mid 90s. Every dealership I have ever been to has encouraged test rides.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Why would you buy a machine like this w/o riding it first...even at a dealer?
I was sold on the 2012 Burgman, had the paperwork filled out and everything. Really wanting something different from what I had, I went to the BMW dealer to ride the C650GT. From most of the online comparisons, I wasn't expecting much. It was much larger than I expected and I was intrigued. Unfortunately, it was raining so they wouldn't let me ride it. We took it outside and started it up but I was to come back another day for the ride when it was "100% clear out". The forecast the rest of the week was clouds/rain. I did go back the next day to take a closer look without the initial "wow" factor and looking for specific things. But if I wanted the one in FL I would have to book a ticket and knew it would have to be in advance to get a good deal. I wanted to get the ball rolling. Once I committed to the seller and bought the ticket, there was no point in a test ride. I wouldn't have found many of the things or gone over 65 on a test ride anyway.

...To iamuncreative: how is the transmission compared to the Burgman?

Is it quick enough to gear down and up, and does it do what you think it should?

I only use manual mode to reduce revs, but often power mode to overtake quickly and to increase engine braking, mainly because my CVT-mod has moved power mode to act like halfway between the original power and auto modes, and auto mode similarly towards less revs and engine braking than standard.

That's another thing I forgot the BMW doesn't have, manual mode. I never used that though. From my experience with smaller scooters and changing the variators, I assume that a faster acceleration means a slower top speed. The BMW seems less powerful all the way through. Being a CVT, I haven't really noticed where it shifts, just smooth. Not having a power mode is ok for passing on a highway, but on a two lane road where the person you want to pass may not want you to pass, the BMW is not geared to give you the confidence to do so.

Really, the Burgman 650 is in a league of it's own. When I stop comparing the two, and just look at the BMW, it's exactly what I was looking for. A great commuter that handles very well, looks modern and is nimble around the city for work but still fun on the weekends. I've come up with so many excuses to ride and places to go since I've had this, it's really a lot of fun. I'm sure it will surprise me as I learn more about it. Today I learned that it has auto-canceling turn signals. They turn off at about 15 blinks. Also, I had a passenger on the back last night and the headlight was much better, also it was smoother up to a higher speed. The manual says that the light is adjusted by the rear spring tension, so I'm wondering if the previous owner has it set for two-up and if that would help with both the headlight aim and speed stability. My Kaoko throttle lock arrived today and my Ram Mounts are in the mail. This will give me my cup holder and GPS. I'm not one to over accessorize, but I will splurge on a few things. I always wanted to ride a Burgman with the Leo Vince exhaust to see if it made a noticeable difference. BMW has the Akrapovic for this, that may be my next upgrade, although they're own description leads me to believe the only improvement will be from the loss of weight in my wallet.

"The Akrapovic Slip on system is not designed for extreme high performance, but is intended for the customer to whom aural and visual enhancement is more important than setting the quickest lap times. This system produces a much richer and deeper sound than the quite restrictive stock exhaust. The SLIP-ON system will give your bike a completely new aesthetic effect. The oval-section muffler, available in either titanium or carbon-fiber outer sleeve, will accentuate the beauty of the lines of your bike, and the logo on the muffler will be a constant affirmation of your discerning taste."

Even if it only improves the sound, it may be worth it.
 

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Why would you buy a machine like this w/o riding it first...even at a dealer?
How many people on this forum ever rode a new Burgman before buying it? Not many. Just look back on the threads complaining about it. I remember being an exception to the rule, when I was able to take the keys to my first Burgman and ride it as far as I wanted.

I took a short 5 mile ride on a NT700V before buying a one. It wasn't bad, but the distance was too short to do more than say I could ride it and it wasn't horrible. 4000 miles in two months has pretty much confirmed that I made the right choice.

I suspect this BMW scooter will be the same way.

If you do a poll here, you'll find most 650 owners don't use manual or power mode after the first few weeks. For some people, it is a big deal. For others, it was a gadget to tell others their new scooter had this feature. But most of the time, they just let the CVT do its thing and enjoy the ride.

Chris
 

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How many people on this forum ever rode a new Burgman before buying it? Not many. Just look back on the threads complaining about it. I remember being an exception to the rule, when I was able to take the keys to my first Burgman and ride it as far as I wanted.

I took a short 5 mile ride on a NT700V before buying a one. It wasn't bad, but the distance was too short to do more than say I could ride it and it wasn't horrible. 4000 miles in two months has pretty much confirmed that I made the right choice.

I suspect this BMW scooter will be the same way.

If you do a poll here, you'll find most 650 owners don't use manual or power mode after the first few weeks. For some people, it is a big deal. For others, it was a gadget to tell others their new scooter had this feature. But most of the time, they just let the CVT do its thing and enjoy the ride.

Chris
True for me. When showing others my Burgman, I always tell them about manual mode and the power button. Do I use them? Nah, not really. I did play with manual mode today but really wasn't using it. I did use manual mode once in some twisties to see if it made a difference. It did. I have also played with the power mode in twisties, again it made a difference. But I rarely ride the twisties aggressively any more. I have never passed a car that the normal automatic mode didn't give me enough but it is nice to think if I need the power mode to pass I can use it. Mainly the power mode and the manual mode is there like bling on Harleys. So I can brag about it.

Namaste'
Doug in Kentucky
 

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Many thanks for a very good description.

One thing that has struck me — those reviewing the BMW who have never been on a Burgman rave about it, as though it was something new and revolutionary, best thing since sliced bread. Reviewers who are familiar with the Burgman have not been as enthusiastic, measuring it against the Burgman and picking at many areas where it rates no more than an "almost as good". I'm sure that the cachet of the BMW marque will win converts, but I still believe the Burgman is the better design, despite it's (known) shortcomings.

That said, I'm glad to see the BMW in the marketplace. The Burgman is due for a redesign more radical than what has been done so far. Maybe the arrival of the BMW will prompt Suzuki to pull up their socks and bring out something new and improved, without all the brain-farts currently included in the stock design.

Fix the flimsy fuel door.
Fix the mirrors so they don't get gouged when the bike is moved.
Fix the rectifier.
Fix the CVT bolt.
Fix the start switch.
Fix the 12V outlet so it can be used when underway.

Hello Suzuki --- that's your recipe for success. Do that, and you have nothing to fear from overpriced, over-hyped, Chinese scooters with a BMW badge.

Carry on
Scott Fraser
Calgary
 

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+ to all of the above.

Then I think Suzuki should offer
a suspension upgrade package
adjustable handlebars
A de Luxe seat
HID projector headlights
75 HP
Cruise control
 
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