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Hello, all.

I've made a few other posts I know a handful of folks have seen. Yesterday, atfer giving up on finding a good deal on a used 650 in California or one I could import into California, I decided I would go new. I was also heavily weighing the Aprilia Atlantic and the Piaggio X9, but when push came to shove, when I considered hitting the road and touring on the scooter, getting out in the middle of nowhere on an Aprilia (much less a Piaggio) made me nervous.

I live in San Francisco, work in Berkeley, and commute back past my place through San Francisco 4 nights a week for school, which I will continue to do the next 3.5 years. When I started this process of commuting to school, I commuted on my BMW K1200RS. It's a fat, heavy bike that made lane splitting painful, and it had a dry clutch, which often seemed unhappy by the time I got through the city. With limited time for long sport tours, it just wasn't getting used.

I decided I'd look into having a scooter and a sportier bike, and while the Sprint ST isn't uber-sporty, it's filling the sportier needs quite nicely, especially relative to the K1200RS. And now I've got the Burgman.

I got out for around 50 miles of running around Saturday night, and after having to go into work for several hours Sunday, I got for around 100 miles. What follows are my first impressions. I originally wrote these for a different forum and I tried to give them a quick edit to make them universal, but if I've missed something, I apologize. Having this community around has been very helpful; I've learned a great deal, which has been a great help in going through this process.

I've been looking to find something to make commuting a dream. The annoying thing about my commute is that not much of it is freeway, it's almost all in-town. Around 8 miles each way through Berkeley. Around 7 miles each way through San Francisco. Lots of stop lights, stop signs, and bumper-to-bumper traffic that's often too tight to split. The remaining 10 miles is freeway, mostly the Bay Bridge, which I live in the middle of. It's not the worst commute people having going, but I figured I could make it better. Here's how I'm trying:


It's a 2004 Suzuki Burgman 650. Picked it up from Marin Cycleworks yesterday. I'd been searching for a used one, but it's tough to bring used vehicles into California, and it's been tough finding good used speciments in California, though there are lots in other areas. So, I saw an ad in the CycleTrader that made this only about $1000 more than a crashed '03 that was being sold locally (that had also had it's break-in service skipped) and so I allowed myself to exceed my scooter budget.

Here are a couple more shots:

Almost in profile:


Next to the Triumph:


I don't have a really good opinion as yet. Among other things, for the first 500 miles, I'm limited to 4000 RPM. After today, I've got about 160 miles on it. (**** work; I had to go in today to do some stuff, which cost me a day of riding.)

After leaving my office in the Berkeley Hills, I took the lab's Grizzly Peak exit and headed down Grizzly Peak and Skyline, did Wildcat Canyon Rd. down to Bear Creek Road, where I thought I was about to be killed when a car that must've been doing 100 or so the opposite way lost its rear end and it start sliding toward my lane before recovering an straightening out. I did Alhambra Valley Road a few times. These last few brought back memories, as I used them when I only had my permit for my K75 as the nearest sporty roads.

After getting a little lost, I did Canyon Road from Moraga to Pinehurst Road to Redwood Road. At the end of that, I turned around, went back and did Redwood Rd. the other way, and continued on home. The little fuel icon was flashing for a while, then went off. When I stopped to fill up after 135 miles, I put 3 gallons in the tank.

My impressions? First, it's surprisingly agile and handles quite well. The centerstand is the first thing to present ground clearance problems, but it requires some relatively hard riding to get there. Not super-hard riding; I didn't scrub off the chicken strips, despite my desire to.

The suspension is awfully harsh, much moreso than I expected. Frankly, it aids the sportiness, but it makes highway riding a bit touchier than I expected. I didn't buy this to be a sportbike, so perhaps there's no issue.

The headlights, coming from the K12RS and the Triumph Sprint ST, are amazing. Amazing. They're white, they light up lots of stuff... Sometimes, it feels almost like I'm in a car.

Brakes are impressive, though I'm a bit surprised that it feels like the rear has more stopping power than the front.

The storage space is impressive; however, my Schuberth S1 does not fit very well in the cargo trunk, and even when in, it has to be in the front section, as it will not fit into the tail.

The seat? Not entirely comfortable. I'm working on a few things for that.

And the seating position? A bit weird. Feet can be stuck way out, though so far, I've had difficulty getting used to that. I keep them mostly on the flat floor board, rather than the angled ones. I'm getting used to it, and it's nowhere near as awkward as I thought it would be. I did get more upright and leaned forward (so I could hang off a bit) when it got sporty.

I'll know more as time goes. Right now, it's fun just playing with something new and so different.

Greg
 

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forthguy said:
Brakes are impressive, though I'm a bit surprised that it feels like the rear has more stopping power than the front.
This is probably due to the low center of gravity. I'd have to draw a free-body diagram (it's a geeky engineer thing :wink: ) to explain it fully, but a higher center of gravity means the front brake ends up doing more work. As you brake, the load creates a moment about the front wheel, putting the weight forward and lightening up the load on the rear wheel, making the rear brake less effective. But the low center of gravity of the scooter means less pitching and the rear brake will be more effective. You're used to BMW's Telelever suspension, which reduces fork dive, but it doesn't change the physics that the higher CG forces the front brake to do more. The low-CG scooter will stay flatter without a Telelever-type apparatus, and will also not transfer as much weight forward. It'll just take a little getting used to.

Thanks for the first-ride thoughts!
 

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Congratulations on the new Burgman Greg. I' started out riding with my feet on the flat portion of the floor boards and only started using the feet forward position on longer rides. As I started riding more, the feet forward position became the favored one since it's more comfortable (for me) and I feel more secure be able to stand up on the bike without the fear of my boots slipping.
 

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Congratulations on your acquisition. I think the more you ride the Burg the more enamored you will become. I too started out "feet-flat" for about a week, then I switched to feet forward, which I much prefer now (especially in the twisties). The only time I shift to the flat position is for a break on long rides. Congrats again....keep the impressions coming.
 

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Greg,
Congratulations on your new ride! I too feel you will get use to the Burgy in quick fashion. I took a 3 week insurance class in Oakland about 24 years ago. Going over the bay area bridge with all the traffic I thought riding a bike out here must be a challenge. On the other hand what a beautiful area with lots of history. I really enjoyed your first impressions and your pics of the burgy and landscapes. My wife and I both own the 650 and have just broke both of them in. I feel the engine performance getting better everyday. Welcome to the forum and look forward to more storys.


Helix
:D
 

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Greg - good post. Thanks. Great looking scooter too! :wink:

I personally think that the brakes are plenty powerful enough, but I also think that they lack a bit of "feel." They seem sort of "hollow" and provide little feedback as to how hard they are working vs how hard you're squeezing. In my opinion the weight transfer thing is like mashing the brakes on a car with fully independent suspension vs a live axle. The butt end seems to "squat" a little, and, I like that sensation. For example use both brakes to a complete stop, then, let off the rear brake lever. The butt of it will hop up a little bit. I think it's sort of cool. But still, I wish there was more "feel" in the binders.

I agree with your "harsh ride" impression. I am not sure what to do about this.

The lights are great, no doubt.

Funny you should mention the over-speed driver venturing into your lane. I had that happen to me when I was driving my Toyota Tercel...I had an idiot on a sport bike almost take me out (drivers side) because he came too hot into the corner I was almost out of. I went onto the shoulder and he barely missed me. woom woom - right....

I keep my feet almost perpetually in the foward angled position. I put them to the flats just to relieve myself when relaxed cruising is afforded.

The stock seat and the corbin seat were both "difficult" to release. I had to push down on the rear of them to get them to open, and the corbin was practically impossible to close without slamming the hell out of it. Now the corbin closes with a nice firm push down and a "clunk." In the beginning, I thought that I was going to break my key trying to get the stock unit to pop open, but, you've already learned here in this thread that that is just the way it goes. My aftermarket seat now pops open with just a firm twist of the key. Additionally, I find the forward "verticle" floorboards too narrow. I wish they had about 2 more inches per side in width (I have wide size 11 shoes).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Pete said:
I personally think that the brakes are plenty powerful enough, but I also think that they lack a bit of "feel." They seem sort of "hollow" and provide little feedback as to how hard they are working vs how hard you're squeezing. In my opinion the weight transfer thing is like mashing the brakes on a car with fully independent suspension vs a live axle. The butt end seems to "squat" a little, and, I like that sensation. For example use both brakes to a complete stop, then, let off the rear brake lever. The butt of it will hop up a little bit. I think it's sort of cool. But still, I wish there was more "feel" in the binders.
I find the fronts lacking in feel. The rear, however, continues to impress, and it strikes me as providing very good feel and pretty good modulation. All told, the brakes impress me quite a bit. My opinion is that they're at least equal to what I have on the Triumph's but probably inferior to the Integral ABS (power-assisted) brakes from the K12RS. Despite the maligning of the power-assisted BMW brakes, the immediate, easy stopping power was impressive.

I agree with your "harsh ride" impression. I am not sure what to do about this.
I imagine it's just part of it. On the plus side, I think it adds to the sportiness. And now that I'm getting used to it, I find myself getting better at avoiding bad pavement that I'd be happy riding over on the other bikes.

Funny you should mention the over-speed driver venturing into your lane. I had that happen to me when I was driving my Toyota Tercel...I had an idiot on a sport bike almost take me out (drivers side) because he came too hot into the corner I was almost out of. I went onto the shoulder and he barely missed me. woom woom - right....
I find it funny I can't even remember what kind of car it was. When I try to visualize it, I keep thinking it could be one of several different cars, all of which I could easily pick out if I were to see it, but none of which are distinguishable in what I remember seeing when the adrenaline started pumping. Oh well. Survived the first decent ride on the Burgman, so that's a good thing.

Greg
 

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Greg-hello and welcome to Burger world

Greg,

Thanks for the good impression stuff. I can tell you that the seat change can reveal a very different ride on the scoot. I have two seats: the stock seat which i took apart and cut the middle out of the front foam piece,where you sit of course, and replaced this with a tempur-pedic seating pad. I must tell you Gregg and others aboard here that this change created a lower by about two inches seat...for us shor riders, but best of all it is very comfortable. When I add the one-half inch piece of Atomic Super Foam under this it should be fantistic.

I also have a short Corbin seat for the Burger that has had what the Corbin folks refer to as "a nose job", which in effect lowers your butt about one and a half inches.

Here's the deal on the big effect: the very firm Corbin seat gives you a wonderful feel of control to the machine...you are more bonded to the roll and handeling in every way....but is it firm. I wanted something in between that also gave me that sitting into the seat feeling.

The changes I have made to the stock seat have done just that.
 

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Pete said:
I personally think that the brakes are plenty powerful enough, but I also think that they lack a bit of "feel." They seem sort of "hollow" and provide little feedback as to how hard they are working vs how hard you're squeezing.
Mmmm, wondering if steel braided brake lines like the racers use would give a better positive feel? It definitely feels like the front brake lines have too much flex.

Anyone have any experince with steel braided brake lines?
 

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I have no issue with the way the brakes work on my 650. I guess after 13,500 miles I'm used to them. I've had 3 panic stops during those miles, and I feel that the braking was excellent in each case.

As for ride, the single biggest improvement you can make is to switch to Pirelli tires. They make a big difference. I just ordered another set of Pirellis today to make sure I have them when I need them. Tire availability has been sporadic with both Bridgestone and Pirelli in the sizes needed for the 650.
 

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Reg must have been reading my mind because that thought went through my head...are the brake "lines" on my almost new burgie too soft? I don't know Reg. Paul probably has it right. "Weekender riders" (well, like myself - planning on full time riding during the good weather) rarely ever go full out (10 tenths,) let alone 8/10th in any given situation. Given Pauls distance travelled vs bike experience, I tend to gravitate toward his view.

I guess I am just not that used to having to "reign in" so much "lever" to get the thing to react. Just a side glace - when I was big into bicycles, if your rim wasn't "true enough" to afford instant stopping drag when levers were applied, well, you needed to adjust your brakes (or true your rim). Given this sidenote, I found that I had "fiddled" with the "reach adjuster" dials on mine and made the fronts less "grabbable" than the rear (#2 vs a #1) and that made the front binders "feel" a little bit "soft" vs the rear (dumb butt move - I know) I was just trying to get it "dialed in" over the last few months. Now I have all the "adjustble-squeeze" afforded to me (furthest out on both levers) and the shocks set as best I can.

Maybe it is simply a matter of its heft. I think it may very well be. It's weird, but when I've had a passenger, the binders seemed to work grand, but then again, I wasn't in the "cafe racer mode" which, IMO, my 650 can lure me into, especially in the envelope that I find meself in! :roll:

I wonder about different tires...and am not looking forward to replacing mine. Hell, they are still new (OK OK - one - ONE - 5 second power brake :oops: ) Other than that one lapse of judgement/brain-fart, I hope these babies will get me over the 10k marker. Will a different name brand give me a less harsh ride? No se amigo. No se.
 

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Pete said:
I keep my feet almost perpetually in the foward angled position. I put them to the flats just to relieve myself when relaxed cruising is afforded.
Someone HAS to interject here the old saying about "relieving" one's self "into the wind" so to speak... :D :oops:
 

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Alan, when I typed that why did I think a prsn like you'd reply!? :twisted:
 

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forthguy said:
The centerstand is the first thing to present ground clearance problems, but it requires some relatively hard riding to get there.
Actually the centerstand scrapes when its not well-lubed and doesn't spring all the way back up. Make sure you keep it well-lubed.

forthguy said:
The suspension is awfully harsh, much moreso than I expected. Frankly, it aids the sportiness, but it makes highway riding a bit touchier than I expected. I didn't buy this to be a sportbike, so perhaps there's no issue.
As far as I'm concerned it is an issue. The suspension is the only thing I'm complaining about. Its fine for smooth roads... but get on a rough road and its not pleasant at all.

forthguy said:
Brakes are impressive, though I'm a bit surprised that it feels like the rear has more stopping power than the front.
The front definitely has more power, and definitely feels that way. Maybe you should have your fronts checked?

forthguy said:
The seat? Not entirely comfortable. I'm working on a few things for that.
Let me know if you come up with anything for the passenger. The wideness of that passenger section is what keeps my mate from riding due to having short legs it makes her very uncomfortable. Me... I added a Utopia backrest and its great!
 

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I found the answer to the front brake issue by replacing the pads with EBC Double H sintered metal pads. Two fingered braking now gives me all the predictable stopping power I need. $64 for two pairs. Regarding the rear suspension problem, I found the answer for my needs today when I took my bike out on my favorite test loop to try out my new Fournales air shocks. Boy, was I impressed. Set up as delivered they are slightly taller than the OEM's and gave me adequate clearance, but it was the confidence inspiring planted feeling that really amazed me! I found myself going around corners way faster than I have ever done effortlessly. The bike now handles as close to a sport bike as I'll ever need. Halfway through my ride, I had the same silly grin I had the first time I took the Burgie out on a back road! I can't wait to get on to the track next month.

Cheers,

Bob
 

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Burger Bob said:
Regarding the rear suspension problem, I found the answer for my needs today when I took my bike out on my favorite test loop to try out my new Fournales air shocks. Boy, was I impressed.
Do you have a link for those?
 

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burgman vs sprint

If you could help me out with your impressions I would really appreciate it. I have a 2001 Srint with top and side cases. How does the 650 compare in the following areas. 1. Stability @ 75mph in cross wind on freeway. 2. Comfort I understand rear suspension alittle harsh. 3. Performance I imagine Sprint with two riders still quicker than 650 solo. 4. Storage area under seat about the same as Sprint top case? I like my Sprint except handelbar a little low, engine heat in traffic on summer day, high center of gravity especially with passenger going slow in tight turns. Thanks for your help.
 

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forthguy said:
My impressions? First, it's surprisingly agile and handles quite well. The centerstand is the first thing to present ground clearance problems, but it requires some relatively hard riding to get there. Not super-hard riding; I didn't scrub off the chicken strips, despite my desire to.
Greg,

Welcome. Thank you for your first impressions. I think that you've got the scooter pretty well figured out.

The painted portions under the right footboard, and painted portions and rain deflector under the left footboard, drag after the centerstand has scraped. Unfortunately, all of this happens before you reach the edge of the tire; you will have to live with chicken strips.

As for keeping the centerstand up over time, after the scooter has warmed up well, spray some chain lube like Maxima ChainWax around the stand's bolts and washers, and between the stand and its mounting bracket. Move the stand up and down a few times to work it in.
 
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