I am a novice rider. Way back around 1980 a friend let me ride a naked Honda ‘cycle that had, as I recall, a 350 cc engine. I futzed around with gear shifting and what not and realized I didn’t really care that much to master it, so I never became “hooked” on riding. Several years ago I took a trip to Key West and rented a moped. I jetted around the island for the better part of the day and enjoyed the sensation, the ride. Life intervened, though, and I realized I had a lot of other things to do with my money before buying a moped, so I never did.
Early last month, having just come off a hellish several weeks of non-stop overtime at work, I realized I had some play money, so I went out and bought a Kymco ZX-50. In Indiana, street-legal mopeds don’t need to be licensed or insured or a motorcycle endorsement needed, so I figured it would be some fun. What I didn’t realize is that I would become hooked so quickly, and want something more.
While I was out shopping for the moped I had seen a silver AN400 at a dealer in South Bend. I didn’t really give it much of a second thought at the time (other than that the thing was huge compared to a moped) but as the days went by I found myself thinking more and more about the AN400. I did some internet research on the bike and checked what the insurance was going to be. (I had decided to go ahead and insure the ZX-50 anyway; it was a very reasonable $158 a year.) Surprisingly enough, the premium wouldn’t change for the AN400. The dealer I bought the AN400 from also carries Honda scooters, and I had looked at them on the internet. However, when I got to the store and sat on the Reflex I realized that the AN400 seemed like a lot more bike for the money. Without even riding the AN400, I decided to go for it.
Although the AN400 is miles separated from the ZX-50, I realized right away there were some things about it I wasn’t happy about with the AN400. For one thing, it sounds like a golf cart. I was hoping for a smoother engine sound. Another issue I had with the AN400 was getting it to lean enough when taking corners and curves. Now, I’m not talking high-speed daredevil stuff here. Taking easy sweepers on our country highways here in Indiana, I would seemingly get to a point where the bike just didn’t want to lean anymore and would start wanting to follow its own line out of the curve, even though my speed was at or below the posted recommendation for the curve. This had me slightly baffled, and concerned. Also, while there was substantially more power than with the ZX-50 (of course) I felt like it needed more oomph. Although the AN400 achieved highway speeds easily enough I was less than impressed with its highway demeanor; a lot of buffetting at speed, somewhat skittish. I started wondering what the AN650 was like.
Back to the drawing board.
I started doing research again, this time on the AN650, and liked what I saw. That’s when I found this board, which is a godsend as far as I’m concerned. Further, a check on insurance rates found that my rate on the AN650 would be the same as the AN400, so that kind of cinched the deal. Even though I’d just bought the AN400 a few weeks before I knew that I wouldn’t be happy unless I had the AN650 so I went to the dealer and ordered one, sight unseen, and took about a $1500 hit to trade in the AN400. I’ll be the first one to admit I’m a tough customer, but the AN650 has so far exceeded my expectations.
I took delivery of my black AN650 last Friday, Aug. 6, late afternoon. From the moment I touched the start button I knew I was on a bike that was leagues above even the AN400, as good a bike as that is in its own right. It was smoooooth… no vibrations through the seat when it ran.
I rode it around the dealer’s lot a few times before leaving and immediately encountered the engine braking that’s built into the AN650. The AN400 does not have this and at first it surprised and concerned me until I remembered that I’d seen something about this during my research. I’ve since come to appreciate the benefits the engine braking can offer, but I do feel it needs to be tweaked somewhat so it disengages more smoothly as speed comes down. On mine, it seems like it really starts biting around 20 MPH, hauls the bike down, and then disappears all at once around 8-10 MPH. Like I said, I’d like to see this smoothed out a little bit.
I left the dealer and was immediately in four-lane rush hour traffic; a relatively novice rider on a machine I’d never ridden before. In a few short minutes I started feeling comfortable. Even though it had cost me a lot more money than if I’d just started with the AN650, going through the moped and then the AN400 first gave me some much-needed experience. I goosed the throttle and was utterly amazed at the smoothness of the power delivery. I was intrigued with the sound of the bike; it has a very throaty, almost a semi-diesel like sound; it’s hard to explain. After some riding, I think this is the transmission, since riding low behind the windscreen reveals a totally different engine sound. However, it’s not an unpleasant sound; in fact, it sounds like power to me.
I decided I wanted to get some miles on the bike to get it in for its break-in service ASAP so I took it out on our “bypass”, which is a relatively new four-lane with a 55 MPH limit. At the Michigan state line this goes to a 70 MPH limit. I put a few hundred miles on the bike first at lower speeds, then hit the highway.
Again, what a difference from the AN400! The bike is totally smooth at freeway speeds; the engine quietly sings. I did experience moderate wind buffeting, but I suppose that’s to be expected. Closer to the 600-mile mark I did some speed runs, tweaking it up to 85 and back down quickly. The bike is totally composed even at these speeds… the darned thing just flies! Passing and being passed by semis was a little intimidating at first, but now I’m getting used to how the bike responds and I feel more comfortable handling the buffeting.
I remarked earlier about the difficulty I was having with the AN400 and cornering and curving… I do not experience that at all with the AN650, and I’m not sure why that is. I went back to the same roads I was traveling with the AN400 and, with the AN650, had no problem following the lines I wished to follow running the speeds at which I felt safe. That’s a mystery, I guess.
The engine on the AN650 is everything I was hoping it would have been on the AN400. The AN400 ran rough at lower speeds, although it was starting to come out of it as I neared the 600-mile service. Closing the throttle would produce little backfiring noises and there was a lot of engine vibration in the bike. As I mentioned earlier, it sounded like a golf cart; the engine sound just doesn’t match the image the bike presents. I would like to see Suzuki massage the AN400 engine so it’s smoother and has a better engine note. The engine on the AN650 purrs like a kitten; when I’m at highway speeds I can’t hear it because of wind noise in my helmet, but if I lean in front of the windscreen I can hear it whirring away. Marvelous.
Which is another point; the inadequate (for me) windscreen. I’ve seen in other forums how many people are replacing the OEM windscreen and I’m sure I’ll be doing that too. Aside from the fact that all the wind is annoying I’m sure it’s not good for your hearing over the long term and I really don’t want to resort to ear plugs, which present their own issues. Right now I’m leaning towards the Clearview. I sent a query in through their website but haven’t gotten a reply yet. If I don’t hear from them soon I’ll call them.
There’s no doubt about it; the AN650 is one heavy bike. That was one of the things that convinced me to go ahead and get it, figuring that perhaps it might feel more composed at highway speeds relative to the AN400, and I was right. A conundrum here, for me, is that even though the AN650 is over 100 pounds heavier than the AN400 it seems to handle much more, shall we say, ‘accurately’. The lightest touch, the slightest lean moves the bike predictably; hold your balance at ease and the bike is right there with you. The rider feels at one with the bike. The AN400 felt respectable, but many times, particularly in the aforementioned corners and curves, I felt I was wrestling with the AN400, trying to get it to cooperate.
Today was my last ride before the service, and I decided to do a bit of acceleration running. On an isolated country road straightaway I flicked on the “Power Mode” , came to a stop, and then quickly rolled on the throttle. Man! I didn’t even go full throttle and in no time at all I was doing supra-legal speeds. This thing may not have the response of a crotch-rocket but it’s sure fast enough for me! One of the little joys of this bike is walking away from people at lights… they just don’t see it coming. I dusted a Harley the other day… that was fun. (LOL)
As far as the suspension goes, I’ve read remarks from others regarding the pitching over frost heaves, etc., and I have to agree. I’m not sure what Suzuki needs to do to fix this but I’d like to see the suspension be a little more compliant with frost heaves and bumps in general. Going over rough overpass bridges on the freeway can be downright punishing. I’ve gotten used to raising myself up slightly when going over these things and that helps, but I’d rather let the suspension handle it for me.
Anyway, tomorrow I take my AN650 in for its break-in service. I have 597 miles on the odo right now, and it will be right at 600 when I get it to the dealer, who tells me the service will run around $110.
Well, this has gone on long enough… thanks for reading. Overall, I’m very impressed and happy with my AN650. A big thanks to those who administer and moderate this board, as well as the contributors; it’s been an invaluable resource for me.