India has had a colorful history with scooters. Way back in 1948 just post independence, Bajaj imported the first set of Vespas into the country. Since then, this market has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Bajaj ruled the roost for the longest time with its scooters, and LML with Piaggio made them fight tooth-and-nail to keep their stranglehold on the market. Then came a dark cloud in scooter sales with the Japanese motorcycles coming in and decimating the geared scooter segment, which was reduced to a very minor share in the late 80’s and all through the 90’s.
Which brings us to the post 2000 era, when Honda brought scooters back from the dead, to emerge on top with its Activa, which raked in sales like never before. This is the story of the commuter segment though, and then there is the maxi-scooter segment, still waiting to be explored in India.
Suzuki is thinking about and exploring ways to bring in their well equipped, top-of-the-line scooter, the Burgman 650 Executive ABS. Still in the stages of surveying the market, Suzuki has imported this particular scooter for market feedback from prospective customers, and we’ve just managed to take a ride on the gentle giant.
The Burgman scooter makes quite an impressive looker. It has a long, swooping profile when looked at from the side, and a muscular, yet not overwhelming profile when seen from ahead. The big Burgman has twin headlamps mounted on a smartly turned out apron. Mounted above these is an electrically adjustable windscreen, which provides excellent wind and rain protection. The rear view mirrors integrate turn signal indicators, and are electrically operated as well on this premium scooter.
Behind the windscreen sits a broad instrument console, part digital and part analogue, with the speedometer and tachometer read via needles, while other information such as fuel level, ambient temperature, time and temperature readings are displayed via an LCD panel. Mounted on the shrouded handlebars are the scooter’s control buttons, which have a meaty feel to them, and work with good feel.
The seat on this massive scooter is plush, and accommodates both, rider and pillion in comfort, with backrests for both. The well padded backrest for the rider is adjustable, and works well for both tall and short riders. Comfort is thoroughly thought out, with front and rear seats electrically heated on the Burgman 650.
Open the seat and you have a really large storage compartment, good enough to hold two full sized helmets. Besides this, there are small storage areas below the handlebars, which hold smaller things such as water bottles and cell-phones. The Burgman 650 even houses a DC charging port to top up your battery on the go. And there’s a parking brake lever that sits besides the big seat.
The Burgman 650 feels impeccably put together, a high quality product with premium finish on all the parts. While taking the big Suzuki on a short spin, we found nothing to complain about.
Powering the Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive is a 638cc, four-stroke, parallel-twin and liquid-cooled engine that makes a heady on a scooter 54bhp of maximum power at 7,000rpm, and 6.3kgm of torque at 5,000rpm. Transmission is via a fully automatic gearbox system, as used by automatic cars, and not the more scooter typical CVT systems we are more used to seeing India. The Burgman 650 offers three riding modes riders can choose from, Drive, Power and Manual. Drive and Power modes shift gears automatically, while Manual allows the rider to control gearshifts, going up or down five steps using toggle buttons on the left hand side switch cluster.
Wring the throttle open and be prepared to be greeted with robust bursts of un-scooter like acceleration, as the burly Burgman zips away from the starter blocks to nudge 100kph, and even higher speeds in short stretches. Even at cruising speeds of close to a 100kph, there’s still ample power in reserve for you to tap into, making overtaking a breeze.
Suspending the scooter are telescopic shock absorbers in front, and twin shock absorbers mounted on a swingarm at the rear. Ride quality is good, neither too stiff, nor overly plush, turning quite sublime at higher speeds, to soak up road undulations with ease. Tyres on the front are 120/70 tubeless units mounted on a 15-inch alloy wheel, while at the rear 160/60 tubeless units are mounted on a 14-inch alloy wheel. The Burgman 650 is stable in a straight line, and corners with a weighty, still composed enough feel for a big scooter of this large a size. Braking is strong, with excellent feel and feedback at the lever, delivered via 260mm dual discs on the front and a 250mm disc brake at the rear, and the welcome safety net of ABS is offered as standard on this powerful Suzuki.
While it might appear intimidating to those who lay eyes on it for the first time, the Burgman 650 offers a pleasant riding experience, providing the practicality and ease of an automatic gearbox equipped scooter for urban conditions, with enough performance to keep you entertained. It is not overly ponderous, and handles confidently even while negotiating city traffic, even for shorter riders.
As and when the Suzuki Burgman 650 does make it to India, expect it to crack open up a whole new and exciting segment, that’s waiting to be tapped into. However, the foreseeable challenge for Suzuki is going to be how they manage to price this excellent, top drawer scooter affordably to sell in our value sensitive market. With assembly for such premium products not on the cards today at Suzuki, the Japanese giant will be left little option other than to import the Burgman 650 to our shores as a completely built up unit, CBU, meaning the big scooter will be priced in the vicinity of Rs 12 lakh, with all duties paid to the government.
If they can get this sorted out though, the Burgman 650 does make an ideal two-wheeler option, in terms of an alternate urban runabout for superbike owners, with comfort and practicality all for the taking.