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Thread: Development History of the Burgman 650

  1. #1
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    Development History of the Burgman 650

    A short story I gleamed from a board in Japan written by a person who claimed they were an engineer for Susuki. Here's what he said.

    "When the Suzuki design team finished the Burgman 400 design and it was released to production they looked around for another project and it was suggested they build a bigger version of the 400 with more power. At first it was thought of as a joke, but the more they worked on it the more serious it became until after about six months they presented the concept to management. To their shock management jumped on it. (This may show you that Suzuki OS a very different kind of company. Remember this was late 1999 or early 2000 and scooters, on a world wide basis, were small with small motors, strictly cheap transportation for the masses.)

    Once management accepted that they would finish the design and build this huge scooter there were several major problems to be solved. Simply stated Suzuki didn't have a suitable motor and designing a new motor from scratch was far too costly, estimated at $400,000,000. If you think that is a ridiculous amount, it cost GM nearly one billion dollars to design the new V6 that is in all those new vehicles that they are claiming gets better mileage than Toyota.

    The second problem was a belt for the transmission that would be able to handle the power of a 650cc engine. The last problem was tires. No one was building any thing close to this new bike and scooter tires were eight to 12 inches, nothing bigger at the time and motorcycle tires started at 16 inches. They needed a unique sized tire with unique characteristics. It needed to be able to act like a sports bike tire at times and as a city bike tire at others.

    To solve this they put out a tender to all the large tire manufacturers. Only two responded and only Bridgestone was willing to do the R & D to come up with a good tire for this unique bike. The result was the OEM tire so maybe now you know why it performs better than the Irving come lately tires from the competition.

    The belt for the transmission problem was solved when they found a belt for a CVT in Subaru's parts bins for a small car they had sold in the mid 90s. Taken as is without modification required some redesign of the transmission but that was considered acceptable because if a belt can pull a 2500 to 3000 pound car with four occupants around for half a million miles, they wouldn't need a change interval for the 600 pound bike.

    The last problem was the engine and that almost sank the project until a young engineer checked a Hayabusa engine block out of stores, took it to a band saw and cut it in half. Then he cut the back end off and had the end piece welded together with the front half. The result was the prototype for the Burgman 650 engine. If you find this hard to believe, look at the displacement of the previous generation Hayabusa engine. The Burgman 650 engine at an actual 638cc is exactly half that displacement. Some internal tuning was done to reduce HP and increase longevity for the Burgman, but that was very minor."


    This was extracted several years ago from a Board in Japan. What's here is extracted from the Google Translation system so I probably missed a lot of details, but I got the gist of it.

  2. #2
    Steve Rhode
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    Development History of the Burgman 650

    Richard,


    Thank you so much for posting this. A very interesting history.


    Steve

  3. #3

    Development History of the Burgman 650

    Thanks for posting --Interesting reading. Now if we could plant the seed of a 750. . .

    For almost a happenstance creation, I tend to think they hit the ball out of the park. I routinely get on busy southern California freeways and think the Burgman bikes are the best commuter bikes imaginable, especially the 650 Exec.

    I think the only area Suzuki has fallen down in is in marketing. My own journey to Burgman happiness resulted from my walking by a parked Majesty, and thinking I could see myself on one of those. From there the research led to this site. Back when people had jobs(like last year) there were many young and older potential scoot riders. Had I seen a decent ad or commercial for a burgman, I suspect I'd have checked it out earlier.


    Ride safe

    Art H

  4. #4
    Steve Rhode
    Guest

    Development History of the Burgman 650

    They run print ad and commercials for them all the time in Europe, just not in the U.S.


    Steve

  5. #5
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    Development History of the Burgman 650

    I agree. Suzuki does a terrible job marketing the Burgman in the USA. I found out about the Burgmans by websurfing when I was looking for a bigger scooter. I had no idea they built scooters as big as the 400 and 650.

  6. #6
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    Development History of the Burgman 650

    I found out about the 650, in 2002, when it first came out, here in the UK. But not from Suzuki. I read about it in "What Bike" mag. Which used to be a good mag; with a lot of technical details. But they got lazy, and dropped all that, and now only copy what they've printed in earlier issues. Stuff which is now, well out of date. I don't buy it any more.

  7. #7
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    Development History of the Burgman 650

    In my experience in Europe - limited as it is - I saw loots of ads for the 400 but nothing for the 650.

  8. #8
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    Development History of the Burgman 650

    I was riding an Aprillia 250 SportCity and knew nothing about the Burgman. I only found about the bike a scooter club meet and ride. It was love at first sight.

  9. #9

    Development History of the Burgman 650

    H


    Here in Canada, I was told that Transport Canada did not allow the licensing of scooters that were not equipped with a pedal activated rear brake. It took Suzuki several years of demonstrations and road tests to have the regulation modified. It may explain in part why very little was done to market the big scooter up here.

    Personally, I am convinced that the brake arrangement on the Burgman 650 is one of the best in the market. The only thing I wish my Burg 650 Exec had was a "neutral" position in the gearbox, and maybe even a "reverse" position, but that is another story...

    I hope for a very short winter. Last Spring, I rode the bike for the first ride of the season on March 15. It was bloody cold but what a feeling after several months of snow and misery.

  10. #10
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    Development History of the Burgman 650

    "Pedal activated rear brake" " belt transmission"


    I thought the 650 was like the 400 for braking, that is to say, using levers on handle bar.


    I also thought that the transmission was obtained through gears, like a normal gearbox, unlike the 400 which uses a belt. Am I wrong?

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