A Riders Comparison of the Burgman 400 and the Burgman 650 Scooters
I’ve been curious what the real world and riding differences are between the Burgman 400 and 650 scooters. Sure we can read the technical stuff and see the pictures to see how they are different, but I wanted to know how different they were to ride.
Thank goodness Scootergirl from the forum lives only an hour away and was brave enough to let me borrow her 2007 Burgman 400 for a backroads test ride. And that was a perfect way to compare the scooter. I rode an hour on my 650 Executive, jumped off, got on Robin’s 400 and took a long ride on it and then jumped back on my 650 for another hour home.
So what scooters did I compare? Robin has a 2007 stock Burgman 400 and I have a 2008 Burgman 650 Executive with a Clearview screen. Plus, Robin’s has this amazing beaded seat thing cover that makes her seat really plush. We’ll have to get more details about that for sure.
The very first thing I noticed was when I pulled up into Robin’s driveway. It had a slight downward angle and when I pulled up next to where her scooter was parked and jumped off mine it started to roll forward and fall even though it was on the side stand. Apparently the 650 was heavier enough that the slight incline made a big difference. After doing the silly ‘it’s falling over I’m trying to save it’ dance I finally got it firmly planted with the parking brake. Thank you Suzuki for the parking brake. And thank you Robin for letting me take your scooter out right after I nearly planted mine in your driveway. Brave woman.
Now, before I begin this comparison let me offer the following disclaimer. This was just my experience and these are just my opinions. This is not a white coated scientist dyno test. It is just a Burgman rider out riding another Burgman and offering impressions and comments. I encourage anyone that has anything to add or a different opinion to post it in the comments section at the end of this article.
As for cosmetic differences I’ll let the pictures show you all of that. The operational differences were very apparent and while the two scooters are very different in some ways, those differences are not necessarily bad things.
What struck me immediately when I stepped onto the Burgman 400 was how much lighter it is. It was so easy to take off the side stand and manhandle compared to the 650. It was also apparent when I sat on that damn comfortable beaded seat that the distance from the seat to the ground on the 400 was shorter than on the 650.
The first impression when I fired up the 400 was how much more scooter like the engine sounded and felt. It was as noticeable like the difference between a four cylinder car engine and an eight cylinder car engine. It’s not that the Burgman 400 is rough, just different. When giving it gas from a standing start it also sounds more like a scooter and takes a bit longer to get going and get up to speed. And let me assure you that the 400 has plenty of power once you get it going at a steady pace and runs smooth and fast. The big difference between the 400 and 650 with power appears to be that the 650 is faster off the line, faster acceleration and more top end speed. The 400 meets its maximum at just above highway speeds without any reserve for a bit more power. On my 650 I can pass anything traveling less than 100 mph or so, with ease.
Handling on the 400 was super fine. No problems at all. It is easy to lean and handle on the road. The most noticeable differences while cruising were the following items.
- It might just be purely personal preference but I do think the Burgman 650 mirrors are more helpful than the 400 mirrors. The 650 mirrors are in a very good and comfortable position when riding and even though they seem like they’d be too low they do give you a very broad view of the road. Maybe it was just esthetics but the mirrors on stalks on the 400 would not be my first choice.
- My Burgman 650 has ABS, the 400 does not. And while you could clamp on the binders on the 400 and bring it to a stop, the braking on the 650 Executive feels much more solid and strong. That is not to say that the braking on the 400 isn’t adequate, it feels perfectly adequate. What I noticed most was that on the 650 with ABS that when I apply the brakes, I get braking RIGHT NOW! And on the 400 I got hard braking but with a less of a massive grip.
- The weight difference was apparent to me on the twisty roads. On my 650 when I rock it back and forth in the turns it feels more definitive. The 400 was easy to handle but just didn’t give me the same sort of solid rider feedback. It is obviously a feeling that is hard to put into words but for an experienced motorcycle rider the weight feels like an advantage in the fast sweeping turns. But that extra weight, not properly handled, could probably get a new rider in more trouble.
- I also love the analogue fuel gauge on the 400 rather than the digital four bar gauge on my 650. In fact I think the fuel and temp gauges on the 650 are a disappointment and I’d just like more information than the bars on the 650 give me.
- On the 400 the disappointment was the initial power and scooterness of the engine when starting to get going. But if you are buying a scooter, that would not be a negative factor at all. And this is where I think the major difference is between the Burgman 400 and the Burgman 650. The Burgman 400 feels, in my opinion, like a powerful scooter and the Burgman 650 feels and handles more like a powerful motorcycle.
Now, that doesn’t mean that both don’t have a perfect place in different situations. With the better fuel milage that the Burgman 400 gets and it’s light weight I’d prefer the Burgman 400 for a daily commute in traffic, run to the store or a lot of riding in an urban area. I also think that anyone that does not have experience riding a motorcycle should start with the 400, not because it is inferior or a starter scooter but simply because the reduction in weight and less rocket start power can make it a safer maxiscooter to start with.
I would strongly suggest that before anyone buys a Burgman 650 that they have completed an approved motorcycle safety class and has previous motorcycle riding experience or can ride with a buddy to get experience. Call it what you want, the Burgman 650 Executive, for all intents and purposes, is a motorcycle with a step through frame.
Both the Burgman 400 and 650 can travel a long distance and I could see myself easily able to ride cross country on the Burgman 400. Both are fine machines, great maxiscooters and perfect fit for that special someone.