The original maxi-scooter has lost weight and improved its appearance, but still maintains its fun-loving middleweight character.
The Burgman scooter series has always been a steady seller. If you combine the sales of the different models, Suzuki has shifted over 440,000 Burgman’s to date. Now Suzuki is hoping to entice even more riders onto the Burgman with the launch of the updated 400.
The new Burgman 400 is more evolution than revolution, with the same 399cc single-cylinder engine, although modified, still providing the power, while the chassis updates are designed to bring the middleweight scoot up to date rather than completely re-imagining it.
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Visually, the Burgman has taken a big step forward with the new look decidedly more slim and sharp. New front/rear LED lights add to the modern look and the candy red wheels on the matt black model (also available in white) look stunning.
Tour of Turin
The European launch was in Turin, Italy (perfect setting for a scooter designed to take on both city streets and open roads). The 2017 version is seven kilos lighter than the last model, and as we set-off tackling the cobbled streets, you could tell it had lost weight; it felt light and agile (like a much smaller capacity model) yet substantial and stable.
Suzuki has updated the link-type mono-shock rear suspension, which felt a tad sportier than expected. It made the ride less luxurious than some other big scooters, but ensured there was always a good level of feedback (particularly useful on slippery, bumpy cobbled Turin streets, with tramlines zig-zagging everywhere).
The engine hasn’t been replaced, although it has been modified to give more low and midrange torque (now peaking at 26.55lb-ft at 4800rpm) and to pass the stringent Euro 4 emissions tests. The main changes are a new 5-litre air intake box and a new cam profile, making the scooter shoot off the line with plenty of enthusiasm. The downside is that maximum power is down 1bhp (now 31bhp at 6300rpm).
The way that the power is delivered is smooth, with the automatic CVT taking the command from the twist-grip to the rear wheel in an effortless and silky smooth manner. In dry conditions you can pin the throttle from a standing start; in the wet you might have to be more cautious, as traction control is not included in the updates.
Out of town
In town, the torque, power and handling impressed, but the real test was always going to be the twisty countryside roads. The first signs were promising as we weaved through the hilly Piedmont region surrounding Turin. The Burgman feels easy and light to steer and corners keenly, making the hairpins easy to negotiate. The centre stand can touch down when you get too excited with the pace, but no sooner than on similar scooters. Because of the level of pull and the reasonable kerb weight the scooter exits corners swiftly and gets up to speed in respectable fashion. Braking into corners is nice and controlled with the twin 260mm front discs benefiting with some help from the 210mm rear disc when more urgent speed reduction is needed. The new Nissin ABS unit is 750g lighter than the current model’s setup and works well, keeping the wheels from locking.
Spirited riding revealed that the suspension that had occasionally felt a little hard in town came into its own in fast cornering. It kept the Burgman steady and controlled, with no wallowing or vagueness.
As the roads straightened and speeds increased, the 400cc engine limitations started to show and at speeds above 70mph, acceleration started to feel sluggish and overtakes required more planning. But it never felt unsteady, even when pushed to speeds it’s not really designed to maintain, thanks to the more rigid frame and larger 15in front wheel.
In town and country, the Burgman felt comfortable and easy to ride. The new cut-away footboards and sculpted seat (now 20mm thicker) make it easy to get your feet on the ground, while the ample foot space makes it easy to stretch out on the move.
The riding position has been slightly amended with a marginally sportier feel, but maintaining rider comfort. The new windscreen directs windblast remarkably well and with the scooter’s generous proportions, I could spend hours on it without any aches or pains. Official mpg is 70.62, although I only achieved 60.31mpg on our ride; a slightly more sedate pace should get you closer to the claimed mpg and a 210 mile range from a brimmed 13.5-litre tankful.
There’s 42-litre underseat storage space and two glovebox-type compartments at the front (one with a 12v charger point). The front compartments aren’t lockable as Suzuki felt they would have been too easy to break into. Talking about security, the new Burgman features a chain lock gate, which allows you to pass a chain lock through it and secure your scooter to an immovable object. The ignition also helps to keep it secure, with the magnetic cover that can only be opened with the owner’s key.
Back at base
After a day riding the Burgman, my overriding impression was that it was a thoroughly enjoyable scooter to ride. It has the level of performance, handling and style that make it a fun all-round package. My only criticism is the lack of traction control, but we’ve survived without it in the past. The Burgman 400 is 100% made in Japan, which shows Suzuki is taking quality control seriously, and with the useful updates, we can expect the steady sales of the Burgman family to continue.
Words: Mikko Nieminen
Images: Suzuki Press Office
O2W RATING: 8 stars
ENGINE: 399cc 4-stroke, 1-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC
SEAT HEIGHT: 755mm
KERB WEIGHT: 215kg
FUEL TANK CAPACITY: 13.5 litres