Suzuki's Burgman 650 - scooter on the outside, sportsbike on the inside
It's a scooter to look at, but the 650cc, fuel-injected motor and electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission of the Suzuki Burgman offer far more than the styling would suggest. When one thinks scooters, the first thought is immediately one of a small capacity machine designed for inner city commuting applications.
The Burgman is very different machine, although it visually shares the same form factor.
For starters, with a high-tech 638cc motor, it is powerful and comfortable enough for touring on the open road, which separates it from traditional scooters by a few light years. It's not so much the machine but the SECVT which really impressed me.
The electronic gearbox is a foretaste of the future of commuting machinery and quite possibly of motorcycling in general. Manual Mode offers the ability of shifting up and down as on a motorcycle with a traditional gearbox and there are five pre-determined CVT ratios to shift through.
If there is a drawback with the bike, it's that the manual shift doesn't offer the same thrill of snicking it up a cog and dropping the revs back into the meat of the torque curve as you would with a normal motorcycle.
Put simply, in manual mode, it's like a tiptronic-style manual gearbox for a two wheeler, and the gears can be changed by thumb. Almost the whole time we had the machine, we used the automatic mode, because it offered continuously smooth automatic operation, the utmost convenience and almost no downside. And we found that the manual mode offered almost no advantage and was devoid somehow of that satisfying snick, so seamless is the Burgman power delivery. You push the button and it changes gear.
There are two automatic modes: Normal and Power. In Normal Mode, the Burgman runs lower revs at any given road speed, conserving fuel and loping along in the traffic. Most scooters "buzz" or "scream" along - the Burgman "lopes".
Switch to Power Mode and engine revs pick up, delivering more ponies per degree of throttle opening. A button on the handlebar toggles between the two modes. It's ironic indeed that the array of devices which once graced motorcycle handlebars (advance-retard lever, choke, and decompression lever for starting) and were dispensed with thanks to technological advances, have now been replaced with a modern-day equivalent. Just the same, adept minds accustomed to using game controls had no trouble mastering the buttons in short order - it was only the older heads who took a bit of time to adjust.
Now there's a point where being on a scooter is great, such as when it rains or when you need to store something. But there are other times when being on a scooter is not so great.
It was clear after riding the bike for a couple of weeks, that many of motorcycling's brethren do not accept scooter riders as legitimate members of the two-wheeled fraternity. Pull up at the lights and nod to another two-wheeled commuter and the chances of getting a warm reply are greatly diminished if you are on a scooter. It was quite strange really, particularly after years of riding everything at the testosterone end of motorcycling, and something we all noticed when riding either the Burgman or the Benelli Adiva. In motorcycling's pecking order, scooters are seemingly on the bottom rung!
This rampant "scooterism" has a sure-fire cure when riding the 650 Burgman - hit the power button and nail it the millisecond the lights go green.The get-up-and-go of the Burgman over the first 50 metres embarrassed a couple of litre-plus bike riders and positively humiliated a Harley Sportster rider who rode through a red light rather than face the Burgman a second time at the traffic light grand prix. The "magic button" is conveniently located on the handlebar panel and it aids the Burgman in producing very spirited performance indeed.
The SECVT system uses a set of variable-diameter pulleys and a new type of belt called the Dry Hybrid Belt, which is built using rubber tension members embedded in H-shaped, high-strength aluminium blocks covered with resin.
Lightweight and designed to run dry (instead of an oil bath which increases frictional losses), the belt is the secret to the incredible precision of the Suzuki CVT. A computerized SECVT controller and ECM oversee the SECVT's operation. They calculate the actual CVT ratio by using three sensors: a drive pulley position sensor, which senses the drive pulley diameter from the position of a slide gear; a crank position sensor; and a CVT rev sensor on the driven pulleys. Based on road speed and throttle position, the SECVT controller calculates the target engine rpm and automatically adjusts the CVT ratio by varying the drive pulley diameter.
Using the transmission is a complete no-brainer, making it the ideal first bike - the rider can learn roadcraft instead of worrying about clutches and changing gears and the power is smooth and broad and you'll never find yourself in the wrong gear at the wrong speed. The Burgman is a great learner machine!
One of the best things about the Burgman is its luggage and storage capacity: the under-seat storage compartment measures a full 56 litres, which is plenty large enough for most commuting and day trips. The great thing about the design is that you can take out your books/bag etc and leave two full-face helmets inside.
The Burgman also has the feel of a luxury car in that it is extremely well appointed there's a light in the storage compartment which switches on automatically when you lift the seat, illuminating the entire area, reminiscent of BMW-style thoroughness. The front fairing contains three compartments which became incredibly useful having a glove box on a motorcycle is far more useful than in a car!
The luxury feel extends also to the seat - the thickly padded seat is expansive and ergonomic and according to Suzuki, it is designed for two people to be able to sit comfortably for long stretches. The rider's seat height is just 750mm and is hence quite suitable for shorter people and there are several adjustments to the seat and backrest which can be quickly done under the seat without resorting to tools.
The concave floorboards offer plenty of room for two sets of feet, and the absence of a gear-lever means that you can arrange yourself into several different riding positions, from the full feet-forward chopper-style riding position, through to tucking the feet underneath. It's great to be able to move about a bit if you've been in the saddle for a few hours.
The luxurious and modern impression of the Burgman also extends to the instrumentation, with the digital instrument panel cluster offering all the key operational information and then some. At the centre is a large, central LCD speedometer, odometer, tripmeter and oil change indicator. Directly above is a curved LCD-segment tachometer; directly below is a shift indicator, showing D for fully automatic operation and 1-2-3-4-5 for manual shifting operation.
To the sides are a segmented water temperature meter, a segmented fuel level meter, a clock, and key indicator lights. The Burgman 650 is also equipped with a DC accessory outlet, which can be used to power or recharge a mobile phone, PDA or other electronic device.All-in-all, the Burgman is a gem a glimpse into motorcycling's future. At some point in the future, a lot more vehicles will have the benefit of a CVT, and they won't all be scooters.
Right now, the Burgman offers a level of luxury which puts it in a class of its own for $12,990 plus on-roads, it comes very well appointed.
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New 2015 Yamaha R1 - New Images and Rumors
The Yamaha R1 might not be as popular or successful as it's smaller brother, the R6, but it's still a great bike and a new 2015 Yamaha R1 is expected to be unveiled by the end of this year. There's been plenty of rumors in recent months and thankfully a more solid picture has begun to emerge about what to expect. And with the descriptions and spy photos are also giving a clearer idea on what it will look like. The pictures below are the work of Tamus Jakus, who has created these renders based on what we've learned so far.
The rumors about the R1 are varied, and we've listed everything that's out there so far and grouped them based on the highly outrageous to the sure things.
The new 2015 Yamaha R1 will feature a semi-automatic/dual clutch gearbox. This rumor is based off some obscure patent filings made by Yamaha, but it seems unlikely. Firstly, even though a semi-auto box on a superbike won't offer any sort of clutch lever free shifting, it's risky to even have the term 'auto' anywhere near the R1 and that Yamaha would risk softening the image of it's flagship racer given such connotations seems doubtful. Secondly, motorcycle gearboxes already provide rapid shifting compared to cars and it would seem to create unnecessary complexity and expense to the bike for very little gain.
The engine will change from an in-line four to a triple. This rumor actually had some legs earlier, but the latest indications are that the new 2015 Yamaha R1 will retain the existing engine configuration.
The 2015 Yamaha R1 will produce 230 bhp. While it hasn't been confirmed, this is a figure that is gaining credibility. If it is true, it's a massive increase from the current model's 180 bhp and would easily see the bike crack the 300 kph mark if it wasn't for electronic limiting. The only reason this rumor is still a 'possible' and not a 'highly likely' is that other stories state that not a huge amount of work has gone into engine changes, which would make a 50 bhp increase seem difficult to achieve.
The new Yamaha R1 will feature electronically adjustable suspension. In isolation, this rumor has probably sprouted because things like electronically adjustable suspension, engine mapping and so on is becoming the new thing for top tier bikes. But given that it seems Yamaha is targeting the BMW HP4 with the new R1, it's a distinct possibility.
The new 2015 Yamaha R1 will be released in two versions – a road legal track version and a 'standard' version. There are two reasons why this rumor is likely to be true. Firstly, Yamaha wants to take a real crack at the WSBK and with it's new rules, you pretty much have to race with what you sell. Secondly, it makes sense to have a hero bike that is top of the pile, but also sell a version that the mass market can afford (and how many people really need a superbike championship winning bike for everyday use?).
It seems the track version will feature as many technical gadgets as possible, such as traction control, throttle control, engine maps, cornering ABS and so forth, as well as the previously mentioned electronically adjustable suspension. The track version will produce the full 230 bph, while the standard version will receive a 'de-tuned' engine and less (or perhaps even none) of the electronic aids, save for ABS.
The new Yamaha R1 will continue to attract Squids all over the world. Believe it or not, this rumor has actually already been confirmed by Yamaha as the new R1 was designed to go faster when a rider isn't wearing anything but a helmet, shorts and t-shirt.
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