Executive Troubles: Why Did the Suzuki Burgman 650 Scooter Fail?

For many, the scooter is just an inexpensive city commuting device. But while they give up some performance and ultimate capability to motorcycles, scooters aren’t just zippy urban runabouts. With a bit of tweaking, for example, they can handle a bit of off-roading. And as the Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive demonstrated, scooters can be more practical—and more luxurious—than some motorcycles. So, why is it that, FortNine host Ryan asks, for all its strengths, the Burgman 650 isn’t around anymore?

The Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive was a truly luxurious maxi scooter

Intermot Trade Fair goers look at a gray 2018 Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive scooter
2018 Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive | Marc Pfitzenreuter/Getty Images
Spec2013-2018 Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive
Engine638cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin
Power54 hp (Cycle World)
Torque45 lb-ft (Cycle World)
TransmissionContinuously-variable transmission (CVT)
Front suspension and travel41mm KYB forks; 4.3″ (Motorcyclist)
Rear suspension and travelPreload-adjustable KYB shocks; 3.9″ (Motorcyclist)
Seat height29.9″
Curb weight619 lbs

Considering Vespa scooters top out at roughly 300cc with only one cylinder, the Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive might seem rather big. Indeed, in Europe, it’s a so-called ‘maxi scooter.’ Also, fun fact, its engine borrows some elements from the Suzuki Hayabusa, Cycle World says. However, as described later, this large-capacity scooter is easier to control than you might think.

Plus, the Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive’s best attribute isn’t its performance or even its handling. It’s the sheer level of luxury and high-end features that it packs.

These days, even a few touring bikes only offer heated grips as optional accessories. They’re standard on the Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive, as is a power-operated windshield. The two-person seat is heated, too, which is already an unusual standard feature. But it’s also power-operated, which is even more unusual. The mirrors are power-adjustable as well. And while even modern Vespas have rear drum brakes, the Burgman 650 Executive has triple discs with optional ABS.

Plus, the Suzuki scooter doesn’t necessarily need accessory bags to carry luggage and cargo. Its under-seat compartment is big enough to hold two full-face helmets. And it has additional storage space underneath the handlebars, along with a DC outlet. But if you need to take your helmets out to make room, don’t worry, the Burgman 650 has a built-in cable helmet lock.

It soldiered on longer overseas, but the Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive didn’t catch on in North America

Although it has a CVT, the Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive has a Manual mode so riders can ‘shift gears’ using buttons. It’s not quite like Honda’s DCT, but it’s not too far off in concept. And the scooter’s CVT has ‘a’ gear, FortNine explains. But it’s only there to help brace the CVT’s belt so it doesn’t slip excessively. The result is smooth, effortless acceleration that out-paces some larger-capacity motorcycles.

However, even if you leave the Burgman 650 Executive in Automatic, it’s still a fun ride. The low step-through seat means that even shorter riders can sit comfortably. Its wide tires and small wheels, along with a compact wheelbase, mean the Suzuki scooter turns in well. And since the top of its engine is in line with its brakes, there’s minimal brake dive.

Admittedly, the Suzuki Burgman 650’s weight means that it can’t lean as much or as nimbly as genuine sport-tourers, Motorcyclist notes. And while it rides well over smooth pavement, its suspension travel is nothing to write home about. However, considering its features and practicality, it’s an excellent all-around commuting—and even minor touring—machine.

Yet even with these plus points, Suzuki canceled the Burgman 650 after 2018 in the US. And in 2020, the scooter died off in Europe, too. With oncoming Euro5 emission regulations and buyers’ preferences for smaller-capacity scooters, the latter case makes some sense. But why did Suzuki kill it here, too?

In a word, marketing, FortNine explains. As noted earlier, most US customers consider scooters to be cheap city transportation. And while the Burgman 650 Executive had motorcycle-like luxuries, it also had a motorcycle-like price. In 2018, it cost just over $11K, Cycle World reports. At that price, most would likely just go with a ‘proper’ bike, such as a used BMW F 800 ST.

Used examples are still affordable

The rear 3/4 view of a white 2013 Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive scooter
2013 Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive rear 3/4 view | Suzuki

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Suzuki still sells Burgman scooters in the US: the $8499 Burgman 400 and the $4999 Burgman 200. But if you want a 650 Executive, you’ll have to shop the used market.

The good news is that depreciation has made these luxury scooters more affordable. As of this writing, the most expensive used Burgman 650 Executive on Cycle Trader is only $500 more than a new Burgman 400. But most examples typically fall in the $6000-$8000 range.

So, while it couldn’t make much of a business case when it was new, this Suzuki scooter might be worth investing in now.

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