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Scooter Shootout: 2014 BMW C 650 GT / 2013 Honda Silver Wing / 2013 Suzuki Burgman 650

Bill Stermer
December 5, 2013
Filed under Road Tests, Sidecar + Scooter + Trike Motorcycle Reviews

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Scooter Group Photo

The Suzuki Burgman (left), BMW C 650 GT (center) and Honda Silver Wing (right) all have liquid-cooled, twin-cylinder engines, anti-lock brakes and fuel injection.

Scooters are often seen as something less, something that one learns and practices upon until he or she is ready for a real machine. You know, one that has at least two cylinders, liquid cooling, double-overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, fuel injection, anti-lock brakes (ABS), a respectable amount of displacement, etc. Well, the scooters you’re perusing here all happen to have two cylinders with liquid cooling, four valves per cylinder, anti-lock disc brakes, fuel injection, and two of the three even have dual overhead cams. And their displacement ranges from 582cc for the Honda Silver Wing to 638cc for the Suzuki Burgman and 647cc for the BMW C 650 GT. These are some serious scooters!

With that said they’re still, after all, scooters. That means they have smaller wheels than motorcycles, and a step-through frame design with a feet-forward riding position. There’s no throwing a leg over, and no seriously bent knees under you. With their automatic clutches and continuously variable transmissions (CVT), no shifting is required. Utilize the big storage area under the seat to haul your stash. It all boils down to the fact that scooters are simple to ride, comfortable and practical.

Just because they’re scooters, however, don’t regard them as toys that are inexpensive to buy or operate. With all these advances and their 600-650cc displacements their weights are comparable to mid-size motorcycles, their fuel mileage is similar, and they range in price from $9,270 to $10,999.

All utilize sophisticated ABS brake systems that work well, and stopping power is impressive. Again, these are serious scoots!

2014 BMW C 650 GT ($9,990 + $605 = $10,595)

2014 BMW C 650 GT

2014 BMW C 650 GT

The German-built BMW C 650 GT is powered by a 647cc parallel twin-cylinder engine made by Kymco in Taiwan. With a compression ratio of 11.6:1 it requires 89-octane fuel, but the others take 87-octane regular. It’s a nice touch that deploying the sidestand not only kills the ignition, but also automatically deploys the parking brake. Final drive is courtesy of a chain in an oil bath.

Two small storage areas live in the dash, each of which will accept a pair of gloves but little more. It is the only scooter here whose underseat storage area is big but will not accommodate two full-face helmets.

Roll on the gas and the C 650 GT’s engine revs rather high and noisily, about 4,000 rpm according to the bar graph LCD tachometer, and with a lot of slippage the bike begins to move. Once it hooks up it feels lively; the impression is that this high-performance motor needs to spool up further into its rev range to where it’s making good power. Underway, the GT feels stable on its 15-inch wheels though the ride is slightly choppy relative to the other two scooters.

BMW dashboard

The BMW C 650 GT is the quickest of the group, and offers a pair of dashboard storage compartments, an electrically adjustable windscreen and optional heated seats and grips.

For the long ride home, hit the button near the left grip and adjust the windscreen from down to up, but even in the highest position the wind hit our 6-foot-tall riders in the face. Our test GT was equipped with the optional Highline Package ($605), which includes heated grips and heated seats with separate controls for rider and passenger. Of these scooters, the BMW’s seat height of 31.7 inches is very high for a scooter, and even our 6-footers had to tiptoe—a 30.9-inch seat is available as an accessory. The passenger likewise has the highest climb to get aboard, and by sitting higher has less wind protection.

2014 BMW C 650 GT
Base Price: $9,990
Price As Tested: $10,595
Website: bmwmotorcycles.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled parallel twin, SOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 79.0 x 66.0mm
Displacement: 647cc
Transmission: CVT
Final Drive: Chain in oil bath
Wheelbase: 62.6 in.
Seat Height: 31.7 in.
Wet Weight: 587 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gals.
Average MPG: 48.7

2013 Honda Silver Wing ($9,270)

2013 Honda Silver Wing

2013 Honda Silver Wing

Introduced for 2002, the Honda Silver Wing added an ABS model the following year. Today, the Silver Wing comes with standard anti-lock brakes, and is powered by a 582cc parallel twin-cylinder DOHC engine. Power reaches the rear by means of a belt final drive. It is quieter than the others here, yet vibrates more and its vibes are felt primarily in the grips and seat. Its seat is softer and its suspension delivers a more compliant ride than the others, and with a seat height of 29.7 inches (same as the Suzuki Burgman) the Honda offers an easier reach to the pavement than the BMW.

With its 14- and 13-inch wheels, front to back, the Honda turns more quickly at low speeds, but as a result also feels twitchier and less certain than the other bikes at higher speeds. It also has somewhat less legroom, making it less suitable for taller riders. Its windscreen is not adjustable, leaving taller riders more in the windblast, and more wind also comes around from the sides of the narrower bodywork.

Honda Silver Wing Dash

Honda’s Silver Wing is the least expensive of the group, yet offers a comfortable ride and the best fuel economy. It also has two dash storage compartments, but its windscreen does not adjust.

With this said, the Honda is the lightest in our group, gets the best fuel mileage (51.6 mpg) and is quieter in operation. It carries a rear rack, but with no attaching points underneath for bungee cords and no trunk available, the rack is hardly usable. Two glove boxes reside in the dash area. If you’re taking a friend, the Honda is the easiest for a passenger to mount with its lower seat, and with its low backrest the passenger fits into a comfortable pocket.

2013 Honda Silver Wing
Base Price: $9,270
Website: powersports.honda.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled parallel twin, DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 72.0 x 71.5mm
Displacement: 582cc
Transmission: CVT
Final Drive: Enclosed Belt
Wheelbase: 63.0 in.
Seat Height: 29.7 in.
Wet Weight: 548 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gals.
Average MPG: 51.6

2013 Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS ($10,999)

2013 Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS

2013 Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS

Introduced in 2002, the Burgman is a sporty scooter that has undergone significant changes for 2013. It has been restyled for a slimmer appearance, and drivetrain changes have reduced frictional losses, increasing fuel economy over the previous model in Drive mode. With new contact surfaces, the clutch plates separate easier, reducing drag friction by 35 percent; it’s now easier to push the scooter around the garage. And its triple-disc brakes now use floating rather than solid-mount rotors up front. Its twin-cylinder, 638cc DOHC engine retains gear final drive, along with a collection of modes that make it very versatile and increase the fun factor. In addition to the standard Drive mode, it also offers Power mode that, while it does not actually boost power, causes the transmission to shift at higher rpm for greater performance.

Finally, Manual mode defines six “gears” that can be selected by means of a toggle near the left grip. This allows the rider to shift up and down, and to select a lower gear for increased engine braking while going downhill; it will also downshift automatically as it loses speed. This feature works well and provides true sporty performance. Its 15- and 14-inch wheels give the Burgman a nice balance between stability and quick, sporty handling.

Suzuki’s Burgman 650 Dash

Suzuki’s Burgman 650 offers the sportiest control of its performance through Drive, Power and Manual shifting modes. Its windscreen is electrically adjustable, and it has three dashboard storage compartments.

For storage, it has three glove boxes in the dashboard area, and the Burgman’s passenger will find the scoot easier to mount than the BMW. It offers the best rider and passenger wind protection, too, with an electric windscreen that raises and lowers over 6 inches and is fairly quiet in the highest position. This year, the handy electric folding mirrors and useful passenger backrest from the former Executive model are standard.

2013 Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS
Base Price: $10,999
Website: suzukicycles.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled parallel twin, DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 75.5 x 71.3mm
Displacement: 638cc
Transmission: CVT
Final Drive: Gear
Wheelbase: 62.4 in.
Seat Height: 29.7 in.
Wet Weight: 621 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 4.0 gals.
Average MPG: 50.5

Conclusions

Scooter Comparison 2013

With weather protection, automatic clutches and shifting, and their large under-seat storage areas, these serious scooters offer comfort, convenience and simplicity.

In a nutshell, the Honda is closest to what many consider a traditional scooter with its smaller wheels, more subdued power, better fuel mileage, and that it’s lighter, smaller and less expensive. Its offers less wind protection, and is more basic transportation with fewer bells and whistles, yet its ride provides good comfort.

The BMW is very quick and powerful (BMW claims a top speed of 109 mph), and its electrically adjustable windshield with optional heated seats and grips are a significant comfort factor. Its 15-inch wheels provide the most secure and capable steering, but its ride is less compliant. It’s slightly quicker accelerating than the Suzuki, but the Burgman is the most fun because its ride is smoother and its additional Power and Manual shift modes make it superbly controllable, especially in a sporting mode. Suspension compliance and rider/co-rider comfort are excellent, and its engine performance is very good without noise or vibration. And yes, these advances are going to cost you more.

These serious scoots are all fun—you just have to define what fun means to you.

(This article Serious Scooters was published in the December 2013 issue of Rider magazine.)

Comments

21 Responses to “Scooter Shootout: 2014 BMW C 650 GT / 2013 Honda Silver Wing / 2013 Suzuki Burgman 650”

  1. lewis bachand on December 5th, 2013 5:53 pm

    it used to be a scooter was for those who couldnt afford a car now its for those who have money to play with, i wish i knew what happand it just dont make sense every one is out for the all mighty buck

    [Reply]

  2. Maggie Madonia on December 6th, 2013 8:21 am

    Are you sure that is a 2014 BMW?? I think it is a 13 like the others…. No red BMW in 2014.

    [Reply]

    Rider Magazine Reply:

    Good eye Maggie! We were told by BMW at the time that red would be offered for 2014 and there would be no changes, so we treated our 2013 as a 2014. Specs are all correct for a 2014.

    [Reply]

  3. david on December 6th, 2013 10:38 am

    With the price tag tipping over 10K they should stop calling it a scooter.
    I totally agree with previous comments. Scooter represents something smaller,lighter and definitely more affordable and these guys are not it.

    [Reply]

  4. jeff on December 6th, 2013 4:01 pm

    i fit 2 full faced helmets under my c650 gt seat as for the ride just adjust the suspension

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  5. Ken on December 8th, 2013 11:54 am

    As a longtime BMW rider, I really wanted to like the C650 GT BMW. However, the seat height, premium fuel requirement and high price (they were all optioned out to over $11,000) made it unacceptable for me. The Silverwing was more like the Burgman 400 that I bought and seemed like an antique compared to the BMW and Burgman 650. I bought a used 09 Burgman 650 with a bunch of accessories and have been very happy with it. The Silverwing and Burgman 400 feel and perform like a large scooter while the BMW and Burgman 650 feel and perform like a good mid-sized motorcycle.

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  6. allworld on December 10th, 2013 3:41 pm

    I used to have a 2009 T-max and it was a great ride for commuting, I would also go on weekend trips with out any issues. It is too bad Yamaha no longer sells the T-max in the USA. Honda should reinvent their Silverwing, and use the DC transmission, the current offering is a little long in the tooth. Maxi-scooters, seemed to get passed over in the USA, however they truly are very practical and easy to operate.

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  7. daz lennah on December 11th, 2013 8:03 am

    want to own one, but there are none where I come from, although they are good, especially the BMW being my favorite

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  8. Brian on December 16th, 2013 7:42 pm

    It’s really too bad more people don’t consider owning a maxi scooter. My wife has a Burgman 650 (2007 non-exec) and I have to admit it is a blast to ride. It won’t replace my Ninja 636 any time soon but for a trip to the store for some groceries it can’t be beat… Although it does take about 5 times longer to get the groceries, simply because I never want to take the most direct route.

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  9. Jose on January 2nd, 2014 12:26 am

    Kymco has a very good 700 out now and Aprilla has a bad a** 850.

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  10. John on January 23rd, 2014 1:25 pm

    I have had motorcycles for decades and a couple years ago I bought a 2006 Reflex used, I loved it but wanted a bit more punch. I sold the Reflex and bought a used 2007 650 Burgman. Great machine, good storage, easy to mount and ride, and it will cruise down the big road with any machine out there, all day. I am a retired over the road simi driver and I like the automatic transmission best, I don’t need the practice shifting, its a great ride for retired guys who still want to get out there now and then and ride.

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  11. Wade Nelson on May 14th, 2014 3:32 pm

    The Burgman 650 is simply fantastic in every regard — except for looks. IMHO it’s an eyeesore with a huge butt. I simply couldn’t make myself buy one despite how well it ran. Instead I went with a SilverWing and Honda reliability. The motor is buzzier than I would prefer under hard throttle application, and the Wing doesn’t even come with a power outlet plug. What was Honda thinking? But it’s a great scooter that can do highway speeds. It will cruise at 65, but above that the ride is a lot less enjoyable due to vibration and engine noise. The stock windscreen is a tad too small, but Givi offers a panoramic one. Getting her up on the center stand is challenging, to say the least. If you’re buying used, not new, beware of CVT problems on the early Burgmans.

    [Reply]

    Brian Reply:

    As to the CVT “problems” it comes down to a soft “stopper bolt” that can wear and cause severe transmission damage.. The part is very easily replaceable and less than $10… It’s a good idea to replace it. Any Burgman forum will have a discussion with part number and instructions.

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  12. mark pestella on May 20th, 2014 11:12 am

    After reading about the burgman 650 I am really starting to lean to the 650 gold wing scooter. I’m still not sure because of the floor board & disable also I’m not all that tall only 5’2′ The price looks good for the gold wing. I will have to do my homework real good on this.

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  13. lewis bachand on May 20th, 2014 6:40 pm

    nothings changed the bike shops still want to gype for as much as they can,i cant qualify to buy something that will take ten years to give back to you to save a few bucks now no matter how bad i want it

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  14. Tony R on June 5th, 2014 1:57 am

    Is it fact that the BMW has a Kymco engine? If so I think this should be made clear as 10,000 UK pounds is a lot to pay for Chinese engineering.

    [Reply]

    kymco Reply:

    Kymco is not a chinese company and they have been making engines for bmw motorcycles for years. They also made scooters bikes engines and parts for Honda for over 30 years….

    [Reply]

  15. Dave on June 22nd, 2014 8:58 am

    Tony R,

    The Taiwanese may not appreciate that you call their engines ‘Chinese’.

    Kymco make excellent engines, and in fact supply BMW engines for their G and F series bikes, both of which have an excellent reputation.

    [Reply]

    David Reply:

    Kymco have also co-developed with Kawasaki, the J300 scooter. They are arguably the fourth Asian manufacturer after the Japanese “Big Four.”

    [Reply]

  16. David bentley on August 7th, 2014 11:18 pm

    Having owned the Sw, Burgman 650, Yamaha Majesty and many different Vespas I must give my vote to the Honda Silverwing. The speed difference between it and the 650 is just about impossible to measure. I doubt the Bmw is much faster either, who races scooters anyway? Although I did blow away a lot of big Harley bad asses with my wing! Yes, that’s right. Blew them away up to 95 mph! Many times! I loved the Silverwing. Simple, dependable. Fast if you want, and just so much fun to ride. They are all great but not one of them totally outshines the other. Enjoy!

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  17. Gordon Soper on September 8th, 2014 3:13 pm

    I had a 2008 Exec. a few years ago. Excellent machine! Rode like a sport-bike in the mtns, and cruised with the ‘Wings on the highway w/no problems at all. Really lousy seat from the factory… like sitting in “a” brick after about 50 miles. Changed it out for a Corbin, but I messed up on my measurements, and they charged a bunch to adjust it. Bergman forums list a guy who can redo the OEM with “Memory Foam,” for not too much and good reports. Wish I still had it, but since it has absolutely no testosterone (ya, even for an “old guy,” it still counts!) I’m riding my Royal Star Tour Deluxe again. Suzuki NEEDS to ad factory cruise on this otherwise outstanding ride!!!

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