2013 Uber Scooter Shootout – Video

BMW C650GT vs. Honda Silver Wing vs. Kymco MyRoad 700i vs. Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS

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Here at MO we like scooters, especially big ones. Laugh if you want, but when it comes to practical, versatile, comfortable, and fun two-wheeled transportation, scooters often get overlooked. Well, we’re here to give them their fair share. What other motorcycle will take you to the grocery store, have room for the box of cereal, gallon of milk and six-pack of beer you just bought, then welcome the chance to take the twisty road back home – all while having your left hand free to sip a latte?

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Here, we’ve gathered the biggest heavy hitters in scooterdom currently available in the United States capable of doing just that. They are: the BMW C650GT, Honda Silver Wing, Kymco MyRoad 700i and Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS. The task, then, is to see where these Uber Scooters shine and where each falls short.

In most of the performance categories we tested, the BMW C650GT dispatched the competition, but that’s not all it takes to be an uber scooter.

In most of the performance categories we tested, the BMW C650GT dispatched the competition, but that’s not all it takes to be an uber scooter.

Starting in the engine department, these four parallel-Twins are remarkably evenly matched, and each can easily haul to 80 mph (or more) quicker than many cars on the road. The Kymco and its 699.5cc engine might be the biggest surprise. Kymco claims 59 hp and 46 ft.-lb. of torque, which is one horse and three ft.-lb. less than the 647cc BMW.

We thought it would flex its muscle in dominating fashion. Instead, FNG Evans Brasfield felt it was sluggish off the line, while Head Cheese Kevin Duke felt it to be excessively vibey. That said, both Kevin and minivan editor Tom Roderick praised the torque and passing power, with Duke saying, “it feels almost like a diesel, with buckets of low-end torque.” We’re impressed at Kymco’s effort at a big-bore engine, but all of us wished for more refinement – a theme that would be carried throughout this test.

The Kymco MyRoad’s twisty tarmac performance was hampered by a deficiency of ground clearance. The chassis feels capable of much more.

The Kymco MyRoad’s twisty tarmac performance was hampered by a deficiency of ground clearance. The chassis feels capable of much more.

At the other end of the spectrum, Honda’s smallest-in-class 582cc mill tried its best to punch above its weight. With a claimed 49.6 hp and 39.8 ft.-lbs., “acceleration potential is likely quick enough for the majority of riders interested in such a machine,” says Duke, “but it’s outgunned in this relatively hi-po group.” Still, it emits a pleasing exhaust growl that could fool its rider into thinking they are going faster than they really are. Ultimately, it’s likely that if you’re looking at the Silver Wing, zero-to-60 and quarter-mile times aren’t a priority.

The Silver Wing (seen in its natural environment) performed well at all of the challenges we threw at it despite having the lowest displacement of our foursome.

The Silver Wing (seen in its natural environment) performed well at all of the challenges we threw at it despite having the lowest displacement of our foursome.

Scooter Power For Cars

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The 647cc parallel-Twin in the C650GT can also be found in one of the most advanced cars on the road, BMW’s new i3 automobile. Designed for pure electric use, with a 22-kWh battery providing as much as 125 miles of range, the i3 can be equipped with the C650’s engine to extend range beyond battery-storage limitations.

In this application, the trunk-mounted engine is rated at 33 hp and is used solely as a generator to inject juice into the batteries. The car’s AC electric motor boasts 170 hp and 184 ft-lb, which should be enough to propel the carbon-fiber-infused chassis to 60 mph in about 7 seconds.

Adding the C650’s engine to an i3 will add $3850 to the car’s $42,275 price tag. If you ask us, you should just buy the C650GT.

Splitting the difference between the Honda and Kymco are the Suzuki and BMW at 638cc and 647cc, respectively. As one would expect from BMW, the C650GT with its class leading 60 hp and 49 ft.-lb. (claimed) is incredibly refined, with its power delivered smoothly. Under normal circumstances the CVT transmission operates in harmony with the engine, but Duke noticed some slight hesitation from a stop. “The engine revs at launch but the clutch doesn’t fully bite, limiting its initial pull,” he says. “But then the CVT clutch bites harder and revs fall just below the snappy part of its powerband before finally delivering its full thrust.” But that was his only engine-related gripe.

At 638cc, the Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS doesn’t feel like it has any disadvantage to the bigger engines in the pack. Packing a claimed 54 hp and 45 ft.-lb., this sensation is bolstered by the remarkably refined CVT transmission, which benefits from a complete update with new materials and electronic solenoid activation for more precise and efficient operation – all part of the Burg’s 2013 revamp, covered here. It boasts a couple of class-exclusive abilities: a choice to switch between Eco and Power modes and, most interesting, being able to operate in a manual mode that mimics a six-speed gearbox. “It ensures, when desired, that the engine is placed in the fat part of its powerband rather than waiting for the CVT to catch up to your demands,” says Kevin. “It also removes some of the freewheel effect when entering corners.”

Suzuki’s Burgman handled surprisingly well, but it labored under the weight of its MSRP in the objective scoring.

Suzuki’s Burgman handled surprisingly well, but it labored under the weight of its MSRP in the objective scoring.

“Although I know it’s just a software trick, I liked the ‘thumb shifting’ feature,” says Evans.

The Burgman’s many options are (from top to bottom): mirror fold switch (blue), thumb shifting (orange), power mode switch (gray), and drive/manual “shift” mode (yellow).

The Burgman’s many options are (from top to bottom): mirror fold switch (blue), thumb shifting (orange), power mode switch (gray), and drive/manual “shift” mode (yellow).

“Being able to hold one gear through a series of corners gave me the feeling of more control of my entry speed through engine braking than the others.” While a neat feature, we wish the shift buttons were operated with the index finger and thumb.

Eco and Power modes live up to their billing, too. The former understandably dulls power by keeping the CVT in “high gear” to keep revs down and boost MPG (we averaged 46 mpg in a mixture of riding conditions). It’s an effective feature during average riding, but Power mode is the place to be when you really want to pile on the coals. It keeps the revs higher for near-instant reaction to throttle inputs. “Off-the-line acceleration is the best of the bunch, even beating the BMW away from a stop,” Kevin observed, “And the Power mode also adds a useful amount of engine braking.”

Make/Model MPG (Avg.)
BMW C650GT 45.8
Honda Silver Wing 47.1
Kymco MyRoad 700i 44.1
Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS 46.0

However, this technology doesn’t come without downfalls. In this case weight and price. At 613 lbs., the Burgman is the second-heaviest scoot, and with a starting price tag of $10,999, it’s the most expensive ride of the bunch. Which then begs the question: Is it worth it? We all appreciate the technology behind the innovative CVT, some more than others, but Tom provides an interesting perspective about manually changing gears on a scooter. “I like scooters for their ease of operation. If I want to shift gears I’ll ride a motorcycle. I also wonder how many Burgman owners will actually utilize the electronic shifting function on a regular basis.”

While you might not expect to see “sport-tourer” and “scooter” in the same sentence, these super scooters can pull it off.

While you might not expect to see “sport-tourer” and “scooter” in the same sentence, these super scooters can pull it off.

Considering their quasi sport-tourer status, these uber scoots all provide the comfortable semi step-through seating position that places the rider in a La-Z-Boy posture rather than the cowboy-like saddle-straddle of a conventional motorcycle. From here, however, the four contestants start to differentiate themselves from the others.

Individual Video Reviews

With the tallest seat height in this class at 31.7 inches (two inches taller than the Honda and Suzuki, one inch taller than the Kymco), the BMW C650GT is a challenge to mount for those with stubby legs. Even Brasfield noted some difficulty with the C650.

“I have a 32-inch inseam, and I couldn’t flat foot on the BMW,” he says. Fellow tall guy, Roderick, echoes these sentiments noting, “The biggest knock against the C650 is its ridiculously tall seat height.” Conversely, the Suzuki’s legroom is only marginally less than the BMW, but its seat is two inches lower and features an adjustable backrest the others can’t claim. This allows riders of various sizes to feel comfortable and flat foot with greater ease.

One of the Burgman’s nice touches is a backrest that can be adjusted a couple of inches to accommodate different rider sizes.

One of the Burgman’s nice touches is a backrest that can be adjusted a couple of inches to accommodate different rider sizes.

Once moving, the BMW proudly displays its comfort amenities. There’s enough legroom with the angled floorboards to allow our legs to stretch fully, lounge-chair style, when cruising. “I liked the relationship between the seat and the floorboards,” Evans comments. “My legs were in a much more comfortable bend, particularly when compared to the Kymco.”

Only the BMW and Suzuki come equipped with electronically adjustable windscreens, but the C650’s screen was favored by our testers over the Burgman’s for its greater height variance and its stability at speed. In its highest setting, I found it deflected wind over my helmet and around my torso – handy for chilly rides. Kevin preferred the overall wind protection of the Burgman and its wider fairing and adjustable windscreen “even if its windshield can’t be adjusted as high as the BMW’s, which, for me, provides an unwelcome backdraft in its highest position.”

Winglets at the base of the BMW’s screen pop outward to deflect wind away from the rider when the screen is in its highest position. “Those winglets under the windshield made a remarkable difference in warmth on a chilly ride,” says Brasfield. “I didn’t believe it until I tried them.”

Winglets at the base of the BMW’s screen pop outward to deflect wind away from the rider when the screen is in its highest position. “Those winglets under the windshield made a remarkable difference in warmth on a chilly ride,” says Brasfield. “I didn’t believe it until I tried them.”

Speaking of chilly, our C650 came equipped with optional heated grips and heated seat for both rider and passenger as part of the Highline Package, adding $605 to its $9990 base price. They were a godsend during our night ride in 28-degree weather, and even with the options, the BMW is still $400 cheaper than the base Suzuki. Heated grips ($249.95) and seat ($499.95, for rider only) are options on the Burgman, but they raise the price just shy of 12 grand ($11,748.90), $1,153.90 more than the Beemer.

All four instrument clusters feature tachometers (a small LCD bar graph on the BMW), though it only really matters on the Burgman.

All four instrument clusters feature tachometers (a small LCD bar graph on the BMW), though it only really matters on the Burgman.

While the $9,699 Kymco doesn’t boast frills like an adjustable screen or heated components, its seat is claimed to be an inch lower than the BMW (30.7 inches). This may seem like a benefit, but the 700i has the widest saddle of the lot, which makes flat-footing difficult. The Kymco gets further demerits from Duke, who comments, “Its long-day comfort is impaired by its forward-sloping rear section where it grabs pants uncomfortably and raises them higher on your waist.”

Things get worse for the MyRoad, as the taller testers complained of cramped riders quarters. There were also complaints of an inferior backrest, which, when combined with the limited leg room, meant the Kymco was “uncomfortable after only an hour ride,” Roderick says.

The $9,270 Honda’s ergonomics are a mixed blessing, feeling cramped front to rear for taller riders. But, Tom notes, “For anyone petite of stature and concerned about managing these beasts at stop lights or during slow parking lot maneuvers, the Silver Wing offers the lightest curb weight (541 lbs) and one of the lowest seat heights.” And despite the Silver Wing’s fixed windscreen, we found it still provides decent wind protection.

All of the shocks offered ramped preload adjustment – be they visible as on the BMW (left) or under a pretty chrome cover as on the Honda (right).

All of the shocks offered ramped preload adjustment – be they visible as on the BMW (top) or under a pretty chrome cover as on the Honda (bottom).

As quasi sport-tourers, we also took each through winding roads to destinations unknown, all while carrying everything we’d need onboard. It’s here where each of the scoots impressed, but one really stood out above the rest.

Trudging along in the city or on the freeway, the ride quality on all the scoots seemed adequate. All provide rear preload adjustment, and we liked the soft suspension settings on the Honda for general use. “It’s nice around town and on smooth roads,” Tom notes. Initial impressions of the Burgman leaned toward harshness on the highway, but lessened after some fidgeting.

Meanwhile, the C650 impressed with its composure. “The BMW seems to have negotiated the fine line between taut handling and downright harshness,” Evans observes. Ride quality bordered on the limits of what we’d accept for general cruising, but considering our four tester’s penchant for twisty roads, this was an acceptable compromise for the sport riding that was to come.

The surprise of the group was the Kymco. Despite its three-way, electronically adjustable suspension settings, it was underwhelming to say the least. “I was looking forward to experiencing the joys of electronically adjustable suspension on the Kymco but was mostly frustrated with it,” says Duke. “It was surprisingly harsh on its softest setting, so there was no reason to adjust it firmer.” Things did improve once preload was relaxed a bit, but front-end harshness remained. “I’d blame it on excess high-speed compression damping.”

Tom continues, “The MyRoad’s electronically adjustable suspension would be a huge advantage over its competition if it worked better than it does. It certainly doesn’t change the MyRoad from sportbike to Gold Wing, but it does minimally soften and stiffen the suspension damping.”

Granted, canyon carving isn’t what most would look to do with one of these four scoots, but your four testers aren’t like most people. Spurred by Tom’s initial impressions of the BMW C650GT and C600Sport at their launch and his desire to test the limits of lean angle, we ventured to the nearest curvy roads to check out their sporty abilities. What we found was truly surprising – all four are sportier than you might think.

Clearly out of its element in full-on sport-touring mode, the Silver Wing could still keep up with the other, bigger scooters. (Ignore Roderick’s contradictory branding. The day was extremely cold with temperatures dropping to the low 30s, and he wisely chose to wear his snowmobiling jacket.)

Clearly out of its element in full-on sport touring mode, the Silver Wing could still keep up with the other, bigger scooters. (Ignore Roderick’s contradictory branding. The day was extremely cold with temperatures dropping to the low 30s, and he wisely chose to wear his snowmobiling jacket.)

While definitely not sportbikes by any stretch of the imagination, “each bike responds quickly to steering inputs, but their long wheelbases lengthen turn-in rates,” says Duke. This was especially noticeable with the Honda. “The front turns first and then, after a moment’s pause, the rear follows,” notes Brasfield. With the lightest weight of the bunch, the Silver Wing is quick to respond to direction change, but, says Kevin, “For our sporty testers, the Silver Wing comes up short in performance.”

Jumping off the Honda onto the 613-pound Suzuki, the Burgman’s 72-pound weight difference over the Silver Wing is clear. Most of that weight is carried low in the chassis, however, and as Evans notes, “The Burgman’s handling was surprisingly good.” It’s not the quickest or sportiest of the group, and its low exhaust hinders its cornering clearance. Still, its handling is predictable and stable, leading Kevin to call its overall dynamics “very fluid.”

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The Burgman can work through corners surprisingly quickly, but as the sparks reveal, the exhaust brings an early end to the party in right-handers.

The Kymco was again a surprise. It weighs the most (608 pounds, dry), and you can feel it while riding, “but it displays a surprising amount of agility on a twisty road,” Duke says. “It offers quicker turn-in responses than the sweet-handling BMW and a sharp, flex-free chassis.” Praise ends there, as the impressive handling is offset by a lack of ground clearance. The centerstand touches down quickly on the left, while on the right Evans discovered, “the canister touches harshly, unsettling the rear.”

On winding pavement, the BMW had the most ground clearance (and consequently the highest seat) plus the most full-sized motorcycle feel.

On winding pavement, the BMW had the most ground clearance (and consequently the highest seat) plus the most full-sized motorcycle feel.

But when it comes to twisty road performance, there’s just no denying the BMW is the king of the crop. Graced with 15-inch wheels at both ends wrapped in Metzeler Feel Free tires, Kevin says, “Without question, the Beemer is the bike to be on if you enjoy sport riding.” Brasfield notes, “I preferred the BMW’s steering because if felt more like a full-sized bike.” The C650GT’s suspension welcomes canyon carving, and the chassis is equally well suited to the task. The Metzeler tires inspire loads of confidence, and you’ll be going at a serious clip before dragging hard parts.

“With nearly unlimited cornering clearance, the BMW makes short work of twistier roadways, leaving its competitors scraping hard parts at slower speeds,” says Tom. We were so amazed by the BMW’s sporting ability, we seriously considered taking the scoot to a trackday. In fact, it’s an idea we still might try …

Despite tying for last in capacity, the Burgman was able to swallow two helmets.

Despite tying for last in capacity, the Burgman was able to swallow two helmets.

Taking these scoots out of their elements and into the canyons was a major highlight to this test. Focusing back on reality and the practical aspects of each, we turn to storage capacity. Here, the BMW leads the way with 60 liters of underseat space. The Honda is next at 55 liters, followed by the Kymco and Suzuki, each with 50 liters. Each could swallow at least one full-face helmet, with the BMW, Suzuki, and Kymco able to eat two medium full-face lids. Surprisingly, despite having the second-most storage space, the Silver Wing’s underseat area is shaped in a way that prohibits it from accepting two full-face lids.

While able to hold two helmets, the BMW seemingly had room for the kitchen sink, too.

While able to hold two helmets, the BMW seemingly had room for the kitchen sink, too.

Conversely, with the smallest amount of space, cameraman Brasfield praised the Burgman’s storage, saying, “It has tons of room under the seat. I could fit a 300mm 2.8 lens, a camera fanny pack, cleaning supplies and an extra face shield in there!”

The Kymco holds two lids and has a light plus a power port.

The Kymco holds two lids and has a light plus a power port.

All of the scoots feature small fairing compartments for small items like keys, phones, or wallets. The Kymco loses points for featuring only one fairing compartment, while the others have at least two. Our particular Silver Wing had a single lockable compartment with a dummy opening which appears to be sized right for a DC power outlet,but our tester didn’t come equipped with the accessory and neither is one listed on Honda’s website.

Even though it ranked second in capacity, the Honda’s underseat storage could not hold two helmets. It does, however, have a light.

Even though it ranked second in capacity, the Honda’s underseat storage could not hold two helmets. It does, however, have a light.

The rest of the bunch come with outlets, though the Kymco’s is located under the seat. Its location in the BMW and Suzuki, deep inside one of the fairing compartments (the Burgman’s is lockable), allows access without the need to dismount. Overall, however, we scored the BMW’s underseat space the best, its nearly 60-liter capacity (59.5 liters) more than enough to carry whatever we needed for a long ride, though it does get a knock for not having a lockable fairing compartment. The Burgman was a close second, followed by the awkwardly shaped and/or less cavernous compartments for the MyRoad 700i and Silver Wing.

The MyRoad and the Silver Wing represent the breadth of braking technology on the super scoots: The Kymco (left) features radial-mount calipers on dual discs using braided-steel lines, while the Honda gets by with a single disc plus linked brakes.

The MyRoad and the Silver Wing represent the breadth of braking technology on the super scoots: The Kymco (left) features radial mount calipers on dual discs using braided-steel lines, while the Honda (right) gets by with a single disc plus linked brakes.

Other general observations from the road: All four feature ABS, with the Honda’s a linked system. The Honda is also the only one void of a second front disc and adjustable levers. Speaking of which, the closest position on the Kymco’s levers was still a stretch for our fingers, though the MyRoad gets points for having radial brakes that work well. Rear ABS activates sooner than we’d like on all the scoots, and all four will halt with a generous squeeze, but the biggest difference is the “lack in feedback we’ve grown to appreciate on modern sportbikes,” says Duke.

An ignition lock shouldn’t require an owner’s manual to operate. Can you tell that there are two ways to open the underseat storage? Multiple functions are great, but only if they’re easy to access.

An ignition lock shouldn’t require an owner’s manual to operate. Can you tell that there are two ways to open the underseat storage? Multiple functions are great, but only if they’re easy to access.

Three of the scoots allow fuel tank and underseat storage areas to be opened via a series of turns with the ignition, though the Kymco’s system seems overly complicated to navigate. The Honda was the only one requiring the key to be removed from the ignition for refueling and underseat access.

Mirror placement was another oddity for these scoots. Both the Kymco and BMW units are buzzy and placed at an odd angle, making rearward visibility limited. Regarding the Kymco, Evans says, “The mirrors are almost unusable on the freeway.” Honda’s mirrors appear to be from a 1990’s parts bin, as they are simply plain stalks screwed in to the bars. But they work and provide decent rearward view.

Aside from offering the best rear view of all the scooters, the Burgman’s mirror pods can also retract with the push of a button.

Aside from offering the best rear view of all the scooters, the Burgman’s mirror pods can also retract with the push of a button.

Most impressive is the Burgman’s mirrors. Incorporated low into the bodywork, the view behind is better than the rest. Even neater is the ability to have the mirrors fold in at the push a button – handy when splitting lanes or parking in tight spaces. “Inarguably the best rear view mirrors of the bunch and they electronically retract too!” exclaims easily impressed editor Roderick.

We’re disappointed none of the quartet features cruise control or self-cancelling turn signals, as both seem like a no-brainer for, according to Duke, “machines meant to ease use on two wheels.”

All four provide parking brakes to ensure the scoots don’t go rolling away when parked, but the C650GT cleverly activates each time the sidestand is lowered. “I absolutely love that the BMW’s parking brake is attached to the sidestand instead of being a separate function as it is on the other scooters,” says Roderick. Indeed, the rest employ a pull handle either below the fairing or beside the rider, with the Kymco requiring an extra strong tug to release.

Winners and Losers

These big-bore scoots could have been incredibly boring interpretations of actual motorcycles, or they could have revealed an underappreciated sector of the market. In our minds, we think it’s the latter. Of course traditional motorcycles occupy a huge place in our hearts, but we can appreciate the capabilities of super scooters. “All four provide twist-and-go ease of use, handy storage, and a performance envelope big enough to include light-duty sport-touring,” says Duke.

As with all tests, there must be winners and losers. Using our trusty MO Scorcard we ranked the four contestants in a variety of areas. Subjective rankings like engines and handling are combined with objective scores like price and weight to come up with our final results. Here now are our rankings.

Fourth Place: Honda Silver Wing

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Subjective score: 70.6% Combined aggregate score: 71.7%

Due to its low price and weight, the Silver Wing scored highest in the objective categories of our scorecard, and these are major factors to consider if simple, reliable transportation that’s easy to maneuver is all you’re looking for. However, the Honda scored last in our subjective scores. But the fact is all the other models here are new or significantly updated. Meanwhile, the Silver Wing is 12 years old.

We liked the lil’ Wing’s around-town ride quality and its eagerness to change direction, but were disappointed with the flexy chassis and the fact we couldn’t fit two helmets under the seat despite having the second-largest claimed capacity. And we considered the lack of technology other than ABS a demerit in this relatively tech-rich field, but this may not apply to you depending on your wants and needs.

“At 583cc the Silverwing represents the smallest displacement in this group,” says Roderick. “But if you desire a freeway-legal scoot and don’t want to pay for the bells and whistles that increase the MSRPs of the others, the Silver Wing is for you.”

Third place: Kymco MyRoad 700i

Subjective score: 73.5% Combined aggregate score: 73.4%

Subjective score: 73.5% Combined aggregate score: 73.4%

According to Brasfield, the Kymco MyRoad 700i “feels middle of the road for this grouping.” That sentiment comes through in its overall third-place finish in this test. The 700i surprised us with features like electronic suspension, radial brakes, and lighter-than-expected handling. But it also fell short in its cramped rider’s quarters, low ground clearance, and substandard fit and finish, as highlighted by its vibey engine, slab-sided fairing, poorly designed mirrors and annoyingly loud turn indicators. “Small details,” Kevin notes, “but they detract from the bike’s intention to be a premium scooter.”

It’s not that the Kymco is a particularly bad scooter, but in fact, the field of premium scoots has upped the game in recent years. In many respects, the Kymco feels like a machine that came to market a tad too soon. Duke summarizes the MyRoad 700i perfectly, writing, “The MyRoad is a solid effort in this segment, but it’s relatively unrefined next to its challengers. Another six months of R&D – improving mirrors, turn signal-indicator noise and engine vibration – would’ve been time well spent.”

Second place: Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS

Subjective score: 82.6% Combined aggregate score: 81.9%

Subjective score: 82.6% Combined aggregate score: 81.9%

It didn’t take long before we realized this test would really come down to the Suzuki and BMW, as the two are simply more refined and offer more features. This is reflected in the significantly better subjective and aggregate scores. For those less concerned with sporty attributes, the Burg’ provides a sensible, tech-rich, and polished alternative. As Kevin explains, “the revamped Burgman proved to be remarkably effective in terms of its overall performance, especially its fluid and intuitive responses, its superior transmission, its ease of use, and its generous storage. If it handled a little better and had a greater amount of cornering clearance, it would likely be my preferred choice.”

Its handling/ground clearance disadvantage was a negative in the minds of our testers, but as our scores show, the Burg more than makes up for it in other areas. Ultimately, while we gearheads can appreciate the updates made to the transmission, it’s hard to explain the resulting high price tag to your average scooter buyer who couldn’t care less. At just one dollar shy of 11-large, before any accessories, that’s a rather large pill to swallow. Especially when matched with the BMW.

So large, in fact, we have no choice but to put it in second place.

First place: BMW C650GT

Subjective score: 86.4% Combined aggregate score: 86.1%

Subjective score: 86.4% Combined aggregate score: 86.1%

While the other three scooters definitely gave it a run for its money, the BMW C650GT proved to be top dog among the super scootering elite. Unlike the Suzuki, whose price ultimately overshadowed its performance, all four testers felt the C650GT managed the exact opposite. We expected a lot for its $10,595 as-tested price, and its sporty nature, healthy engine, cavernous storage, practicality, and comfy cockpit delivered.

If you don’t generally ride in cold climes, then the $9990 base price (without the heated grips/seats) is even more of a steal in this company. The C650GT scored highest in 10 of the 12 categories on the MO Scorecard, and during the course of our testing, all four riders pined for the BMW keys at each opportunity. Generally when that happens, the winner is a foregone conclusion. The BMW C650GT is no exception. It earns the title of Uber Scooter.

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  • Russ Clodfelter

    What about the Yamaha T-Max?

    • Piglet2010

      The T-Max was last imported to the US for the 2012 model year.

  • Peter H Hoffman

    Good article!

    I continue to be intrigued by these scooters (I used to have a 1976 CB750A that was a great bike) but I can’t quite see why someone would give a scooter the edge over a motorcycle. The built-in storage seems to be the main differentiator after the automatic transmission but a motorcycle with hard boxes would call that and raise, I would think.

    I’d like to see an article comparing these scooters with their nearest motorcycle competitors, explaining the pros and cons of each. When would a scooter be a better choice than a motorcycle and why?

    • Titus Chirila

      I have three motorcycles and a Yamaha x-max 250 scooter. I can tell you I’m smiling more often while riding the scooter through town: casual clothes, shoes stay clean, easy rain does not matter, acceleration constant till 120km/h as fast as much bigger bikes, easy to park, two helmets and a small bag goes easily under the seat, as convenient as driving a car but with the fun of a bike.

    • Kevin Duke

      It’s in the works. Stay tuned…

  • Doug Erickson

    i don’t understand the apologism for covering scoots. they’re a ptw, and as much a motorcycle as a cruiser might be when considered against a race replica, or an enduro bike compared to a touring rig. embrace variety, and encourage, rather than alienate, participants in our hobby.

    • rjfinva

      they are dangerous p.o.s. they need to be able to do at least 40 mph to be safe in urban traffic.

      • Doug Erickson

        i’m referring to the 125cc and up scoots, some of which pump out more hp than the grom, and specifically NOT the 50cc liquorcycles.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Honda has effectively blended both scooter and motorcycle in it’s CTX 700.
    I can see owning a big scooter someday, when I finally arrive at Geezerville. Not there yet, but may be ready to get off the fast standard bike and get on a bagger in a few years. It is a logical progression as the mind and body continue to deteriorate :)

  • rjfinva

    I will always regard scooters as incredibly dangerous, from the multitudes of people riding the little 30 mph deals to the bigger ones which by virtue of their size catch rhe wind like a sail, and they will get blown around way too much. I had one bad experience having the wind push me out of my lane, and I will NEVER ride one of those GD things again.

    • Michael

      Then learn how to ride. I have been riding for 37 years, have had 22 motorcycles from sport, touring and cruiser. No accidents. I only have one bike now…you know which one…? a burgman 650. If you got blown around on the road on one of these bikes then you have no idea how to ride or you have never actually ridden one and are using an uneducated bias towards them. I’ve blown many motorcycles away on my burgman, never been blown even a few feet out of my path and I live in SK. where a breeze is 40 mph. I only wish that Suzuki would bring out a little larger one. I love the power but I find that I am nearly maxing out my throttle much too often.

  • Ken

    I chose a Burgman 650 over the BMW because of the seat height and the incredibly expensive maintenance cost of the BMW (I’ve had 4 BMWs). The cost advantage of the BMW will quickly be eaten up by the maintenance costs as the BMW has both a CVT belt and enclosed chain in an oil bath that requires periodic replacement that the Burgman doesn’t.
    I’ve had 16 motorcycles and the Burgman 650 is a better motorcycle that all of them. I lead rides on twisty mountain roads and slow down on the straight stretches so Harleys and other cruisers can catch up.

    • Craig Hoffman

      Awesome. Blowing away Harleys on a Burgman. I love it. :)

      I see no reason one could not do some touring on one of these. They have built in storage, get good fuel economy, are comfortable with their wide cushy seats and wind protection, and they have plenty of power for highway cruising. The substantial weight is even kind of a bonus too, no doubt helping to keep it on the road on windy days.

      That durable easy to keep Burgman sounds like a winner.

      • Ken

        They’re great touring. I’ve ridden several 300+ mile days with more comfort than on my BMW motorcycles. I do have a Clearview windshield and other accessories. Due to the weight, they don’t get blown around on the interstate as much as a typical motorcycle and the wind protection is great. I have a V-Star for when I get the urge to change gears and ride something different but my main ride is my
        Burgman.

  • Jeremy Zerby

    Great coverage of an often overlooked segment of our fantastic two wheeled world. I’ve had some brief seat time on the BMW and can say if I were in the market for something of this nature, it would definitely be a top contender. One thing to note, the BMW does have a lockable storage compartment (left hand side). It requires locking the steering to lock the compartment, but it is there. Other than that small item, awesome review!

  • Levent Durubal

    This test is DOA , instant fail,
    since it does not include.
    Yamaha T-Max.
    .

    • TonyCarlos

      You mean the scooter which is no longer sold here?

      • Levent Durubal

        I guess you have no clue where this website is located.
        This is a Canadian website.
        So are the testers.

        And Check http://www.yamaha-motor.ca/
        you can see that t-max is still being sold.

        • http://motorcycle.com/ Tom Roderick

          Motorcycle.com is owned by a Canadian company, but the magazine and its editors are based in Southern California. Thus the T-Max is ineligible for this shootout.

          • TonyCarlos

            Thank you, Tom.

  • DickRuble

    And watching down on these nice machines is the amazing, in a class of its own, the unparalleled, the unique, the fabulous Aprilia SRV 850.

  • Vrooom

    I’d say two things, first of all a non-locking storage department is a tank bag. That the BMW bags don’t lock would eliminate it from contention for my purchase (were I considering a scooter). Secondly claimed horsepower tells you close to nothing. How about dyno results? I had a BMW R1100RS that claimed over a 100 hp and would be lucky to put out 80 (yeah yeah, shaft drive losses etc.). Really lucky. Ducati’s and Kawasaki I’ve owned are closer (chain more efficient yada yada yada). Otherwise nice article, I’m definitely a bike guy, but touring scooter curious.

    • TonyCarlos

      Don’t know what country your R11RS was spec’ed for, but in the US they were rated at 90 HP.

  • Dan

    I’ve had lots of bikes of all sizes and got a 125cc scooter a couple of years ago. Nothing comes close to a scooter for getting around town in heavy traffic. My coworker and I both have scooters and bigger bikes, we often comment how we never ride our bikes anymore unless its for heading out of town.

  • Tim Quinn

    Our stable of rides. However, the Star Bolt has been replaced with a V Star 950. I loved the Bolt, but my wife could not ride on back of it for more than 15 minutes without her back killing her so we replaced it with a much more comfortable V Star 950.
    I’ve been riding for 35 years and have owned dirt bikes, dual sport bikes, sport bikes, and cruisers. I bought my first scooter, a Yamaha Tmax 500, several years ago and I’ll never be without at least one scooter in my garage from now on.
    I don’t care how long someone has been riding motorcycles, don’t knock big, fast, comfortable, tons of storage space, smooth on the highway maxi-scooters like the Burgman 650 until you’ve spent some time in the saddle on one.
    The first time my very experienced motorcycle riding big brother rode my Yamaha Tmax he came back 20 minutes later with a huge grin on his face. He could not believe that he was riding an “effin’ scooter” and hitting nearly triple digit speeds on some very curvy backroads near his home. I asked him what he thought of my new Tmax and he said one word: Respect. Coming from him, that was huge!

    The only knock I have against the BMW scooter is the same one I had about my Tmax: The damn seat is too high! Whenever I rode the Tmax I had to wear big clunky shoes to reach the ground. I’ll admit I’m short, but my much taller big brother even commented on the Tmax’s high seat.

  • Tim Quinn

    Hell yes, scooters can be tons of fun!!

  • BTRDAYZ

    I want BMW to equip the C650 GT with a dual clutch tranny, with left and right thumb paddle shifters.

    • Kevin Duke

      I’d like the concept, but it would add cost and weight. I imagine few would see that as cost effective.

  • Andy C

    Check the BMW website. It lists an optional, lower seat height. Though why it is less than one inch is anyone’s guess…
    http://www.bmwmotorcycles.com/us/en/index.html