Suzuki Burgman 400 Long-Term Wrap-Up

John Burns
by John Burns

There’s really not that much to wrap, frankly. It’s been mostly drama-free. The Suzuki Burgman 400 entered my fleet in mid-March with just 70 miles on the clock, and now sits at 731. That’s not many miles, but you have to understand that Burgman trips mostly happen 4 or 5 miles at a time, the nature of the suburban scooter’s life. Unlike many scooters, though, the Burgman’s size and firepower mean you can take it on extended journeys when you feel like it, which we did at least once, and would’ve done more if the garage didn’t also contain a revolving fleet of bigger bikes that also needed “testing.” With a top speed over 90 mph and an excellent seat for rider and passenger, you really can go places on the Burgman. The linkage-type rear suspension is preload-adjustable, and helps the Burgie ride more like a motorcycle than a scooter.

SoCal Distancing #1: Suzuki Burgman 400 To St. Francis Dam

One of our favorite Burgie destinations is the beach, like 10 miles away from HQ. During the summer, parking can be tough down there, but there’s always room for another Burgie. Bathing suits under riding gear works, and you can lock up your clothes and valuables in the 42-liter (it’s big) storage compartment after you remove your cooler, Finding Dory boogie board and big straw hat. If you have a cable, you can lock two helmets to the underseat hook. Preferably not expensive ones; you know how people with cheap bolt cutters are.

Chrissy Rogers, 5’0,” has no problem bossing the Burgman around. Suzuki claims she’s 474 pounds, but it’s nearly all below the waterline. Seat height is 29.7 inches. Lights are bright LEDs head and tail.

What went Wrong?

The only problem I can report is my own fault: Like lots of bikes, the Burgie has a Park setting one click past Lock, that’s too easy to leave the ignition in when you pull out the key. That’s what I did, and found a dead Burgie next time I came out. My ancient charger died a year or so ago, so I took the battery to AutoZone around the corner for a “complementary charge.” I probably shouldn’t have been surprised to learn, a few hours later, that the nearly new Yuasa would not take a charge! Conveniently, they did have a no-name replacement in stock…

Not wanting a fight or to waste any more time, I coughed up the $60. And the `Zone insisted on keeping the Yuasa too, so we’ll never know. But I’m pretty sure I got ripped off. The hardest thing about servicing the battery was finding it: In the left glovebox, where it takes up too much room.

I just checked the oil and it’s fine. The bike has a centerstand, but the manual wants it checked when the bike’s level on its tires. Easier if you have a really long right arm, since the sight window is low and at the rear.

Oh, another good reason to have a camera in your phone! Manual says oil needs changed at 600 miles and every 3500 thereafter, which would probably equate to every two years or so for me, not onerous. We only take 1.4 quarts, with filter change. Easy enough to do on the centerstand; the drain, filler, and filter cover are all right there on the left side.

You should also grease the front and rear brake lever pivots, the side and centerstand pivots.

The air filter wants blown out at the same intervals, and replacement at 11,000 miles. However, with the new 5-liter airbox that came with the 2018 revamp, “designed to have an exciting intake sound,” I could not get the airbox cover off to access the filter no matter how I jiggled and twisted and followed instructions. Very un-Suzukilike.

Seriously, I don’t know how you get to the air filter under there, since the lid won’t come off. Is there a Suzuki mechanic in the house? Campi? I think I’d have to take it to the dealer before the 12-month warranty is up and say, WTF? Then be embarrassed as some kid pops it off instantly…

At 14,500 miles, you’re due for a valve-clearance inspection and a new V-belt in your CVT transmission. Hopefully, at your age, that’ll be somebody else’s problem. (Suzuki says lots of people move onto Burgies from big touring bikes in their Golden years.) Aside from that little airbox obstacle, the thing should be a breeze to maintain. No carburetor.

Our Dunlop Scoot Smarts (this is the rear) look barely worn.

Meanwhile, riders outside the US recognize scooters for the excellent transportation they provide at all ages; the Burgmans, of course, are considered luxury scooters.

You probably don’t need a tachometer on a CVT scooter, but it looks nice, and serious scooter people might play with their CVT to achieve lower rpm at cruising speed, or more low-rpm power, or whatever.

Basically, the Burgman offers a lot of fun, high-performish, eminently practical transport for not a lot in the way of money or maintenance. With its 3.6-gallon tank averaging 54 mpg while in my possession, I’ve only filled the thing up three times in six months, and except for the time I killed the battery, it never failed to fire up instantly and idle perfectly. The 399cc thumper always seems eager to go; big twists of the throttle are met with un-scooterlike bursts of acceleration, and more of a DR-Z soundtrack.

Our Burgman lived mostly in the garage, but it did sleep under the stars and get rained on at various times. A quick hose-off and wipe down has its dark grey matt paint looking good as new so far; there are no nooks or crannies where your chamois can’t reach to dry and/or dust.

Be not afraid of the $8,299 MSRP; $6k seems to be closer to what the market round these parts will bear for a new 2018-2020 Burgman, which comes with ABS as a standard feature. The 2019 came in a really pretty matt blue.

I, I don’t know what I’m gonna do without her. Wait, yes I do. Who else has a new scooter that needs testing? I love these things, and the Burgie, I think, is the finest example of big and fast enough but not too big. She’ll be sorely missed.

John Burns
John Burns

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2 of 26 comments
  • Gary Gary on Aug 14, 2020

    I LOVE this kind of long-term review ... the ownership stuff. What maintenance and care are like. Long after the "new" wears off, the ownership chores and ownership experience are what really matter. Not sure I'm ready for a tupperware chuffer yet, but I sorta fit the demographics ... you just never know. When the bottom falls out later this year, it may be the only thing any of us can afford.

  • John A. Stockman John A. Stockman on Aug 17, 2020

    I bought a hold-over 2007 Burgman 400 in 2008. My Ural Tourist was getting too much for my deteriorating physical issues and a friend suggested one of the Burgman models. What? Scooter? My local dealer in Centralia, WA was kind enough to let me test ride the 400. I was very surprised at how great it handled. Much better lean angle capabilities than I expected. Got a great deal on it and took it home. The Burgman belied it's "scooterness" and I rode all over Western Washington. I loved that bike, super comfortable, amazing fun on all the twisty roads around the Cascades, Mt St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. 70mph for hours on the freeway if needed, 65mpg. Some of the maintenance items like JB mentioned were exasperating, I've never had a bike with such a curse-word-fest inducing air filter change. But supremely enjoyable with every mile. Having owned a GL1500 with a Lehman conversion for 12 years, then the Ural, going back to two wheels was like those great times I had when I was able to ride again in 1983. Taking Puget Sound Safety courses a couple times during my Burgman ownership was a smart move after life on 3 wheels.