scooters are still scooters

Discussion in 'Battle Scooters' started by cat, Mar 31, 2005.

  1. cat

    cat Long timer

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    I've noticed an increase in the level of acceptance of scooters around here lately. (Aside from Vespas having become "cool" in the past couple years.) Now this morning I read a thread where someone recommended one as an alternative to a Suzuki DL650.



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  2. twinrider

    twinrider pass the catnip

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    I write motorcycle reviews for a magazine here in Tokyo. After reviewing the R1200GS, H-D Road King and FJR1300 I thought I'd give the Burgman 650 (known here as the Skywave 650) a go since I've seen quite a few around. Other than the CVT transmission, it's basically built like any other 650 twin and just as much or more fun to ride in most daily situations. Here's my review:

    If you thought scooters were just for kids, think again
    By Jim Adam

    Once upon a time, motorcycles were from Mars and scooters were from Venus. If you wanted a machine capable of serious speeds and distances, you got the former. If you were after a city runabout, the latter – wimpy but practical – might get the nod. But this golden rule was breached a few years back by the new superscooter class – 500cc-plus machines that wedded motorcycle performance and step-through convenience.

    Rather than have their motors balanced on the rear swing arm, as traditional scooter design dictates, the top superscooters’ mills are frame-mounted, as is done on motorcycles, to improve handling. To this end they also get bigger wheels, better brakes and much beefier suspension than usual.

    Although most hardcore bikers dismiss these hybrids as motorized metrosexuals, the fact is they handle, stop and go as well as many “proper” bikes, while retaining the conveniences of a scooter – automatic transmission, great weather protection, built-in storage.

    Suzuki was a relative latecomer to this class but it leapfrogged to the front with the release of the Skywave 650 in 2002. The Skywave set new performance standards with its dual four-pot front brakes and its 638cc, fuel-injected, twin-cylinder motor. And – cue the drum roll – it was the first two-wheeler ever to feature a transmission capable of both automatic and manual shifting.

    While other scooters use a mechanical belt and pulley system to raise the gearing as engine rpms increase, the Skywave uses electronic CVT technology to do the same job. The use of a computer to determine the gear ratio allowed Suzuki engineers to program in several transmission maps – normal, power and manual – that are controlled via switchgear on the left handlebar.

    In normal mode, the Skywave feels like any other big scooter, picking up speed smoothly as the throttle is opened. Hit the power-mode button, though, and the engine spin about 1,000 rpms higher at any given engine speed, sharpening acceleration. And when you really want to play boy racer, push the manual button and the computer seamlessly selects one of five non-variable ratios according to engine speed and illuminates a number on the dash to let you know what “gear” you’re in. Shifting is then just a matter of thumbing a rocker switch up or down – the clutch is still automatic.

    The Skywave 650 offers a lot to love besides its whiz-bang transmission technology. The windscreen and fairing provide better protection from the elements than some dedicated tourers costing twice as much. The composite drive belt is good for at least 100,000 km. The instrument panel – including a speedometer, tachometer, two trip meters, gear indicators, a fuel gauge, a temperature gauge, a clock and a variety of warning lights – wouldn’t look out of place on an airplane.

    Raise the wide, plush saddle -- which includes an adjustable backrest -- and a light turns on, illuminating a 55-liter cavern that can accommodate two full-face helmets or a large briefcase. There are also three compartments in the dash, including one with a 12-volt power outlet. And if you have the top-of-the-line LX model like the one we tested, you also get ABS brakes, electric rearview mirrors and a passenger backrest.

    If you want to know what it’s like to ride the Skywave 650, just imagine your favorite recliner being able to do 0-100 kph in seven seconds flat. It’s far more fun than any amusement park ride. At traffic lights the Skywave will beat most motorcycles off the line, not because it has more power but because it's so easy to access all 50hp with just a quick twist of the wrist. And while it’s no lightweight at 244 kg dry, its mass is carried low so city riding is a cinch, especially once you hit the magic blue button that folds in the rearview mirrors.

    Highway performance is equally impressive. Even at license-busting speeds – the magic ton mark is reached with ease – the Skywave remains rock solid and free of vibration.

    No one will mistake the Skywave for a sports bike, but it’s still a blast in the twisties. In both power and manual mode the motor pulls hard enough to put a grin on your face, and even mid-corner bumps won’t induce wallowing. Ultimately it’s only a lack of ground clearance that limits how fast curves can be taken. The brakes provide decent feedback and they’re capable of slowing things down a hurry when necessary.

    Complaints? The screen generates a fair amount of wind noise at high speeds. The smallish wheels and suspension tend to transmit jolts from highway expansion joints and potholes. The left handlebar switch-pod has more buttons than some elevators. And you’d better wear a supporter if you try to push the bike when the transmission fluid is cold.

    But these are just quibbles. The Skywave 650LX is a masterpiece of engineering – not to mention a heck of a lot of fun to ride. Although its ¥900,000 price may strike many as too high for a scooter, it’s quite reasonable for what essentially is a fully equipped tourer that can pull double duty in the city. And Suzuki isn’t resting on its laurels. The 2005 LX, which wasn’t available at the time of this test, has several improvements, including an electrically adjustable windscreen and a new overdrive gear to improve gas mileage.


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  3. MookieBlaylock

    MookieBlaylock Long timer

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    friggin girly ride:rofl
    #3
  4. twinrider

    twinrider pass the catnip

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    I take it you're an expert in girly riding :evil
    #4
  5. MookieBlaylock

    MookieBlaylock Long timer

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    i was in a coma for three days after a truck pulled in front of me on a wet morning- you go ride in the rain all you want budy
    #5
  6. ilmostro

    ilmostro Under Da Sea

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    :D

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    :evil
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  7. chiefrider

    chiefrider Chrome won't get you home

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    I recently talked to an elderly gent on one of these Suzuki scooters at a gas station. I asked him if he liked it. He gave me the broadest of grins and said, 'I particularly enjoy blowing past the Harleys on the freeway."
    #7
  8. Brick

    Brick Been here awhile

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    My wife had wanted a Vespa scooter for years. She finally completed her Rider Course, got her license and she now owns a Vespa ET150. She is a little on the small side, so it would have been tough for her to ride a Vespa GT or one of the 650's, but she rides her vespa all over the place. She has ridden over 100 miles at a time, over 35 miles of that on HWY 1 north of Santa Cruz.

    I won't give up my motorcycles, but the more people that get on two wheels, the better for all concerned, even if they are scooters.

    Brick
    #8
  9. MadMmmike

    MadMmmike DBG

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    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta,
    Got a ninja 750, DRZ400, RG250,
    Had a R1100R, aswell as a few other rides.....

    Most fun to get to work on currently? my '85 Honda Aero 80 scooter......

    Dunno what it is, but it's fun. The adventure isn't the destination, it's the trip, and it adds a different element going from point A to point B
    #9
  10. jktpa

    jktpa X-Troller

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    I'm down to three scooters 2 vespa et4's wifes and mine and a sr50 diatech aprilia for race watchin. They are all Quite FUN. Usually the bullshit I have to take on them is from the same "Chopper/Harley" bad asses that givve me shit when I'm ATGATT on my GS or VTR too.
    #10
  11. Possu

    Possu de-nOObed!

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    Although I rode & raced old Lambrettas years ago, I don't think a modern scoot is a competitor for a DL650.

    Saying that, the bigger scooters are hugely popular in Europe, especially with commuters. I've seen groups of them with German plates touring Italy :thumb The decent cruising speeds allow Autobahn riding with being a rolling roadblocl / chicane. To be honest, I've got more respect for these guys than I have for the big bike owner who does 2,000 summer miles per year :huh
    #11
  12. twinrider

    twinrider pass the catnip

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    Depends on the venue, doesn't it.... :evil
    #12
  13. XPADREX

    XPADREX Funslinger

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    I'm 33, I've been involved with motorcycling for over 25 years.

    I currently own a few motorcycles, and yet decided recently to add an Aprilia Scarabeo 500 to the stable.

    What prompted me to do so?

    A test ride!

    I'd been looking for something that would be easy to throw on a trailer and bring behind us when we take the kids to visit family in different parts of the country. I figured a maxi-scooter would serve as an easy load/easy unload proposition, but have enough ass for my wife and I to just zip around.

    Then I rode the Scarabeo- and it is a friggin' hoot!!

    It goes faster than you'd believe- fast enough to score a slew of tickets, thanks- has decent weather protection, has 16" wheels, and handles more like a motorcycle than a feet-forward scooter.

    I have a friend who had purchased a "step through motorcycle" a couple of years back because an injury made it too hard for him to throw his leg over a motorcycle. I nodded my head in sympathy, but now I've changed my mind: these things are fun! And other than shifting gears, on the highway or at speed, they're riding better than many of the other offerings on the road.

    I like mine, that's all I know.

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  14. Photog

    Photog Charismatic Megafauna Administrator

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    :nod I like the smaller scoots. They give you a totally different way of looking at commuting!

    I took a Yamaha Zuma (49cc) out for a while and had a blast doing simple errands. I have no idea why I was having so much fun, but I was. Totally different sort of skillset for urban assault--anticipating traffic and your takeoff time, taking alleyways and side streets, tucking it anywhere for parking. A skilled rider on a scoot can really carve it up. A good small scoot is a marvel of efficiency.

    There's also a real sense of accomplishment for every mph you can squeeze out of it, too. :lol3

    I"m hooked. :thumb

    ps - obligatory small Ruckus shot

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    #14
  15. jdiaz

    jdiaz .

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    I've had a bit of interest in scootering since the new Vespas came back to the US, but hadn't really had a major hankering until daotoys1 posted his ET4 with Malossi 190 kit for sale. Malossi makes all kinds of hi-po scooter stuff over here. :lol3

    Jon
    #15
  16. KaceCoyote

    KaceCoyote Pass the queer more beer

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    I'm pondering a ruckus myself, gonna hafta see how fast the commute to school is.
    #16
  17. twinrider

    twinrider pass the catnip

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    Sunday I bought a used Honda Forza (Reflex) to use as my daily commuter/city runner. Good power, excellent suspension, quick handling, damn good brakes, armchair comfort, cheap to run :thumb


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  18. doc riverz

    doc riverz anatra di seduta

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    The Ruckus is cool, no doubt. However it lacks one very important feature that most all scooters have, lockable storage. Storage is important for a practical city ride.
    #18
  19. doc riverz

    doc riverz anatra di seduta

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    Nice!
    #19
  20. pitbull

    pitbull Long timer

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    I have one criteria for a vehicle to be fun. It has to have two wheels. Scooters meet this criteria and the fact that many of them will now cruise comfortably at hwy speeds make them a worthy motorcycle alternative IMO.
    #20