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Bernardo
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Bernardo

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PostSubject: First Impressions Multi Scoot test / review   First Impressions Multi Scoot test / review I_icon_minitimeSat Jan 31, 2009 9:32 am

Hello!

Here are some of my thoughts on the today's "favourite" large displacement scoots which I wrote up about 7 months ago. My S'wing at the time was stock, apart for the laminar lip and ears.

A 2008 Gilera GP800, a 2008 Yamaha T-max 500, a 2008 Suzuki Burgman 650. I’ve included my own 2003 Honda Silver Wing 600, as a bench mark.

To be sure I think all four scoots are damn fine machines, comfortable, plenty of get up and go, and all would make capable long distance tourers, or commuters. They all have quite different characters mind. It has to be said that when it comes to power and performance, not surprisingly the 850cc Gilera is head and shoulders above the pack.

Of all four scoots, the Honda is to my mind the most “scooter” like. With its smaller wheels, it offers the lowest ride height, (I can get my feet down flat on the ground) the softest suspension, and the most “easygoing” ride. You point it where you wanna go, sit back and enjoy the ride. That said, its no slouch… If you want to hustle, then it will hustle! If you want to want to have a hoot blasting your way through the twisties, then it will do that too, and surprisingly well methinks given that it’s the most softly sprung. It will complain a little more than the others if you try and change your chosen line in “mid curve” but it will still do it, safely and without too much hassle. The brakes although good, (mine has ABS) when compared to the others they feel a bit squishy, and you need to grab more of a handful if you want to slow down fast. That said this could be because it is five years old and I am comparing it with new scoots…! Of the four it feels the least sporty, but I feel it is the best “jack of all trades” in that it does whatever you throw at it well, though it is not quite as powerful or comfortable as the Burgman, but then it feels much more nimble and agile than the Burgman, and potentially would be easier cutting through busy traffic.

The Yamah Tmax is a completely different baby…… Whilst the Honda comes across as mature and contented and happily burbles along, seemingly unrushed, the T-max is a young stallion and positively snarls with a wonderful exhaust note and oozes the desire to be ridden that bit harder with more spirit and zest….. Alas, at low speed this is something that the T-max just doesn’t have….. But when you get past 35-40 mph then it seems to come up with the oomph you wish it had from the start! Actually above 40mph, it seemed to be as fast as the S’wing. You can tell it’s the lightest of the four scoots almost as soon as you climb aboard, not only does it feel the most agile and nimble, it is! It feels and handles more like a bike than a scooter, and of the four seems to have the best handling, just begging to be thrown into the next corner and flicked into the one after that and so on… After the S’wing and the Burgman I found that a bit unnerving at first as with just a hint of lean the scoot seemed almost too happy and responsive to oblige by wanting to dive into the corner. The riding position was also quite sporty, with your weight being thrown slightly more forward that say the S’wing or the Burgman, however whilst it was comfortable enough I felt it wasn’t in the same league as the armchair like Burgman and the laid back S’wing. However as for looks the T-max really has it there, to my eyes being the most sexy looking of the bunch, and probably the best handling ……

As for the Suzuki 650 Burgman, when I first climbed aboard I had the impression I was climbing into the cockpit of an aircraft, rather than a scooter! Woah, there’s more bells and whistles than you can shake a stick at….. Two automatic modes, and a manual, plus a windshield that be raised and lowered, heated handlebar grips, and seat, and no ordinary seat at that more armchair like if anything, a digital dashboard display, hazard lights and ABS. This beastie seems to have everything already… Even mirrors that fold in… It’s as if Suzuki wanted all the added extras to come as standard…. But then again, it was the executive model I rode. Although it has a bit more power than the S’wing, it didn’t really feel that much more. If anything, given its bulky feel, it seemed quite nimble but even so I found myself wanting a bit more power than was on offer… It was as if OK, this is a space age executive machine with all the trimmings, therefore it should be significantly faster than the S’wing, getting on for being on par with the Gilera. However it is perhaps a little bit more powerful than the S’wing but as noted earlier completely outclassed power wise by the Gilera. However to my mind it was the most comfortable, and once aboard and underway you felt like driving it to Paris even if all you needed was a bit of shopping from the local supermarket. (I live about 30 miles north west of London!) What spoilt this otherwise sublime ride was the engine braking at slower speeds… It seemed a just a bit too much, and just slightly compromised that “cool”, laid back feeling that you get a bit better from the S’wing.

And finally the Gilera…. Well hell, this machine is perhaps the next best looker after the T-max, and like the T-max it too gives you that feeling of “let’s ride” as opposed to the “let’s cruise” of the Burgman and S’wing. However as opposed to the T-max that is a bit lacking in low down oomph, this beastie is not. When you twist the throttle on this stallion, it doesn’t snarl, instead it rewards you with a much lower pitched, and eminently satisfying throaty roar, and boy it sure can shift by comparison…. It feels much heavier too, but in a good sense with crisp and sharp handling, that is until you get up to just over the ton about 105mph. Then the weave spoils it…. I can’t remember exactly, and at the time I only glanced, but there was still loads of revs left to go until that needle was in the red…… And it would have been sooooo good to get that rev counter needle into the red….. 120mph perhaps or 125mph?! Who knows!! Although comfortable enough, it wasn’t in the same league as the Burgman or the S’wing, largely as the seat hump, or bumstop call it what you will is in the wrong place. The firm suspension, also makes for a firm ride, and to my mind, just that bit too much… But Ohh who cares? All that power is just a mere twist away…… And yeah, so what if you don’t wanna go fast… This beast will happily burble along with the best of them….. OK, OK… But that power is just a short twist away and it sounds sooo good…… Just a quick blast…. Oooo, yeah that’s good….

And so that’s it, a quick comparison of four maxi scooters that frankly all “rock” in their own indomitable ways…. There is no “best” one. They are all good methinks. Thus to sum up, if I had all four sat in my garage, this is what I would be thinking as I opened the garage door and buckled up my helmet whilst choosing which one to ride….……

“OK, I’ve got to get to work, and then on the way back home I am gonna chill and just cruise down by the side of that lake…. I’ll take the S’wing…”

“Hey, I’m a bit late today, need to hustle… Hmmm On the way back I’ll take take in that wee twisty road with the hairpins for a bit of fun… Ahh, that’ll be the T-max, then….”
“Hmmm what shall we do this weekend…..? Hey babe, fancy a long ride through the mountains and down to the coast? We can stay at that secluded hotel you like….. OK that’ll be the Burgman then….”

Hey was that a group of Harleys that just rode by….? And look a few Japanese crotch rockets, and a Ducati…..? Shouldn’t take long to catch up and teach them a little humility for good measure…. I’d best fire up the Gilera…?


I originally wrote this in June 2008, and since then have considerably modified my Swing with a power commander, J costa variator, free flowing exhaust and hyperpro front springs. IMHO it handles much better similar to the Gilera and T-max, and now outperforms all the others except the Gilera. That said it will keep up with the Gilera til about 80-90mph after which the Gilera will pull away thanks to the much greater power it has.
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JeffR
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PostSubject: Re: First Impressions Multi Scoot test / review   First Impressions Multi Scoot test / review I_icon_minitimeSat Jan 31, 2009 1:19 pm

Hey Bernardo,

Great review of the bikes. I'm not sure if we get the Gilera yet but I don't think I would buy one anyway. Your last paragraph compared the SWing after our mods.. and I'm wondering how much more powerful is the SWing compared to the Burgman? Would it walk away or just barely keep ahead of the Burgman? Thanks again for the great review as I wish I could ride some of these bikes.
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Bernardo
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Location : Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
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PostSubject: Re: First Impressions Multi Scoot test / review   First Impressions Multi Scoot test / review I_icon_minitimeSat Jan 31, 2009 3:02 pm

Hi Jeff,

The Italian scoots, notably the Gilera (and look out for the Aprilia Mana GT automatic bike) seem to have come a long way in the last ten years or so. I'd say the quality and finish is now nearly but not quite as good as the modern japanese bikes. They certainly don't seem tacky or flimsy anymore. As to the others The Honda IMHO always had the crown for best finish, solid and hard wearing, but I think now that Yamaha are at least equal if not better. The Suzuki burgie seems particularly well put together, better than the suzuki bikes, and on a par with the Honda S'wing. A final note on the new Italian scoots and bikes, put it this way, you can no longer turn up your nose at the Italian bikes/scoots because they are more poorly made, or unreliable and tacky, cos they are not! They have got style and quality.

OK, on performance this is only my opinion but after the mods, the S'wing feels significantly faster and even more nimble than it was before. That is pretty good for such a heavy bike. To get an idea, think back to when you had the stock variator on your S'wing. Under those conditions, the Burgie has the edge, pulling away a bit faster from a standstill, and at 50 to 60 still has the upper hand, but the burgie is not significantly faster, and it isn't going to be leaving the S'wing in the dust as such, but rather 50 feet behind?

So now visualise the S'wing with the J costa.... the 0-60 is now over one second, maybe one and a half faster than it was before.... Then factor in the added stability and flickability from the progressive springs.... Then a tad more grunt especially mid and upper range from the exhaust and the power commander....

Now compared to the burgie, I would think that the S'wing would easily pull away faster from a standstill. As to 50-60mph, that is more difficult to say, and although it wouldn't be as noticeable as it was at low speed, I think the S'wing would steadily pull away up until about 100mph.

With all the mods, to my mind the S'wing feels much more like a comfortable Gilera with sports touring suspension, and more luggage space than a standard more softly sprung S'wing. Despite the fact that the Gilera has a 75bhp engine and say 60-65bhp at the back wheel, from a standstill accelerating at max throttle it'll slowly be pulling away from the modified S'wing, and by 100mph will be say 100 feet ahead maybe 150? It won't be until after 100mph that the S'wing will then start falling behind, although the Gilera I rode developed a a disconcerting weave at about 105mph, and I had to slow down a bit. By comparison, at 105mph on the S'wing I can take my hands off the handlebars, and she still stays rock solid.

But then again, don't forget, I am probably a bit biased!!! :D
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The Scootist
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PostSubject: scooter review   First Impressions Multi Scoot test / review I_icon_minitimeMon Feb 02, 2009 11:17 am

Bernardo:
Thanks for the great review. I have not had a chance to ride all four scooters, but I would like to. I am a large guy (6'5" and 235 lbs) so back when I was shopping for a bike I was leaning towards the 650 Burgman Executive because of it larger engine and accessories, but then when sat on the Suzuki it felt very comfy - but "fat" (wide) and top heavy. The Yamaha felt light and sporty, but it seemed too small for me - sort of cramped. It was almost like a crotch rocket, but without the power. I haven't seen a Gilera yet, but would like to.

When I added it all up, the Honda Silver wing just seemed to be the best scooter for my purposes and size, so I ended up with a new 2007 Silver wing, to which I quickly added some of the same after market performance-boosting equipment that you did. (K&N Air filter, Leo Vince exhaust, and J Costa variator). Now, after hearing your comments regarding how well the progressive springs enhance the handling, I think I may eventually put some on my bike as well. Plus, I am also leaning towards putting on a power commander.

On the comfort and convenience side of things, I put on a Givi (taller) windshield and a Givi topcase. Some day I may look at putting on a custom seat, backrest, and heated grips, but these things will have to wait for a while (I need to save up my pennies). I must admit, and maybe it is just me, but it seems like all this customization can become a bit of an obsession - but it sure is fun! I'll just chalk it up to my midlife crises...
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Bernardo
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PostSubject: Re: First Impressions Multi Scoot test / review   First Impressions Multi Scoot test / review I_icon_minitimeMon Feb 02, 2009 5:51 pm

The Scooterist wrote:
Bernardo:
Thanks for the great review. I have not had a chance to ride all four scooters, but I would like to. I am a large guy (6'5" and 235 lbs) so back when I was shopping for a bike I was leaning towards the 650 Burgman Executive because of it larger engine and accessories, but then when sat on the Suzuki it felt very comfy - but "fat" (wide) and top heavy. The Yamaha felt light and sporty, but it seemed too small for me - sort of cramped. It was almost like a crotch rocket, but without the power. I haven't seen a Gilera yet, but would like to.

When I added it all up, the Honda Silver wing just seemed to be the best scooter for my purposes and size, so I ended up with a new 2007 Silver wing, to which I quickly added some of the same after market performance-boosting equipment that you did. (K&N Air filter, Leo Vince exhaust, and J Costa variator). Now, after hearing your comments regarding how well the progressive springs enhance the handling, I think I may eventually put some on my bike as well. Plus, I am also leaning towards putting on a power commander.

On the comfort and convenience side of things, I put on a Givi (taller) windshield and a Givi topcase. Some day I may look at putting on a custom seat, backrest, and heated grips, but these things will have to wait for a while (I need to save up my pennies). I must admit, and maybe it is just me, but it seems like all this customization can become a bit of an obsession - but it sure is fun! I'll just chalk it up to my midlife crises...

Glad I could help cheers

So you have caught the bug too :D Lets face it, the S'wing is a good steed to ride through that mid life crisis!!! Twisted Evil

Actually when I started looking at scooters, I had decided to go for a burgie 650 as first choice, the S'wing or maybe a T-max. At the time I was buying on a budget, so needed a good deal.... Therefore what with going for an older bike a big issue was servicing and reliability...... My research suggested that the Honda and maybe the Yamaha were the better ones to go for. The chap I got the S'wing from had just got himself a 650 burgie so I was able to check them both out. Like you said the T-max just didn't have quite enough power, and so I ended up going for the S'wing. Then when the bug bit me, it was enough to get me to part with my money in adding more mods to the S'wing. In hindsight it was fortunate that I had gone for an older and thus cheaper scoot as had I spent more initially I would never have been able to afford the mods as quickly as I did. (especially with my Mrs wondering about me if I was going through another teenage phase!!)

Of all the big scooters at the moment, I think that the Silver Wing is the best all rounder, and given that there are so many aftermarket options / modifications available it can be easily personalised to suit ones own style. It's a shame that the wheels aren't a little bigger mind, but aside from that, it's a fine machine and I have to say the best bike I've had methinks.

Be sure to let us know how all your modifications go!

Happy riding bounce
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