Welcome to part one of the CMG big-arsed scooter test (hmhhh, I wonder how many times I can say that?).
Big-arsed scooter test? Yes, big-arsed scooter test. Since we'd managed to secure ourselves a Yamaha Majesty 400 as a long-termer for the year, we thought it would only make sense to see what else there is out there in the same category and see how they all compare. Thus the big-arsed scooter test.
Okay, as per usual with multi-bike tests, it's too big to slap in as a one-parter, so we're going to split it into two, with the second installment of their big-arsed scooter test being posted on CMG next week. So without further ado (or don't), here's the CMG big-arsed scooter test ...
Who’s the biggest market when it comes to motorcycles?
Yep, you probably got it, those damn baby-boomers, that’s who (although they’re also the biggest chunk of readership for CMG, so I’d better be careful with the insults in future).
Trouble is they’re getting older and you don’t see many old people riding motorcycles, largely thanks to the effort/flexibility required to get on and off and hold the weight when stopped. Shit, even Mr. Seck is starting to experience the world of limited-mobility although at forty he’s got accumulated body damage to thank for that more than the creeping decomposition of old age.
Still, the point stands that if the motorcycle industry wants to sell bikes in the near future, it had better start to face the fact that all them baby-boomers will soon be looking to trade-in their weekend warriors in favour of something all the more age-friendly.
Enter the age of the big-arsed scooter, or ‘maxi-scoot’, as the industry prefer them to be known. Big (350+ cc) scooters with tell-tale step through frames (not requiring a need to get a leg-over, but just to step-through), large storage capacity under the seat (great for meds), friendly ergonomics (no more visits to the chiropractor post cruiser ride) and an all-round air of safety (although there’s really no reason why they should be safer in an accident than a compatible motorcycle).
Yep, the maxi-scoot is the baby-boomer’s ride of the future. Hopefully.
Want to read more of 'arris' inane scooter ramblings? Thought not, but just in case, you can click here.
THE CURRENT CROP
In Canada, Suzuki was the first major manufacturer to jump into this blossoming market with its 650 Burgman back in 2003. Although there were other maxi-scoots in other markets, for some reason the competition gave Suzuki an easy ride, and in 2004 Suzuki added to its market share with a 400 version.
It wasn’t until this year that the competition finally woke up, with Honda bringing in their 600 Silverwing, Piaggio their 500 X9, Yamaha their Majesty 400 and Aprilia their Scarabeo 500.
This recent development obviously screamed “comparo” (to us anyway, but then the CMG in-head voices scream a lot of things these days). Trouble is there were just a few too many to choose from, so we needed to come up with some kind of thread with which to string them together.
How about $7,999.00?
Eh? Well the Burgman 400, Majesty 400 and X9 500 all come in with a $7,999.00 price tag. Now how sweet is that?
(The answer would be “very sweet” BTW).
And so it was, back in June of this year that – along with the CMG long-term Majesty – we snagged a Burgman 400S (a standard Burgman with sporty fairing, chromey and black bits and a smaller screen) and a new X9. Actually, we also snagged a Honda Silverwing for reference/accommodate-the-extra-rider purposes, and we'll include our thoughts on that in part two.
The plan was to ride the bikes around Lake Ontario for a final sweep of the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally route and thereby slip in our group test while we're at it. It was almost too simple ...
SAME PRICE, SAME PARTS?
Engine-wise, they’re all liquid-cooled singles, with the Suzi coming in the smallest at 385cc, the Majesty next with 395cc and the Piaggio X9 taking daddy status with a stumpy-pulling 460cc. Piaggio are the only ones to publish a power figure, which is a believable 39 hp, with the other two likely coming in around the low 30s.
All motors come with four-valves (the Yamaha being the only DOHC), fuel injection, counter balancers and “twist and go” CVT (Constantly Variable Transmission). Claimed dry weight is around the 200 kg mark, with the little Burgman weighing in the lightest at a helium-filled-balloon like 184 Kg.
It seems that scooter wheels come in either 13 or 14 inch diameters, with Piaggio opting for the bigger 14 inchers, Suzuki the smaller 13 inchers and Yamaha undecided with a 14” front and 13” rear.
Braking on the Maj and Burgy is by single disc up front, with the X9 going all fancy-like with twin discs and a linking of front and back on the left lever – which the Burgman also has come to think of it … that’ll be the linked brakes, not the twin discs.
I could go on, but even I’m getting bored, and besides there’s a very handy 'comparator' below, which will do the same thing, sans searing boredom-inducing self-mutilation.
Bugger, I needed that finger …
Oh hang on, one last factoid; As far as under-seat luggage capacity, the Majesty takes the chocolate covered biscuit with 60 litres of space, the Burgman gets an oatmeal cookie with 55 litres and the Piaggio gets a No-Name brand wafer-thin for not publishing that fact at all (although we know it’s the smallest size from experience).
And that’s that for tat … I mean that.
Damn nine-fingered typing.
In part 2 we go into detail on what we thought about each of the three scoots and wrap it all up with our final thoughts, but for now, let's do a bit of a teaser of our thoughts with the world famous CMG Comparator ...
COMPARATOR (it's world-famous* you know)
* Technically speaking the CMG 'Comparator' is only famous in Mongolia and Belize, but we think that that's a good enough spread for us to claim a global fame ...
CASUALTIES OF THE ROAD
The worst thing you can do on a CMG test ride is crash. Well, if you want to give the editor a kaniption and risk a good kicking while you’re down-and-out at the side of the road.
With this effect well established, guest-tester Bobb Todd managed to ‘drop’ the Silverwing while turning into a gas station. Apparently he grabbed a fistful of clutch mid-turn only to find out that the left lever is actually the brake. Even though the Silverwing came with ABS, doing this mid-turn will likely result in the bike ending up on its side and rider beside it wondering what just happened.
Thankfully damage was limited to a bent “clutch” lever and some minor scuffing on the RHS plastic. Oh, and Bobb’s “I’ve never crashed a bike” record, even though he’s still arguing that a “drop” isn’t a “crash”.
Then, just when I thought that we’d finished the test ride relatively unscathed, Mr. Seck managed to top himself when he did some emergency brake testing on the Piaggio X9, on Spadina Ave in downtown Toronto.
After a car pulled out in front of him, a fistful of front brake saw Mr. Seck and X9 go into a lowside in an instant.
Damage was limited to another broken collar bone for Mr. Seck and some serious scuffing on the X9 – and a $1000 bill for CMG for the repairs. Oh, and a very intense kaniption by Editor ‘arris.
And people think that this is a perfect job.