When he gets a few days off, Possum likes to hit the road touring on his BMW R1150GS. Or perhaps a test bike; because as well as his regular job, he moonlights as a long-distance road-tester for Peter Thoeming’s Australian Road Rider magazine.(So we have a Possum writing stories for a Bear – sounds like something out of “Animal Farm”!). He writes a good report too; being, in my opinion, a little more thorough and honest in his assessments than we sometimes get from other testers.
Possum has lots of stories he could tell about his travels, but a recent trip he did for ARR magazine I thought would be good to share with readers on this site. He took off on a three-day trip, not on a touring bike or a sports-tourer, but a scooter. And what made it even more interesting, was this time he took his wife as pillion. Yep, two-up touring by scooter!
So, what was it? Well, obviously not one of the small ones. It was a Suzuki Burgman 650.
The test appeared in Australian Road Rider, issue number 53 (May / June 2009). I’ll quote from the article, as well as including some comments Possum sent to me. (By the way, I checked with The Bear and he doesn't mind me quoting the article).
If you get a chance though, check out the story in ARR; there’s a lot more detail, and of course you get the pics as well. It’s a good read! (The whole magazine is always a good read!).
First task was to pick up the big scoot from Sydney and ride it to his home on the NSW Central Coast. He writes, “The run home solo on the F3 was a revelation, it has no trouble keeping up with traffic, and it has no trouble accelerating away from traffic – even up hills.” He was also impressed by the comfort, describing it as being, “Like a Jason-Recliner – but faster.”
And so the trip began. There was no set route though. As he told me, “We had fun riding around, with no real plan beyond some random destinations.”
He was impressed by the scooter’s equipment, and provides quite a detailed list of features and controls in the test report. Of particular interest are the alloy wheels with tubeless tyres, twin disc brakes up front and a single disc on the rear. It also comes with ABS. Wheels are 15” up front and a 14”at the rear. Suspension is by motorcycle-type forks, and twin shocks.
He was also impressed with its capacity for luggage. “Enough gear for two people for two nights away fitted under the seat with some careful packing.”
He said that his wife had some difficulty getting on, due to the wide seat and backrest. And the angle of the backrest caused it to dig into her lower back. Apart from that though, it was comfortable.
“Leaving the freeway, we traversed the wonderful secondary roads found in NSW.” But those secondary roads raised some problems. He wrote, “On my R1150GS I have a huge amount of suspension travel and rarely notice the road surface. On the Burgman I had very little suspension travel and noticed all the irregularities in the road surface. There was a lot of yelling coming from the back seat and some well-aimed kidney punches. We stopped at Cessnock for a break and I was informed that had there been a train service available, I would have been down one pillion passenger.” However he said that, “Slowing down and paying a bit of attention to the road surface resulted in a better ride, and less violence.” And smoother roads allowed the speeds to rise again too.
“Stopping for lunch at Muswellbrook we met a representative of the Ducati Club of NSW who invited us to the 27th Thunder Rally at Sheba Dam near Nundle.
“The overnight destination was Werris Creek. Saturday morning saw Werris Creek to Qurindi, where we had a cuppa with a group of Ulysses riders from Tamworth, then across to Wallabadah on the New England. A short run on the highway took us to the turn off for Nundle.
“The run up into the hills was a smooth ride, with the 650 pulling like a turbine, always the right power for the job. The big mirrors were handy for spotting feral Ducatis blasting up from behind on their way to the rally.”
Fuel consumption up to this point averaged around 19 km per litre.
“We struck the back end of a thunderstorm in this area; the large piece of plastic on the front of the bike protected the rider quite well. Hands and shoulders got wet; everything else was tucked in out of the rain – everything but the pillion's legs, which are exposed on their own running boards.
“Saturday night was spent in Muswellbrook, with Sunday an easy run back through Branxton to Cessnock, Wollombi, Kulnura and back to Gosford.”
So, an interesting trip, two-up, on the big scoot from Suzuki. Possum was impressed with it, his main criticism being that the suspension wasn’t quite up to the performance; although that is with a pillion and luggage! As I said above, if you read the magazine article, you’ll get a lot more detail about the Burgman.
Despite the initial problems with the backrest, his wife found the pillion seat more comfortable than the BMW, which led Possum to conclude his report with these words, “I guess if I want to keep Mrs Possum happy on a weekend trip, I had better have one.”
But did he buy one? No; although he told me, “I think I could live with a Burgman; they are a good piece of kit.”
Touring, two-up, on a scooter; yes, it can be done, and done with comfort and performance.
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