I rode a scooter home last night. Emphasis on night, as in dark, as in nobody saw me. You can’t prove it. That wasn’t me. This kind of thing can put a serious crimp in your credibility.I didn’t really mean to. But like other questionable pursuits carried out under cover of darkness, it seemed like the thing to do when you’re knocking off work at 8:05 p.m. Especially after 11 hours of trying to carve a few thousand of somebody else’s ill-chosen words down to a few hundred that won’t trigger serial gag reactions, subscription cancellations and hate mail. Besides, there’s no way to strap my Bag O Stuff to the B-King. There <is> the key to a Suzuki Burgman 650 on the Official Motorcyclist Key Board, and the Executive model, no less with a full tank of gas. I have opportunity and motive. It’s a slippery slope from there.
Said key is in my pocket before the reverse-rationalization sequence can boot up. My overstuffed bag slides into the cavernous, well lit under storage bay beneath the seat to ink the deal. Like most forms of social suicide, getting started is easy: just pull the hand brake and thumb the starter. A vague, muddled whirring beneath the floorboards implies the initiation of internal combustion. Suzuki’s spec sheet says there’s an 8-valve liquid-cooled 638cc twin down there. I’ll take their word for it. Judging by the inconclusive aural evidence, it could just as easily be a single, an industrial-strength aquarium pump or a blow dryer with indigestion. As Lord John Whorfin once said, “Laugh-a while you can, monkey-boy.”
It’s creepy at first. La-Z-Boy ergos are counter intuitive. Feet out in front. No shifter or brake pedal and just air between the knees. Three blocks later, the all these odd pieces start to fit. The dash is vaguely reminiscent of a Honda S2000 or Need for Speed Carbon on Xbox 360, except we’re playing with real cars. Switches and buttons abound. Shall I let Suzuki’s electronic automatic shift on its own, or toggle through the quintet of virtual gears on my own? Will that be Normal or Power mode? How many guesses do you want?
The guy in the Audi A4 was submerged in a conversation with his broker/bookie / Feng Shui practitioner. Then the light turned green. He floored it, just in time to see a curiously silent maroon blur pull ahead and disappear into the tangled chaos of Highland Avenue. “What was <that>?” I would’ve explained that manual shifting lets Herr Burgman hold a virtual gear a little longer, but since Power Mode is only available when computer is in control, that was actually automatic. But I didn’t have the heart. Neither of us had the time. Traffic is grim for a Wednesday, and he’s still trying to explain to Her Majesty of the Passenger Side why they just got roasted by George Jetson’s recliner.
I’m not sure myself, but I’m not complaining either. Peel off the professional stigma and this could just be most efficient Southern California commuting appliance yet devised. The amorphous twin goes 55 miles on a gallon of regular unleaded, even when 90 mph shows up on the speedo now and then. Electrically retractable mirrors are sheer genius. Triple-disc brakes are good; ABS is better. Suspension is derisible by sporty bike standard, but I can’t quite picture myself paying $8999 to <own> one. Yet.