Suzuki Burgman 400
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Last November, Mary Ann decided she would like to buy a Burgman 400 for herself. She reasoned that the gas mileage would be better than the car, and it would not have the problems with changing gears like normal motorcycles.  We brought my mother along to pick up our new Burgman 400 at the motorcycle shop. As we came in the door, my mother was amazed “With all the motorcycles here, how did you ever decide which one to pick?” “Mom, those are snowmobiles.”


Next spring, Mary Ann got a major disappointment. She needs a motorcycle licence to operate this thing, and the motorcycle safety course only offers motorcycle training. In other words, she would have to learn gears and clutch. Rather than confusing herself with the opposite control layout, Mary Ann opted to pass the test at the ministry office on her own “motorcycle” and forgo the safety course. After many practice runs around a slalom course with rocks for markers, her first run in front of an inspector was done with cones. Now cones have height and some width, and this new dimension clashed with the low and wide automatic clutch housing on the rear hub. Two cones got clipped by the housing and went flying before she came to her first u-turn and saw what was happening. I should mention that the Burgman has a very long wheelbase, automatic clutch and a 16 foot turning circle. Meaning it is just barely able to make it through the slalom with a good rider. Fortunately, Mary Ann saw what had happened and on the return pass, cleared all the cones and passed that part of test.

Her only negative result from the test came from the emergency braking. Actually, the test is just braking but not the way Mary Ann did it. She was sitting around watching the other hopefuls do their braking run. They were approaching the line slowly, braking early and gently, and ending up stopped short of the line. Mary Ann had done her practicing from a higher speed, and had become pretty good at hard stops with the front tire right on the line. I could tell from her reaction that she was going to show them something about how to do a stop. She came in at high speed, after giving the Burgman full throttle, which got everyone's attention. At the last possible moment, she grabbed both brakes, and just for good measure put both feet down and dragged them along as the crowd gasped. She stopped right on the line, although everyone including me was expecting her to crash. But she did fail that part of the test, I guess dragging your feet is not good form on a real motorcycle. But although failing the stopping test, she did get her motorcycle licence.

Next came an expensive trip to the motorcycle clothing store. It all started with her reading a book by David Hough. She said “Does my jacket have armour?”. “No”, I said, and with that she wanted to go out and buy some safer duds. We picked up leather pants, and a synthetic jacket, and a few other things for a total of over $600, but she was starting to look like a real pro. No one would guess that she is a retired granny and almost a senior citizen.

All aboardBefore long, the Oil Change light came on, because the Burgman had one of those. She wanted to change the oil and filter herself, just to learn how it was done. I should mention Mary Ann has some slight feminist leanings, because she is a bit annoyed about the Burgman having a “Man” in the name. Anyhow at one point she wanted to undo the three nuts holding the oil filter cover. “That looks like an 8 mm” I offered helpfully. She picked through the wrenches in my tool box until she found one marked “9mm” at one end and “7mm” at the other. She picked it up and went over to the bike and tried fitting it on the nut. At first I could not figure out why she was doing this, so I once again helpfully repeated “It's an 8 mm you want, what have you got there?” She said, “Well it says 9mm to 7mm, that should cover it.” “No I said it's a 9 or a 7, the 8 is on a different wrench”. Her parting shot “It figures some guy must have invented this.”

If you are interested further, you may want to click HERE to see Mary Ann's famous YouTube video “Burgman 400 Ramming Speed”