Last weekend I laid fresh eyes on Kymco’s Xciting 500Ri and think that it could be a very viable contender as a Streetliner donor bike. Up to now, I’ve been leaning toward the Suzuki Burgman 400. The Burgy’s mileage is good, the motor is powerful, it’s a twin disk brake up front (meaning one disk/caliper set per wheel) and it’s a popular bike so the second-hand market should be pretty good. However, the Kymco has more than a few things going for it. The weight is the same, the mileage is similar, two front brakes, 12V accessory plug-in, good looking gauges, it’s got an extra 100cc of engine, but most interestingly an adjustable twin-shock rear suspension. The Xciting is also a bit less expensive, but still with Kymco’s proven Taiwanese build quality. In fact, I can’t help but feel a tad more confident in the Kymco, as they have so much more experience with scooters than Suzuki does.
But back to the suspension, which is what I’m most interested in. The rear suspension on the latest generation of the Burgy is a mono-shock underneath the frame. The Kymco uses the more traditional twin rear shock setup like I have on my Vespa GT. Previous Burgy models used a similar setup. What I’m wondering now is which will be better in my intended application? It’s easy to assume that the more sport bike style mono shock underneath the newest Burgman models is in fact an upgrade. But it could just as easily be a cost-saving measure. I’d probably have to ride both bikes to see if there was a difference in feel. But beyond the performance in the stock bike, how would that rear suspension behave plugged into a likely heavier vehicle with completely different geometry? A beefier shock will likely be needed. Will I be able to easily source one for the Burgman? The more traditional twin shock setup on the older Burgman models and the Xciting seem to offer greater flexibility. There’s already a nitrogen shock upgrade available from Kymco. But more than that, with the mount points so straightforward, I could conceivably use almost any shocks I want. In order to tune the suspension on the Streetliner, I’m going to need both dampening and pre-load adjustment. Although the current Burgman shock has seven levels of pre-load adjustment, it may not be the correct dampening. Fitting a different shock may involve some serious modifications. One of the guiding tenants of this project is to do as little engineering as possible, so the idea of having to re-engineer that more complex subframe to accept a different shock is not appealing. The sacrifice is that if I’ve got quite a bit of room above the engine for storage in the body of the vehicle. If I’ve got to have shock mount points above the motor, that could encroach on some of that space. But in the end, it’s not about maximizing cargo space, it’s about maximizing efficiency, comfort, safety, riding fun, and style.