Big scooters make great little tourers. That’s what many bikers in the UK are discovering, as the manufacturers load more features onto these automatic mile-munchers.
This latest scooter from Malaguti of Italy is their biggest yet, using the trusty Suzuki Burgman engine, with linked brakes, digital dash display and plenty of luggage space. Alastair took it for a quick spin around Darley Moor racetrack. Bryan Turner took the pics.
There are many ways that you can travel long distances on two wheels, but the large capacity scooter is undoubtedly the most effortless. Sure, big touring bikes like the BMW K1200LT and Honda´s mighty Gold Wing 1800 have all the bells and whistles, huge engines to propel along at 100mph on autobahns, plus built-in luggage space.
But we´re talking the cost of a very decent saloon car here, as much as £15,000 brand new, once you decide to add some accessories on board. Ouch. That´s a few luxury holidays to somewhere hot and sunny in my book, so I think I might well consider a scooter like this, for a mere £4600 on the road and waste the rest of the cash on heavy drinking, lap dancers, 70s fancy dress and another motorbike or two.
After all, this Madison can hit 100mph flat out, cruise all day in the 80-90mph range, take two people, plus some luggage in genuine comfort and return 45-50mpg from its single cylinder Burgman engine. It´s hard to see how much more you would really need for a long trip abroad, even though extra engine power, plus storage space for the wife´s hair-hopping spares `n´ accessories, would always be welcome.
Like most scooters, you jump aboard the Madison, hold the brake lever on, flip up the side-stand, then hit the starter button and away you go. The gearbox is fully automatic, variable drive, with a really smooth power delivery all the way to max speed at about the ton.
Like it´s sister scooter, and rival, the Burgman 400, the Madison is a heavy machine at 178 kilos dry, but it isn´t too hard to move around on driveways, as the weight sits so much lower than on a motorcycle. If you´re a biker who is getting on in years, or have a bad back, then there´s no question that this machine will give you an easier life than any touring motorcycle, even mid-sized ones like the Honda Deauville.
With 34bhp to push the Madison along, it can cruise all day at an indicated 80mph, which is also about as fast as you can go before the wind pressure finds a way around the screen and begins buffeting your head and shoulders.
The fairing has been revamped on the 400, compared to the Madison 250 and I reckon it probably offers excellent protection from bad weather, even compared to big bikes like the Wing, or BMW tourers. The key element with any scooter here of course, is the leg protection, which is way better than any bike can offer.
Under the seat, there´s enough room for one person´s waterproofs, plus spare clothing for a few days. An optional top box would have to take the rest, as adding panniers would almost certainly make the back end of the scooter behave pretty oddly in the corners with all that weight hung over it – great for wheelies though! (Only joking, do not try that at home – Legal Action Dodging Ed)
I´M MADDY, SCOOT ME
The Madison K400 certainly doesn´t need any more weight to lower its frame, as the soft suspension and wide bodywork already restrict the ground clearance on the turns. The stand soon scrapes on the right-hand side, at pretty modest lean angles, and the Malaguti certainly can´t match the cornering speeds of super-scoot rivals like the Yamaha Majesty 250, Honda Silver Wing 600 or Suzuki´s Burgman.
The linked brakes also deter any insane rushes of blood to the head, as the bike stops well enough using the left-hand lever, but hard braking into corners produces that slight unsettling feeling you get with linked systems. The Malaguti set-up uses three piston calipers, on single front and rear disc brakes, and, to be fair, isn´t as oddball as some motorcycles with linked braking. You do get used to it very quickly.
Stuff like the digital dashboard, plus the trick emissions control exhaust system, show that the Madison is well equipped – way beyond its price in fact. The machine feels as well made as the Piaggio X9, even if it lacks the outrageous speed of the Piaggio, and costs about the same money. I´d say it´s more comfortable than the X9 however.
Compared to expensive machinery like Honda´s Silver Wing, which is £6000, the Malaguti is definitely worth considering. You really have to need the Honda´s speed, fluid handling and reputed build quality, to pay another £1500 or so for a similar experience.
The Madison will do the job no question, at a price that´s mighty appealing, but whether it has enough style, ability and luggage space to tempt touring fans away from their bikes, remains to be seen. For some, it´s still a scooter and that´s somehow always second best to a motorcycle, end of story.
Get Malaguti bike insurance for the Madison 400.
|Engine||383cc, four stroke, single cylinder|
|Claimed power||34bhp @ 5750rpm|
|Frame||Steel tubular cradle|
|Front suspension||Telescopic forks, non adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Gas assisted twin shock|
|Brakes||Single 270mm front disc, 24omm rear disc, 3 piston callipers, linked hydraulic system both brakes|
|Fuel capacity||12 litres|
|Colours||Silver, Light blue, Dark blue|