Boulevard C90 SE
Suzuki Boulevard C90
2009 - 12
Four stroke, 45° V-twin, SOHC, 3 valves per cylinder
1462 cc / 89.2 cu-in
Bore x Stroke
96 x 101 mm
49.2 kW / 66 hp @ 4800 rpm
115 Nm /11.7 kgf-m / 84.8 ft-lbs @ 2800 rpm
Double cradle steel frame
Telescopic, coil springs, oil damped
Link type, coil spring, oil damped
Dual 300 mm disc, 4 piston caliper
Single 180 mm disc, 2 piston caliper
Length: 2525 mm / 99.4 in
1000 mm / 39.4 in
mm / 40.6 in
1700 mm / 66.9 in
140 mm / 5.5 in
700 mm / 27.6 in
/ 3.7 US gal
15.0 sec / 138 km/h / 85.7 mph
.By Ken "Hawkeye" Glassman
Okay, let's say you're a well established motorcycle manufacturer, with a
strong lineup of cruiser bikes with well-known names, and you can boast of a
loyal following and a solid reputation. You want to freshen up your existing
motorcycle lineup and expand your sales in the ever growing cruiser market to
reach buyers who may not be as familiar with your product offerings as you
think they should be. Also, you've got lots of new products in the pipeline
that you will be introducing regularly over the next few months and years,
which fill new niches in the marketplace.
You'll need to decide if you want to utilize the existing model names, or
introduce new model names. If you use existing names, it might be confusing to
the public, and may not get the full impact of a new model. If you use new
names, it might be hard for people to figure out where the new models fit
within the entire product line.
So what would you do? Well, if you're American Suzuki you make a bold,
decisive move. You scrap the old names and place all your cruiser bikes under
one new umbrella brand name and designate each one with an alpha numeric
moniker. That lets your buyers know exactly where each motorcycle fits in the
hierarchy of the new brand and what cruiser niche it will occupy in the
Suzuki invited the press to Las Vegas to attend its June dealer meetings,
joining Suzuki's dealers to witness the birth of its new cruiser brand called
Boulevard. No more Intruders, no more Marauders, no more Volusia, and no more
Savage. From now on, all of Suzuki's current and future cruiser motorcycles
arriving in dealer showrooms beginning in August as 2005 models will be called
a Boulevard, with a letter and number designation.
It is truly a bold move because the model names mentioned above have a rich
history and an excellent reputation. The mid-'80s saw the introduction of the
Intruder 700 which combined classic V-Twin design with modern engineering
touches like liquid-cooling, and shaft drive. The 1987 Intruder 1400 earned
its reputation by being the largest V-Twin production engine available at the
time, touching off the displacement wars in the cruiser market. The 1997
Marauder 800 became one of Suzuki's best selling cruisers ever in its first
year. And the Volusia 800 was last year's best selling motorcycle in its
So while it seems like a big step to scrap the venerable names, American
Suzuki vice-president Mel Harris explained that the rewards down the road will
far outweigh the short-term risks. The new Boulevards will keep the Suzuki DNA
of advanced technology, strong power and performance, low weight, nimble
handling and strong value while continuing to develop and expand upon those
attributes with each new offering.
Suzuki is powering this new launch with a multi-million-dollar ad campaign to
take the message to the buyers. The advertising tag line is "Choose your
Boulevard," and with five Boulevard models to choose from, and a lot more on
the way within a few months, that seems like the perfect theme to launch this
entirely new brand.
Harris sees Boulevard as much more than a renaming of motorcycles, however.
It's a true brand launch that will incorporate new Boulevard in-store displays
at their dealerships, accessory parts, and a large selection of Boulevard
clothing. Market research shows that cruiser buyers look for a lifestyle
approach to their motorcycles, with the clothing and accessories a big part of
the cruiser experience.
Being able to select from a wide variety of saddlebags, windshields, and
chrome parts to personalize one's bike, as well as have the leather, textile,
and sportswear clothing to go with it, is what that segment of the marketplace
looks for. Heck, one only need look to Harley-Davidson's 900-page accessory
catalogue that is as thick as a Chicago phone book to know that the
accoutrements that go along with the motorcycle are not only an important part
of satisfying the customer, but it is also a major source of revenue for the
Fortunately, Boulevard will make it easy to understand their model lineup. The
alpha (letter) tag will either be an S, C, or M designation. S will stand for
Sport. Those motorcycles will have small, tire-hugging front fenders and
bobbed rear fenders for a stylish sporty look and feel. The C designation will
stand for Cruiser, with the classic full-fendered, wide tank look. The M
designation will stand for Muscle, and the emphasis on those bikes will be
power and performance. The M's styling cues will incorporate blacked out
engine and transmission treatments, as well as wheels and other touches. A
fourth sub-model will be the T designation that will be attached to the
cruiser models, which will stand for Touring. Boulevard will package some of
the most popular touring accessories like a two-up seat with passenger
backrest, full-size windshield with wind deflectors, saddlebags, and price
them lower than one would have to pay if purchased separately.
The numeric part of the equation will refer to the engine size in cubic inches
rather than in cubic centimeters. So, just like BMW or Mercedes automobiles,
it will now be easy for buyers to identify what each model name means and
where it slots in the Boulevard lineup.
Right now, Boulevard is offering three Sport models, the S40, S50, and S83.
For those readers without their metric conversion charts handy, that equates
to 650cc, 800cc, and 1400cc engine displacements. Two cruiser C models are
available, the C50 and C90 (800cc and 1500cc respectively). Spokesmen for
Suzuki hinted that an M50 model should be out shortly, and even a big-bore M
model in the very near future.
With about a dozen or so journalists from motorcycle magazines and other media
outlets on hand, Suzuki unloaded a tractor trailer full of motorcycles so that
each one of us would be able to sample the complete product line. We left the
Paris Hotel on the Las Vegas strip early in the morning and headed north to
the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Early morning temperatures
were in the low 80s. Fortunately, I packed my Teknic cool vest to wear under
my Triumph Raptor mesh jacket. That combination kept me cool and comfortable
even as the temperatures rose throughout the day, at least until the ride back
in the late afternoon when the thermometer hit 105 degrees. The locals will
always tell you, "but it's dry heat." That just means that at 60 mph, the rush
of dry heat on your face make you think you're riding into a blast furnace!
But I digress . . .
Since I rode all the motorcycles, we'll start with the Boulevard S40 and move
up the food chain from there. The S40 is a 650cc air-cooled single-cylinder
4-stroke. It is an updated version of the old Savage. I was surprised at how
smooth the single cylinder engine ran, even when pressed hard. The power was
more than ample to scoot away from stop lights and traffic, and it will cruise
comfortably at 70 mph.
Once on the winding roads of Red Rock Canyon, the light, 352-lb (claimed)
motorcycle was a pleasure to play with in the turns. The drag bars have a very
short spread, so they don't provide too much leverage, but the bike turns in
easily and has good cornering clearance to lay it over. The clutch and brake
levers require a very light pull effort, and the 5-speed transmission shifts
very easily. The single hydraulic front disc brake and single mechanical rear
drum brake are adequate for a bike this size. The low 27.5-inch seat height
and light weight makes this an excellent entry-level motorcycle. If one
compares it to the Buell Blast, which has only a 30 cubic-inch single-cylinder
engine that doesn't run nearly as smoothly, the S40 is a more versatile
starter bike. And at a list price of $4,399, the S40 is several hundred
dollars less expensive.
Next, I rode the S50, which is powered by an 800cc liquid-cooled, 45-degree
V-Twin. Obviously you get a lot more boost from this engine, especially in the
low- and mid-range torque curve. The dual-pin crankshaft smoothes out the
vibes while silent-operation cam chains with automatic tensioners reduce noise
and maintenance requirements. The smooth shifting 5-speed with hydraulic
clutch transmits the power to the pavement via a low-maintenance shaft final
This is a fun bike for sporty cruising. The engine feels stronger than its
size might imply, with enough grunt to squirt out of a turn and power you on
to the next one. The dual 5-way preload-adjustable shocks and telescopic front
fork do a good job at smoothing out the bumps and pavement irregularities. It
turns in nicely, but again the narrow flat drag bars don't offer a lot of
leverage. On the plus side, you would think that the mirrors mounted on such
narrow spread bars might show you more of your own shoulders than you'd like,
but as on the S40, they are mounted high enough to give you a good view of
what is behind you.
The single drum rear brake set-up and single disc front brake work well,
especially since the S50 is claimed to weigh only 443 lbs. The single disc
also lets the handsome spoke wheel stand out. The rubber, a 100/90-19 front
and 140/90-15 rear, provides enough grip for spirited riding. The one-piece
saddle adds to the sleek look and is all-day comfortable, aided by a relaxed
riding position. There are lots of chrome accents all over the $6,499 bike,
and the sound from the exhaust is a mellow rumble. The big-bore S83 is my
favorite bike of the Boulevard lineup. It combines everything I look for in a
motorcycle: strong power in a smooth motor, light weight, aggressive
chopper-like styling, trim waistline, comfortable ergos, and excellent
handling characteristics. It even has a nice roarty sound from the dual
exhaust, especially under hard acceleration.
The 83 cubic inch (1400cc) air/oil-cooled, 45-degree V-Twin with 3 valves per
cylinder and twin carbs is a potent powerplant. The dual-pin crank, even
without a counterbalancer, keeps this Twin running smoothly and allows for a
compact design. There is plenty of low- and mid-range torque for top-gear
roll-ons for quick passing on two-lane or highway roads. The power comes on
strong in a linear fashion and throttle response is "right now!"
The claimed dry weight of 535 pounds means that the S83 is a delight in tight
curves or long sweepers. Side-to-side transitions require only light pressure
on the pull-back handlebars, and steering inputs are also easily accomplished
with pressure on the pegs. Lean angles are better than most cruisers allow,
and this motorcycle tracks throughout the turn without need for mid-course
corrections if you've chosen the right line going in.
Single discs front and rear are adequate. I'd prefer a dual disc set-up on the
front, but as it is, the stock brakes have excellent feel and a progressive
bite that makes them easy to modulate. And like the hydraulic clutch, the
front brake lever only requires a two-finger pull.
The bias on the suspension settings are firmer, rather than boulevard cruiser,
but never feels harsh. The dual shocks out back are adjustable for preload,
and the front fork soaks up bumps well yet still remains firm in the turns.
Front-end dive under hard braking is moderate. The frame feels stiff and
The clutch and 5-speed transmission operate smoothly, although clutch take-up
is at the very end of the lever's travel. Power runs to the rear wheel by way
of a low-maintenance shaft drive. There is some noticeable jacking effect when
getting on or off the throttle hard, but it doesn't upset handling to a major
I like the riding position a lot, with the pegs placed a bit forward, and the
bars on risers that pull them back to the rider in a comfortable position. The
mirrors are well placed for a good view, and the speedometer is a smallish
round dial set just ahead of the bars where it's easy to see. The one-piece
saddle is sleek, comfortable, and offers some lower back support. It won't win
any friends for two-up duty, but this bike isn't meant for touring.
Lots of chrome eye candy is evident on the S83. The 60-spoke chrome-plated
aluminum wheels sparkle in the sun, as do the rear shocks, fender struts,
airbox and transmission covers, and cylinder heads. The chrome front fork
guards keep the road grunge off the tubes and will decrease wear on the seals.
Styling is always subjective, but I think the S83 is a great looking bike. The
clean lines of the 3.4-gallon teardrop gas tank flow into the shape of the
saddle which then complements the abbreviated rear fender. A reflector is
integrated into the tail light for a clean look to the rear of the bike. The
wiring is neatly routed, and the fit and finish of this bike is excellent.
This is a really enjoyable motorcycle to ride and rewarding to ride hard. This
is what the new Harley-Davidson Sportster Custom should have been. The S83 is
more powerful, weighs less, is better handling, and is much more sophisticated
than the Sportster Custom while costing $1,000 less. This is the Boulevard
that I'd most like to have sitting in my garage. Of course, it wouldn't stay
in the garage for long, as it begs to be out on the road.
Now it's on to the C models, and Boulevard has a pair of cruisers that satisfy
the middleweight and heavyweight segments quite nicely. The C50 is the
replacement for the Volusia 800 that has been so popular since it was
introduced two years ago. The folks at American Suzuki were smart enough not
to mess with success, so they left the new motorcycle pretty much the same.
The major change is the introduction of electronic fuel injection lifted from
Suzuki's famous GSX-R sportbikes. This helps the liquid-cooled, 8 valve,
V-Twin achieve exceptional low-rpm power and torque.
The fuel injection system features Suzuki's Dual Throttle Valve System to
maintain optimal air velocity in the intake tract for smooth throttle response
at low rpm, and high torque output. An automatic fast-idle system facilitates
cold starts while a 32-bit ECU provides precise control of ignition timing and
directs the multi-hole injectors for quick start-ups and excellent drivability
under all conditions. The EFI system receives input from the gear position
sensor, air and water temperature sensors, and the intake port sensors to
deliver efficient power and enhance fuel economy. Dual-offset crankpins keep
the motor running smoothly and vibration free. The staggered slash-cut exhaust
looks great and emits a deep full-bodied rumble. The C50 will give you as much
performance as any motorcycle in its class.
Just by looking at the C50, you'd think it carried a larger motor, since it's
a full-sized motorcycle. It's 98 inches from tip to tail, so there is plenty
of room for a rider and passenger to stretch out. The generous 65.2-inch
wheelbase affords a comfortable ride, aided by a meaty 130/90-16 front tire
and a 170/80-15 rear hoop. A tall 5th gear means highway cruising feels
relaxed. The handlebar shape places the controls right where you'd want them,
and the bars offer good leverage without being too wide. The floorboards are
comfortably placed just a bit forward, and the heel/toe shifter and brake
pedal are in the right spots for easy use. The wide seat is comfortable and
sits at a low 27.6 inches above the ground. It feels even lower because the
front part of the seat tapers off where it meets the 4.5 gallon gas tank, on
which the speedometer and warning lights are housed in a chrome nacelle. The
speedo also incorporates an LCD fuel gauge and clock.
The brakes are able to bring down this 542-lb bike from speed with moderate
lever and pedal effort. The transmission is smooth, and each shift is positive
and well damped. The shaft drive puts the power down smoothly and all the
components are well sorted out.
Suspension chores up front are handled by large telescopic forks with polished
aluminum sliders and stainless-steel stanchion-tube covers. Out back, the
truss-styled swingarm gives the hard tail look with a hidden 7-position
preload adjustable shock. The ride feels solid yet compliant, and is tuned for
relaxed cruising. The C50 handles itself well on the curvy bits, but the whole
character of the bike made me want to dial it back to enjoy the scenery that
the Red Rock Canyon provided. The cruisers gave me the chance to appreciate
the red layered striations in the rock formations that gave this area its
name. And that's what cruising riding is all about; see and be seen.
The "be seen" portion of the equation is also a strong point of the C50. It's
an attractive motorcycle with full fenders that sport a little upsweep at the
trailing edge of each one. Brightwork is everywhere from the large
multi-faceted headlight to the rear fender struts. The engine heads are chrome
and the large signature air cleaner cover stands out to make a statement. The
spoke wheels with chrome rims add to the classic cruiser look.
Anyone looking for a middleweight cruiser who wants strong reliable
performance, and a comfortable easy-to-handle motorcycle that can be fun to
ride cross town, or cross country, should check out the Boulevard C50. And At
$6,799, the C50 is as easy on your wallet as it is on your eyes.
The big dog in the Boulevard lineup is the C90. It replaces the old Intruder
1500. As with the C50, Suzuki maintained all of the strong points of the old
model but added the same electronic fuel injection system to the 6-valve
air/oil-cooled V-Twin that they installed on the C50. Again the excellent
system works flawlessly to deliver smooth power and plenty of torque right up
the rev range. The main difference is that with the 90 cubic-inch motor, you
really get the full effects of the power rush when you crank on the throttle.
Passing in top gear, or any gear for that matter, is quick and easy. And the
throaty sound from the dual staggered exhaust let you and others know you've
got a potent powerplant underneath you.
The C90 is a great choice of motorcycles if you are a tall or large rider. The
generous 66.9-inch wheelbase not only means you'll get a smooth and
comfortable ride quality, but there is a generous amount of space for rider
and passenger to enjoy. The large comfortable seat gives one plenty of room to
move around in, so on long runs you're not locked in to one seating position.
Larger riders will also appreciate the full-size floorboards positioned to
allow long legs to stretch out comfortably. And the wide spread of the
handlebars won't cramp your arms either. This is a true boulevard cruiser and
a great long-distance partner as well.
Despite its generous proportions, the C90 doesn't feel ponderous on the road,
or even while pushing it around the parking lot. It carries most of its weight
down low and is very well balanced. If it were a football player, it would be
more of an athletic linebacker than a hulking offensive guard. That
athleticism is evident when touring through curvaceous roads where the
handling is quite satisfying. It's no sportbike, to be sure, and the
floorboards will touch down long before the suspension reaches it full
capabilities, but you can still enjoy an aggressive jaunt when the mood
strikes. And when tooling around at a relaxed pace, the well-damped 41mm front
fork and preload adjustable link-type rear end provides a comfortable ride
quality that is, well, Boulevard smooth. A beefy 180/70-15 rear tire and a
150/80-16 front tire mounted on custom-looking machined-aluminum wheels also
contribute to the solid plush ride.
Dual hydraulic discs up front provide excellent stopping power with moderate
lever effort, while a single hydraulic disc out back has excellent feel and
won't lock up easily. Once again the Suzuki transmission operates smoothly,
and the quiet shaft final-drive means no maintenance chores.
The tanktop instrument panel is handsome, and the electronic speedometer has a
LCD screen for the odometer, dual tripmeters, fuel gauge, and clock. Other
nice features include a helmet lock, and all Boulevards have a little yellow
button on the front side of the left switch housing so you can use your index
finger to flash the high beams at oncoming traffic or to get the attention of
a driver in front of you when you pull out to pass. And another nice amenity
is the 4-position adjustable brake and clutch levers, which comes in handy for
smaller hands or when switching from light summer gloves to bulky winter
gloves. On the downside, none of the Boulevards offers self-canceling turn
signals, a major pet peeve of mine. There is no reason for any motorcycle not
to have that feature. Evidence of that was with a dozen or so seasoned
motorcycle journalists cruising around town in a group, you could always see
somebody's turn signal flashing blocks after a turn was made. When I pressed
the Japanese engineers about that in the press conference, their English
comprehension and vocabulary skills mysteriously went south on them and I
never did get a straight answer. Oh well, maybe next year.
The C90's classic cruiser styling is very much like its C50 sibling. The same
long, sleek, low profile is evident. The fenders have the matching swept back
upturn at the trailing edges. The soft triangular shape of the chrome air
cleaner is a signature feature of the C series bikes, as is the staggered
slash-cut exhaust. The C90 is just bigger and brawnier.
The C90 deserves to be a major player in the heavyweight cruiser market. It is
a wonderfully thought-out motorcycle that does everything well. And when you
compare features from one bike to the next, the thing that really sticks out
is the value. The C90 retails for a very modest $10,399. That's a lot of
motorcycle for a little money.
All Boulevards will benefit from the already large selection of parts
available from the Boulevard accessory catalogue. Suzuki had a few models set
up with chrome luggage racks, swingarm covers, engine guards, fender trims,
light bars, windshields, and a variety of hard shell leather-covered
saddlebags to illustrate the possibilities that exist for buyers to
personalize their new bike. And the aftermarket companies will also jump on
the Boulevard bandwagon, and begin making parts to suit the new brand.
Only time will tell whether the lifestyle Boulevard brand will catch on.
Branding is a long and arduous process that can't happen overnight. It took
Harley-Davidson over a half century to build their brand image, and some
missteps under the AMF corporate banner nearly destroyed it. So, even though
the new Boulevard logo is attractive, I doubt that it will be seen tattooed
onto forearms all across the country. But from what I saw in Las Vegas,
they're off to a very good start.