It’s been a long time between drinks for Suzuki Boulevard cruisers. A slump in the American market set the Japanese manufacturer back on its heels, so we have not seen any new Suzi cruisers since the M109R in 2006 and the C109R in 2008.
Now Suzuki has added a touring addition of its 1462cc-powered M90 Boulevard. For an extra $2000, the Suzuki C90T comes with hard leather-look bags, rider floorboards, touring windscreen and a blacked-out engine, instruments, handlebars, pipes and wheels. Cost is $17,490 plus on-roads. Despite the touring accoutrements, it’s still a stripped-down boulevard cruiser with plenty of blacked-out menacing style.
The Suzuki C90T features the same engine as the M90 which is not the torque mill you would expect. It actually requires a few revs before it starts to really pull. With no tacho present, it’s impossible to say at what revs the engine starts to reach its peaks of torque and power, but it’s more of a midrange performer. So instead of short-shifting and then plumbing the depths of the torque, you run the gears out long. They’re tall gears, too. Around town, you take most corners in first and rarely get into third. On the highway fifth is a long, overdriven gear that is almost superfluous with our speed limits.
Clutch pull is a bit heavy, but you won’t need to use it all that often, anyway. I’m not a big fan of heel shifters, but at least this one doesn’t get in the way of your left boot if you want to move it to the back of the generous-sized floorboards.
Hit the starter button and the 1462cc long-stroke V-Twin purrs into life rather than giving you a strong kick in the guts. Low gears clunk into position with a positive feel and neutral is easy to engage.
The bike weighs a hefty 362kg ready to roll and you feel every bit of it as you lift it off the sidestand. However, the weight is down low and once rolling, it feels exceptionally light to tip into corners from the vertical.
Around town the bike feels quite nimble and maneuverable with easy feet-up u-turns if you slip a little clutch to smooth out the throttle. As you ease out of the traffic on to the highway, the liquid-cooled, eight-valve mill opens up, hits the sweet spot and pulls strongly. As speed picks up, there is little buffeting coming off that big, flat windscreen. At 187cm I can just see over the top which is handy in light rain.
When following trucks and caravans the bars tend to weave slightly because of the wind resistance of the screen which is attached to the forks. It would be nice if it was quickly detachable for those hot summer days when you just want to cruise and feel the wind in your face. One thing the screen does is amplify the gorgeous bear-like growl of the induction note. It’s a glorious and entertaining sound and there is almost no mechanical noise from the engine to drown it out while the exhaust noise is deep and low.
This bike is made for touring and the bags are designed as part of the bike, not add-ons. The only way to open the top-loading panniers is with the ignition key and you can’t remove them, except from the inside with an allen key. While the stylish panniers look like leather, they are actually made of ABS plastic and wrapped in a vinyl similar to the seats. They mirror the contours of the rear fender and appear quite big, but they are pointy and shallow so they don’t hold a lot of gear.
I like the convenient helmet lock on top of the left pannier which also uses the ignition key. Riding position is very comfortable for long rides with a deep-dish saddle, a long reach to the long and wide floorboards and a relaxed reach to the wide bars. You feel like you can move around in the saddle and I’m sure it would suit a lot of rider sizes and shapes.
The pillion seat is also thick and wide, but there is only a sash to hang on to and the footpegs are set too high. This is a stripped-down tourer, so you just get the basics. Instruments are simple with an analogue speedo, fuel gauge, warning lights and small digital screen with gear-position indicator, clock odo and two trip meters. You will have to seek out aftermarket suppliers if you want bar or seat warmers, or cruise control.
I’d also like a hinged fuel cap as a lot of servos now have advertising on top of the bowsers and it’s difficult to find anywhere to put the cap while you are filling the tank. Fuel economy is about 6.5L/100km which should provide range of about 250+km from the 18-litre tank, depending on luggage, pillion and riding style.
Handling is very good for a heavy cruiser, being both nimble at slow speeds and stable at high speeds. Cornering is limited only by the clearance of the footpegs. You can grind the hero blobs into the tarmac as a guide to lean angle with no fear of being bucked around if you hit a mid-corner bump. The forks are compliant without a squashy feel under hard braking and the rear squats nicely and doesn’t bounce around.
ABS is not available, but even under hard braking in the dry, I couldn’t get the grippy Bridgestone 200mm rear rubber to slip.
This bike sits toward the top end of the six-model Boulevard range which starts from $10,990 for the 805cc C50 and goes up to $19,490 for the 1783cc M109RZ. It’s both a stylish boulevard cruiser and a stripped-down tourer for weekends away rather than long-haul tours.
- Price: $17,490
- Engine: 1462cc liquid-cooled V-twin
- Fuel: 18 litres
- Transmission: 5-speed, hydraulic clutch, shaft drive
- Suspension: telescopic forks; link rear with coil spring
- Brakes: single disc front and rear
- Tyres: 130mm, 17-inch front, 200mm, 16-inch rear
- Kerb weight: 362kg
- Seat: 718mm