Suzuki Boulevard C50T
Meet the most affordable big cruiser your money can buy you. At eleven grand, it’s almost a third of the price of a Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe. But is the conceptually similar Harley, at almost 30 grand, three times the bike? That’s your call.
The Suzuki Boulevard C50T ticks a lot of boxes for the price-conscious cruiser buyer: it’s big, it’s capable, comfortable, and it has all the classic cruiser hallmarks. Imposing presence? Tick. A muscular V-twin? Tick. Liberal lashings of chrome? Wire-spoked wheels and gangster whitewalls? Footboards? Tick. Tick. Tick. A low, plush seat and pullback ’bars for relaxed day-long comfort? It’s all there.
The Boulevard name graces the tank of five models in Suzuki’s six-strong cruiser line-up, and the C50T is no longer the smallest of the bunch now that the S40 Savage is back from the dead with a new name.
The ‘C50T’ nomenclature denotes Classic, 50 cubic inches (or 805cc) and Touring, the latter of which used to be a fitting description when it actually was a tourer. But Suzuki has this year butched up the bike by stripping its distance-devouring demeanour to create a big, trad-style cruiser.
With items such as the windscreen, pillion backrest and saddlebags relegated to the accessories book, this pared-back C50T has a purer, more imposing presence for the urban sprawl. It also allows you to better take in the bike’s features including the deep, Indian Chief-like front guard, two-tone paint, massive chrome headlight, staggered slash-cut exhausts and studded seats.
Suzuki has also slashed the bike’s price by $2000 to $10,990 (plus on-road costs), which leaves you with enough spending money if you want to turn it into a tourer as you see fit.
The revised price also makes it the most affordable offering in the mid-size cruiser category, which includes the likes of the Honda Shadow VT750 Classic ($11,749), Yamaha Bolt ($11,999), Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic ($12,499), Triumph America ($13,490) and Harley-Davidson Iron 883 ($14,995).
GRACE AND PACE
Powering the shaft-driven C50T is a familiar 805cc, 45-degree V-twin with SOHC, four-valves-per cylinder and painstakingly integrated liquid cooling. Suzuki says there are brains behind the brawn of the big lump with throttle position sensors, dual-throttle valves for better breathing and offset crank pins for a balanced firing order. For us, that means a relaxed engine with a smooth and predictable power delivery regardless of engine temperature and a healthy serving of low- and mid-range pull to propel the 277-kilogram machine with convincing gusto. Suzuki doesn’t quote outputs, but the engine is understood to produce around 45hp and 62Nm at 4000rpm, which feels about right by the seat of the pants. If only there was a beefier sound to complement the deep, but muted, engine burble.
Open country backroads by day and outer-metro areas by night are the Boulevard’s forte where man and machine are happiest purring along a tad below 100 clicks without fighting the wind. The clutch is reasonably light, the combined toe and heel gearshifter is smooth and precise, and the five-speeder’s ratios are widely spaced with fifth very much an overdrive. Knock it back a cog if you want to drop the hammer for an overtake, which it does with pleasing conviction.
Comfort remains central to the bike’s core despite the removal of the windshield (two options available at $499 and $561). The ergonomics will be bang-on for the vast majority of buyers, too, with a 700mm-low, wide and plush seat, long footboards with sensibly located forward controls and wide ’bars with a deep pullback.
Complementing this is a ride that’s surprisingly plush, planted and well controlled at both ends to iron out bumpy roads and cushion impact from transmitting up your spine – no easy feat for a bike with forward controls. Thank the Showa 41mm forks with 140mm travel and rear monoshock with a modest 105mm travel and seven-position preload adjustment.
The bike rolls on IRC Grand High Speed GS-23 cruiser tyres with surefooted grip and sensible measurements: 130/90-16 up front and 170/80-15 at the rear. The OEM rubber does well to help halt the big bike – a job that’s otherwise left to the non-ABS assisted, 300mm front disc with Tokico twin-piston caliper and 180mm rear drum. Dabbing the big, car-like rear brake pedal demonstrates some sponginess but, as with many cruisers, the front and rear set-up effectively halts momentum when used in tandem.
ON THE ROAD
Cornering is about what you’d expect of a low cruiser, but its centre of gravity is nice and low and the slow-speed feet-up stuff through tight traffic is pretty good. Opinions were divided about the ignition located on the right-hand side of the steering head, however – great for cleanliness up top and easy to access, not so great when you’re literally stabbing about in the dark.
Other niceties include clear and legible digital/analogue instrumentation that offers the convenience of a gear indicator and fuel gauge for the 15.5-litre tank and a subtle helmet lock. There’s something pretty cool too about seeing the world go by via the contorted reflections of the big chrome headlight bucket.
The Boulevard C50T is a big bike with big presence. If you have a hankering for a neat, traditionally styled cruiser with a good amount of performance but understandably don’t want to spend big, you won’t be disappointed with the big-value C50T. Just make sure you stretch a little further and treat yourself to a pair of pipes.
– Fiddly ignition location
– Too quiet
Suzuki Boulevard C50T
Type: Liquid-cooled, four-valve, DOHC, 45-degree V-twin
Bore & stroke: 83mm x 74.4mm
Compression ratio: 9.4:1
Fuel system: EFI
Type: Five-speed, constant mesh
Final drive: Shaft
CHASSIS & RUNNING GEAR:
Frame: Tubular-steel space frame, rubber-mounted engine
Front suspension: 41mm Showa fork, non-adjustable, 140mm travel
Rear suspension: Showa monoshock, adjustable spring preload, 105mm travel
Front brake: 300mm disc with twin-piston caliper
Rear brake: 180mm drum
DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES:
Wet weight: 277kg
Seat height: 700mm
Fuel capacity: 15.5 litres
WHEELS & TYRES:
Wheels: Chrome multi spoke
Tyres: 130/90-16 (f), 170/80-15 (r), IRC Grand High Speed GS-23
Power: 33kW (45hp) at 4000rpm
Torque: 62Nm at 4000rpm
Price: From $10,995 (plus on-road costs)
Warranty: 24 months, unlimited kilometres
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