The last time I rode a Suzuki Boulevard C50 was a few years back, and after the experience, I wrote that it was “an eager to please, family dog of a motorcycle that would put a smile on the face of any cruiser aficionado who was lucky enough to find one in his/her garage.” In that time, nothing has changed – except some of the styling. The 2014 Boulevard C50 B.O.S.S. is mechanically the same but features a snazzy blacked-out look that is pretty easy on the eyes. The C50 line continues into 2015 without the B.O.S.S. version, with the mechanically identical, more classically styled, Boulevard C50 ($8,199) and its touring-oriented brother, the C50T ($9,399). This change fits into Suzuki’s plans to continue to simplify its model line before moving on to strategic upgrades in coming model years.
Since the 805cc, liquid-cooled, 45-degree V-Twin engine is the heart of all C50 models, let’s take a look at it. The Auto Fast Idle System assures that the engine fires immediately. The exhaust note from the staggered dual pipes is about what you’d expect from a V-Twin of this displacement. Getting underway is as easy as slipping the transmission into gear, rolling on the throttle, and easing out the clutch. The simple-to-modulate clutch lever works hand-in-hand with the bottom-end torque to make pulling away from a stop and navigating city traffic a snap for novice and expert alike.
Rolling down the road reveals that the engine is content to move along with traffic in third gear, really not requiring a shift until you stop or run it up to speed onto the highway. Regardless of riding conditions, the Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve allocates just the right amount of fuel/air, delivering a glitch-free ride with smooth throttle response. When it comes to passing power at highway speed, the C50 prefers that you downshift and wind it out a bit, but the overriding impression is that the engine is working fairly hard.
On the interstate, the C50 feels pretty comfortable up to about 70 mph, where it begins to get a little busy. Go any faster, and the vibration becomes quite pronounced in the floorboards around 80 mph. However, only a bit of vibration reaches the grips thanks to the rubber-mounted bar. I frequently found myself trying to shift into a non-existent sixth gear. While the B.O.S.S. is capable of moving the speedometer even further clockwise, it isn’t really happy about it. Adding a sixth cog to the transmission would alleviate these issues, but that isn’t a likely change without a complete revamp of the engine.
Surprisingly, for a bike that you sit more on top of rather than down inside, the wind blast at those elevated speeds is less than you would expect for a cruiser lacking a windshield, only becoming work as the speedo approaches 80 mph. The big headlight helps to direct the airflow so that the bulk of the wind blast hits a 5’11” rider just above mid-chest. For folks who prefer to ride with unfettered access to the cooling wind, this is a pleasant quality. The wide bar places the rider’s hands in a comfortable position for navigating the urban jungle while somehow not turning the rider into a sail at elevated speeds. The floorboards are in a good position for this 32-in.-inseamed rider, but those with longer legs may feel that their feet are placed a little high. This is the same old cruiser conundrum: lower floorboards are comfier but limit the amount of ground clearance.
The Boulevard’s handling is quite nice. Steering is responsive at speed, giving the rider the ability to change lines at will. However, this nimbleness can become floppiness during low-speed maneuvers. Abrupt steering inputs, like swerving around a road hazard, do cause a slight wobble that disappears after a cycle or two, but it is nothing to be concerned about. On the smooth roads that we traveled during a day tooling around Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam area, the C50 performed its duties quite well, but the few hard bumps encountered reveal a stiff rear suspension that, while not being limited by suspension travel that measures in at 4.1 in., transmits those impacts directly to the rider. The rest of the chassis feels fairly stiff (in a good way) for a cruiser. Flex from the backbone frame is minor enough for me to feel confident railing around 75-mph sweepers with the floorboard skimming along the pavement. For folks prone to this kind of riding, the floorboards drag benignly, giving plenty of warning before any solid parts interrupt the festivities. Similarly, the engine loves twisting pavement. The 32-bit ECM delivers seamless throttle response while the lack of driveline lash in the shaft final drive assists in the smooth power delivery.
Unfortunately, the flip-side of the bike’s performance is limited by underpowered brakes. The single front disc requires a big squeeze to haul the C50 down from speed. Yes, style and showing off the cool cast front wheel is important, but adding another disc would make the ride more fun – and safer. The rear drum, however, works just fine. If I had to identify an example of the C50 price-point construction, the brakes would be the first example.
Stylistically, the Boulevard C50 B.O.S.S. takes the cool hard-tail look of the standard C50 (which happens to be returning in 2015) and blacks it out. The only visible chrome pieces on the bike, when viewed from the sides, are the headlight ring, the tank badge, the gas cap, and the cylinder head covers. Even the fork stanchions are hidden by glossy black covers. Suzuki even made sure the mirrors, a place many other manufacturers neglect on their blacked-out models, wore satin black paint – a nice touch for a price point motorcycle. The black slash-cut dual exhaust is drop dead gorgeous. Add to that a 27.6 in. seat height, and you’ve got a good looking, accessible cruiser for $8,899. While I’m pretty sure I don’t need to tell you what the color choice for the C50 B.O.S.S. is, I’ll perform my due diligence by saying that it’s only available in black.
My day on the roads around Las Vegas reaffirms my belief that the Suzuki Boulevard C50 is a competent, friendly middleweight cruiser. Although the C50 B.O.S.S. is no longer in Suzuki’s 2015 lineup, there could still be 2014 models at your local dealer.
|2014 Suzuki C50 B.O.S.S. Specs|
|Engine Type||Liquid-cooled, SOHC, 45° V-Twin|
|Bore x Stroke||83.0 mm x 74.4 mm|
|Fuel System||Suzuki Fuel Injection|
|Front Suspension||Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped|
|Rear Suspension||Single, link type, coil spring, oil damped shock, 7 position preload adjustable|
|Front Brakes||Single disc, 2 piston caliper|
|Front Tire||130/90-16M/C 67H, tube type|
|Rear Tire||170/80-15M/C 77H, tube type|
|Seat Height||27.6 inches|
|Rake/Trail||33° / 5.6 in.|
|Curb Weight||611 lbs|
|Fuel Capacity||4.1 gal.|
|Observed Fuel Economy||NA|
|Colors||Glass Sparkle Black|