Look Ma – No Bags
The venerable Boulevard lineup is Suzuki’s answer to the cruising motorcycle genre. The 2018 Suzuki Boulevard C50 is essentially a Harley Bagger look-alike without the bags. Should you happen to require chrome-studded leather saddlebags, a windshield, passenger backrest and wide whitewall tires, add another $1,200. for the “Touring” model Suzuki C50T. Both are basically a carryover from last year.
Both the Suzuki Boulevard C50 and C50T display the look of a bygone era – that of iconic old triangular rigid frames and hefty telescopic front forks common in the late ‘40s to mid ‘50s. There are smaller Boulevard models as well as larger bikes in the family, but the Suzuki Boulevard C50 is an ideal place to start in the cruising range due to its size, styling and affordability.
Old School Flavor
At first glance, many observers thought that my C50 test bike was a custom Harley given its chrome laced wheels, front fender trailing edge flares and full rear fender. The 45-degree, 805 cc, 50 cubic-inch (actually 49.1 cubes) V-twin motor with chrome right side staggered exhaust pipes, forward foot controls and traditional floorboards along with the tank console combine to complete the classic ‘Merican cruiser. It may not be the quintessential long-range cruiser for some riders, but as already stated, it’s a darned good place to start.
A few quirky things appear as part of this mid-range cruiser’s makeup. Rather than being exclusively air-cooled, there’s a big radiator to keep the temp down, and the final drive is a shaft drive affair. There’s only a single front disc brake, and the rear brake is a 180mm drum type. These aren’t necessarily negative issues mind you, just unusual for a full sized bike that seems to be trying to emulate an early traditional hardtail cruiser in visual terms.
The bike’s rigid imagery comes from the triangular swingarm that looks to be an extended part of the frame members, but in reality, it articulates like a conventional yoke-type swingarm, providing a smooth ride quality despite its “old school” appearance. The swingarms’ motion is softened by a hidden single shock that comes with a seven-position, spring-preload adjuster that provides 4.1 inches of wheel travel.
The tubular front forks are held out to a rake of 33 degrees thanks to the steering head angle, extending the wheelbase to 65.2-inches and the overall length to 98.4-inches. There are no adjustments for the front suspension componentry. There’s also no ABS braking available. The Boulevard C50 rolls on
130/90-16 front rubber with a 170/80-15 donut aft mounted on chrome lace spoke wheels.
The motor may come across as being somewhat small for the bike’s persona, but it does its job nicely, with the electronic fuel injection’s throttle body managing the induction courtesy of Suzuki’s Dual Throttle Valve that aids in maintaining a smooth power delivery via the use of a computer-controlled, secondary butterfly valve. An Auto Fast Idle System monitors engine temperature, opening the throttle automatically aiding with cold starts and then stabilizing the idle. The dual exhaust system utilizes Suzuki’s Pulsed-secondary air-injection system (PAIR) pumping fresh air into the exhaust stream helping to burn off any excess free hydrocarbons.
Power generated by the 50 cubic-inch motor is 53 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, along with a maximum of 50.9 pound-feet of torque at 3,200 rpm. The fifth gear if the five-speed transmission is extra-tall top gear to allow for satisfying revs at speed, as well as for tooling around in urban surroundings. The shaft final drive delivers energy to the rear wheel, and uniquely resists the shaft-jacking experienced with many shaft drive bikes as well as minimizimg any backtorque effects.
Pricing is up roughly $50 over last year’s prices, with my test bike’s base sticker reading $8,249. Expect to spend an average of $300 more for dealer prep and handling charges. My 2018 Suzuki Boulevard C50 wore a metallic Oort Gray finish augmented by a pleasing amount of chrome accents.
SUMMARY: The 2018 Suzuki Boulevard C50 is an excellent entry level cruiser with an old school look that comes with modern technology and convenience as well as a much more comfortable ride. And… it’s affordable – less than a Harley Sportster to put things on perspective.
The riding position is ideal with the handlebars at just the right angle, floorboards and foot controls set forward for long-range comfort. The seat height allows for touching down without tiptoeing. A passenger pillion and pegs are provided for two-up sojourns. Longer trips would benefit from stepping up to the Boulevard C50T for the convenience of the saddlebags, windshield and passenger backrest.
Ready, Set, Ride
The Boulevard C50 is a well-balanced and easy handling bike with a nice broad power curve and smooth shifting gearbox. It offers a perfect place to begin one’s cruising/touring experience on a budget. Once outgrown, there are bigger, more powerful Suzuki Cruisers available in the Boulevard family. Another plus is the 12-month unlimited mileage limited warranty.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Suzuki Boulevard C50
Base Price: $8,249.
Price as Tested: $8,549. -* *Dealer handling and prep may vary
Engine Type and Size: Narrow 805 cc (50 cu.in.) four-stroke SOHC liquid-cooled, 45-degree V-Twin with Suzuki fuel injection., with right side staggered dual chrome exhaust.
Horsepower (bhp): 53 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 50.9 @ 3,200 rpm
Transmission: Wide ratio sequential 5-speed manual.
Drive Train: Primary gear – Gear / Final Drive – Shaft
Suspension: Front – Telescopic front forks, coil spring, oil damped.
Rear – Link-type mimicking hard-tail lines, connecting a truss-style swing arm and single coil spring, oil damped shock absorber with a 7-way spring preload adjustability with 4.1-inches of travel.
Brakes: Front – Hydraulic single disc.
Rear – Hydraulic Drum
Tires: Grand High Speed GS 123R – 130/90 R16 M/C 67H /170/80 R15 M/C 77H mounted on chrome lace spoke wheels.
Wheelbase: 65.2 inches
Length Overall: 98.4 inches
Rake: 33.0 degrees
Net Weight: 644 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 4.1 gallons.
Seat height: 27.6 inches
0 – 60 mph: Not tested.
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.