When it comes to cruisers, most of us still imagine towering, apparently hard to maneuver motorcycles that are most likely powered by big V-Twins. So how does the power cruiser concept apply to an 805cc motorcycle that weighs 584 lbs?
Suzuki seems to have reached the annals of this problem and deliver to us their beloved Boulevard M50 and the Special Edition model so the least we can do is share our impressions with you.
The “spark” behind the Boulevard M50 models was to offer beginners the possibility of making their dream of riding a performance cruiser come true without these being necessarily needed to gain experience along several years of docile riding. In order for that to become reality, Suzuki created this light, versatile and easy to live with cruiser and gave it the shape of a veritable mean machine.
It all started with the soft-tail-style frame which gives the bike its radical look and which has all to do with the 27.6 inches seat and comfortable riding accommodations.
And it’s not just the shape. The 805cc V-Twin engine, with the cylinders positioned at a 45-degree angle, is liquid-cooled and fuel-injected so it keeps riders well enthusiastic about their bike long after they’ve learned how to ride. Also, the five-speed constant mesh transmission is easy to live with while the shaft final drive requires almost no maintenance and it can go on forever.
Before Suzuki introduced their Boulevard line in 2004, the M50 was called the VZ800 Marauder. The engine and chassis were the same and the bike would have previously been identified as a custom rather than a cruiser. Brighter color schemes covered the identically shaped body while the water-cooled, 805cc, SOHC, 8-valves, 45-degree V-Twin was capable of a decent 50 hp at 6,500 rpm and 64 Nm at 5,000 rpm. The top speed was a more than decent 100 mph so the potential was there to be exploited.
The rebranding that took place in 2004 brought not just some new color schemes and a cooler name, but also the benefits of a fuel-injection system: 56.00 hp at 6,000 rpm and 69.00 Nm at 4,000 rpm. That’s also when people started considering it a power cruiser due to Suzuki’s more aggressive approach.
Other manufacturers simply comply with classic looks and carburetion so I guess it is kind of a “been there, done that” situation for Suzuki.
Honda’s alternative is the 2009 Shadow Spirit 750. With classic cruiser style, a low 25.7 inches seat and a 745cc, liquid-cooled, 52-degree V-Twin; SOHC, three valves per cylinder engine this one may very likely be the choice of those who at some point considered buying the Suzuki. And the $6,999 MSRP doesn’t have much to do with that as the M50 is as close as you can get to that and offers much more.
On the other side, Kawasaki creates a Special Edition (Ebony) of their 2009 Vulcan 900 Custom a motorcycle which compensates the lack of fuel injection with a little bit more cylinder capacity (that always works). So the engine is the same 903cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, SOHC, four-valves per cylinder, V-Twin as on the normal version, but the $8,099 doesn’t beat Suzuki’s Special Edition which is much cheaper, as you will later see.
With Star motorcycles, it’s either the 2009 V Star 650 Custom (too cheap) or the 2009 V Star 1100 Custom (too pricey). They’re well worth mentioning, but not the perfect competitors for the M50.
As you very well know, Suzuki offers two Boulevard M50 models, the simple and the Special Edition one. While the first is Black painted, the second lightens up the scene with its Black/White, Orange/Black color schemes, but both are as “angry” as they get as you’ve most likely concluded by reading and viewing the competition.
Based on the soft-tail-style frame, the M50 manages to look long, low and sleek despite the not so permissive dimensions. With a sharp front fender and bob-tail rear one, the bike is a great reminder of the Marauder and so are the cast aluminum three-spoke wheels even though now black painted.
The gas tank follows the same sinuous lines which introduce us to the wide, almost flat rider seat and the pretty high positioned passenger one. Even though the fuel filler includes indicator lights for turn signals, high beam and low fuel, the speedometer is mounted on the handlebar and fills in the space above the multi-reflector headlight. All of these last pieces are chromed and so is the exhaust, airbox and the V-Twin’s cooling wings which create a great contrast with the matte black engine and tranny.
Still, the decently sized radiator is a clear indicator that the cooling wings are just for design purposes. Also, it stands as a reminder of the engine’s capabilities. Which reminds us of our
Suzuki definitely knows how to build their cruisers, but another key factor for their notoriety is also their marketing knowledge. For instance, the 2009 Boulevard M50 comes with a Base price of $7,199 and the Special Edition model of $7,399. Considering that Suzuki is the only one to offer the closest thing to an 800cc power cruiser, they’re very good at the selling part too.
Although nothing changes apart from colors (and only on the Special Edition) and prices, these bikes feature a continuously growing success as they wait for the competition to catch up.
Engine and Transmission
Displacement: 805 cc (49.1 cu. in)
Type: 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, OHC, 45? V-twin
Bore x Stroke: 83.0 mm (3.268 in) x 74.4 mm (2.929 in)
Compression Ratio: 9.4:1
Fuel System: Fuel injection
Lubrication: Wet sump
Ignition: Electronic ignition (Transistorized)
Transmission: 5-speed constant mesh
Final Drive: Shaft Drive
Chassis and Dimensions
Suspension Front: Inverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Suspension Rear: Link type, coil spring, oil damped
Brakes Front: Disc brake
Brakes Rear: Drum brake
Tires Front: 130/90-16M/C 67H, tubeless
Tires Rear: 170/80-15M/C 77H, tubeless
Overall Length: 2395 mm (94.3 in)
Overall Width: 920 mm (36.2 in)
Overall Height: 1125 mm (44.3 in)
Seat Height: 700 mm (27.6 in)
Ground Clearance: 140 mm (5.5 in)
Wheelbase: 1655 mm (65.2 in)
Curb Weight: 265 kg (584 lbs)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 15.5 L (4.1/3.4 US/Imp gal)