Middleweight Cruiser and Tourer

Suzuki unveiled its Boulevard C50 back in 2005 after renaming its “Volusia” bike of prior model years. The C50 and C50Ts carry straight into 2018, with a mid-displacement engine to serve as Suzuki’s mid-size cruiser and weekend tour bike. Smooth acceleration and comfortable seating combine with laced wheels and classic styling to keep the C50s on the list of middleweight contenders in the two-wheeled market.

Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki Boulevard C50 and Boulevard C50T.

  • 2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard C50 / Boulevard C50T
  • Year:
    2015- 2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V-Twin
  • Displacement:
    805 cc
  • Price:
    8199
  • Price:

Design

2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard C50 / Boulevard C50T
- image 768572
For casual touring and weekend trips, either should prove to be comfortable and capable.

Much like its big Boulevard brothers, the C50 and C50T models emulate the look of the old rigid frames that have (thankfully) long since been consigned to history. The choice of fat front forks with a triangular, hardtail-looking frame dates the design to around the late ’40s to mid ’50s, an iconic and defining era in American motorcycle culture, not a bad choice for a bike family meant to garner greenbacks from redbloods.

Laced wheels complete the rolling chassis in period style, and flares on the trailing edge of the front fender and full rear fender give it a custom touch. Naturally, the V-twin engine plays right into the genre; ’cause let’s face it, nothing else looks quite right. Everything from the tank console to the bucket-shaped saddle and forward foot controls complete with floorboards screams American cruiser, and you don’t have far to look to find other manufacturers putting out similar products, but let’s not get bogged down in who-came-first, m’kay?

While the C50 comes somewhat stripped down, the tour-tastic C50T boasts a windshield, passenger backrest and chrome-studded leather saddlebags, all for his and her touring pleasure. It won’t be quite as capable as a fully dressed tour bike, but for casual touring/weekend trips it should prove to be comfortable enough.

Chassis

2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard C50 / Boulevard C50T
- image 677702
Drums are OK -- even expected -- on scooters and the smallest-displacement UJM models, but to find a drum on a full-size bike like this is nearly criminal.

It’s hard to beat a faux-rigid frame for classic good looks and curb appeal. The genius of this design lies with the triangular swingarm that appears to be an uninterrupted extension of the frame members, but actually articulates like a traditional, yoke-type swingarm so you get the sweet vibe without the harsh ride.

Suzuki mellows the swingarm action with a single shock tucked away out of sight so it doesn’t spoil the deception, and it comes with a seven-position, spring-preload adjuster and provides 4.1 inches of wheel travel. Tubular steel members make up the double-downtube, double-cradle frame, which is the only configuration that will look right, to be honest.

The steering head angle holds the forks out with a whopping 33 degrees of rake that pushes the wheelbase out to 65.2 inches for a 98.4-inch overall length. Front suspension components come sans any sort of adjustments, but this isn’t unusual, even on cruisers much heavier and pricier than the C50s. Make no mistake, this is a full-size chassis on par with the benchmark Softail models they most closely resemble, and at over 600 pounds should have much the same feel.

Overall, the brakes are rather unimpressive. Sure, the front carries a large, 300 mm disc, but only gets a two-pot caliper to bind it, and the rear tire apparently doesn’t even rate a disc brake, but instead comes with a 180 mm drum. I can’t give Suzuki a bye on this one. Drums are OK, even expected, on scooters and the smallest-displacement UJM models, but to find a drum on a full-size bike like this is nearly criminal.

Needless to say, ABS isn’t available for the C50/T models. Both roll on a 130/90-16 front hoop and a 170/80-15 rear. The C50T sports broad whitewalls in keeping with its overall panache, while the C50 base model mounts the whitewalls to the inside for a more modest finish.

Suspension Front: 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, tube type
Tires Rear: 170/80-15M/C 77H, tube type
Fuel Tank Capacity: 4.1 US

Drivetrain

2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard C50 / Boulevard C50T
- image 768573
The five-speed transmission comes with an extra-tall top gear to keep the revs reasonable at speed, and within putt-putt cruiser range around town.

Sure, the engine is a trifle on the small side, but the Boulevard S40 takes the bottom slot with its 652 cc thumper engine, which necessarily pushes the C50 up a notch in the pecking order as it were. As per Suzuki’s naming conventions, the C50 mill measures out at 50 cubic-inches. Well, 49.1 cubes (805 cc) to be exact. Much like its larger engines, the factory chucked in a fistful of its alphabet-soup acronyms.

The 45-degree V configuration is somewhat unusual amongst imports, even ones meant to compete against the likes of Indian, Harley-Davidson, and the now defunct Victory, and I have to give Suzuki credit for going to the trouble for what amounts to aesthetics at the end of the day.

The single over-head cams eliminate the external pushrods associated with some of those competitors as they actuate the four valves in each head, and the crankpin design leaves us with an offset between the cylinders for a fairly balanced firing order. Liquid cooling is a mixed blessing. On the one hand it’s an efficient method to remove waste heat and the water jacket dampens mechanical noises from the engine, but it also complicates things, and of course there’s that big radiator to deal with. But it is what it is, and it is water cooled.

A throttle body with electronic fuel injection manages the induction with the help of the Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve that helps maintain smooth power deliver through the use of a computer-controlled, secondary butterfly valve. An Auto Fast Idle System (AFIS) monitors engine temperature and opens the throttle automatically to aid with cold starts and stabilize the idle after same. The dual exhaust system uses Suzuki’s Pulsed-secondary air-injection system (PAIR) that pumps fresh air into the exhaust stream to help burn off any excess free hydrocarbons. Like I said, alphabet soup.

Power is comparable to other similarly-sized power plants with 53 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, and a maximum of 50.9 pound-feet of torque at a low 3,200 rpm. The five-speed transmission comes with an extra-tall top gear to keep the revs reasonable at speed, and within putt-putt cruiser range around town. A shaft final drive makes the connection to the rear wheel, and comes set up to resist shaft-jacking and the effects of backtorque.

Engine: 805cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, SOHC, 45-degree V-twin
Bore x Stroke: 83.0 mm x 74.4 mm (3.268 in x 2.929 in)
Compression Ratio: 9.4 : 1
Fuel System: Suzuki Fuel Injection
Starter: Electric
Lubrication: Wet sump
Transmission: 5-speed constant mesh
Final Drive: Shaft Drive

Pricing

2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard C50 / Boulevard C50T
- image 677698
MSRP is up just a skosh over last year, but still well within the budget-minded range.

Prices are up about $50 from last year to $8,249 for the C50 and $9,449 for the C50T. That’s still not bad for someone on a budget who is looking for a cruiser or a touring bike. Suzuki covers the C50 pair with a 12-month, unlimited-mileage warranty.

Model: Boulevard C50 Boulevard C50T
Warranty: 12 month unlimited mileage limited warranty. 12 month unlimited mileage limited warranty.
Color:
2015: Glass Sparkle Black, Candy Daring Red Glass Sparkle Black / Candy Dark Cherry Red
2016, 2017: Glass Sparkle Black, Pearl Glacier White Glass Sparkle Black
2018: Metallic Oort Gray, Glass Sparkle Black Glass Sparkle Black
Price:
2016, 2017: $8,199 $9,399
2018: $8,249 $9,449

Competitors

2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard C50 / Boulevard C50T
- image 677988
2016 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic / 900 Classic LT / 900 Custom
- image 768565
Brand loyalty or a very convincing test ride is the only way for the individual buyer to choose between the two.

Between the home-grown, American-made cruisers on the market, and the plethora of imports trying to look like them, I had no shortage of potential competitors from which to choose. Because of specific styling and displacement differences, and in the interest of fairness, I settled my sights on one of Suzuki’s top domestic competitors, Kawasaki, and its version of Americana in the Vulcan 900 Classic LT.

Like two peas in a pod, these bikes share design characteristics across the board. Wide, shrouded front forks mount laced rims and long, shallow fenders that show off as much of the wheel as possible, but the Suzuki comes off looking a bit more pimp with the whitewall tires that seem to set off the spokes.

Both ride on a faux-rigid frame, so naturally the rigid-esque lines leave them with very much the same profile. Studded leather appointments finish the look, and a windshield, backrest and saddlebags complete the touring gear across the board. Really, there is little to choose between the two in the looks department.

Fairly unremarkable suspension cushions both bikes, but that’s par for the course with “basic” cruisers, and even some not-so-basic ones. Neither bike offers ABS, but at least Kawi had the decency to put a disc brake in back instead of a drum like on the C50T.

Both mills are fairly attractive, though the Kawi motor runs a 55-degree V, so it doesn’t look quite as natural to someone used to looking at H-D plants. Not a big deal. Both run fuel injection and water cooling, but the C50T has more in the way of electronic engine gadgetry, leaving the Vulcan motor looking a little vanilla. Kawi packs a few more cubes in with a total of 903 cc and 58.2 pound-feet of torque, just a skosh more in both categories than the 805 cc C50 mill with its 50.9 pounds of grunt for a slight victory for the Kawi.

The Vulcan scores again at the checkout counter with a $8,999 starting price, which is a few bills less than the $9,449 C50T. Given the similarities in design and price, I’m a’feared that brand loyalty or a very convincing test ride is the only way for the individual buyer to choose between the two.

He Said

“What can I say? The Boulevard family serves as the Suzuki Softail for the American market, and it’s impossible not to notice the similarities with the Heritage Softail Classic. At face value that may sound like a criticism, but the fact that it’s so obvious means they did a passable job of it, I suppose. At less than 10 grand, this could make a decent upgrade for someone looking to shed their training bike, or even for an entry-level rider that fancies a bit more to begin with.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Okay, I’ll give you my thoughts and impressions. The seat is nice and wide, which is comfortable; but the tank is wide, which is not. I kinda feel like I’m riding a horse with my legs around that wide tank. Acceleration is smooth and responsive and the bike just seems to lay nice and easy into turns. I like the great big tank-mounted speedometer. It’s an analog gauge, which I prefer because it’s easy for me to take in at a glance and I’d have to do something with the handlebars because it’s too low. I can’t turn the bars lock-to-lock without hitting my legs, which hampers low-speed maneuvers.”

Specifications

Model: Boulevard C50 Boulevard C50T
Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 805cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, SOHC, 45-degree V-twin 805cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, SOHC, 45-degree V-twin
Bore x Stroke: 83.0 mm x 74.4 mm (3.268 in x 2.929 in) 83.0 mm x 74.4 mm (3.268 in x 2.929 in)
Compression Ratio: 9.4 : 1 9.4 : 1
Fuel System: Suzuki Fuel Injection Suzuki Fuel Injection
Starter: Electric Electric
Lubrication: Wet sump Wet sump
Transmission: 5-speed constant mesh 5-speed constant mesh
Final Drive: Shaft Drive Shaft Drive
Chassis:
Suspension Front: Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Suspension Rear: Link type, coil spring, oil damped Link type, coil spring, oil damped
Brakes Front Disc brake: Disc brake
Brakes Rear: Drum brake: Drum brake
Tires Front: 130/90-16M/C 67H, tube type 130/90-16M/C 67H, tube type
Tires Rear: 170/80-15M/C 77H, tube type 170/80-15M/C 77H, tube type
Fuel Tank Capacity: 4.1 US 4.1 US
Electrical:
Ignition: Electronic ignition (Transistorized) Electronic ignition (Transistorized)
Spark Plug: NGK DR7EA or DENSO X22ESR-U NGK DR7EA or DENSO X22ESR-U
Headlight: 12V 60/55W 12V 60/55W
Tail Light: 12V 21/5W 12V 21/5W
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall Length: 2500 mm (98.4 in) 2500 mm (98.4 in)
Overall Width: 955 mm (37.6 in) 955 mm (37.6 in)
Wheelbase: 1655 mm (65.2 in) 1655 mm (65.2 in)
Ground Clearance: 140 mm (5.5 in) 140 mm (5.5 in)
Seat Height: 700 mm (27.6 in) 700 mm (27.6 in)
Curb Weight: 611 lbs 644 lbs
Details:
Warranty: 12 month unlimited mileage limited warranty. 12 month unlimited mileage limited warranty.
Color:
2015: Glass Sparkle Black, Candy Daring Red Glass Sparkle Black / Candy Dark Cherry Red
2016, 2017: Glass Sparkle Black, Pearl Glacier White Glass Sparkle Black
2018: Metallic Oort Gray, Glass Sparkle Black Glass Sparkle Black
Price:
2016, 2017: $8,199 $9,399
2018: $8,249 $9,449

References

2016 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic / 900 Classic LT / 900 Custom
- image 768564

See our review of the Kawasaki Vulcan 900.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: suzukicycles.com, kawasaki.com

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