A Muscle-Bike Look With A Tame Attitude

Suzuki’s Boulevard M50 cruiser carries into 2018 with more of that custom American style that made it popular ever since it evolved from the old Intruder. Low-slung good looks join the 42-horsepower, 805 cc V-twin and faux-rigid frame for a package that’s meant to drive the imaginations of entry-level riders who might appreciate the style but be uninterested in worshiping at the Altar of Harley. Moderate power and a low seat height makes it appropriate for the young and/or inexperienced, and the lack of excessive electronic fandanglery makes it relatively easy to service and maintain, which is always a bonus for the uninitiated. Join me while I check out the rest of the details on Suzuki’s mid-size cruiser.

Continue reading for my review of the Suzuki Boulevard M50.

  • 2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard M50
  • Year:
    2015- 2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V-Twin
  • Displacement:
    805 cc
  • Price:
    8649
  • Price:

Design

2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard M50
- image 731523
The factory sets the tone with an interesting combination of old-school flavor and contemporary tech.

OK, let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the room; yes, it’s a Softail knockoff, a total Charlie-Davidson in the flesh, and why not? It’s been working for Suzuki just fine, and the hardtail look is more popular than ever. The factory sets the tone early with a beefy front tire, headlight nacelle and inverted front forks for an interesting combination of old-school flavor and contemporary tech.

Clean lines rule the day without even the pretense of a flyscreen to clutter things up. The instrumentation comes tucked into the backside of the bullet fairing-like headlight housing ahead of the rather tall pullback handlebar riser that puts the short-rise bars in a comfortable position that allows for a relaxed vertical riding posture. Forward controls put the rider into the windsock position, and I gotta admit that no matter how cool it looks, forward controls don’t generally inspire much in the way of confidence, especially at interstate speeds and/or for shorter riders.

A nice looking blackout console adorns the 4.1-gallon tank, but that isn’t enough to distract from the fact that Suzuki is still using an old-fashioned flanged tank. Seriously guys, I know you’re going for a dated look here, but don’t you think it’s time to, ya know, join the 21st century and relegate that stuff to the history books? Oh well, at least the tank has a nice teardrop shape that flows right into the deep-scoop seat.

A P-pad comes stock with flip-up passenger pegs that complete the package. An understated rear fender leaves little to the imagination at the rear end with the rear wheel and triangular swingarm truss well visible, especially from the left side. All-in-all it’s not a bad looking bike really, but there’s a few details that, if corrected, could make it a great looking ride.

Chassis

2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard M50
- image 731515
You don't need to see the swingarm to get that hardtail vibe, the layout of rest of the frame gets there all by itself.

Tubular steel members make up the classic double-downtube/double-cradle frame, and the geometry of the frame rails feed right into the triangular swingarm that completes the optical illusion. Honestly, the exhaust almost completely screens the swingarm from view on the right side, but you don’t even need to see it to get that hardtail vibe, the layout of rest of the frame gets there all by itself.

Inverted front forks add a touch of new to the faux-old and lend a strength to the front end that you just dont get from standard stems. Beyond that they’re plain vanilla with nothing in the way of adjustability. The rear monoshock comes with the obligatory preload adjuster and 4.1 inches of travel, but that’s it. We should be neither surprised nor disappointed, since that’s pretty much standard for cruisers, especially American-style ones in this price range.

A 16-inch front hoop and 15-inch rear rounds out the rolling chassis, and surprisingly, Suzuki still clings to that old mechanical drum brake in back that, while nostalgic, needs to go away. At least there’s a juice-caliper up front that bites a 300 mm front disc, and after all, 70-percent of your stopping power is up front anyway. Also, the lack of ABS and linked brakes keeps the system simple with honest feedback.

Suspension Front: Inverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Suspension Rear: Link style, solo shock, coil spring, oil damped
Brakes Front: Disc Brake
Brakes Rear: Drum Brake
Tires Front: 130/90-16 M/C 67H, tubeless
Tires Rear: 170/80-15 M/C 77H, tubeless

Drivetrain

2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard M50
- image 731525
It's not exactly a stoplight burner by any means, but it is a calm and predictable mount.

Just like food is more than something that keeps us alive, the engine adds more to the machine than simple propulsion. Suzuki got it right when it settled on the 45-degree V-twin. Not only does it touch on the historical look of American-made mills, it falls right in line with current models from H-D and Indian. Blackout treatment on the cases and jugs tie in to the custom world with polished cooling-fin edges that keep the plant from disappearing into the black hole behind the downtube-mount radiator.

Unlike the aforementioned, Suzuki gave the M50 a short-stroke layout with an 83 mm bore and 74.4 mm stroke that adds up to 805 cc, or 50 cubic-inches, hence the ingeniously clever “M50” tag. At 5,900 rpm the engine develops a total of 42-horsepower, but the real scoop is in the bottom-end numbers with a generous 42 pound-feet of torque at 2,700 rpm and 43.7 pounds at 3,300 rpm. Curb weight clocks in at 593 pounds, so yeah, it’s not exactly a stoplight burner by any means with those power figures, but it is a calm and predictable mount.

Suzuki doesn’t go for the top-shelf gadgetry for this ride, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely devoid of modern technology. Suzuki’s Idle Speed Control helps to stabilize the idle under all conditions, and it allows for choke-free cold starts. An electronic Engine Control Module and Suzuki’s Dual Throttle Valve throttle body manages the induction with a 3-D mapped ignition curve that comes optimized for the bottom-end grunt.

In the interest of protecting the environment (or meeting emissions requirements, whatever) an air injector in the exhaust system helps burn off free hydrocarbons in the stream before they can exit the pipe. A standard clutch couples engine power to the five-speed transmission with a shaft final drive to put the power to the pavement.

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: Fuel Injection with SDTV
Starter: Electric
Lubrication: Wet sump
Transmission: 5-speed constant mesh
Final Drive: Shaft Drive

Pricing

2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard M50
- image 731526
MSRP is up just a skosh from last year and can only be had in basic black for 2018.

MSRP is $8,649, which is up just a skosh from last year. It can only be had for 2018 in Gloss Black Sparkle, at least on our market, and Suzuki gives you a 12-month unlimited mileage limited warranty on your new M50.

Warranty: 12 month unlimited mileage limited warranty. Coverage extension and additional benefits are available.
Color:
2015: Glass Sparkle Black, Pearl Glacier White
2016, 2017: Glass Sparkle Black, Metallic Oort Gray No. 3
2018: Gloss Sparkle Black
Price:
2016, 2017: $8,599
2018: $8,649

Competitors

2015 - 2018 Suzuki Boulevard M50
- image 731527
2014 - 2016 Yamaha V-Star 650 Custom
- image 731646
Both are a bit underpowered, and entry-level riders are liable to outgrow either equally fast if the rider plans on using it as a stepping stone and not a destination.

Honestly, given the price and performance difference I didn’t feel good about pitting the M50 against even the cheapest H-D Softail or even a Sportster, but luckily Yamaha has it covered with its V-Star 650 Custom. The Custom brings a similar look to the table with a hardtail-looking frame and articulated swingarm that completes the illusion. A bobbed rear fender and blackout treatment all around gives it a custom vibe, and I gotta say I prefer the laced rims on the Yammy, but again we have a flanged fuel tank, so they both suck equally in that department.

The Custom keeps it clean up front with a plain naked headlight can, and it sticks to a set of standard stems that fit in with the dated look of the rest of the bike. Though the V-Star sports a V-twin mill, the 70-degree configuration is a little off-putting and doesn’t have quite the same aesthetic appeal as the 45-degree M50.

At only 649 cc, the air-cooled Yamaha mill doesn’t quite have the same power either with 37.6 pound-feet of torque at four grand up against 42 pounds o’ grunt from Suzuki, and the slightly lighter 514-pound wet weight isn’t enough of a difference to make a difference here. Yamaha walks back the tech a bit too with good old carburetor induction control and nothing in the way of gadgetry, but honestly, that makes for a machine that’s even easier to work on than the M50. To be perfectly frank, both are a bit underpowered, and entry-level riders are liable to outgrow either equally fast if the rider plans on using it as a stepping stone and not a destination. Yamaha gets a minor win at checkout with a $6,990 price tag that will definitely appeal to budget buyers.

He Said

“Softail-like designs are gaining in popularity, and that’s liable to continue to be true in light of H-D’s renewed focus on the family. Even though the M50 isn’t a direct competitor for a piece of the action, there’s no doubt that it will be entering a different market in 2018. I think the market shift will be a boon to these entry-level pseudo hardtails myself, and we won’t have long to wait to find out for sure.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "It definitely looks like a muscle bike, but maybe the world as moved on and left the M50 behind. It’s not as muscular as plenty of other bikes in this mid-displacement range. Still it’s an easy bike to ride — not intimidating, not big or heavy — and it is quite comfortable. One thing I hear, and I do agree, is that it really needs a sixth gear to tackle the interstate for more than a couple of exits."

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
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: Fuel Injection with SDTV
Starter: Electric
Lubrication: Wet sump
Transmission: 5-speed constant mesh
Final Drive: Shaft Drive
Chassis:
Suspension Front: Inverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Suspension Rear: Link style, solo shock, coil spring, oil damped
Brakes Front: Disc Brake
Brakes Rear: Drum Brake
Tires Front: 130/90-16 M/C 67H, tubeless
Tires Rear: 170/80-15 M/C 77H, tubeless
Electrical:
Ignition: Electronic ignition (Transistorized)
Spark plugs : NGK DR7EA or DENSO XX22ESR-U
Headlight: 12V 60/55W H4
Tail Light: 12V 21/5W
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall Length: 2395 mm (94.3 in)
Overall Width: 890 mm (35.0 in)
Wheelbase: 1655 mm (65.2 in)
Ground Clearance: 140 mm (5.5 in)
Seat Height: 700 mm (27.6 in)
Curb Weight: 269 kg (593 lbs)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 4.1 US Gallons (15.5 L)
Details:
Warranty: 12 month unlimited mileage limited warranty. Coverage extension and additional benefits are available.
Color:
2015: Glass Sparkle Black, Pearl Glacier White
2016, 2017: Glass Sparkle Black, Metallic Oort Gray No. 3
2018: Gloss Sparkle Black
Price:
2016, 2017: $8,599
2018: $8,649

References

2014 - 2016 Yamaha V-Star 650 Custom
- image 731645

See our review of the Yamaha V-Star 650 Custom..

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

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