At less than $9,000, the 2013 Suzuki M50 Boulevard is an affordable, comfortable cruiser.
"Suzuki makes a nice cruiser. You should check it out before you buy anything."
That's what I recently told a friend who was shopping for a comfortable urban ride. He wasn't interested in a sport or racing bike – and a big touring machine seemed too big for his needs. It had to be a sportster or a cruiser with a respectable engine – not 250 cc lawnmower here. We're about the same height – 6'3" – so the choice also has to have some beef and length to it.
Obviously, my buddy was looking at Harley-Davidson models and the metric sportsters from Star and Honda. He'd find many good options there. Both brands include some of the best and most comfortable motorcycles I've ridden. But I didn't want him to miss the 2013 Suzuki M50 Boulevard.
I've seen the Boulevard at motorcycle shows across the country and always liked the styling. Compact and muscular, it has enough smooth lines and design flourishes to catch the eye. It's a pretty bike in a different way than a Harley-Davidson. While H-D deliberately and effectively hangs onto elements of its retro look, the Boulevard isn't afraid to lean modern.
I'd always look at the Boulevard and say it'd be good to see more of them on the road. In fairness, Suzuki is probably better known for sportier rides, dirt bikes, ATVs and such fun toys. The fact that the Orange County based company makes a bigger motorcycle might surprise some people. Still, it's a good motorcycle and a worthy player in the cruiser field. I tried one out and maybe I can get it over.
The ride is comfortable and confident with adequate power. It doesn't have reckless speed, and it shouldn't have. The 805 cc engine is enough for urban use on the street or freeway. The balance is excellent, allowing instinctive turning and maneuvering. Japanese are still using lighter materials for their machines than their American counterparts, and you can feel it most clearly when your ride their cruisers and touring bikes.
In an effort to remain a rider's bike, readouts and gauges are at a minimum, and the simple fairing keeps that weight down aids turning radius. The brakes are tight and responsible. They're not the lightning fast grab of ride by wire Ducati, but the tech borrowed from Suzuki's sport rides comes in handy here.
Star still makes the best transmission in the cruiser motoring world, and the Suzuki M50 requires you to develop a little touch. The clutch is sensitive, while not as heavy or stiff as a Harley-Davidson sportster. It takes a little getting used to – requiring most of that first time ride to find the touch with that clutch and gear selection. That issue clears itself fairly quickly if you're not a rookie rider.
With a price starting at around $8,799, the Boulevard comes in cheaper than the entry level Harley-Davidson Iron 883 – and it’s more bike for the money.
The fact that it’s not as prevalent as a Harley makes it look and feel a little more exclusive.