Review: 2013 Suzuki Boulevard C90T B.O.S.S.

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For three years Suzuki has carried a big hole in its cruiser tourer line-up after quietly dropping the venerable but aging Boulevard 1500 in 2009. The 800cc C50 is too small, the 1800cc M109 too big, so is this brand-new, 1462cc Suzuki Boulevard C90T B.O.S.S. just right?

Photos: Anne Watson

What’s New
The C90T owes it heritage to the Suzuki Intruder that was launched in 1998. Later to be renamed the Boulevard, this 1462cc air-cooled cruiser was a popular Suzuki stalwart around the world selling more than 73,000 units. Then in 2009, due to tougher U.S. emission controls, it was dropped leaving Suzuki with no serious volume contender in the cruiser tourer sector apart from the 800cc C50 or the massive, over-sized 1,800cc M109.

That was a big missed sales opportunity for the company to carry for three years, so the 2013 Boulevard C90T underlines that Suzuki is back and ready to play rough again with the big boys in the cruiser tourer market.

For the moment the C90T B.O.S.S (‘Blacked Out Special Suzuki’) is the only Boulevard cruiser tourer available. There are other Boulevard cruiser models in the current Suzuki line-up but they don’t have the touring package of the C90T.

And as the B.O.S.S. name suggest it’s entirely black from its cast aluminum seven-spoke wheels, front forks to the slash-cut twin pipes – and as this is the B.O.S.S version it’s offered in ‘Sparkling Black’ paint only.

In a month, the B.O.S.S will be joined by two other C90T variants. So if all-black is not your style there will be a choice – albeit a limited one – of either red/black or white/gray and a lot more chrome.

What you get with this B.O.S.S version though is a good-looking, in a chunky sort of way, blacked out cruiser for $13,999 (which includes Suzuki’s 12-month unlimited mileage warranty). The pair of other C90Ts that follow will cost several hundred dollars less, look the same, minus the black paint, and will be technically and specification-wise identical to the B.O.S.S.

Although Suzuki claims this is a ‘new’ ‘bike that is not entirely true. The C90T shares the same steel tube frame and swing arm with Suzuki’s current muscle cruiser the Boulevard M90. It also uses the M90’s 1462cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, SOHC four-valve per cylinder, 54-degree V-twin engine and the M90’s five-speed constant mesh transmission that delivers the power to the 16-inch rear wheel via shaft drive.

It is though a smart move by Suzuki to use proven existing components and then go to town on the C90T’s design to make it something that truly reflects the image of a big cruiser.

And the B.O.S.S is a big ‘bike. Not massive by some standards but it weighs in at a portly 800lbs, which is some 88lbs heavier than its closest rivals Honda’s Interstate or the V Star 1300 Tourer each tipping the scales at around 712lbs.

But all of those extra pounds the B.O.S.S carries are hardly discernible thanks in part to its 90 cubic inch, long stroke engine that’s been re-tuned specifically for the C90T.

Suzuki has also gone back and raided other parts bins and taken the three air box set up from its M109R and its own in-house designed Dual Throttle Valve – from the GSX-R – which all help the C90T to achieve a respectable 77.8bhp at 4,800rpm and a torque figure of 96.6lb/ft at 2,600rpm.

Whilst none of this means the B.O.S.S. is going to be ripping the tarmac off the streets, it does develop a broad, low down power band that is more than competent for a bike of this type and provides precisely the kind of smooth effortless ride you should expect from any good cruiser.

The C90T is the first Boulevard model ever to come with factory-designed ABS plastic hard bags as standard. They’re good looking too. Covered in the same material as the bike’s seat, lockable and compliment the C90T’s classic lines without any real compromise to load space. Suzuki says you can get 10lbs of luggage in each. But there is a hitch to them, which we’ll get to later.

The Suzuki designers also turned their attention to the C90T’s windshield and came up with a design for the B.O.S.S that works surprisingly well; no refraction, minimal buffeting and good rider protection and for once it actually looks integral to the overall appearance of the bike.

By Suzuki’s own admission, it was trying to create something not too radical and not too conservative with the C90T. We think Suzuki maybe being a little too modest here. The C90T is a handsome bike in the classic cruiser tradition and it has some real road presence.

The Ride
The point of a cruiser sometimes is not to have any destination in mind. Just get on the bike and head wherever the road takes you. The C90T is an ideal bike to do just that.

You get well laid-out floorboards and a 28.3-inch high seating position that will allow most riders to plant both feet on the ground when stopped. The C90T’s seat is wider and flatter than the M90’s, which actually means you can move around while on the move, unlike Honda’s Interstate, to find the best riding position and also stay comfortable on long journeys.

The handlebars are four inches closer to the rider than on the M90 and even though it’s a big, heavy bike moving the B.O.S.S. around at low speeds is a doddle. We would have liked the bars to be more substantial and thicker to fit in with the overall chunky look of the B.O.S.S. But that’s just nit picking.

Out on city roads the B.O.S.S. is a quiet and leisurely ride. Suzuki’s clutch assist system (SCAS) reduces the force needed to pull in the clutch lever and it assists downshifts by reducing pressure on the clutch plates under deceleration. For upshifts and hard acceleration it increases pressure on the plates and it works well making gear changes smooth and straight forward.

The B.O.S.S. takes almost every road surface in its stride. Uneven surfaces can make it get a bit flustered momentarily and at other times it offers too soft a ride, due in part to the fat 200mm rear Bridgestone tire on the rear and the 130mm front.

However, neither the 45mm telescopic front forks, with their 5.1 inches of travel, or the rear link-type suspension are pre-load adjustable. Both are pre-set at the Suzuki factory before the ‘bike is shipped. This means if you’re on the light side, weight wise, you may find the ride a little choppy over really rough surfaces but if you’re a heavier rider you may not notice any deterioration at all in the ride quality.

Deceptively nimble, the C90T is not a difficult ‘bike to ride around town although it has broad flanks – a big 39 inches wide with those hard bags on the back – but you can still lane split here in California if you plan well ahead and pick your moment to squeeze past the traffic. As an urban cruiser it’s an enjoyable ride and you soon forget the C90T’s size and grow to appreciate its laid back approach.

Continue Reading: 2013 Suzuki Boulevard C90T B.O.S.S. >>

  • disqus_XFLGy6bSVB

    -1

  • Sohl

    HFL is dead.

  • josh

    to overtaken?

    • josh

      Also its “reasonable size 4.8-gallon tank” …. the same size as the tank on my r1 and my old vfr laughs in its face. How is this a tourer?

      • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

        i think of a tourer as something I would use to ride on a long distance tour comfortably and with space for my gear. while being able to go farther between gas stops is nice, it actually doesnt impede my ability to go on such a tour.

        • josh

          Sure, but can you fix “to overtaken” and make it say “to overtake ” its killing me quietly.

        • Mark Desrosiers

          I don’t know, those signs in Utah that say, “Next gas 76 miles” makes having a <200 mile range require at least a bit of planning.

      • the antagonist

        Big lumpy twins tend to be more fuel efficient than rev-happy fours. I’m guessing 4.8 gallons will get you between 150 and 200 miles before pulling into a gas station. By that time all but the most ardent iron-butters are going to want to stop and stretch their legs anyway. Sounds reasonable to me, not great, but reasonable.

  • EchoZero

    Man, I don’t know. There’s nothing in this review that doesn’t make it sound like more than “just another cruiser”. With the exception of the clutch assist and the color scheme, I don’t see anything that really sets it apart from the cheaper V-Star 1300 Tourer. I mean, there’s a full dresser V-Star with a batwing fairing and integrated audio and navigation for less than this.

  • Gavin Todd

    Welcome Tim! just an FYI you have the new bikes displacement listed for the m109 in the first paragraph.

  • carbon

    Nice seeing more cruiser reviews. But note: dude on the bike has a helmet a couple sizes too big. And a serious attack of “cruiser-face.”

    • Tim Watson

      Ha! Can’t do anything about my face and I like my helmet!

      • carbon

        Sorry man! Nothing personal. After I posted that, I started to think, “what do I look when I ride, helmet or not?” I think the answer is all guys might sport “the face” when they ride, no matter if the ride is a CBR1000RR, an Aprilia, or a speed triple. The only difference is one can’t see “the face” under the full-face helmet!

        But damn, that helmet of yours is still huge. :)

      • Kevin

        If you shake your head and your helmet doesn’t move at all–stays stuck in place–then you’re fine. But yeah, it looks loose. Maybe that’s just the fit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/electricbike Troy Rank

    Wow. I can’t imagine spending 14k for this. Cruiser margins have to be through the roof.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.milewski Blu E Milew

    What kind of jeans are those?

    /sarcasm

    But really, is it that much above average that it earns a 7/10? Just curious, I see the Star got a 7 as well. I figure an average bike should get a 5/10, unless you guys only write about the good ones..?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Bikes are compared to in-class competition. Compared to other cruiser tourers, the C90T is comfy, capable and the price is right.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      We all struggled with how to do these ratings at first. It just wouldnt be fair to give all big cruisers 2/10 and all supermoto’s 9/10 jus because I think supermotos are better than big cruisers. That doesn’t necessarily mean it feels great to rank a new small cruiser a 7/10 when I have ranked other bikes I like much more the same, but its the most objective way to do it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.milewski Blu E Milew

        Also, will you guys review HD models too, or is it mostly only bikes that you can obtain courtesy of the mfr? Chris Harris got banned from Ferrari press cars for his honesty, but still reviews them..

  • http://www.facebook.com/frontdrivewonder Lou Turicik

    for an extra grand this makes the guzzi california look like a steal. exotic italian beauty vs. blacked out metric cruiser? how does guzzi not have better sales!?

    • Kevin

      The equivalent Guzzi (bags & windscreen) is more like $18K.

    • http://twitter.com/bloodfalcons motoguru.

      That would be due to their lack of dealer network.

  • T Diver

    Hey guys,

    Love the site. Great review. But just one question. I generally take huge dumps. (It’s all the quinoa and kale. I am from LA :) lol )

    How many dumps do you suppose I could fit in each of those awesome saddle bags? And is the rear shock adjustable to compensate? Just wondering. Thanks. I’ll be sure to “like” this on my Facebook.

    • Kevin

      That’s more than one question.

    • Tim Watson

      According to Suzuki you should be able to get 10lbs of luggage in each bag (as mentioned in the review) but in terms of capacity Suzuki quotes 24.5 litres for the left and 26 litres for the right – so around 6 gallons each. There’s a crash bar under the left bag which reduces slightly the amount it can carry. Hope this helps.

  • DeadJets

    Seriously you guys… low seat height, it isn’t built for turning, AND it carries the obscene weight well!!! You were more fun when you were assholes.

  • G D

    It bugs me how the Japanese Big 4 try so hard to shave a few yen here and there in places they think no one’s noticing. Granted, the few yen saved per bike multiplied by the tens of thousands of them they plan to produce, add up to some serious yennage. But still, it cheapens the machine and makes the Euro and American bikes look a bunch better to me.

  • ChrisB

    Tim, the more offbeat “cruisers” you can ride the better. Even older bikes that may not be sold new any more. I’m talking bikes like the Hyosung GV650, BMW R1200C, and the new Honda CTX700. Because regular cruisers all copy HD and that’s boring.

  • http://twitter.com/TheVeeTwin Damo Von Vinland

    Are haggard skinny jeans the “cruiser review” uniform?

  • Speedo007

    I suspect tall guys will be in for some intense helmet buffeting…and windscreen can’t really be removed or adjusted. Also, those tiny handle bars, what are they thinking, I had beefier bars on my bike when I was 5 years old, this thing is 800lbs, it should get proper looking handlebars. And if luggage aren’t really removable, shouldnt they at least be sturdy enough to take more then 10lbs each? Ok so I’m not a cruiser kind of guy, but still, some of this is just non-sens, I’m always surprised at the stuff that makes it into production.

    I love these big V-twins, just tired of seeing them used in these bikes that in the end all pretty much look alike. Except for a few customs, for most if you removed badges, 95% of the people couldnt tell what brand it is.

  • Kimber

    Has anyone who puchased this awesome Bike been able to get aftermarket parts such as Light Bar, Crash Bar, Exhaust and power commander all in the black? Please share any onfo if you have as for we keep being told by Cobra, Lindby, Vance and hines, that Suzuki has not released any fitment details or actual bike for them to start an after mrket anything for us new owners of the B.O.S.S. all in black which I truly agree is the new chrome.
    Thank you for any advice.
    Kimber, Washington State.

  • Billy Miller

    I can`t wait to see a hells angle on one.

  • TiredOfTheBelt

    Live on a rock road and enjoy traveling on a cruiser but because
    of the 1 mile rock road before I get to a paved road I only have a few choices
    because I need a bike with a drive shaft. This looks like a very good bike for
    me will be going to the nearest dealer to check out. After I replaced the third
    belt and sprockets on the Yamaha I quit riding until I purchased an older Honda
    with a drive shaft. Looks like Suzuki has covered all the bases with this bike.