For those of the metric cruiser persuasion, bang for the buck has always trumped trademarked exhaust notes and branded apparel. In addition to Suzuki’s fine GSX-S1000GT and GSX-S1000GT+, Suzuki keeps things familiar and simple with the virtually unchanged Boulevard M109R BOSS and Boulevard C50T.
Originally called the Volusia in 2001 (renamed Boulevard in 2005), the concept bike has delivered classic styling and/or aggro cruiser swagger to the price conscious ever since. Although these 2023 models share the name, they couldn’t be more different. Basically, one is meant for folks with oversized forearm tattoos while the other isn’t. We’ll explain.
First up, the Boulevard M109R BOSS, also known as the Blacked Out Special Suzuki since 2014. It continues Suzuki’s 16-year tradition of bold styling and aggro curb presence. Featuring a ridiculously large DOHC 1,783cc liquid-cooled four-valve mill, it features 128 hp and 118 lb.-ft. of torque. The BOSS edition features blacked-out exhaust and trim to accurately reflect your management aspirations.
Officially, the bore and stroke measure 112 x 90.5mm. Unofficially, just imagine coffee cans in the cases. Helping to tame all this horsepower is the 764-pound curb weight, first in its class depending on the classmates. None of this matters to the desired demographic—it’s big, unsubtle, and meant to cause a scene even on the kickstand.
The $15,599 MSRP gets you in the party. Numbers-wise, this makes the $15,249 MSRP Harley-Davidson Street Bob 114 its direct nemesis. The Street Bob gives up 28 hp or so, but matches the all-important torque figure with 119 lb.-ft. The BOSS outweighs the Fat Bob 114 by 109 pounds and neither offers ABS or rider aids of any sort. So carry that weight with care.
Nothing has changed since 2022, including the often-mentioned “nacelle.” A quick Google search reveals this term refers to the “streamlined housing or tank for something on the outside of an aircraft or motor vehicle.” In other words, the headlight bucket and plastics are the same. Cool word though. The polarizing design still does its job well. You either love it or you don’t.
The Boulevard C50 and C50T represent an altogether different proposition. First off, their MSRP comes in at $8,909 and $10,359, respectively. And they haven’t changed one iota since last year. Or probably a few years before that. The 805cc fuel-injected liquid-cooled 45-degree V-twin comes in at less than half the displacement of its BOSS brethren. In keeping with the metric cruiser ethos of being rider friendly, the generous frame and low 27.6-inch ride height is safely mated to 53 hp (or so) and 52 lb.-ft. of torque.
As befitting its classic concept, valanced fenders are matched to generous chrome, footboards, and an elevated passenger seat atop the rear fender. The link-type rear suspension creates the illusion of a hardtail and comes with seven preload settings. Shaft drive keeps things simple and relatively maintenance-free.
Only five wide-ratio gears move things along, though fifth gear is high enough for relaxed highway riding. The C50 is your in-town cruiser while the C50T gets you an adjustable windshield and lockable soft saddlebags. A 4.1-gallon tank bests the base Harley-Davidson 883 by nearly a gallon.
Speaking of The Motor Company, we could compare specs every day and change zero hearts and minds. The C50 and C50T are a value proposition, pure and simple. In 20 years, they’ve built a loyal base of riders who love what they ride, heritage be damned. If the Bar & Shield aren’t your thing, you’ll save thousands and see the exact same mountains and twisties as HD riders.
And to be fair, you’d see the same roads aboard the 745cc V-twins of the Honda Shadow Aero ($7,799) or Shadow Phantom ($7,999 MSRP). Plus there’s the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic ($8,999 MSRP) or the Vulcan 900 Classic LT ($9,999 MSRP), if you like windshields and proper touring. Whatever your flavor, going metric really adds up.
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2023 Boulevard lineup.