2013 Suzuki Boulevard C90T B.O.S.S First Ride

| November 21, 2012
The 2013 Suzuki C90T B.O.S.S. is a mid-sized touring cruiser that is based on the previous generation of C90T models.
The 2013 Suzuki C90T B.O.S.S. is a “mid-sized” touring cruiser based on the previous generation of C90T models.

Suzuki says it vows to magnify its focus on motorcycles, ATVs and marine products in the United States following the closing of its auto business here.

The development of new power products for the U.S. market and getting that product to consumers in a timely manner plays a major role in the company’s reorganization plan for this important market.

Suzuki did not import any street motorcycles into the U.S. in 2010, with dealers instead relying on unsold stock from the 2009 model year. The company offered 18 motorcycles and scooters in 2011, 23 two-wheelers in 2012, and recently announced plans to offer 31 models for the 2013 model year.

Much of the new product we will be seeing in coming years will arrive via returning and rejuvenated models, yet Suzuki says we also can expect to see all-new product coming to market at a much quicker clip.

Suzuki’s explanation of its future product plans came to light during the recent introduction of the 2013 Boulevard C90T B.O.S.S., a 1500cc “mid-size” touring cruiser the manufacturer offered to us for a jaunt through Nevada’s high desert.

The C90T B.O.S.S. comes with a full-size windcreen  floorboards  a flat-seat and wide rear-swept handles to provide comfort on long trips.
The C90T B.O.S.S. comes with a full-size windcreen, floorboards, a flat-seat and wide rear-swept handlebars.

PRODUCT CONCEPT

Essentially a factory modified version of the newly designed basic model C90T, the C90T B.O.S.S. is one of 10 models in Suzuki’s 2013 cruiser motorcycle line which is defined by the four-model “M” muscle cruisers, the five-model “C”classic cruisers and the entry-sized S40.

The previous generation C90T was based on the even older VL1500 Intruder and powered by an air/oil-cooled 1462cc V-Twin that Suzuki says was discontinued in 2009 due to emission control.

Sticking to its shared platform cost-savings plan, Suzuki used the M90 as the basis for this new iteration of the C90T. That is, the two bikes share the same triangular steel-tube frame, swingarm, engine components and final drive.

Other than those key components, though, the B.O.S.S. manages to reflect a new interpretation of the “C” line of Boulevard cruisers.

Value is in the eye of the beholder, yet the 2013 Boulevard C90T B.O.S.S. does look more upmarket than its $13,999 price tag reflects. Swathed in black with only a few key chrome accents, a large optically correct touring windshield, wide bars, a multi-function instrument panel atop a generous fuel tank, floorboards, integrated saddlebags and seven-spoke color-matched cast aluminum wheels, the bike’s general appearance makes it difficult for this reviewer to criticize.

Suzuki says the C90T B.O.S.S. product concept involved targeting cruiser customers with a bike that offered the “right size, right equipment and right styling.”

That is, it had to be a model that: 1) filled a hole in the Boulevard line between 800cc and 1800cc yet fit a wide range of rider sizes, 2) offered integrated saddlebags and other features for long-range convenience and comfort, and 3) presented a classic style that was neither too radical nor too conservative.

The C90T B.O.S.S. is powered by a four-stroke  liquid-cooled SOHC 54-degree V-Twin.
The C90T B.O.S.S. is powered by a four-stroke, liquid-cooled SOHC 54-degree V-Twin.

We’ve already established that the C90T B.O.S.S. appears to hit its mark in the styling department. Now lets take a look at how the bike’s equipment translates into ride quality.

EQUIPMENT

The fuel-injected 1462cc liquid-cooled SOHC 54-degree V-Twin is mated to a five-speed constant mesh transmission that delivers power through to the 16-inch rear wheel via  trustworthy shaft drive.

That power comes on low, with a claimed 96.6 lb-ft of torque on tap at 2600 rpm ushering the bike away from a standstill with purpose and a respectable 77.8 hp at 4800 rpm keeping the party going well over any legal U.S. speed limit.

In fact, because the bike is geared very tall, with second gear easily running up to 50 mph, fifth gear – acting as a sort of overdrive – didn’t even prove necessary until accelerating to between 70 or 75 mph. Otherwise, fourth gear allowed the engine to lope along without protest while harboring plenty of passing power in reserve.

Gear changes are aided by the Suzuki Clutch Assist System (SCAS), which produces smooth downshifts by reducing pressure on the clutch plates under deceleration and makes upshifts more quickly and precise due to an increase of pressure on the clutch plates when accelerating.

The 1462cc V-Twin of the C90T B.O.S.S. splits the difference between the 800cc and 1800cc Boulevards currently on the market.
The 1462cc V-Twin of the C90T B.O.S.S. splits the difference between the 800cc and 1800cc Boulevards.

The SCAS works in concert with the trusty shaft drive, functioning as a sort of slipper clutch to more precisely match downshifts with road speed. Crack the throttle and bike stands up and tracks straight down the road.

It is no secret a motorcycle’s sound is important to many cruiser customers. The C90T’s exhaust (differing from that on the M90) produces a strong rumbling sound low in the powerband that peters out to a pleasant low-decibel drone at highway speeds. The system on the B.O.S.S. is finished in matte black and ends below the right saddlebag in a slash-cut style.

The suspension is compliant without being too soft or too harsh. The front of the bike is held by a 45mm telescopic fork with 5.1 inches of travel and the rear is relaxed by a oil-damped coil-over shock that – despite being completely non-adjustable, even for preload – allows the 800-pound bike to sit high enough for most riders to confidently swoop through corners without fear of scraping the pavement.

The dual 16-inch wheels working with the bike’s 65.9-inch wheelbase and low center of gravity aid in balancing performance, delivering relatively good turn-in and tractable straight-line response from the 130/80 front and 200/60 series rear Bridgestone tires.

One of the first things you notice upon inspecting the C90T is the single disc front brake, which initially looks to not be enough hardware to scrub speed from this rather sizeable package. But working the front brake lever and big rear brake pedal as your MSF instructor taught you, the 330mm front disc with dual piston caliper and 275mm rear disc with twin-pot caliper bring the bike down from speed in a controllable manner without quickening your heart rate.

The C90T B.O.S.S. is the first Boulevard to feature factory-build hard cases as standard equipment.
The C90T B.O.S.S. is the first Boulevard to feature factory-built hardcases as standard equipment.

COMFORT & AMENITIES

While the styling of the C90T B.O.S.S. may serve as an initial attractant for consumers, once you swing a leg over and put down some miles you’ll find the bike’s full-size windscreen, flat seat, wide rear-swept handlebars, controls and floorboards combine to maximize comfort for riders of a variety of sizes.

Suzuki says engineers tested dozens of shapes and mounting angles before finalizing windscreen design, and in practice it appears their efforts paid off. The big windscreen is positioned and designed to provide ample protection at freeway speeds, with buffeting minimized by allowing just the right amount of air to pass above the headlight and into the space between the screen and operator that normally induces turbulence between the screen and operator. If there’s one complaint to be had, it is that the shield isn’t removable – an option many cruiser riders like to have available.

Positioned at a relatively low 28.3 inches, the C90T’s well-cushioned operator’s seat is shaped wide and flat, allowing riders to sit in a comfortable upright position with the ability to easily reach the 34-inch-wide and swept back handlebars, floorboards, heel-toe shifter and large brake pedal.

The C90T B.O.S.S. comes with a 4.8 gallon fuel tank that has a gauge cluster positioned on top.
The C90T B.O.S.S. comes with a 4.8-gallon fuel tank that has a great looking console with both digital and analog displays.

As for amenities, the C90T B.O.S.S. features a 4.8-gallon fuel tank that is quite wide, but retains a rather shallow shape that allows for a multi-function instrument pod to be positioned on top. The gauge cluster delivers a level of instrumentation not often found on classically styled cruisers. Highlighted by a large analog speedometer, the package is further complemented by a digital gear position indicator, clock, odometer and twin trip meters, as well as a digital fuel gauge and indicator lights for low fuel, high/low beams, turn signals and more.

The bike’s 39-inch overall width comes from its integrated saddlebags. In fact, the C90T B.O.S.S. is the first Boulevard to feature factory-built hard sidecases as standard equipment. The bags, made of impact-resistant ABS plastic, are wrapped in covers custom-matched to the seat, water-resistant and lockable. The left bag swallows 26 liters and the right bag, influenced by the single side dual exhaust, holds up to 24.5 liters. They both have a 10-pound carrying capacity.

Each bag also is easily accessible from atop the bike, with the bags opening like a gaping clam once the ignition key is used in the locking mechanism at the top of the bag. Other thoughtful details: A scalloped shape to the front of the bags allow a passenger’s feet to be placed securely on their perches and a protection bar tucked under the left bag was added to reduce damage to the luggage in the event of a tip-over.

Deliveries of the Suzuki Boulevard C90T B.O.S.S. begin in mid December. Though our time in its saddle was short, we’re itching to swing a leg over this “Blacked Out Special Suzuki” again.

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