When the Suzuki Boulevard M109R burst onto the scene in 2006, it escalated the arms race in the performance cruiser segment with its monster engine. It is long low and massive in every proportion, just what a muscle bike should be. Though our Cruiser Editor Bryan Harley chose the Star Raider over the M109R when he compared these two machines a year ago, the competition was close. Would this be the chance for redemption for the slightly updated 2011 Limited Edition model?
The beating heart of the M109R is a 1783cc, 54-degree V-Twin pumping out 107 horsepower and 79.23 pound-feet of torque when strapped to the MotoUSA Dynojet 250i dynamometer. Grabbing a handful of throttle lets loose an onslaught of acceleration and screeching rubber as the Suzuki blasts off the line with authority. Almost every rider in the test felt that the short-stroke engine had the most beans, while I held firm to my conviction that the Harley was faster. As it turned out I was right; however I will say that the Suzuki feels faster light-to-light than any bike in this comparison. The vibration, engine noise and exhaust note all add to the head rush that accompanies the hit when you squeeze the trigger. It just feels powerful and fast.
The massive 1783cc engine rocketed the Suzuki Boulevard M109R LE to the second-quickest time in the quarter mile.
Test rider Joey Agustin testified, “The Suzuki was up at the top for my favorite bikes of the day. This cruiser has an amazing engine, and has a quick and snappy throttle. It’s a rocket.”
Suzuki has infused bits of its GSX-R technology into the engine design of the M109R, so we were curious to see how it would fare on the test strip. First, it has to overcome some excess mass since it tips the scales as the heaviest bike in this test at 766 pounds. Once test pilot Steeves got the Boulevard pointed towards the horizon and dropped the hammer, it was obvious that it was going to post some great numbers. At 12.99 seconds and 111.75mph the big, black beast was second only to the drag specialist Night Rod. Its 0-60mph time was actually quickest at 3.97 seconds. That’s all pretty impressive stuff from the big-boned M-109R. All that performance comes with highest decibel readings of all the bikes in this test of 108db at half throttle and 98db at idle.
Shifting the big Suzuki was drama free for our team of testers as it notched up the same amount of votes as the Raider S for having the best transmission and drivetrain. The ratios in the 5-speed gearbox were spot-on for romping light-to-light and are plenty tall for leisurely cruising down the highway. Power is fed from the easy shifting transmission to the rear wheel via shaft drive. Only one of our tester riders, Tim Muto, had never ridden a shaft-drive bike and took issue with the unique tendency of the rear ”jacking” when the power is abruptly altered.
“The Suzuki's transmission is good, but I do not like the feel of the shaft drive. It has somewhat of a strange feeling chopping the throttle into the corners,” said Tim. The rest of the crew took no issue with the low maintenance drive system.
Although the M109R delivers its power via driveshaft the handling is still excellent, especially with a smooth throttle hand.
That brings us to the handling. Even with the shaft drive and a 240mm rear tire, the M109R can really get through the corners well. Turn in effort is a bit more than the Raider S, but once leaned over it has a more solid and secure feel. Feedback from the chassis lets you know where you stand when hustling through a canyon byway. The smoother you are with you right wrist, the better the Suzuki handles too. In a straight line things are rock solid as the 46mm inverted cartridge fork and linkage-equipped, preload adjustable rear single shock smooth out the mean streets of SoCal.
The binders on the M109R are the best of the bunch, allowing the Suzuki to take top honors in the 60-0mph and 0-100-0mph tests.
Brian Steeves summed up the handling of the M109R like this, “Pot hole approved! And with no suicide note needed to be written before your Palomar Mountain ride; I loved it.”
A pair of beefy 310mm rotors squeezed by 4-piston calipers in the front hauls the M109R down from speed in conjunction with a twin-piston caliper on the 298mm rear disc. The feel coming through the fat front lever is decent while the rear is a tad less precise. The subjective braking scores ranked the Suzuki third, but the hard numbers told a different story. At the airstrip the Suzuki had the best braking performance from 60mph at 121.08 feet. With top of the class acceleration and the strongest brakes, this bike decimated the competition in the 0-100-0mph timed test taking just 14.8 seconds to accomplish the feat. That’s almost one and half ticks of the stopwatch quicker than the second place Night Rod.
The rider triangle worked for every rider in our group that ranged from the 5’9” frame of Steeves to the beanpole build of 6’5” Ray Gauger. The straight drag bars sit atop massive aluminum risers that make the reach to the controls easy. Seating position was comfortable even with the forward-biased controls. No one complained when having to pound out the miles on the Suzuki but it was never the first to be picked for highway duty either.
The M109R’s new dash was a hit with our crew as it took the full ten points for the best instrumentation and electronics. Right out front under the cowl is a digital tach that doesn’t require you take your eyes too far from the road to see when it’s time to bang another gear. The analog speedometer is situated on the tank which isn’t the best location for an easy ready, but seems to be a favorite place for cruiser manufacturers to place such an important piece of information. Still the Suzuki was tops mostly due to the less than adequate information centers of the other machines.
The speedometer and tachometer of the Suzuki garnered the most votes from our testers. The M109R also scored high marks in the handling department thanks to its ability to carve corners better than any shaft-driven cruiser should.
The Suzuki Boulevard M109R Limited Edition is a performer on the drag strip and was near or at the top of the tester rider’s subjective score cards, however it came up just short of the win, finishing in second place with 154 points. Second place is good, but as Rickey-Bobby says, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”