Cruisers and touring bikes go hand in hand for that relaxed, comfortable ride you get. The Boulevard C90T from Suzuki— absent for 2014, but back in 2015 – is the touring version of the C90 that was dropped after the 2013 model year, though the C90 B.O.S.S. is still going strong in 2017.
Leather-look — not real leather, just leather textured — hard saddlebags and an ample windscreen give the C90T that “I’m ready for the road” look. Is it ready for the road? I wanted to see if, in fact, the “T” in C90T really does mean Cruisers “touring.” and touring bikes go hand in hand for that relaxed, comfortable ride you get. The Boulevard C90T from Suzuki— absent for 2014, but back in 2015 – is the touring version of the C90 that was dropped after the 2013 model year, though the C90 B.O.S.S. is still going strong in 2017.
Leather-look — not real leather, just leather textured — hard saddlebags and an ample windscreen give the C90T that “I’m ready for the road” look. Is it ready for the road? I wanted to see if, in fact, the “T” in C90T really does mean “touring.”
Yes, the rigid bags have a leather look, but real leather would boost the price, so let’s keep this real. This is a budget tourer. That’s not a bad thing, just don’t look for fancy tech acronyms, a sound system or some of the other niceties that you expect on a more expensive ride, m’kay?
If real leather bags is a must-have, hit the accessories catalog and add $430 to the price. The stock bags are weatherproof and provide ample storage — more than the leather ones do — so pick your priorities. I like that the bags are integrated on the bike and not just a bolt-on afterthought.
In my mind, a touring bike means you plan to take a passenger. Now, I know that isn’t always the case, but we’re in my mind now to stay with me. The C90T comes with passenger footpegs and no backrest, so you folks that buy tourers just to tease people because you’re going solo will be happy; but for the rest of us, it’s a trip to the accessories catalog to add passenger floorboards and a backrest — and add $670 to the price. See how that budget price easily gets inflated? If you truly mean to go solo, add a seat cowl to make clear your intentions.
Tank-mounted instrumentation features an easy-to-read analog speedometer. At a glance, it is easier for me to take in the position of the needle. My ol’-lady eyesight can’t read a digital readout nearly as quickly. The cluster also includes a fuel gauge with a low-fuel indicator light, turn signal indicators and a gear-position indicator.
A downside? No lowers give the rider a sweep of wind up from the bottom, but the windshield does do a good job keeping the wind off your chest.
Lighting seems ample with a multi-reflector headlight, bullet-style turn signals and LED taillight. I’d like to see all LED lights for visibility and to eliminate the need to replace bulbs for filaments broken by vibration.
A feature I really like is the Clutch Assist System. It reduces the amount of effort needed to pull in the clutch lever — a system I really appreciate having a touch of arthritis in my hands. Along with adding a “slipper” function to the clutch, it limits back-torque through the shaft final drive to eliminate wheel hop on downshift so you can scrub off speed ahead of a turn and downshift in general with confidence.
A double-downtube, double-cradle frame describes the profile that defines the look of the Boulevard. Frame geometry carries shades of the old rigid frames, and the beefy front forks with their chrome shrouds carries us back to the transition years in the ’50s when American cruisers started to favor hydraulic forks over “springer” front ends but before rear hydraulic shocks were common. A coil-over monoshock tucked away out of sight supports the rear end, and helps further the illusion created by the lines of the frame.
This kind of frame layout has a number of benefits. It imparts a low-slung look to the bike, lowers the center of gravity and pushes the seat down to 28.3-inches off the ground; good news since the bike carries a curb weight of 800 pounds and the leverage inherent in the design will come in handy around the parking lots.
Cast wheels mount the 17-inch front and 16-inch rear hoops and keep the look beefy all the way to the ground. Given the weight of this family, I must admit I’m surprised at the decision to run a single disc brake up front, and with only a twin-pot caliper no less. Personally, I would feel better with dual discs, or at least a four-pot, opposed piston caliper rather than a piston-and-anvil type. Give yourself plenty of stopping room, guys.
Nothing but a big V-twin lump would look right in this ride, and the factory doesn’t disappoint with a 1,462 cc mill in a 54-degree configuration. The chrome-over-black finish on the engine and cases certainly isn’t hard on the eyes, and it all combines to display a rather typical American-cruiser panache. Unfortunately, the liquid-cooled nature of the engine leaves us with a visible radiator, which I don’t like to see, but the availability of a chrome radiator frame in the accessories catalog tells me at least some of you out there want to showcase it. If you can’t hide it, dress it up, yeah?
As usual, Suzuki packs the engine with all sorts of its characteristic yummy-goodness. Chrome-nitride, oil-control rings ride inside jugs lined using the Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Material, a combination the factory claims to resist wear and offer a high heat-transfer rate. A SOHC operates four valves in each head, and sound attenuating materials help cut down on valve-cover drumming and general mechanical noise emissions. The engine breathes through same throttle bodies as the GSX-R , which opens up the opportunity for some more engine gadgetry.
Suzuki’s Dual Throttle Valve system features a secondary, computer-controlled butterfly plate that helps smooth out the power deliver. Plus, it works in conjunction with the Idle Speed Control (ISC) for those cold mornings. Dual spark plugs produce a strong flame front for complete combustion, better mileage and low emissions.
You can score a C90T in Glass Sparkle Black for $12,899. Suzuki covers your Boulevard with a 12-month unlimited mileage limited warranty.
In a market awash with big cruisers that target the domestic market, I had plenty to choose from so I went with one of my favorites; the California 1400 Touring from Moto Guzzi .
Right off you will notice a common thread between the two. Fat front ends, low seats and relaxed rider triangles with full footboards all hail back to the classic designs of the ’50s and ’60s. Suzuki borrowed heavily from classic and contemporary Harley-Davidson design, a logical move considering the target market, but MG tempered the look of the California with a liberal Italian flair. Each certainly has its own charms, but for me the “Old World” flavor of the California puts it over the top as far as looks go.
Suzuki regains some ground with a few more cubes in the mill for a total of 1,462 cc, just a skosh bigger than the 1,380 cc lump in the California. Fans of liquid-cooled engines will find that feature on the Suzuki, but MG gives its traditional air-cooled jugs some backup in the form of an oil cooler, a feature that should allay the fears of running without a jacketed engine.
The alphabet soup in the Boulevard is nice, but the California boasts ABS and traction control — safety features are good, m’kay?
Probably the biggest deciding factor for most will be the price difference. Suzuki comes on strong with a $12,899 sticker for the last three years, while the MG is a bit proud with its $18,490 price tag. Of course, the name and safety features go a long way toward justifying the price tag to me, but at half-again more expensive, those on a tight budget may find a friend in the “Bouley.” The hand-built quality of the California 1400 Tourer, however, justifies the higher price, in my mind.
My husband and fellow motorcycle writer, TJ Hinton, says, “They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I can’t help but point out how much Suzuki flatters the Heritage Softail Classic from H-D. To be fair, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than the Heritage, which is enough reason for many to buy the Boulevard instead. If I had to pick between the two, I think I would certainly test ride the California first.”
“I think this is a decent tourer. The pricey bells and whistles are absent, but so is the pricey price. Could you call this entry-level tourer? Sure. The no-frills nature makes it a choice for weekend getaways.”
|Engine:||1462cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, SOHC, 45-degree V-twin|
|Bore x Stroke:||96.0 mm x 101.0 mm (3.78 in x 3.98 in )|
|Compression Ratio:||9.5 : 1|
|Fuel System:||Suzuki Fuel Injection|
|Transmission:||5-speed constant mesh|
|Final Drive:||Shaft Drive|
|Suspension Front:||Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped|
|Suspension Rear:||Link type, coil spring, oil damped|
|Brakes Front:||Disc brake|
|Brakes Rear:||Disc Brake|
|Tires Front:||130/80-17M/C 65H, tubeless|
|Tires Rear:||200/60-16M/C 79H, tubeless|
|Fuel Tank Capacity:||4.8 US gals|
|Ignition:||Electronic ignition (Transistorized)|
|Dimensions and Curb Weight:|
|Overall Length:||2560 mm (100.8in)|
|Overall Width:||990 mm (39 in)|
|Wheelbase:||1,675 mm (65.9 in)|
|Seat Height:||720 mm (28.3 in)|
|Curb Weight:||363 kg (800 lbs)|
|Warranty:||12 month unlimited mileage limited warranty.|
|2015:||Glass Sparkle Black / Metallic Gleam Gray|
|2016, 2017:||Glass Sparkle Black|