Review: 2023 Suzuki Boulevard C50T

Review: 2023 Suzuki Boulevard C50T | RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel Magazine

Since rebranding its cruiser lineup in 2005 as Boulevard, Suzuki has earned its share of fans for its metro cruiser—and for good reason. The Boulevard line currently features the C50, C50T, and M109R B.O.S.S. While the 109 sports the largest displacement in the group, the concept with the 50 series is to provide a solid mid-size platform (the numeral 50 designating cubic inches) with an affordable price tag that retains an attractive and capable big bike presence. The Suzuki team has managed to pull a gem out of its cost-conscious efforts with the C50T—the T stands for touring.

The bike slides comfortably into the mid-displacement, budget cruiser/tourer category with surprising rideability. Sporting an audacious pearl white paint scheme, a studded seat, soft leather bags, bold retro white wall tires, and a large-diameter chrome exhaust, the C50T isn’t shy. It proudly boasts plenty of curb appeal.

Review: 2023 Suzuki Boulevard C50T | RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel Magazine
The Boulevard C50T holds its own as a mid-sized cruiser with great looks and surprisingly fluid functionality, all for an exceptional price.

Easy Rider

With a low curb weight (for a cruiser) of just 644 pounds—which is carried very low—you are immediately aware of the 2023 Boulevard C50T’s relatively light feel as soon as you pull it off the stand. The weight, combined with its mid-sized V-twin delivering smooth power and mated with a thoroughly predictable clutch, makes the Boulevard very easy to ride. It almost feels as if it’s practically riding itself. Extremely maneuverable, especially at low speeds, the bike responds to rider inputs with uncanny intuitiveness. In this regard, the C50T would make for a highly accommodating first bike or a natural upgrade from smaller-sized machines (or perhaps a good fit for someone looking to downsize). Yet, it still has enough motorcycling soul to keep an experienced rider entertained.

Naturally, with a focus on affordability, Suzuki had to limit accouterments to arrive at an MSRP of $10,359. The bike lacks certain creature comforts, such as electronic rider aids, engine mapping modes, ABS, and a sixth gear. That said, there are still plenty of positives with the new C50T to indulge the senses and put you into the cruising/touring world for a relatively affordable price.

Review: 2023 Suzuki Boulevard C50T | RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel Magazine
The Boulevard was an unexpected surprise with great handling and performance that belied it's mid-size cruiser label.

Simply Enough Power

At 50 cubic inches, with a displacement of 805cc, the fuel-injected 45-degree SOHC V-twin has balanced firing intervals that render a classic V-twin feel and sound. The power comes on at low rpm, which is where you want it in a cruiser. Simplicity reigns, with no alternative ride modes or engine mapping choices.

Review: 2023 Suzuki Boulevard C50T | RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel Magazine
The C50T has plenty of chrome on the engine cases, offset by the pearl white paint and the smoothest heel-toe shifter in the business.

Fitted with Suzuki dual throttle valve (SDTV) electronic fuel-injection, the throttle response is appreciably smooth. Prominent, staggered twin chrome exhaust pipes sweep attractively down the right side of the bike and taper toward the rear end in a dramatic fashion. The stock system emits a reserved exhaust note, with signature V-twin rumble, yet is quiet enough that you won’t be aggravating the neighbors with an early morning crank-over for your Sunday ride.

The C50T certainly has speed, but you need to manage gear choice and revs to reap the best performance out of the machine, as you don’t have the forgiving nature of power to pull you through lazy riding. That said, the Boulevard’s V-twin has adequate performance, which is due to the fact it’s pushing a relatively light weight. However, if you’re accustomed to larger-displacement motorcycles, the C50T may leave you wanting for more. The bike gets up to freeway speed easily enough, but there isn’t a lot more on tap from there.

The studded soft saddlebags maintain the continuity of design cues and match the seat and passenger pad for nicely flowing style.

Smooth Transmission

A simple five-speed gearbox (yet another byproduct of cutting costs) gets the C50T’s power to the rear wheel via a smooth-operating and relatively maintenance-free shaft drive. Although a sixth gear would be nice, the five-speed transmission has an efficient spread, with the first providing easy starting from a complete stop, all the way to the top gear rendering comfortable freeway cruising speeds.

Two things stand out about this transmission, aside from the succinct operation. The heel shifter is the smoothest, most well-placed shifter among any OEM. To engage the next higher gear is almost second nature, with the heel pad placed perfectly in line with the back edge of the floorboard. Also, finding neutral on this transmission is the easiest out of any bike I’ve ever ridden. That may sound insignificant until you ride a bike that resists your attempts to find neutral at long stop lights.

The C50T's light weight gives it a highly maneuverable character, which makes it an ideal mount for twisty routes.

Leave Room for Braking

A double-cradle tubular steel frame holds the engine low in the chassis, keeping the center of gravity very low and helping to disguise the Boulevard’s weight. The 65.2-inch wheelbase and a rake of 33 degrees give the Boulevard a long, planted feel, which provides uncanny stability on the highway. Despite its dimensions, the C50T handles nimbly at low speeds (often the bane of big cruisers) with a very tight turning radius.

One deficit stemming from the Boulevard C50T’s low price is the absence of a second front disc. Although the bike is relatively light, there’s still enough mass—especially at speed—to warrant the braking power of a second unit. The single hydraulic disc works fine but definitely requires some finesse with regard to pressure and anticipating upcoming situations to allow for adequate room for braking. The front lever is well-formed, fitting the hand and fingers naturally, which helps deliver your intent to the front unit with ease and confidence. The C50T’s stopping prowess is best served with a balanced and generous application of both the front disc in concert with the rear drum for maximum efficiency. Just remain fully aware that you are without ABS. Despite the omission of ABS, the Boulevard’s planted feel helps reduce the chance of locking brakes significantly.

The cockpit of the Boulevard is ergonomically sound and well laid out, with a plush seat that firmly holds the rider in place and provides all-day comfort.

Hidden link-style rear suspension gives the C50T a classic hardtail appearance. The single shock has a seven-way spring preload adjustment range, which renders 4.1 inches of rear wheel travel. The traditional telescopic fork with brushed aluminum sliders provides 5.5 inches of travel in the front. Both front and back units work well, absorbing the majority of life’s little bumps and uneven pavement. However, any abrupt hits, such as divots or ruts, can bottom the shock and send a shockwave up through your spine. You learn quickly to keep a keen eye on the road surface to avoid those disconcerting smacks.

Plenty of Comfort

The C50T has a big, plush seat with a wide base that firmly holds the rider in place. The low 27.6-inch seat height contributes to the bike’s overall manageability. The moment you settle into that soft leather and rest your hands on the grips, feeling the gentle sweep of that big chrome bar and lifting your feet onto the slightly forward floorboards, you’ll see the designers had your comfort in mind. This is a cruising motorcycle that pleasantly accommodates a wide range of rider sizes. It’s an all-day rider that doesn’t cause fatigue.

That big, beautiful windscreen (which can be removed in a cinch) protects the rider from turbulence without any of the odd vortices that can swirl around windshields.

The large, removable windshield does an excellent job of cutting through the atmosphere, creating an almost completely turbulence-free cockpit. As I mentioned, the heel-to-toe shift lever is nicely leveled with the rear of the floorboard, rendering nearly effortless upshifts.

Dressed up in that stunning pearl white paint, the big 4.1-gallon teardrop-shaped fuel tank blends seamlessly with the bold valance fenders, wrapping around the brash nostalgia of fat white wall tires. The flashy rubber is mounted to stylish spoke wheels in a 15-inch rear and 16-inch front configuration.

The white-walled tires on chrome spoke wheels complement the C50T perfectly. The biker does okay with the single front disc, but a second one would round out the package nicely.

As for pillion? The passenger seat is not terribly large or comfortable. Also, the seat makes the passenger feel like they may slide off the back. Anyone anticipating a lot of two-up riding would be well-advised to get the optional (formerly standard) backrest to keep your passenger feeling safe.

Made to Simply Ride

Completely uncomplicated, with an emphasis on the basics, the C50T packs a decent amount of motorcycling into an affordable base price. For the cost-conscious, the Boulevard C50T is an extremely proficient motorcycle. A fun and very easy ride, it’s a surprisingly capable mid-sized cruiser. It doesn’t shy away from its diminutive displacement when coming alongside one of the bigger V-twins, proudly showing off its pearl white paint and brilliant chrome. No frills—just a comfortable, straight-ahead motorcycle with plenty of style, bolstered by Suzuki’s stellar reliability.

Exceptionally sporty, the Boulevard C50T is equally at home on curvy backroads as it is cruising the interstate.

Obviously, Suzuki arrived at the agreeable MSRP by limiting indulgences. Therefore, the Boulevard is going to sacrifice some of the traditional technical gifts in order to arrive at that low price. Still, as a simple motorcycle, the Boulevard is capable of delivering a great many wonderful rides, cruises, trips, and tours in its own inimitable style. All said, considering what you’re getting in terms of mechanics and aesthetics, you can easily forgive any shortcomings for that attractive price tag.

A rider side note—as testament to the riding enjoyment available with the Boulevard C50T, I found myself following up the initial test with additional rides, taking the bike out on subsequent days of fun before I returned it to Suzuki.

Technical Specs

+ wonderful design cues, extremely easy-to-use
heel shifter, surprisingly maneuverable

– the twist-fastener leather bags don’t lock, only one front brake disc

Distributor: Suzuki Cycles
MSRP: $10,359
Engine: 45˚ V-twin, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, SOHC Displacement: 805cc
Power: 53.6-hp
Transmission: 5-speed, manual, shaft final drive, wet multi-plate clutch
Rake/Trail: 33˚/5.43in
Weight: 644lbs (wet)
Seat Height: 27.6in
Fuel Capacity: 4.1gal
Fuel Consumption: 46.8mpg (claimed)
Fuel grade: Premium
Colors: Pearl Brilliant White