Suzuki Boulevard C109R

When Size Matters

By Ari Henning, Photography by Brian J. Nelson

Welcome aboard the flagship of Suzuki's Boulevard fleet, the C109R. It's Suzuki's largest cruiser, both in displacement and physical size. The 1783cc-a.k.a. 108.8 cubic inches, hence the cryptic designation-54-degree DOHC V-twin pushes a package that weighs in at more than 800 pounds complete with all necessary fluids. And at nearly 8.5 feet long, it's a real supertanker, capable of swamping smaller vehicles wandering into its wake.

Intended to give a timeless, classic appearance, the "King of Classic" C109R does its best to stand out from the crowd of American-styled look-alikes. The massive 240mm rear tire and wide muscular tank save it from blending in entirely. Both are carried over from the sportier M109R. The relatively tasteful use of chrome; mildly slash-cut headlight and mufflers; 10-spoke cast wheels; and straight, clean lines of the fenders create an agreeable, if somewhat derivative, silhouette.

You can't push a coal barge with an outboard motor, so the biggest Boulevard's engine is suitably huge. Each 112mm forged aluminum piston travels through a 90.5mm, SCEM-plated stroke. Internal combustion architecture borrows a few pages from the fire-breathing GSX-R1000's playbook, starting with a pair of 52mm dual-butterfly throttle bodies aimed at racy downdraft intake ports. Fuel injection delivers smooth throttle response, and modified cams and crank design boost low and midrange power. The combined package results in an engine with an astounding ability to get up and go, albeit in a straight line only. With a claimed 114 bhp on tap and 116 lb.-ft. of mass-moving torque in effect at 3200 rpm, the C109R has diesel-like grunt and pulls genuinely hard from the bottom of the rev range.

The usual big-inch cruiser's control arrangement-swept-back handlebars, generously cushioned seat and full-length floorboards-provides a satisfying, comfortable platform to watch the world go by. Handling is perfectly acceptable for relaxed back-road cruising, although the front end felt harsh on rough pavement, telegraphing road imperfections directly to the rider's palms. The linked brake system uses a pair of three-piston calipers up front and works well to slow the beast, but cuing the rear via that brake pedal above the floorboard requires a tricky effort from your right leg. With such a smooth engine, it's easy to punch an expensive hole in any posted speed limit, especially since the instrument cluster is mounted atop the tank, just below your field of vision. Dedicated cruising aficionados are accustomed to such things, but anyone stepping off a sportbike or even a tourer won't be.

Beyond that, the Boulevard turns out to be quite a practical piece. Wearing an '08 MSRP of $13,799, it's not what you'd call cheap, but if you're shopping for a big-inch metric twin that's pretty much par for the course. Blessed with a 5-gallon fuel tank, shaft drive and humane ergonomics, devouring hundreds of miles at a time is a piece of cake. And with more muscle under the hood than most of the phat-tired retro classics rumbling around out there on any given Saturday night, this one might even be more fun to ride than it is to look at.

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