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

Back, in Black

By Andrew Cherney, Photography by Brian J. Nelson

At the recent Suzuki dealer meeting in Las Vegas, the elephant in the room was a recently announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the firm's U.S. auto division. But company reps quickly assured us there was no reason for knotted shorts: The move will result in more resources for the bike side of the business, which boasts 47 models this year (up from 10 three years ago). And with 2013 also the 50th anniversary of the company's entry into the U.S. motorcycle market, it seemed like a no-brainer for Suzuki to make some big moves in the long-neglected cruiser arena.

To that point, the firm is reintroducing one of its more popular Boulevard models, the C90T. In a big way. Okay, so it's maybe a medium way. While it isn't a clean-sheet design, the new C90T is substantially changed for 2013.

Meant primarily to plug the gaping hole in the Boulevard line between 800cc and 1800cc, the updated C90T is also designed to fit the wide range of rider sizes in the segment. Excessive emissions from the previous air-cooled C90 mill contributed to its demise back in 2009. So, for 2013, the "new" C90T B.O.S.S. gets a powerplant based on the liquid-cooled M90's. It also shares the M90 frame, swingarm, and components like the intake, exhaust, and cooling system. Not familiar with the M90 engine? It's your basic water-cooled, 52-degree V-twin displacing 1462cc from a 96mm bore and a 101mm stroke. Four-valve cylinder heads with dual spark plugs work with a modest 9.5:1 compression ratio to produce a claimed 77.8 horsepower at 4800 rpm and an impressive 96.6 lb.-ft. of torque at just 2600 rpm. Suzuki says it's the most powerful engine in the class. A five-speed transmission, special low-effort "clutch assist" system, and shaft final drive complete the drivetrain. Less radical are the styling tweaks. The C90T keeps its classic-cruiser profile, which has been smoothed out and cleaned up-Suzuki calls it "refreshed"-though you'll still find a traditional steel-tube chassis supporting a 4.8-gallon tank, with Softail-style hidden rear suspension and dual mufflers below. New saddlebags make the C90T the first Boulevard with factory-designed, integrated hard cases. Leather-like material similar to the seat's covers ABS plastic pods that are lockable with the ignition key. Listed capacity is 26 liters for the right bag and 24.5 liters for the left; the leading edges are curved to improve passenger leg room.

If that's the C90T, what makes it B.O.S.S.? It stands for Blacked-Out-Special-Suzuki, which means the package receives the currently trendy black finish-including matte-finish exhaust-and hardware treatment. There's also a standard C90T version, which retains the same basics but adds more chrome and a smattering of color options.

Saddle up on the B.O.S.S.'s 28.3-inch seat (wider and flatter than the M90's) to find yourself in a comfortable touring-cruiser position. There's a wide pullback handlebar right at your fingers and an open floorboard layout with a heel-toe shifter giving you plenty of foot placement options. Stab the starter and the quiet is almost eerie. There's no uneven burble or glitchy fueling here, just a smooth idle and a meh exhaust note from the slash-cut duals.

Suzuki says the engine has been massaged for broader torque and a wider spread of power than on the M90 version, so throttle response is slightly more muted-plus it's a heavier machine than the M90. Fortunately, there's plenty of juice to keep you interested, especially down low. High-speed freeway runs require little prodding, though you might find yourself hunting for a sixth gear above 85 mph.

Heft the B.O.S.S. off the sidestand and the claimed curb weight of 800 pounds is totally believable. But handling is surprisingly lively once up to speed, with neutral steering and good stability in the corners. Some riders might be bummed that there's only one brake disc on each wheel, but the two-piston, sliding-pin caliper does an adequate job up front; the rear disc gets squeezed by a two-piston unit with similar results. (Sorry, no ABS option).

Cruisers sometimes sacrifice suspension travel for style, and that's the case with the nonadjustable rear shock. It's fine on smooth roads-well, what isn't?-but provides too little compliance over rippled surfaces. On the other hand, the beefy 45mm fork is more than up to the task of soaking up most road acne.

Suzuki says that the C90T's hard-mounted windshield was designed in-house with a mandate to minimize wind buffeting. Wind protection at freeway speeds is more than ample, though a detachable option might be more appealing. The tank-mounted multi- function instrument package is far more impressive, especially in this class; highlights include a large analog speedometer, gear-position indicator, clock, and a large, five-segment LCD fuel gauge.

The C90T isn't an entirely mind-blowing machine, but it's a solid, admirable effort from Suzuki, and a good reentry to the middleweight segment. Suzuki is eager to put the troubles of its auto division behind it and focus on new and innovative powersports products. The B.O.S.S. is a fine start.

Tech Spec

The newest C90T can be traced back to the air-cooled 1500 Intruder, which debuted in 1998. The Intruder morphed into the previous-gen C90T, which was discontinued in 2009.

Star V Star 1300 Tourer, Honda Interstate

Tech Spec
Engine Typel-c 54-deg. V-twin
Valve trainSOHC, 4v
Bore x stroke96.0 x 101.0mm
Fuel systemEFI
Clutchwet, multi-plate
Claimed horsepower77.8 bhp @ 4800rpm
Claimed torque96.6 lb.-ft. @ 2600 rpm
FrameTubular-steel double-cradle
Front suspensionKayaba 45mm inverted fork
Rear suspensionKayaba shock
Front brakeNissin two-piston caliper, 320mm disc
Rear brakeNissin two-piston caliper, 260mm disc
Front tire130/80R-17 Bridgestone BT-020
Rear tire200/60R-16 Bridgestone BT-020
Rake/trail31.1o/5.2 in.
Seat height28.3 in.
Wheelbase65.9 in.
Fuel capacity4.8 gal.
Claimed curb weight800 lbs.
ColorsGlass Sparkle Black
Warranty12 mos., unlimited mi.
ContactAmerican Suzuki LTD
P.O. Box 1100
Brea, CA 92822
3.5 out of 5 stars
An updated and fully adequate middleweight cruiser.

By Andrew Cherney
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