QUIKSPIN: Suzuki VL800 C50T Boulevard - Budget Cruising

01 February 2012

The Suzuki VL800 C50T Boulevard proves that a well built and stylish cruiser doesn’t have to cost the earth. With a $10,990 price tag, you could be forgiven for not expecting too much of this bike, but the Boulevard delivers plenty of quality for not too much money.

Although by cruiser standards the 805cc V-twin is a mid-size engine, the C50T Boulevard is definitely a full-size bike. It’s long, it’s low and it’s wide, and it’s as well suited to open-road touring as it is to cruising the local, well, boulevards. At 277kg it’s no lightweight, though it carries its weight well.

The Boulevard definitely fulfils its design brief – it’s a comfortable cruiser and it’s a very easy bike to ride with light controls and responsive steering. There’s only a short reach to the pulled-back handlebar and there’s plenty of space to move around on the wide seat and the big footboards. And if you like lots of shiny bits, the Boulevard has them in spades, from its big chrome headlight and pipes to its fat two-tone fuel tank. And the white-wall tyres look trick. There are even chrome studs on the seat, which you’ll either love or hate depending on your taste in motorcycle styling.

Ride and handling is good over a variety of surfaces and the non-adjustable suspension offers good compliance and control. The wide ’bar offers plenty of leverage, making it easy to tip the Boulevard into corners, but once leant over there’s not much clearance before the hero knobs under the footboards scrape the tarmac.

The 45° V-twin is a SOHC liquid-cooled engine with electronic fuel injection. The fuel injection isn’t perfect and the engine can stutter on upshifts when you’re giving it the berries, and the transition between on and off the throttle can sometimes result in a little snatchiness in stop-start traffic, but the V-twin sounds nice and meaty and, unlike some
other Japanese V-twin cruisers, it’s not so smooth that it lacks character.

If you’re used to riding big-capacity cruisers, this midsize V-twin might feel a little lacklustre by comparison, but the C50T offers reasonable bottom-end torque and enough midrange grunt and top-end power to get along at a decent clip.

The five-speed gearbox has well-spaced ratios and there’s a heel-shifter for upshifts, but the shift action is a little notchy and neutral can occasionally be recalcitrant. Final drive is via a shaft and there’s only minimal driveline lash when you’re transitioning between open and shut throttle, or working your way through the gears.

The Boulevard possesses plenty of practical features that enhance the ownership experience: its low seat makes it easy to manoeuvre; the turning circle is good for a cruiser; the mirrors are effective and don’t vibrate too much; there’s a small toolkit behind a lockable panel on the left side of the bike; the dash has a clear gear position indicator, a fuel gauge and a clock, all three of which are always visible; and there’s just the one keyhole for both the ignition and the steering lock – hooray.

On the downside, the back seat is small and your pillion will be perched up in the breeze; and
the wide tank means the wind forces your legs outwards at highway speeds, which can be a little tiring after long stints in the saddle.

Suzuki offers a few optional accessories that will improve the touring experience on the C50T, such as a screen, saddle bags and rear-seat backrest.

And if you don’t like the C50T’s studded seat, there’s always the less-glammed Boulevard C50.

Configuration V-twin
Cylinder head SOHC, four valves per cylinder
Capacity 805cc
Bore 83mm
Stroke 74.4mm
Compression ratio 9.4:1
Ignition Transistorised
Cooling Liquid
Oil capacity 3.7L
Type Five-speed
Primary drive Gear
Clutch Wet
Final drive Shaft
Frame material Tubular steel
Frame layout Cradle
Rake 38?
Trail 141mm
Wheelbase 1655mm
Front: 41mm, coil spring, 140mm travel
Rear: Coil spring, 105mm travel
Wheels Wire-spoke, steel
Front: 16 x 3.0 Rear: 15 x 4.0
Tyres IRC
Front: 130/90-16 (67H)
Rear: 170/80-15 (77H)
Front: 300mm disc, four-piston caliper
Rear: Drum
Weight 277kg (wet, claimed)
Seat height 700mm
Max width 955mm
Max height 1110mm
Fuel capacity 15.5L
Power Not given
Torque Not given
Fuel consumption 5.8L/100km
Top speed 150km/h (est)
Ride quality
Low and wide seat
Value for money
Ground clearance
Wide tank
Notchy shift action