Sunday, May 26, 2024

MOTORCYCLE & LIFESTYLE ONLINE MAGAZINE

HomeZA BikersBike ReviewsThe Muscular Suzuki Boulevard M109R Cruiser

The Muscular Suzuki Boulevard M109R Cruiser

Photo credit: Wes Reyneke

Within ten minutes of riding the Suzuki Boulevard M109R, I have it all figured out. At least I think I do. Another ten minutes in, and I’m scratching my head, furiously drawing up a mental pros and cons list without the vaguest idea of where it’s going to land.

It must be a Boulevard thing. At least, that’s what I suspect lifelong fans of Suzuki’s monster cruiser will probably tell me; you either get it, or you don’t.

Photo credit: Wes Reyneke

Because when you think about it, the Boulevard really is to cruisers what the Hayabusa is to sportbikes. You either had a poster of it on your wall as a kid, or you think it’s butt-ugly and goofy. There’s a rare middle ground where maybe you don’t quite get it, but you get why some people love it so much.

Spend enough time with the Boulevard and its cult status, as niche as it is, starts to make sense.

Photo credit: Wes Reyneke

For starters, it looks like nothing else out there. The closest thing to it is probably the now-defunct Harley V-Rod—but visually, the Boulevard stands apart. It’s a little classic, a little futuristic, very fluid, and unapologetically muscular.

No doubt, the Boulevard’s design is polarising. But, for better or worse, it’s also undeniably cohesive. From the distinctive headlight cowl to the swooping tank and tapered tail section, everything feels like it belongs.

Photo credit: Wes Reyneke

The 18” wheels and upside-down forks add a hint of sportbike style, while the chunky swept-back risers and thick drag bars scream performance cruiser. A rear cowl keeps things streamlined, though it can be swapped for a passenger seat (which comes with the bike). And even the multitude of chromed surfaces complements each other perfectly; although there is a blacked-out option too if chrome ain’t your thing.

If nothing else, it has a presence—which is unsurprising, given its 347-kilo curb weight and 1,710 mm wheelbase. For reference, that’s almost as long as a BMW R18, but almost 20 kilos lighter.

Photo credit: Wes Reyneke

From the cockpit, the 19.5 l fuel tank splays your legs apart, as your feet reach for the forward pegs, and your arms stretch out to find those drag bars. The seat itself is super comfy; the rider triangle, not so much. Strong shoulder and inner thigh muscles are a must if you plan to ride the Boulevard over distance, at speed.

But while Suzuki’s flagship cruiser is best known for its looks, its biggest asset is actually its 1,783 cc V-twin motor. Suzuki doesn’t list its output—which is bizarre, because it makes good numbers. A quick jaunt around the internet’s myriad motorcycle spec websites reveals around 123 hp and 160 Nm, which, again, puts it a hair ahead of the R18, and Harley-Davidson’s Fat Bob 114.

Photo credit: Wes Reyneke

It’s not just good on paper though. In the real world, that motor is an absolute peach. Thanks to a smooth throttle response, and snappy power delivery from the Boulevard’s shaft drive, it pulls like a freight train.

I’m not sure if it’s baked into the motor’s architecture (it has forged aluminium pistons, liquid cooling, twin air intakes, a two-stage cam and up-to-date fuel injection), but the Boulevard somehow manages to be vibey and smooth at the same time. There’s enough vibration there to add character, but not so much that you feel it through the grips or pegs. And even at highway speeds, the picture in the rearview mirrors is still crystal clear.

Photo credit: Wes Reyneke

The cable-actuated clutch is lighter than it has any business being. Shifting through the Boulevard’s gearbox is easy enough, and although it only has five gears, their ratios are spot on. The engine’s happiest at around 3,000 rpm—that’s where it makes most of its torque, and that’s where it’ll sit at highway speeds in fifth, hardly breaking a sweat.

As for corners… you do the math. Given its heft, wheelbase, whopping 240-wide rear tyre and goofy riding position, the Boulevard is no GSX-R. But if you lean into the bars with boxy elbows and muscle it into turns, it’ll stick, and it’ll even surprise you with its lean angles. Plan your approach speed and angle of attack just right, and it might even be fun to corner with—albeit exhausting.

Photo credit: Wes Reyneke

Given how contemporary the engine feels, the rest of the Boulevard’s accoutrements (or lack of) feels almost agricultural. The brakes and suspension are mostly up to the task—but it lacks switchable rider modes or cruise control.

The dashboard is a highlight; a rev counter, gear position indicator and warning lights sit behind the headlight’s shroud, with a speedo that looks like it was lifted from a muscle car mounted atop the tank. But while you get an odo, trip meter, fuel gauge and clock, bonus features like your projected fuel range are omitted.

Photo credit: Wes Reyneke

Granted, most Boulevard customers are likely to dismiss these details as froufrou. But a part of me wonders if adding them, along with a set of cases and a fairing, wouldn’t turn this muscle cruiser into a capable and comfortable long-distance bagger.

But that’s just me, and my opinion is largely irrelevant. Ultimately the Boulevard is what it is: an unapologetic cruiser with love-or-hate looks, that does exactly what it says on the tin. There might be a ton of chrome, but there’s no pretence—and I can respect that.

Photo credit: Wes Reyneke

Suzuki Boulevard M109R

For more information on the bike featured in this article, click on the links below…

2021

Suzuki BOULEVARD M109R

Pricing From R229,950 (RRP)


Brand: Suzuki
Wes Reyneke
Wes Reyneke
Wes Reyneke is a writer, photographer and all-round motothusiast based in Cape Town. When he's not on two wheels or scrolling through Instagram, he spends his time driving his own personal tribe of children around in his dad-wagon. He also has a well-curated mustache, wears skinny jeans and enjoys fine bourbon—just don't call him a hipster.
RELATED ARTICLES

STAY CONNECTED

74,000FansLike
10,500FollowersFollow