Cruisin on the Suzuki Boulevard


Words: Séan Hendley and Garth Taylor

Pics: Deon van der Linde, Séan Hendley and Garth Taylor

Yes, we have reviewed Suzuki’s 1800cc Boulevard before, and no there are no significant changes that we are aware of and not on this particular model specifically. 

This is a 2015 or so pre-owned unit we borrowed from Suzuki East/Bikeshop Boksburg, not only to remind ourselves what this big Bruiser Cruiser is all about, but also as a yard stick by which to measure another big muscle bike we were reviewing.

There are rumours that Japan intends to halt production on this machine – so the next shipment to our shores might just be the last we will see. 

It Might be a good idea to get your name on a waiting list somewhere if you have ever had a hankering for a Boulevard…

1800cc's of Japanese Muscle.
Suzuki Boulevard
Beefy Brakes front and rear...

We roped in Laurel and Hardy and aimed them at the foothills of the Magaliesberg on the other side of Jo’Burg morning rush hour traffic with the promise of Pizza for lunch if they gave the bikes a proper and intelligible review. 

Garth Taylor is the more petite of the two at just 78kg’s and 181cm, and by far the prettiest and fittest of the duo. Séan is the big fella.

The Analogue Display is on the fuel tank.
Suzuki Boulevard
Chrome for miles on the aftermarket pipes.

This is what they came back with:

 Garth says:

This is my second time riding the Boulevard and I must say it was just as much fun as the first time round. From the second you start this bike you just know that everyone is going to notice you. It’s wide, it’s butch, it’s loud, it’s super strong and makes a statement for sure. 

I’m not surprised it’s been around for so many years. I’m not sure if the extremely wide tank is for the thirsty engine or just ‘cos it looks so cool but it really is another feeling looking down at the sheer size of this bike. 

It kinda reminds me of one of those draft horses, the ones they use for farming. 

 This bike is rock and roll. The dash is pretty retro and simple and what I would expect from a steed like this with everything working as it should, but one thing that stood out for me was the speedometer on the tank and the rev counter on the dash. Cruising at no faster than 120km/per hour “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” I didn’t feel too safe looking down at the tank to check my speed … ok maybe it was a bit faster… ok, ok, ok… maybe a lot faster

But in my defence the speedo is not in plain view

120KPH is just too slow on this thing...

I found the bike to be very well balanced and sturdy. Leaning into fast corners scraping the pegs or even going around traffic circles, Ok, the pegs scrape quite a lot which has nothing to do with my flawless riding ability.

I once saw a guy wheelie one of these and I have no clue how, because I found that no matter what I did, the rubber was firmly planted on the road. 

The motor is very, very strong and once I got over 60, I didn’t feel like downshifting cos I really didn’t need to.

I don’t think I could do a really long ride on the Suzuki Boulevard and here’s why.

The footpads are soooooo far away in front and it made me feel unsafe at higher speeds because I was fighting to keep my boots planted. 

Admittedly I am not a tall person.

The pipes on this one were just too loud. Annoyingly so after an hour or two.

That’s the only complaints.

The direct drive is … well direct, and it’s actually amazing to feel the difference between chain, belt and direct, (shaft) drives. The drive system on the Boulevard lets you know when you are in the next gear and with all the torque from the engine, I felt confident to open up… and I did!

The character of this bike has classic road trip written all over it all day. All I was missing was my leather jacket, open face helmet and tassels on the handlebars to compliment the chrome riddled black beauty. 

There’s not much more to say except that if you haven’t ridden the Boulevard, you are missing out I reckon. 

There’s something in this bike that you need to experience. I felt like I was in a roadhouse movie!

Séan says:

Unlike my companion for the day, I appreciated the loud pipes fitted to this Boulevard. 

I am a knuckle dragging, gas belching Neolithic, partially evolved, loud mouthed Caveman after all, so, loud, flashy, big and obnoxious motorcycles are right up my alley, and this Boulie is pretty much my dream bike.

 And, I am going to kick off saying this, it is the only bike I have ever felt confident enough to reach out and try touch the road when tilting into a corner at speed (Don’t try it at home!)

She is just so stable, so predictable, so confidence inspiring and all that sans any form of ABS, traction control, lean angle sensors and the rest of all that stuff. 

Make no mistake, I can and do appreciate all of that on other motorcycles – because they need it. 

The Boulevard doesn’t. 

“Oh! So, it must be underwhelming in the power department then?” I hear your chirp. Well, you can F.. F…f…. VOERTSEK! How many cruisers that have been on the market for almost 20 years with little to no changes do you know of that can run past 200kmh with ease? 

Well, this one can and at around 160nm it gets there pretty darn quickly.

 On this trip we had a much newer, much more expensive and higher specc’d machine when it came to all the modern conveniences – and as nice as that is, I couldn’t wait to get back onto the Boulevard. 

I think Suzuki had the bigger rider in mind when designing the ergonomics of the M109R, so it fits me.

The cockpit is spacious, with a very comfortable rider triangle and a nice relaxed and natural riding position – for me anyway. Yeah, the speedo down between your knees is interesting, but who looks at speedo’s anyway unless there is some thirsty, malnourished, anorexic poor soul sitting behind a radar gun up ahead.

Your immediate next thought is “Does this bike have a number plate on and should I make a run for it?”, the likelihood that said speed trap camera operator would be able to catch up with a Boulevard ridden enthusiastically is quite unlikely. Just saying.

Anyway, back to the task at hand, wiggling through traffic with the low Boulevard is fairly easy and the obnoxiously loud pipes shout at everybody to get out of the way! 

The big Suz bullets off the line when the lights go green and rips past most other vehicles on the road with ease. 

You can hang on the clamps really hard and bring it to quite an abrupt stop if some knucklehead does something stupid in front of you.

 Once we hit The Cradle the Boulie came into its own, long, fast, sweeping roads almost deserted in the middle of the working week is where this bike shines. It loves to go fast, tilting over to the side, the faster the better and she doesn’t get squirley when the road surface does. 

Somehow that suspension, chassis and geometry just works so well together making you want to push the limits even more.

Back off the gas, sit up, relax and take in the county air and you would be happy to stop only when you run out of road. This is not only a hooligan in the corners but it’s also quite the sophisticated and elegant cruiser… 

In 2016, Suzuki released the Boulevard M109.

At the time, it packed the largest pistons in  motorcycle industry.

It delivers massive performance and great torque right from the idle all the way to the redline. Inverted front suspension and a rigid chassis keeps things tidy.

The bike is wrapped around a high-tensile double cradle steel frame, which handles all the power and torque produced by the engine.

The blacked-out inverted front forks feature race-proven internals.

The cast aluminum swingarm houses the widest rear tyre ever used on a Suzuki motorcycle.

In the performance department, the Suzuki Boulevard  features forged aluminum pistons and the Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve (SDTV) fuel injection system. 

The massive 1,786cc four-stroke V-Twin liquid-cooled engine provides an output power of 123 hp with a peak at 6,200 rpm and 160 Nm (118 lb-ft) of maximum torque available at 3,200 rpm.

No gadgetry, no electronic nannies, no ABS, no traction control, no keyless ignition, nothing…

And we LOVE that, even the display is analogue.

You can feel what the bike is doing under you. None of it is disguised by electronic wizardry. 

But doesn’t that make it difficult, tricky or unsafe to ride? Aren’t all the nannies supposed to make up for your lack of talent and skill? 

The answer is this:

The Suzuki engineers got this one so right.

Maybe the long wheelbase and low ground clearance that keeps the centre of gravity very low.

Long, low and super sexy. Modern yet retro, with long, flowing lines, lots of shiny bits and a seriously big cycloptic headliner, kind of like the old Art Deco Streamliner trains from the 1920’s or 30’s, but still retaining that traditional cruiser look and comfort.

Suzuki Boulevard
The big Zuk holds its own quite comfortably alongside American Steel.

We truly cannot fault this bike. It really is timeless.

 Get down to your local Suzuki dealer and go ride one – properly – for yourself.

 Thank You to Jannie and the team at Suzuki East/Bikeshop Boksburg for the loan of this unit.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top