It’s time for another retro test. This is a throwback from 2012. We test the confidence inspiring Suzuki Boulevard C50T Classic, which remains an optimal choice for both new and experienced riders in 2021. —Ed.What’s in a name? A mental image, an expectation, a first impression. When appropriately dubbed, it captures the experience and locks itself into memory, not to be forgotten. The 2012 Suzuki Boulevard C50T Classic combines authentic cruiser styling with beautiful paint and chrome accents, beckoning you to cruise down the boulevard collecting style points. Well-named, indeed.The 805cc liquid-cooled short-stroke V-twin is an inviting ride. Confidence starts with a relatively low 27.6-inch seat height that allows a flat-footed stance to a wide swath of rider inseams. Once settled into the wide comfortable seat—boots on the floorboard, knees laying naturally against the tank (instead of bumping against an ill-placed airbox), and gloved hands grasping perfectly pulled-back handlebars—the ergonomics take over, and an easygoing, laidback feeling permeates.
I also like its look. The Boulevard is one of those good-looking bikes that I enjoy walking across the parking lot toward; my eyes drawn to the lines and shapes, from bulbous headlamp to flip-ended fenders, they linger on the chrome airbox and clutch cover, then run along the slash-cut parallel stacked pipes. The understated Candy Sonoma Red/Glass Sparkle Black tank encourages a stroke across its smooth shape, and the billet-studded seat is waiting to be filled.New for 2012, the C50T Classic is the C50T touring sans the windshield, saddlebags, and backrest. It’s a good reminder that the bike is designed for long runs—comfort is not overlooked. With the abbreviated Boulevard offerings these days—there’s nothing between the C50s and the brutish 109Rs—Suzuki has had to make the most of the smaller bike.The Boulevard’s engine has a pleasing rumble, and doles out power willingly and predictably. Tipping the scales at 611 pounds (claimed curb), the C50T Classic carries its weight gracefully. With plenty of torque on the bottom, low-cg, and handlebars that clear the tank at full lock, the Boulevard is adept in parking lots and slow-speed situations. The Dual Throttle Valve EFI makes the C50T Classic especially smooth when crawling along.Around town, the Boulevard is an uncomplicated pleasure. Its five-speed gearbox is precise, and the heel/toe shifter is spot on. The bike moves easily and predictably over a variety of urban and suburban road conditions. Yes, you will feel bumps, as there are only four inches of travel hidden by the faux hardtail rear frame, but the seams and divots rarely perturb the C50T.I was late to work every day that I had custody of the C50T Classic. I take full responsibility. Certainly, the Boulevard is slender enough to skirt between lanes of freeway traffic, and its grunting torque is easily managed and powerful enough to dust the cars when an opportunity arises. Yes, I could hurry to work on this bike, but why? And, of course, I knew I was running behind thanks to the nicely legible clock on the tank-mounted speedometer (no tach present or missed).Instead, I enjoyed an uncharacteristically unhurried pace on the bike. The naked profile was welcome on the freeway, and the wind pressure across my helmet seemed right—elemental. The wide, large-diameter bars and long grips provide firm leverage for the Boulevard, and the 65-inch wheelbase and relaxed rake ensure a stable ride across freeway expansion joints.The five-speed C50T has the pull to accelerate in top gear, but it gathers momentum like a bull rather than a thoroughbred. Although only an 805cc motor, it performs much larger. There’s enough torque from the fuel-injected powerplant to make for a spirited ride. One-up riders, particularly those without experience on larger bikes, will be more than satisfied with this 45-degree mill’s performance.At high speed, I found my right foot sliding rearward on the floorboard from the windblast. It is a bit unsettling, as there is nothing to keep it from slipping off the back. That’s not a problem on the left foot, as the heel shifter provides a natural backstop.Take the Boulevard into the hills, and you’ll find it has the muscle and athleticism to move quickly and nimbly when asked. Twist the throttle through wide sweeping mountain roads or carve through some not-too-tightly-wound canyons, and the C50T impresses.There is enough cornering clearance to lean into turns without touching down, though energetic riding will scrape the ’boards, reminding you to smell the roses. The IRC Grand High Speed tires are an unusual, though stylish, choice, and they work fine. The high-profile whitewalls grip to the limit and never unsettle the Classic.The single front disk is well up to the task of slowing the Boulevard down quickly, and the rear drum is quite credible and useful at slower speeds. Some people may disapprove of the shaft drive, due to its appearance. The practical among us will appreciate its reliability and transparency in operation—I didn’t miss a belt drive for a moment.An unhurried good time feel radiates from the 2012 Suzuki Boulevard C50T Classic’s appearance and ergonomics, yet its handling and motor deliver more performance than promised. Pickings are slim in the Boulevard range right now, but that doesn’t stop the C50T Classic from being an outstanding smaller displacement cruiser.Photography by Don WilliamsRIDING STYLE
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.