Japan’s Big Four have been fierce competitors for decades, and they’ve all been making cruisers geared toward the American market since the Reagan era. Suzuki gave its cruisers menacing names like Intruder, Marauder and Savage, as well as Volusia—named for the Florida county that encompasses Daytona Beach (the first Volusia was unveiled at Bike Week in 2001). For 2005, Suzuki wiped the slate clean, putting all of its cruisers under the Boulevard banner and renaming them with letters—C for Custom, M for Muscle—and numbers corresponding to cubic inches of displacement.
The middleweight Boulevard C50 is powered by a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 803cc 45-degree V-twin with an offset dual-pin crankshaft and shaft drive. It is offered as a black-only base model ($8,399), as the special edition tested here ($8,799), which adds two-tone paint and cast instead of wire-spoke wheels, and as a touring model ($9,599), with a windshield, saddlebags, passenger backrest and two-tone paint.
Whereas the Kawasaki Vulcan and Star V Star are dressed in black, the Honda Shadow is the Suzuki’s stylistic cousin, sharing its affinity for full fenders, chrome and white/silver livery. The Honda and Suzuki are also the only bikes here with rear drum brakes—a cost concession that’s a real blast from the past!
The Suzuki’s V-twin is slightly larger than the Honda’s—803cc vs. 745cc—which helps it put more power to the ground. Jett Tuning’s dyno recorded 45.4 lb-ft of peak torque, with more than 40 lb-ft available between 2,600 and 6,000 rpm. The Boulevard C50 is the only bike here that makes more horsepower than torque—46.4 at 6,000 rpm.
In terms of fuel economy, the Suzuki is at the bottom of the heap—an average of 41.4 mpg compared to 44.5-51.5 mpg on the others. With 4.1 gallons of fuel capacity, range is just 170 miles.