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Suzuki Boulevard M90: Classically Styled Cruiser

By Arv Voss, August 31st, 2013

Suzuki blended a combination of not-so-traditional cruiser styling and race-proven technology of a championship sport bike into one motorcycle. The result was the M109R, which is now the flagship of the Boulevard lineup. "M" for Muscle and the "R" for Race. Today, the new Boulevard M90 is a smaller derivative of the M109R.

The M90 displays a similar styling to the M109R, but in a slightly smaller bike, with a smaller displacement engine -- 89.2 cubic-inch, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, OHC 54-degree, fuel injected V-twin. Power is delivered to the rear wheel through a five-speed constant mesh manual gearbox with a wet multi-plate type clutch. A drive shaft completes the final drive system.

strong>The M90 rolls on smaller tires: Bridgestone Exedra 120/70 ZR18 M/C 59W (front); and 200/50 ZR17 M/C 75W (rear). The wheelbase is 1-inch shorter with the overall length reduced by 2.8 inches.

The beauty of the M90 is indeed in the eyes of the beholder -- sportbike enthusiasts are likely to view it as a sportbike with cruiser styling elements and influence, while cruiser advocates are more likely to think of it as a cruiser with the attributes and handling capabilities of a sportbike. Both points of view would be correct.

The lines of the M90 are long, low and sleek, with a wide, stretched 4.8-gallon fuel tank and distinctive composite fenders. The bike leads off with a unique streamlined headlamp cover in the form of a mini-flyscreen that houses a trapezoidal-shaped multi-reflector H4 halogen headlight.

My test Suzuki Boulevard M90 was finished in Glass Starfire metallic, with lots of chrome trim. The base price was set at $12,999. The Boulevard M90's motor serves up plenty of torque across a very broad range and it is quite easy to maneuver through tight turns at either low or high speeds, despite the oversize rear tire.

The M90 is exceptionally well balanced and quick to respond to a quick twist of the throttle. There is however, a "jacking" sensation with the shaft drive, due to the highly sensitive throttle, particularly during deceleration. This may be mostly overcome through clutch modulation.

The M109R is the most powerful of Suzuki's Boulevard cruisers, but the M90 is no slouch. It is virtually vibration-free, thanks to the rubber motor mounts. The voice of the exhaust that exits from the two-into-one-into-two, right-side, staggered reverse slash cut pipes is a pleasant, throaty rumble -- not raucous -- but authoritative to be sure.

The riding position of the M90 is upright and comfortable, with the drag-style pull-back type handlebars both comfortable and easy to maneuver and relatively low seat height. Handling characteristics are more sport-like than cruiser-like, offering nimble and athletic responses to rider input, aided by the 32-degree rake (caster) and 5.08 inches of trail.

It is a pleasure to ride for enthusiasts from either the sportbike or cruiser camp. Both however, will have to make modest adjustments to their traditional riding styles. As a cruiser fan, I would prefer floorboards to the M90's foot pegs for long range riding comfort. Other nice touches would be the addition of self-canceling turn signals and a gear indicator.

The Suzuki Boulevard M90 comes set up as a two-up cruiser, with an optional removable rear cowl for a solo look. It may be replaced with a passenger pillion. Instrumentation includes a distinctive instrument cluster integrated into the headlight cowl under a chrome cover and features a stepping-motor-driven analog speedometer as well as a bar-section digital readout. There's a constant fuel gauge display with warning lights for oil pressure and coolant temperature.

If you're looking for a classically styled cruiser with sport bike tendencies, you'll want to check out the Boulevard M90.

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