Each type of motorcycle seems to reflect a specific style of riding. Sportbikes are often found in the twists of a mountain, screaming by with the rider leaned over towards the pavement. Touring bikes are drawn to the open road with no sign of stopping. Dirt bikes, well, they’re pretty self-explanatory. And cruisers are great for bopping out in the suburbs or down a long country road. Suzuki’s 2015 Boulevard M50 introduces a new level of versatility to the world of cruisers though. Various features of this bike contribute to a surprisingly nimble and manoeuvrable machine.
She’s a classy thing. The M50 features the Suzuki M line-up’s classic angular headlight. I’d describe the overall shape to be sort of windswept: curvy and sleek. Chrome inserts and casings add an unmistakably cruiser-like sheen to it. Everything on the bike looks very polished, clean, and stylish. The analog speedometer, which is often located on the tank for cruisers, is nestled behind the handlebars. It is supplemented by a small rectangular display, featuring a fuel gauge, the time, and an odometer. At night, an orange glow reminiscent of that in BMW’s car and motorcycle lineup lights up the dash.
The controls on the handlebars, such as the kill-switch and headlights, are all of a matte finish. The handlebars are swept towards the tank and have a good amount of girth to them; they feel powerful to hold. That being said, the M50 is covered by hard plastic, instead of the steel fenders offered by some of its competitors, such as the Harley Sportster. The use of plastic on this $8999 bike is intended to cut costs, but it does take away from the overall finish and styling usually boasted by its class.
On some cruisers, I find myself reaching forward and stretching a perilous amount to grab onto the throttle. Consequently, with the lack of a windshield, I hang on tight for fear of flying off at highway speeds. This is not a problem on the M50 – its riding position is extremely comfortable. The handlebars are well-positioned to maintain a bent arm and relaxed upper body, and the pegs, which are located near the front of the bike like most cruisers, are a comfortable stretch away. A thick coating of rubber covers the pegs and shifter for extra comfort, while the rear brake is a shiny metal. One of the great things about the M50 is its incredibly low seat of only 27.6 inches. This allows riders of almost any height to plant two feet firmly on the ground while in the saddle. As an entry-level cruiser, this is perfect; it allows the rider to get experienced with the weight of a cruiser while lowering the centre of gravity for ease of manoeuvrability.
Such is the unique benefit of the M50 as a cruiser; it is quite nimble compared to many others in its class. The modest rake, inverted forks, and low seat height come together exceptionally well to make a cruiser that is just as happy to lean as it is to chug along upright. Low speed handling is not challenging at all, and this bike can quite easily swing a u-turn in an empty driveway. The M50 is truly one of the first cruisers I’ve ridden that I would enjoy taking to a curvy road. In spite of this, one must remember that the M50 was not specifically designed to be leaned far, and thus pegs will be scraping after a decent amount of lean.
The throttle has more than enough bite at the lower RPM range to pull out of corners well. Riding at highway speeds though, the M50 simply does not have enough power to overtake in a safe amount of time. Vibrations at that speed are also quite excessive, though the 805cc V-Twin is affixed with a counterbalancer. In fact, vibrations are present at almost every RPM, and they can be noted travelling from the handlebars, to the pegs, to the cheeks of your butt as you rise through the rev-range. Still, shifting through the 5-speed constant mesh gearbox was a breeze. The clutch lever is light and has great feel.
Braking power is adequate for general cruising, but considering its nimbleness and pseudo-sporty handling, a little more bite would not be a setback. A small touch of the rear brake lights up the bright and noticeable LEDs in the back, offering high levels of visibility. Inverted forks at the front offer a stiffer but comfortable ride, and the rear-preload was perfect for my 160 pound body. Many of the features of Suzuki’s baby M-series point to an incredible ride for any new entrant to the cruiser category. Tested in white, the M50 is also available in jet black.