By Bryan Harley

One comfortable, easygoing, stylish ride

For Suzuki, “M” stands for “Muscle.” In this case, we’re talking about the 2013 Suzuki Boulevard M50, Suzuki’s mid-sized cruiser with the muscle bike styling of the company’s apex “M” class member, the M109R. The 50 part of the M50 equation comes from the displacement of the motorcycle’s V-Twin engine, 50 cubic inches. Adding to its brawny disposition is a Softail-style frame with its single shock tucked neatly out of sight.

The M50 certainly looks the part of a muscle bike. The tires mounted on its cast aluminum wheels are thick and beefy. It sports Suzuki’s signature headlight cowling, leading to low-rise handlebars on chrome pull-back risers set within easy reach for riders. Meaty slash-cut pipes streak down the right side and end at about the same point as the bob-tail rear fender. You can take off the removable pillion pad for an even more aggressive look or leave it on and invite your favorite partner along for the ride because its 805cc powerplant has enough pull to competently do double duty.

Throttle up the 45-degree V-Twin of the 2013 M50, dump the clutch and it hooks up pleasingly out of the blocks with a gratifying surge of low rev torque. A peek at the numbers on our dyno chart reveals the 2013 M50 reaches peak torque output of 43.78 lb-ft at 3,300 rpm and is already in the 42 lb-ft range as early as 2,700 rpm. Wind out first gear and it gives until hitting redline just short of 40 mph. The spread of power isn’t overly broad, with top horsepower (42 hp) coming on at 5,900 rpm. Overall, power is decent without being overwhelming, making it an attractive option for riders still getting introduced to the world of motorcycling. Suzuki has offset the engine’s crank pins to cut down vibrations without the use of a counterbalancer, so the bike doesn’t rattle your teeth at idle. As a package, the engine operates efficiently, averaging 43.27 mpg under conditions that varied from highway commuter miles to stoplight-to-stoplight city use.

The motorcycle’s rider-friendliness is one of its strong suits. The M50’s rider’s triangle is nice and compact, its footpegs at a comfortable stretch and 27.6-inch seat height allowing for sure footing at a stop. The combination of a double-cradle frame, truss-style swingarm and an inverted fork set at a modest rake angle equate to an easy-handling motorcycle. The M50 carries much of its weight low between its 65.2-inch wheelbase, so the bike transitions side-to-side fluidly and has decent clearance banked over. Add in bars that provide solid leveraging, and the M50’s manageability, whether leaning in at speed or putting around a parking lot, is high on the list of the bike’s best attributes. At speed it can be ridden into turns aggressively thanks to a wide contact patch that maintains stability in corners.

Upon initial inspection, we were a little suspect of what looked like a relatively small disc on the front, questioning whether it was up to the task of hauling in the momentum of an almost 600-pound motorcycle. Turns out, it’s a 300mm rotor and the twin-pot Tokico calipers have a solid bite. Used in conjunction with the drum rear, the M50’s brakes had no problems bringing the bike to a stop. Get on the rear hard, though, and it will lock up the back drum.

Ride quality overall is comfortable thanks to a well-padded seat, an inverted 41mm fork and a single hidden shock absorber on the back with seven-way spring preload adjustment. While the front and its 16-inch wheel felt consistently planted, the rear suspension had limited travel and occasionally was taxed to the limits of its compression with a 220-pound rider onboard.

Hitting the highway and banging through gears, the M50’s five-speed transmission is well-sorted and transitions between gears crisply and cleanly. Fifth gear is diverse enough to provide roll-on passing speed at 65 mph, yet it can settle into a steady cadence at 70 mph without climbing high in the rev range. While we had no issues with the clutch, we did catch our toe under the stock shift lever at times as the gap between the footpeg and lever is tight. The same concern was expressed even by a petite rider with smaller feet. A shaft final drive spins the back wheel with power consistently distributed throughout the rev range.

Instrumentation is fairly Spartan, the solo gauge integrated cleanly into the cowling and above the risers. The analog speedo has a big face and is highly visible. The top gauge also includes a small digital fuel gauge while a neutral indicator, turn signals, and high beam indicator reside in a console on the tank a bit below the line of sight. Lighting consists of bullet-style turn signals front and back, while we noticed the red triangular LED taillight is highly visible when trailing the bike. While its headlight turns on automatically after the bike is started, it switches off when you fire up the bike to reduce the load on the battery, a nifty feature.

If the M50’s got one fault, it’s the cost-saving measures used in its fit and finish. Hard plastic serves for covers, fenders and cowling, and its cylinder fins lack the machining and styling of American V-Twins. The two plastic shields filling the gap between the fork and tank are flimsy and cheap. A Harley Sportster comes standard with steel fenders from the factory to go along with striking paint and lists for less than the $8,799 sticker price of the 2013 M50, which just doesn’t match the quality of its competitor’s finish.

That’s not to say the 2013 Suzuki Boulevard M50 doesn’t have its own admirable qualities. It is a comfortable bike that’s easy to ride and handle. The M50 has enough power to dodge through traffic without overwhelming less-skilled riders and has an aggressive stance that gives it universal appeal, regardless of skill level. Its brakes are strong, tranny smooth, and its suspension provides a solid buffer against most of what the road throws at you. It is up to the task of bombing around town or making the daily commute and does so with Suzuki efficiency and a flash of muscle bike style.