Industry watchers already know there's been plenty of upheaval at the Suzuki camp the last few years
an announced "sharing of resources" with Kawasaki (whiched ended in 2005), a slew of new models and, most significantly, an overdue relaunch of its cruiser line. We recently got some seat time on one of those "new" bikes; you may remember it as the Suzuki Intruder 1500 LC, but Suzuki now calls it the Boulevard C90. Suzuki has also addes a version with a windshield, leather saddlebags and a passenger backrest, the C90T, which I rode for this report.
There are few differences between 2004 Intruder 1500 and the Boulevard C90. While the C90T retains the same 45-degree, SOHC, 1462cc mill of its 1500 LC predecessor, it's now fuel-injected with multi-hole injectors and a 32-bit ECU derived from Suzuki's wicked GSX-R racebikes. On the other hand, the redesigned, wider fuel tank actually has a diminished capacity of 3.7 gallons. Finally, the C90 and C90T are no longer the biggest battleships in Hamamatsu's cruiser flotilla. That distinction goes to the newer, sportier 1600 Marauder (actually built by Kawasaki), which will soon be overshadowed by Suzuki's own Boulevard 1783cc M109R.
The C90's seat has also been redesigned, with a leaner, more sculpted passenger section. On the T version, it is studded and it also includes a backrest with a pivoting backrest pad. The front brakes now sport dual discs (though to be fair, Suzuki made this upgrade when the bike was still the 1500 LC). The handlebar is a bit wider, and there's a new multireflector headlight for better illumination. From that point on, however, the rest of the changes are pretty much cosmetic: Boulevard rebadging, restyled instrument faces, a new color (black only for 2005), a more aerodynamic windshield, and slash-cut exhausts (the wide, ultra-low seat may have been slightly tweaked, but it still hides a fuel tank beneath it). Of course, the T version gets those studded leather saddlebags too, and its tires are whitewalls.
When we squired the C90T on a jaunt across rural back-roads, things turned out better than expected. The motor still pulls nicely, with good throttle response and smooth delivery to the shaft drive, and the previously temperamental clutch proved less grabby than we remembered. Even though the frame and chassis remain virtually unchanged, the C90T seemed to heel over into turns with less effort than its 1500 LC ancestor, perhaps because of the extra handlebar leverage. The white-faced instrument panel and electronic speedometer are definitely an improvement over the last incarnations, and the dual discs up front are a welcome additionif still not always up to the task, when you have a passenger and luggage on board.
Comfort, one of the Intruder 1500's strongest points, is improved by the windshield on the highway, and passengers always appreciate the security of a backrest. The seat is still comfy for all sizes of riders, and tall riders often prefer the the roominess of this bike to others in the 1400 to 1600cc displacement class. With such accommodations, the limited range of the 1500 shortchanges the bike somewhat, and the additions of the saddlebags and windshield have reduced fuel milegae slightly. Don't plan on much more than 120 miles between gas stations. Of course, the saddlebags add the convenience of ready storage, though they can't be locked.
Overall, there's no doubt Suzuki made some effort to clean up its heavyweight, shaping and chiseling a few body parts for a cleaner, decidedly less rotund appearance. Overall, we'd say the whole effort's an improvement, and we we await what's to come for the Boulevard line, too.
2005 Suzuki Boulevard C90T Suggested base price: $11,299 ($11,499 for 2006)
Standard color: Black
Engine type: Air/oil-cooled 45-degree V-twin
Valve arrangement: SOHC; 2 intake, 1 exhaust valves per cylinder
Displacement, bore x stroke: 1462cc, 96 x 101mm
Compression ratio: 8.5:1
Transmission: 5 speeds
Final drive: Shaft
Seat height: 27.6 in.
Claimed dry weight: 695 lb.
Fuel capacity: 3.7 gal.
Wheelbase: 66.9 in.
Overall length: 99.4 in.
Front tire: 150/80-16
Rear tire: 180/70-15
Front brake: Dual discs
Rear brake: Single disc