The C90T BOSS has flown under the radar since its introduction last fall, even though it is arguably one of Suzuki’s best cruisers in a long time.
C90T! Right you are, BOSS!
The Boulevard C90T BOSS arrived in Canada late last fall as a 2013 model. The tour cruiser has been somewhat under the radar ever since, and might even qualify as one of this summer’s hidden gems. Smoothly styled and highly functional, the C90T more than holds its own in a difficult category.
As the first in what will be a series of bikes specified as Blacked Out Special Suzuki (B.O.S.S.) cruisers, the C90T is glossy black from rim-to-rim, from kickstand to mirror stem, relieved in its mono livery only by chrome here and there. All-black’s been done of course, and done again, but this really works. The silky gloss paint choice lends a polished obsidian look that separates it from the ubiquitous matte black now seen on everything from garden tools to highway tractors. If the BOSS treatment doesn’t do it for you but the bike itself does, there’s a un-BOSS-ified red and black version available at the same price ($13,999 MSRP).
It’s easily argued that for finish, fit, and styling, this is one of the most polished cruisers yet to come from Suzuki. Individual components such as the 18-litre tank flow, rather than bulge, into a consistent form. Even the saddlebags conform to the fender lines for a look that’s pleasing to the eye, although their arched shape lessens the interior of the bags meaning they’re ideal for day-tripping and won’t cramp your passenger’s feet but there’s not enough freeboard to stow a full-face helmet. Capable of holding 4.5 kg (10 lbs.) each, these are the first hardshell bags ever offered on a Boulevard.
Shod with Bridgestones (130/80R17 front, 200/60R16 rear) the BOSS bike carries its curb weight 363 kg (800 lbs.) very well across a 1675mm (65.9-in.) wheelbase while the 200-section rear tire mounted on a seven-spoke cast aluminum wheel gives the back of the bike a substantial, though not stupidly fat, appearance.
The wide saddle, low seat height (700mm/27-in.), tank-mounted gauges, floorboards and tall windshield are classic cruiser elements that set the rider at ease behind beautifully configured, rubber-mount handlebars. The handlebar placement crooks the rider’s elbow into a 90-degree angle, extending his arms into a naturally straight position, which is an ideal posture, both for control and comfort. With his feet placed on the slightly up-sloping floorboards, the ergonomic relationship to the bars and saddle is agreeable for controlled motoring.
Every action taken on the C90T seems to be effortless. Even moving the bike around for photo sessions was hassle-free as it lifts off its kickstand with very little grunt required, and allows itself to be easily rolled forward, backward, and in quartering movements.
When the ignition is actually turned on and the bike put into gear, those same ease of movement qualities translate at higher speeds. The BOSS changes direction, enters corners, and remains steadfast on the straights with equal ease and competency. It’s simply a pleasure to ride, even if neither the 45mm front forks nor the link-type rear suspension are adjustable. The suspension has a stiffer pre-set, so the heavier owner will likely enjoy a plusher ride than the lightweight rider, who may find the setting a bit harsh.
The C90T’s 1462cc eight-valve, liquid-cooled V-Twin makes an enormous contribution to the pleasant ride experience of this five-speed shaft-driven Boulevard. Housed in a classic tube steel frame, the motor is based on that found in the Boulevard M90 muscle bike, though it’s been fitted with choice pieces from other Suzuki programs including the three airbox setup from the power cruiser M109R to deliver a factory spec 78 horsepower and a very respectable 96.6 ft/lbs. torque at a low 2,600 rpm.
The torque curve is truly marvelous, and coupled with tall gearing, the BOSS will quickly zip up to highway speeds in second gear before the rider even contemplates changing to third. During road test sessions, we literally had to remind ourselves to change gears because second is such a flexible and versatile ratio. Lucky for us, the gear selection reads out on the dash. The natural torque of the engine and the gearing allow a broad range of driving behaviours in the lower gears, but fourth and fifth are no slouches either as you roll on at highway speeds.
For around town riding where congested roads often require a lot of hand-cramping clutch work, Suzuki’s clutch assist system uses a ramp and cam system that reduces pressure on clutch plates during downshifts, while increasing pressure on the plates upon acceleration. The result is smooth, cramp-free operation even at rush hour.
Suzuki says it tested dozens of shapes and mounting angles before approving the windshield now seen on the C90T. For all that, it does what it’s intended to do—provide protection from the wind at high speeds. It’s easy to see through and it has an appealing shape. The knock against the windshield is that it is not of the quick-detach variety whereas many of the C90T’s direct competitors are. The quick removal of a windscreen drastically changes the look and ride quality of a motorcycle, and stripping down their bike for a day ride is something many riders want to do—just because. The saddlebags are also non-detach types. That is to say, yes they can be taken off, but not easily or quickly. The C90T’s loses points on that score. Who wants to empty their saddlebags every night they’re on the road if they can just carry them into the motel? Quick-detach luggage and windshield have pretty well become standard features in the tour cruiser category, so that might be something for Suzuki to consider. As long as we’re compiling a wish list for the C90T, Suzuki may as well add cruise control and ABS to augment the current 330mm single front disc brake. But then we lose the price point, right?
But all that’s nit-picking when the big picture about the C90T is that here is Suzuki’s finest cruiser in quite a while. The bike ticks nearly every box. The handling at low and high speeds is light and positive, the motor is superb, and the styling is handsome. There’s a short list of accessories if the individual owner decides on more personalization and/or gleam, including a chrome rad cover and master cylinder cover.
Suzuki recently announced it has expanded the BOSS lineup with a stripped down C90 BOSS (no bags or windshield), BOSS M109R and C50 BOSS. There are suddenly plenty of BOSSes, but there may be fewer employees at work if Suzuki keeps producing bikes like the C90T. They’ll all be out riding. This is a key new model for the company, and even if it hasn’t received the attention it deserves on the market, the C90T may well be the start of something really good for Suzuki.
Story & photos by John Campbell