MOTORCYCLE REVIEW: 2009 Suzuki Boulevard M90 Cruiser

V-Twin rumble with sportbike tumble

By Carla King, Photos by Brian J. Nelson

The Suzuki Boulevard M90 is a sportbike disguised as a cruiser, rumbling up like a Harley-Davidson and zipping away like a Ninja. With accessories it could function nicely as a light touring motorcycle, too. For $9,999, you might find it almost irresistible.

Carla rides the 2009 Suzuki Boulevard M90, the company#39;s new 1462cc muscle-cruiser. She is outfitted in First Gear Escape pants and Kilimanjaro jacket for women.

Its 8:30 on a cold California winter morning and the press folks at Suzuki are ready to lead a dozen journalists from Monterey though Carmel and Big Sur so we can test their new Boulevard M90 on all types of roads. The sun beats down so hard that I quickly run inside to zip out the liners in my gear. A little behind the rest of the gang, I heft the bike off its kickstandit feels so much lighter than 723 poundsand swing my leg over to plop down on the seat with a thump. Ouch! The bike looks so big I didnt expect the seat to be this low.

At 28.2 inches the bike can accommodate shorter riders, and a gel seat option will get you even lower. The stock seat is wide and long enough to allow the rider to slide up the seat for relief on longer-distance rides.

Its the reach to the handlebars and footpegs thats intimidating. At 5 feet 7 inches I can stretch pretty long, but this thing has me really reaching for the handles and the footpegs that are also waaaaay out there, even with my 32 inch inseam. Im the only woman on the ride but I notice that Im not the only one whos pawing and stretching to reach them.

With some fumbling I find the key under my left leg and in a moment the sound of my engine joins the others, low and rumbly.

The key is located on the left side of the bike. The rubber-mounted engine provides that signature V-Twin wiggle at idle. Also note all the triangle shapesa nice design touch.

I easily pull in the clutch, kick it into gear, and roll into formation with the others. The M90 cruises down the long, curved driveway from our hotel with grace and ease to the red light where I find the brake pedal just where its supposed to be and easily shift up from first into neutral.

The dual exhaust pipes are a standout feature in both design and sound. They#39;ve been specially tuned to combine high and low notes that give the bike a super-duper rumble that doesn#39;t jar or irritate.
The fat back tire helps it feel stable on turns and leaves big impression on those you#39;ve left behind in the dust.

After a few miles my back starts to ache in the laid-back, cruiser-style riding position I started out in, which puts the weight on my tailbone. I wiggle into a slightly forward position, which feels much better.

The slightly forward angle of repose is the correct riding position for piloting a sport-cruiser, and gives Carla a more comfortable all-around ride. A little more forward lean puts pressure on the bars for better handling in the twisties.

We maneuver through town and hit the highway, then turn up into the mountains. Its here that I begin to realize the attraction of a hybrid sport-cruiser. With a shaft drive, a five-speed transmission, and the liquid cooled 1462cc engine, the bike is tuned to respond to the throttle earlier rather than later, a feature that can literally blow you away. Honestly, Im hanging on for dear life when accelerating at speed, and by lunchtime its the wind rather than the saddle thats tired me out.

The M90 gets lots of compliments on its curvy, clean lines, chrome touches, its myriad of triangles, and that angular headlight sheath that gives it an aggressive look unusual for a cruiser.

The press folks refill the tanks while we lunch by the river and I suspect I sucked up most of the 4.8-gallon capacity as I was playing around in the gas-guzzling lower gears more often than not. Theres probably no chance Ive come close to its claimed 44 mpg.

Carla would add features shown on the C90 touring cruiser above: windshield, gel seats, and saddlebags. The M90#39;s standard pillion seat is tiny and lies under a plastic cover on the hard-tail-like back of the bike, so for going two-up or strapping a bag onto a sissy bar, a passenger back rest (and maybe some floorboards, too), would be nice.

So why a hybrid? Because consumers want it, says Suzuki. The M90 was built in response to an extensive consumer study that found that motorcyclists want a sportier version of the C90 cruiser, a bigger version of the 805cc M50, and a smaller (and less expensive) version of the massive 1783cc M109R. The M90 therefore fills the middle gap in Suzukis lineup of muscle cruisers, which does not meanrepeatdoes not meanthat the M90 is a mid-sized motorcycle.

The M90 is a full-fledged, muscle-tuned, 723 pound, 1462cc motorcycle and looks it. Caution: it#39;s likely to backflip you right out of your seat if you don#39;t know what you#39;re doing.

A few of my fellow journalistssome of them former racerstest the “muscle” in the muscle-cruiser equation by demonstrating rear tire spins at various speeds. Several riders lean over hard on a turn early in the day and easily manage some minor peg-scraping, something I wont try until much later in the day. And no, I wont try popping a wheelie, though I see it can be done.

Peg-scraping is impressive but not difficult, as the pegs are set low and wide and the 200mm-wide rear tire feels stable in the leans.

Stopping a heavy, powerful bike like this takes a great braking system, and its too bad that the M90 doesnt come with an ABS option. The dual, 290mm brake discs with sliding-pin front calipers sound impressive but feel inadequate, and after narrowly missing the rider in front of me, who suddenly brakes to avoid hitting something in the road. I give myself a lot more room to stop and Ill bet everyone behind us does, too.

Keeping track of how fast you#39;re going over the limit is easy with the big, analog speedometer.

Theres no tachometer on the dash (its optional). A low-fuel indicator, dual trip meters and digital clock are located at the bottom right of the speedometer, but I ride all day without noticing them.

At the top of the gas tankand completely invisible when wearing a full-face helmetare the neutral light, a high-beam indicator, and indicators for the turn signals, which are irritatingly not self-canceling.

The brake lever is adjustable but the clutch lever isn#39;t. But even with her extra small hands, Carla doesn#39;t feel a pressing need to make an adjustment.

The Suzuki press folks couldnt have asked for a better day for a demonstration ride and upon return to Monterey that afternoon most of us continue riding. I take a spin around town, noting that Im now comfortable with all the bikes quirks. I stop by the beach and a Harley-owning park ranger runs over to check out the “V-Rod.” Surprise! When I tell him this bike is $5,000 less expensive than the Harley-Davidson hes referring to his eyes light up and he slings his leg over, with a grin.

It takes a day to get comfortable with the quirks of any unfamiliar bike. By afternoon, Carla is perfectly at ease.

I have to admit that I poo-pooed the idea of the sport-cruiser category until I rode the M90, considering it unlikely that a satisfactory all-in-one experience was to be had in a single machine. But Im starting to change my mind about that. Mostly, its really cool that a big rumbly V-Twin can so satisfyingly provide a cruisers secret desire for that thrilling sportbike buzz.

Specs at a Glance: 2009 Suzuki Boulevard M90
Displacement: 1462cc
Seat Height: 28.3 inches
Fuel Capacity: 4.8 gallons
Weight: 723 pounds
MSRP: starts at $9,999

WRN Recommendation
The Suzuki Boulevard M90 is the bike for experienced cruiser riders who have a secret longing to ride a sportbike, or experienced sportbike riders who want to cruise, but cant bear the sluggish low end of most cruisers. In this economy, anyone will appreciate its $9,999 price tag.

About the Author
Carla King is a long-distance touring motorcyclist who travels to exotic places and writes about them. Her Motorcycle Misadventures series includes stories about trips in America, China, India, and Europe. You can buy her book (reviewed on WRN) and read her dispatches on the web at

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11 thoughts on MOTORCYCLE REVIEW: 2009 Suzuki Boulevard M90 Cruiser

  1. I just picked mine up and of course it’s been nothing but rain and snow. The problem I’m having is every time you get on the gas the front end shakes so bad, or I should say the handle bars, etc. Do all of them do this? My Harley-Davidson is so smooth. Let me know. Thanks.

  2. Wow! Ss all I can say about this bike, I just purchased my red M90, and the looks and stares I get from other bikes as I pass them is a great feeling. The factory exhaust is a little to quiet for me. I want to keep the factory look, just a little deeper rumble at the stop light. (Roadhouse makes a slip-on for the 109 but not for the 90 as of yet.) Only had the bike three weeks and just put 1k miles on it. The chrome is awesome and still looks showroom fresh. Will soon be moving up to a 220 back tire. Love this bike

  3. Recently purchased the M90 and shelved my Harley and caught a lot of flack for it. This bike is more comfortable and easier to take on long rides. Can hit 100 mph in a flash and passing in 4th gear is so easy with this responsive bike. Twist the throttle and hang on.

  4. I'm about to make the transition to a bigger bike. Currently I'm riding a 2005 Honda Aero 750, which I have had for the past five years now. Recently I have been looking around for a bigger bike with a little more power, now I made the decision to go with the M90 after reading Carla King's review. I will definitely trade in my Aero for the M90.

  5. This is a great review!

    I founded and am the club president of the M90 Owner's Club we would love more women's perspective on riding the m90. Come check us out. It's free to join

  6. Nice review Carla. I was all set to buy the M90 as it suited me perfectly and I think the actual proportions are just a little “more perfect” than the M109, however, the 109 radiator cowl really makes a difference I think, something the M90 does not have and you cannot buy.

    Now I am going for the top: Limited Edition M109. Pity, as the M90 is still very, very nice indeed.

  7. I have recently purchased an M90 and was really impressed with the power and balance of the bike. I am 6 feet with a 32-inch inseam and have no problem with reaching all the controls. This is the first bike of this size I have owned that is really comfortable on the highway ride. Have had several people come up and comment on how nice my “Harley” looks. They just can't believe it is a Suzuki. Very impressed with the bike itself.

  8. I have owned my M90 for nearly three months now after owning an M50. I agree with all Carla has to say, and am pleased with my choice. Being a female rider also, I need to explore lowering her to allow flat foot when maneuvering at stops (i.e. reverse parking, etc) as the weight is an issue but only when stopped still. Riding is fantastic and the power is awesome. Great choice. Am more than happy.

  9. I enjoyed the photos and information on the bike. I hope to one day have one of my own.

  10. Nice review, Carla. Are the pegs too low and wide enough that it is too easy to scrape the pegs? Is it a design flaw?

    1. Response from Carla King:
      I think Suzuki should find a way to make the pegs adjustible or retractable so the bike can lean over a bit more without scraping.

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