Bill has been a proud and happy owner of a Suzuki GSX1400. Until recently. But he has now changed bikes, swapping the big retro naked for a new Suzuki Boulevard C109RT. He tells us the story of why he changed, and also how the two compare.
I will try to compare the two bikes and explain why I decided to change.
I am now 61yrs old, slightly overweight and forming arthritic hips, and found the GSX was getting to be a bit of a handful and a bit daunting and scary to ride. Must have realised age was catching up. It was a magnificent, powerful, comfortable, smooth and stable bike to ride, but was getting a bit too powerful and fast. A licence-eater if a walloper was after his quota. (Sorry, we all know there is no quota system don’t we?!).
I could ride her all day and feel as fresh and relaxed when I finished a ride as when I started. A lot of my Ulysses group ride ST1300’s, Kwaka 1400’s, Yammie 1300, BMW’s and a couple of Hardley’s. Most of them are leg stretching or seat shifting on the ride. But I digress.
As I mentioned, I was finding the GSX was starting to become a bit of a handful as far as speed and power go. So I started looking at some alternatives for comfort, rideability, and still had some grunt. I did a lot of research and decided the best bike for me would be a cruiser, although I didn’t know what type.
I spoke to several guys in the club who gave me their opinion on various machines. I went to a lot of bike shops and took a lot of bikes for test rides, and sort of settled on a few. Kwaka Nomad 1700, Yammie Royal Star and a couple of Suzuki Boulevard models.
I then proceeded to get valuations for trade-in and found a big difference in prices. I was looking seriously at a C50 or C90 so I went to my local dealer (Westerns) in Penrith. When I walked in my eyes and heart went straight to the C109RT. It was built for the bike show at Homebush last year, and they told me it is a “one off” for the show. It was love at first sight. It was magnificent, and I did the deal straight away. (Certainly looks a treat! Elwyn).
I have had to learn to ride again, as it is a totally different style of riding, much more relaxed and upright.
Of course handling is not as good as the GSX as you can’t lean over quite as far going around corners, but you’re not going quite as fast either.
I have found that the gearbox has to be used a lot more on the cruiser than on the GSX. I could slow to 20kph on the GSX and pull away smoothly in top gear with just minimum throttle twist, but the C109 lets you know if you are in the wrong gear.
On the Boulevard, if you’re in the wrong gear for the speed you are going she will buck, snatch, shudder and want to throw you off until you drop down a gear or two. Apart from that, she is a relaxing comfortable easy bike to ride. As good as the GSX was, I can ride the Boulevard all day with no pain or numb bum. I found that putting along at up to 90kph, 4th gear is ideal and cruising down the highway at 90 plus 5th will give plenty of power and torque. I haven’t taken her over 110kph yet, haven’t had the need.
Two things I don’t like is the fact you have to look down to the instruments, so taking your eyes off the road; and there is no tacho. I like to know my engine revs. (I like to have a tacho too, Bill; and have fitted them to cars that didn't have one. I had one bike that didn't have a tacho, but didn't get to put one on that. Elwyn). I spoke to the service dept. about fitting one from an M109, and was told the “wiring is different”. That seems strange to me, as it is the same engine.
I have read on your site that there are other riders in a similar position as I was as to changing their ride. My solution is not for everyone, but could be worth considering.  
Thanks for telling us about the new ride, Bill. And you’re right, there are other readers changing bikes; one who also being an owner of a GSX1400. It’s certainly true that our needs change as we get older and look for different things in bikes. I hope it continues to give you many years of enjoyable riding!
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