Playing on the Boulevard
Here’s what we’ve been doing to our Suzuki Boulevard CT50T.
Long-term loan bikes are always a lot of fun because you can give your imagination free rein. What did we think you, our readers, might like to do with the little Boulie?
Mustang Daytripper seat
Long, low and mean
It took me about five minutes to slot this lovely new, narrower seat to the Suzy. It fits perfectly and looks very sleek. It is fractionally lower and certainly doesn’t stick into your thighs like the original wide seat. On a long ride, the seat proved its worth. The padding is sensational — this really is a comfortable seat; not too firm, not too soft, and there’s some lumbar support from the seat’s shape. The stitching is well done and the seat gives the impression of quality — which is what you want on your custom. Yes, the Daytripper seat is well worth the money.
Farewell Elvis studs! Ask your bike shop or visit www.mustangseats.com. The Mustang Daytripper costs $US359 and its part number is 76066.
First, let me say I am a 20-year IKEA veteran. I have put together a flatpack kitchen, I can change a plug in 40 seconds and a dirt bike front tyre in 40 minutes. I’m no Barbie Biker. But the American Hardstreet bag kit had me frothing with exasperation. It’s to do with the American decision to go for their own strange bolt sizes with cheesy, shallow allen heads. And then there are the multiple choice questions.
The very first step on the directions asks me to choose from three sizes of bolt, three sizes of spacer and “if needed” spacer washers. No, there’s no model guide except “metric alloy”. I just know in my bones I’ll put the whole thing together and wish I’d chosen a different length bolt at the beginning. I decide to gamble on the middle size with the intermediate spacer.
With the Suzuki leather panniers removed, the frame rail holes don’t line up with the holes in the Hardstreet bags. But the kit has two chunky mounting tabs that I find I can swivel to match or move up and down so the bags clear the pipes.
Next I have to fit the pre-drilled alloy pannier brackets that are surprisingly heavy. Provided I can guess the right mounting hardware, the holes will align.
This job definitely demands a bike lift, since I have to cram my small hands up beneath the mudguard to hold the nut in place with a spanner while I fiddle with the pesky allen head bolts — but the builders have temporarily taken over my garage so I’m out of luck with the lift and kneel down instead and give my back a workout.
I manage the job and just when I think I’m winning and it’s time to attach the panniers, I find the last bolts have a different-size head and none of my jailer’s bunches of allen keys nor foldy-up sets fit them. Ironically, it’s a left-over Ikea key that does find some purchase on the shallow head.
So, is it worth it? Yes. These lockable Hardstreet bags look fantastic on the Suzy — they really make it look schmick. The next size up would be even better. So first decide which bolts you’re going to use and then go down to the hardware shop and find replacement socket head ones; use a bike lift and get your partner to help you keep everything in place while you tighten bolts. Do that and you’ll be ecstatic with the result.
Hardstreet 16-litre Sixer bags cost $599.95 + GST in Gloss or Satin Black, or $449.95 + GST for the unpainted ones. Hardstreet 39L Classic Tourbags cost $599.95 + GST in Gloss Black, $549 + GST in Satin Black or $449.95 + GST unpainted.
Mounting brackets for the Sixer and Classic Tourbags cost $199 + GST ($239.95 + GST for Victory models).
There are no prices listed for the Hardstreet 29-litre Slim bags, which require holes to be drilled in the bags to ensure a perfect fit on the bike. Mounting brackets cost $149.95 + GST.
Some Harley-Davidson models will require an indicator relocation bracket that costs around $49.95. (All prices are subject to change.)
Contact Ficeda at (02) 9757 0061 (NSW), 08 8350 0178 (SA) or 07 3906 7034 (Qld) or see www.ficeda.com.au for more information.
We replaced the Suzuki’s whitewall tyres with a set of the exciting new Michelin Commander II tyres that have been specially designed for custom motorcycles. These tyres really are the business. They look like a sportsbike tyre and the half-hour ride back from the shop had me purring. Gone was the Suzuki’s slow steering, instead just an elegant flick.
The Bear suggested taking tread depth measurements now and taking note of wear when we rack up some miles on it to see if the rear tyre in particular lives up to Michelin’s longevity claims. Obviously, Suzuki isn’t going to let us keep the bike for the 40,000km Michelin says the tyre will last, but our crew is experienced enough to know how they stack up in the real world. There are 13 sizes of Commander IIs available now, with more on the way. We got one of the first sets in the country and prices hadn’t been announced at the time we went to press. Watch this space.
Points to consider
So far, I have only one mingy complaint with the Suzuki. Mike Grant, who had the bike before me, really likes the heel-toe gear shift and footboard. Because I’m short and use my feet to help turn the bike, I found it too easy to accidentally click the bike into neutral with my heel. The first time it happened on a u-turn I was expecting to eat gravel but was delighted when the flywheel just kept the bike motoring round while I quickly got back into gear. Two other occasions weren’t so happy.
The other thing to point out is that, as with many big cruisers, fitting new tyres to the Suzuki involves quite a lot of disassembly work first, particularly because of the bike’s valanced guards, so expect a bigger bill.