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Suzuki Boulevard S40 Review

The heart and soul of the Suzuki S40 is its “Big Thumper” 650cc single cylinder engine. The model dates back to the 1986 Suzuki Savage 650. The Savage, later renamed the S40 saw no significant changes from 1986 to 2012 save for a drag style handlebar added in 2005. The full Suzuki Boulevard S40 review is here:

Back to the single cylinder 650cc powerplant. The Suzuki Savage / Boulevard S40 produces sufficient torque for city and suburban jaunts. The single 40mm carburetor keeps the bike moving until 120 km/hr at which point acceleration drops to a crawl up to 150 km/hr, if you make it to that speed.

The Suzuki Savage 650 / Boulevard S40 isn’t designed for highway commuting. Its lightweight and low center of gravity will make it a comfortable choice for those looking for a light cruiser with a little more torque than what the 250cc japanese bikes have to offer.

A throw-back to the 1980s, the Savage 650 / Boulevard S40 has kept its cost-cutting rear drum brake, paired with the front disk brake. This is a bike that doesn’t pretend have changed a thing, besides its name. A brand new 2012 model will still give the same strong vibrations at highway speeds as it did in 1986. Its single exhaust won’t sound any better either.

Suzuki Boulevard S40 Review

The reality is the S40 doesn’t need to be anything the Savage 650 wasn’t. Suzuki has created a solid machine that one should purchase if he or she’s goal is getting into motorcycle riding on an entry level machine that’s good enough to get them from Point A to Point B.

Suzuki Boulevard S40 ReviewThe Good:

  • Easy to find parts
  • 37 lbs/ft torque at 3,000 RPM
  • 174 kg (383 lbs) curb weight
  • 5.1 lt/100 km fuel consumption
  • Easy to do your own oil and filter and other maintenance

The Bad:

  • No significant improvements in over 25 years
  • Small front disk brake
  • Max. speed 150 km/hr

The Ugly:

  • 31 horsepower at 5,400 RPM
  • Drum brake
  • 10.5 litre gas tank

The Competition:

The KYMCO Venox is a 250cc cruiser that can outperform the Suzuki on the highway, although in the city the Suzuki trumps it in torque. If you’re looking for a beginner friendly cruiser, you should consider both of these machines.

What did you think about our Suzuki Boulevard S40 review? Do you like yours? Leave a message in the Comments section below.

Other resources:

We’ve put together a lot of content on the Suzuki Savage 650 / Suzuki Boulevard S40.

About Adrian from YouMotorcycle

I started riding motorcycles in 2007, founded YouMotorcycle in 2009, and was working in the motorcycle industry by 2011. I've worked for some of the biggest companies in motorcycling, before going full-time self-employed in the motorcycle business in 2019. I love sharing his knowledge and passion of motorcycling with other riders to help you as best I can.


  1. The S 40 is not a two up bike for a long trip. Very uncomfortable seat. Screams at 100kph.
    I had one for a month and traded it for my 1100 Honda ACE.

    Btw it dies if you push them to hard. Good bike for a beginner.

  2. I have been riding my 2011 S40 for a couple months. I love it. I live in Honolulu, so most of my riding is between stop lights where it kicks ass. I get up to 90 mph with no problem on my short freeway segments on my commute to work. I look forward to maintaining a one cylinder bike after the hassle of older 4 cylinder bikes. The seat would be uncomfortable after a couple hours, I am looking at upgrading to a corbin aftermarket seat. This a great town bike. Cheap, simple, light and plenty of torque

    • Finally, a goo accurate review of this great little bike.

    • I put 8000 miles on mine this year. It will hit 75 mph before 90% of the cars on the road will, and that is what counts for safety. My first bike was a 1942 INDIAN Army Chief I bought when I was 14. The little S40 is light years ahead of that old beast. I have owned 2 Nortons, 3 Harley’s,4 Honda’s,3 Yamaha’s, a BSA, a Kawasaki, a Triumph 650 Bonnie, a BSA Gold Star, a Triumph 500 scrambler and an old Vespa scooter. Why slag a bike that wasn’t designed for your riding “style” whatever that may be? The S40 will outcorner your Honda 1100, it will go far more places off the beaten path, it is far easier to service and it will go a lot farther on a gallon of gas.

      If you need a fast bike buy a sport bike. I will agree that the S40 is not a two up bike, the rest is gibberish.

      • I think there’s a little more to it than that… Hitting 75 mph before other cars is great, if every car on the highway came to a full stop to let you merge with them. Safety isn’t about being able to out-accelerate to 75 mph, it’s about being able to have enough power (both acceleration and braking) to quickly get out of trouble’s way, when traffic is already going 75 mph. That’s safety. It’s not about going fast, or braking fast, it’s about being to go fast or brake quickly should you need to. With so little power and a drum brake, I found the bike underwhelming on the highway.

        And of course it’s years ahead of your old 1942 Indian… It should be 73 years ahead! So why is it still using the same rear brake? And given that it is using the same brake as your 73 year old motorcycle is, how much thought has really been put in to safety?

        • It’s not about quickly getting out of trouble or braking fast. It’s about situational awareness so you don’t have to brake or accelerate fast. 35 years of riding and I never encountered a situation where I have to accelerate fast to get out of trouble. Anyone who outruns his ability to stop is stupid regardless of what bike! Never been in any accident after 35 years of riding fast and slow bikes.

          • If that were the case, motorcyclists would have 100% control of the situation 100% of the time. Sadly, there are other people on the road, and they make (often stupid) decisions too, so this is not the case.

            Having power or sharp braking isn’t always the answer, of course, but they are two additional tools one can use should they need to. When it comes to safety, I would rather have a tool I don’t often use than need one I don’t have.

          • I have been riding for over sixty years(I’m eighty-seven) and have (thank God) been down only twice once an oil slick and once a deer. I know what you are saying about planning ahead but just the other day a cowboy pulled away from being parked and jumped in front of me without no reaction time. A quick analysis of the situation saw that I could pull the trigger and get the hell around him to safety. Never say never.

        • Drum brakes are more than enough for that light bike, you have a disk up fount where 80% of your stopping power is and besides that this in not a free way bike it is for the back roads and slower speed highways 80 km to 90 km . If you can lock up the back wheel what more do you want, disks are needed for extreme stop and go driving like on a race track, as they cool faster, and not needed for what this bike will be doing, or is designed for. I have had bikes from 50 cc to over 1000 cc and much rather this bike over most of the larger bikes I have driven, it is just much more fun to ride. I have been riding for over 50 years and have come to find that riding a slow bike fast is much more fun than riding a fast bike slow. I have a Versys X 300 for touring with side bags heated grips engine guards extra lights. But for going on short 100 km rids in the after noon I will be taking the S 40 Boulevard, It is more bike than most people need.

          • Riding a slow bike fast is much more fun than riding a fast bike slow, you’re right about that. But I don’t want to ride a slow bike fast if it the slow bike doesn’t have fast bike braking.

  3. That thing looks like a toy! Ugly. A chick’s bike. NO THANKS!

  4. Never judge a riders ride. If they like it,that”s all that matters.Everyone cannot like the same things.Just sayin”

  5. I think I’m gonna get one. My last three bikes were a GSF600 Bandit, DL650 V Strom, an old XV250 virago and my fav is the little V twin, the Virago. I think the S40 will be a great little around town bike that doesn’t lose it on the hills and can maybe consider passing on a 2 lane at 55-60 mph.
    I’ve been trying out big cruisers and find them boring as heck to ride, almost like driving a car. Little bikes make you part of the driving experience, IM(very)HO.

    • They say it’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than it is to ride a fast bike slow, and I think they’re right!

    • Good choice I just got the S 40 to go with my Versys X 300 also a grate fun little bike, but I have it loaded up for touring with 33 liter hard bags engine guard heated grips rear tack and center stand as it is chain driven. I have driven the S 40 before but never had my own. Love the feel of riding it, I will be using it for the short 100 + km afternoon rides and the Versys X for longer rides and getting groceries or going camping or touring. Have fun and enjoy your new ride.

  6. get a HARLEY!!

  7. I’ve had one for 25000 plus miles, haven’t had to carry a tool bag, except on a three thousand mile trip and I never used it. Plenty of power for many riders, unless you want 75 mph plus for eight hours. Yes the seat isn’t brilliant, so I brought an AirHawk cover, which helps. I love it, enjoy riding it.

  8. I have an S40 2009. Haven’t yet fell in love with it. It seems very easy to service and is very torquey and strong . But : I find the seat very uncomfortable after riding for 1/2 hour. the seat design is terrible goes up at end making bottom sore .The drive belt make heaps of sounds. The gearing don’t seem very nice at top end 100 km and the bike seems to scream it head off and driving at 50km it seems to have to go in a lower gear maybe 3rd as the engine feels like it’s shuffling . If the battery would go flat id say the bike would be near impossible to crash start . The back brake is like the brakes on the 70s Suzuki’s well below efficient. My bike is second hand ,I bought it end 2013 with 5000 km owned up till now. Maybe this bike not as good as other S40 possible due to previous owner. And I’m not a full time biker nether. It would be nice too see what other people reckon?

    • You’re right about the seat. A lot of S40/Savage owners just raise the front of the seat up 1/2 to 1 inch to make it more comfortable. I took mine apart and rebuilt it with some rigid foam that I contoured with a heat gun and a sanding disk. It raised the seating position about 1 1/2″ and also let me sit a little further back on the seat. That made it much more comfortable and gave me more leg room. I also changed the shocks for a little more travel and a smoother ride.

      On a bike this light, the rear drum brake is fine. Most of your stopping comes from the front. Keep an eye on those front pads, though. Mine were worn out at 7000 miles and I’ve read reports of them needing to be replaced at 5000. Luckily, they’re very easy to replace.

      The Savage has a very dedicated group of riders on it’s forum with a lot of good information about maintenance, repairs, and mods.

      • Nice. All those little things add up. Did you do a write up with some pics of your seat modification?

        • No pics, the batteries in my camera were about dead and the cell phone pics were pretty crappy. I got most of my information on the diymotorcycle site. It was also a good excuse to get new tools. You need a pneumatic stapler and some stainless steel staples to put the seat back together. It looks about the same as the stock seat but it’s a lot more comfortable. I took it apart 3 times to get it to sit the way I wanted.

    • Have you ridden 70’s bikes to be informed on that comment about the drum brake? I rode all thru the 70’s on Honda’s and Suzuki’s. Two years of it in Hawaii when I was stationed there with the U.S. Army. One would have a tough time convincing me that a drum brake in the back is inadequate. It is, or course, not the greatest brake that could be had, but it is more than up to the task. Whether the rider is up to the task is another story.

  9. I would love to get one and go through it bobber style.Springer seat.Perhaps cut a bit off the rear fender.Im sure there could be some engine and exhaust tweaks to be found.Maybe a carburation upgrade.If these are so torquey then perhaps a belt and drive cog change could help get a better highway ride.The s40 certainly seems a good place to start my bobber project.

  10. I am going with my son to buy one tomorrow. It will be his first bike. I looked over a lot of bikes and chose this one for him. I have been riding since 1969 and my first bike was a 1942 Indian Army Chief. I have owned over a dozen different bikes so in my humble opinion I feel this S40 would be O.K.

    I think the little Suzuki has enough power and is light enough for a first bike. I had a Triumph 500 years ago and it had enough pep for the highway and the stats say the Suzuki should be the same. If they still made the XT500 I would tell him to get that.

  11. Just got my first bike s40….have to learn to drive going to take course. 2012 but got it new…my husband took me for a ride on it and glad I won’t be the passenger was uncomfortable. His is a lot better for riding on back, he has Vulcan 900

  12. I really love my 2014 s40, first bike I ever bought new. Mine is blue with cream tank retro-two-tone look. I rode alot as a teen, a 1972 honda 100! I rode a yamaha 250 exciter in the 80’s and a honda 750-4 in the 80’s. I tried a kowi 750 GPZ in the 90-s. I dont like to do long hiway rides, here in Northern B.C. Canada the weather keeps me from going too far. I enjoy cruising the quieter secondary roads, and avoid rush-hour traffic. 2 of my sons have this same bike. The ride,mileage,and insurance is acceptable to us. The mechanical simplicity of this bike is very appealling. I recommend this bike to anyone who isnt brand-snob elitist. they look great. very manageable and easy-to-ride. I like that it runs quietly and smoothly. for a single cylinder bike. I got mine up to 160 kmh, once just to see if it would…and it will. not what this bike is intended for by design. It is definitely more fun to ride a small bike fast than a large fast bike slow! who needs those pesky speeding tickets anyways!

    • I had a 650 Savage and loved it. It had a sporty exhaust and sounded great except for the backfires. I’m getting a 2013 s40 very soon. Was going to upgrade to a sporty or vulcan but heavier and I’M a small lady and not in my 20s 30 or 40s so this bike is what is going to keep me in the wind and that is what I LOVE. Keep it real and rubber side down.

      • Backfiring is a Suzuki cruiser tradition going back three decades haha

      • HAHAHA!!!! Mine backfires too. Gets a lot of attention at the gas station. I found if you use the gears to slow down the bike, it decreases the sound and sometimes the backfire happens in the shifting instead of at the gas station.

    • I love my S40. I have owned Honda’s., Kawasaki’s, and four Harley’s, loved them all. I sold my last Harley because I felt I was getting too old to handle that big bike. I bought my S40 and have not had this much fun on a motorcycle since I was 15. It’s not only a great “beginner” bike, but it is an even better bike for us old guys that still need the “joy” of riding, but just don’t want the hassle of a 900 pound behemoth.

      • Hello Guy,
        Read your comments, realised you were talking about me, bought a 2017 blacked out S40. It attracts more attention than the Harleys I park next to at the café on Sunday morning. It takes me all the way back to the late 60s and the pure unadulterated joy of riding. When you are old enough to take the ego out of motorcycling you don’t want a half ton bike with more power than sense that handles like a camel. Try a Suzuki S40 – it will put a smile on your face.

      • Hello Guy,
        Read your comments, realised you were talking about me, bought a 2017 blacked out S40. It attracts more attention than the Harleys I park next to at the café on Sunday morning. It takes me all the way back to the late 60s and the pure unadulterated joy of riding. When you are old enough to take the ego out of motorcycling you don’t want a half ton bike with more power than sense that handles like a camel. Try a Suzuki S40 – it will put a smile on your face. David

      • I to had most of them also, but at 70 want lighter and more fun bikes got a Versys X for touring and just got a S 40 for day rides. It is nice to have 2 bikes for less than the cost of 1. The S 40 for short 100 Km day rides and the Versys X 300 for touring and going shopping as I have 33 Liter hard bags on it.

      • EXACTLY! I’m 75 and have my ’10 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 LT for sale. I’ve just purchased a 2014 S-40 and love it. Back to riding like the old days!

  13. I got my 2011 R40 Suzuki 2yrs ago. It is a wonderful bike to learn on. Light, easy to control and feels good. This year I have been getting used to the highway with it. Unfortunately, I only weight 100lbs and experienced being pushed to the ditch when taking a corner on the highway on a really windy day. I find this bike is not one you want if your interested in speed, as it is comfortable up to the speed of 110 mph. I find after that it is a bit shaky. This is my experience with it anyways as a light weight. I love it cause I am only interested in riding close to home and it is easy to get used to.

    I do have questions for others who own one. Does your belt ever make a strange noise when you shift and does your clutch ever leak a drop of oil?

  14. Built my 97 into a chopper. Stock rear fender off, cut the back end of the frame solo seat bobbed rear fender. Fits me fine at 6 foot now. Engine mods as well. Love it!

  15. So if you ever owned a Volks Beetle, you know pleasant/fun vehicles sometimes challenge logic. Got a 2008 S40 for my wife, 5’2″, eyes of blue, she can put both feet on the ground, and walk the bike backwards out of parking. It is forgiving and easy to ride. Also, fun; thuck thuck thuck down the road, light and easy, low center of gravity…compare to my 2003 Thunderbird Sport, goes like stink, but top heavy, and a handfull in a gravel parking lot…

    Shirley: no odd sounds from drivebelt, no oil leaks. Leaks are reported from the speedo cable next to the clutch cable entering the case. Enjoy! There are faster, but none more fun.

    • I think that is where the drop of oil leaks from. So that is normal and ok? The belt will make a funny whiney noise when I shift IF I was riding the clut. When I hear that noise, I need to let my bike cool down, ks what I have learned. If I don’t let it cool, the clutch over heats and stops working and then I’m stuck wherever I am till it cools. So lesson I learned the hard way, is don’t ride on your clutch. But a great bike that I love love love.

  16. Love mine! It keeps up nicely with my husbands Suz Vulcan LS 900….that’s what counts. Did not want too big of a bike but needed some power. I have 2012 orange/copper 650. It does backfire when after riding and start to slow down. He wants to modify mine but I don’t like loud muffler. I’m happy the way it isn’t!

  17. I got mine 2 1/2 years ago with only 436 miles on it. It was a 2007 model, completely stock. The first thing I did was cover the exposed fork tubes with rubber “gaiters”. These accordion-like covers are literally worth their weight in gold because of the fork rebuilds they will make unnecessary. 3 of the 7 bikes I’ve owned in the last 51 years have had their fork seals trashed by tiny nicks, caused by “road rash”. I went to a local bike shop found a dirt bike that came stock with “gaiters” of approximately the same diameter top and bottom top, then ordered replacement covers for that bike from Daystar, online. Not only do they protect my fork tubes, they make the front end of this machine look less spindly (a lot less). Next, I purchased a sissy bar / luggage rack. Even though my wife seldom rides with me, she feels much more secure with the sissy bar and both the sissy bar and the luggage rack behind it, are great places to attach stuff when touring. While we’re on the subject, touring this bike can be frustrating if attempted with stock gearing. It’s geared too low, way too low. The only recourse in this matter is to change the final drive. This can be exasperating because Suzuki offers no alternative to the original belt final drive, 2.97 to 1. Belts and belt pulleys cannot be changed willy-nilly like sprockets and chains can. I decided to switch. 2 resources proved valuable here: SuzukiSavage.com and Ryca Motors. Generally I don’t like forums much but these guys at SuzukiSavage.com really got their s**t together, providing literally 100’s of years of combined experience with these motorcycles. (ignore this piece of advice at your own expense) I learned a lot about chain conversions, what oil is best for this machine, what to replace your petcock with, all from this website. Ryca Motors does conversions also, but only to a specific ratio. (near stock) They did provide me with a nice spacer for my new countershaft sprocket (absolutely necessary) and a tidy little tachometer for my handlebar. As far as gearing goes, I decided to go Really High: 2.35 to 1. 17 teeth in the front and 40 in the rear. Higher than I had encountered even at SuzukiSavage.com. This brought my RPM at 60mph down from 41 hundred and change way down to 33 hundred and change. I do have to slip the clutch a little until about 8mph. We’ll see how that works out. It’s a different motorcycle! Well worth the time, effort and expense. I’ve since covered over 1000 miles in 3 days of riding carrying tent, sleeping bag, clothes and misc. I’ve just ordered a compact sleeping bag, large saddlebags and replacement rear turn signals. the saddlebags mount behind (not outboard of) the rear shocks. This left no room for the original location of the turn signals. The small vertical surface that supports the luggage platform will provide the perfect relocation. It is well out of the way, above and behind the taillight. I use the tach. as speedo having calibrated it by measuring my time between mile markers. Perfectly satisfactory. The original speedo is WAY off now anyway. (besides it’s almost impossible to use with a full-coverage helmet) Now if I can figure out a way to know when I’ve left the turn signals on. Maybe a bell in series with the turn signals. Joe

  18. What cause oil and gas mix to shoot out? Carburetor into filter housing.bike Sat for long time

  19. Thanks for the fine initial review (and all the others). I already get my sport bike thrills with my Ducati Monster but am jonesing for a project bike. Found a Savage in good shape, very affordable, already cafe’d out, just needs some TLC to be a great alternative ride. I think I’m going for it ????

  20. I bought a 1999 Savage in 2013 second hand, and after 35 years on motorcycles I can say many good things. Is light, strong, and put a smile in face. Yes I raized the front of the seat 1 inch, and it works, the comfort is other. I had two troubles: battery and battery, so i’m thinking to replace for another one with more amperage.

    • I’ve been riding motorcycles for 50 years. Sunbeam, BSA, Norton, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Harley Davidson, Triumph, Moto Guzzi, you get the idea. Most of them were large capacity bikes 900 to 1600cc. Yet I can state with confidence that the 650cc Suzuki S40 I ride now is the best of them all. Powerful enough, light enough, it puts a genuine smile on my face every time I ride. Highly recommended. Regards, David Thornley.

  21. Suzuki S40 is it’s “Big Thumper”

    ITS “Big Thumper”.
    IT’S means IT IS.

  22. Had a chance to buy a Yamaha 650 xs -(if I remember correctly) in 87 that was about 10 years old at the time, but needed serious work and not the most mechanic inclined person so I passed. Been kicking myself in the well not sure If I can put that here. Anyway, got married and the wife wouldn’t allow my to get a bike. Now, she is passed (almost 5 years) and I have never rode a bike before. I have looked thought all the post and It kind of 50/50. So, my question as a first time rider, would this be a good fit for a guy 6″3′. I would used it mostly for city riding only back and fourth to work, if I do get on a highway it would be short trips 5-10 miles at the most. Amy input would be appreciated.

    • Will it do what you need? Yes. Will you feel like it’s a bit small for you? Yes. Is that necessarily a bad thing for your first bike? No. This is your first bike not your last. You haven’t mentioned your age but if this is your first bike and you’re a couple of years past your prime, a bike that veers on the smaller, lighter side, might not be the worst way to get into the motorcycle world. It’s your first bike, not necessarily your last. It sounds like you want to make a cautious, informed decision, so I’d say it’s a fine beginner bike, try it for a year or few and if you want more you can always upgrade later.

  23. I might ride to LA from El Paso in a month or so. I did that once on a Kawasaki 500 and my shoulders hurt for months after I got back. I was scared *hitless of the freeways approaching LA. Otherwise it was a beautiful ride. The Kawa is a two-cylinder.
    Now the S-40 is one cylinder and really makes noise at 50-60, so I will take two-laners most of the way, maybe take the southern route closer to the Mexico border. What I’m afraid of is that the engine won’t take the 1400-mile trip in 4-5 days. The Boulevard only has 800 miles on it.
    Can someone reassure me that the thumper will make it to LA & back without engine trouble? Leave your contact number, in case it doesn’t make it, so I can write you to complain. Thanks. Lolocowboy

  24. Picking up a 2014 tomorrow.Thanks for the reviews. Rode a 03Vulcan 800 for 8 years ..sold it 2 years ago. This S40 will be the replacement

  25. I’m a fairly new S-40 rider. I’ve had (in reverse order) a Yamaha 200 on/off road, Suzuki 250 (beautiful bike), Kawasaki 500, and Honda 400. The Honda has been the best – reliable.
    My S-40 rattles from somewhere in front, and is getting louder.
    I find plenty of torque in the city. I don’t like to take it on the highway at 60+ – too much vibration, plus I’m chicken sh*t.
    As I say, it rattles pretty noisily from somewhere in front, and occasionally sounds dangerously rattly/clanky.

  26. I had a 650 Savage that I really liked to ride around town. traded it for a 750 Honda Shadow. I regret trading off my Savage! I miss the agility of that little bike. Bought a s-40, selling the Honda.

    • Good idea. I don’t think the Shadow 750 is a significant upgrade from the Savage. It’s not going to make a significant amount more power, and considering the added weight, might even be less fun. Skip to at least an 800 v-twin like the M50 or stick with the S40 if you don’t find yourself wanting more power.

  27. I bought my 2012 S40 three years ago at 2800kms Iam a 79 year old who hadn’t ridden for many years
    With the help of the Suzuki savage.com website I have done some modifications to the bike Larger rear tyre ,Harley Dyna muffler ,softer rear shocks. Cam chain tensioner mod Rear pulley wobble fix Carb rejet and needle mod
    Seat front lift. Handlebar swap. I love the bike I use it mostly on short trips around town and surrounding countryside on the back roads I have also done several longer distance camping trips I have now done over 12000kms on it
    It is much better after the modifications and I hope to keep riding it for a while yet
    I think I made a good choice of bike and have no desire to change it

  28. darville risdorf

    I’m 69 and have ridden bikes for most of my life …mostly bigger ones. But I love this little S40 Boulevard. She’s a little sweetheart. If she was human, I’d marry her! I bought her from her previous owner who ran her low on oil and seized the engine. I rebuilt the engine and now she’s good as new. Just a nice gentle and agile bike to ride at my age, yet plenty of torque when you need it, and I LOVE her “old school” look!

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