There are a number of Suzuki Boulevard M50 modifications (or mods) that will make it a better motorcycle. Sure, the M50 doesn’t have as much breadth or depth of aftermarket accessories as other cruisers, but what we lack in quantity we can make up for in intelligent, quality mods.
I’ve owned three Suzuki Boulevard M50 over the last fifteen years. Here’s my go-to list of the best mods:
- Exhaust mod
- Brake upgrades
- Performance upgrades
- Tire upgrades
- Lighting upgrades
Suzuki Boulevard M50 Mod #1: The Honest Abe exhaust mod
Let’s start with the Honest Abe exhaust mod, not because it’s the most controversial on this list, but because if you have some metal rods laying around you can do this mod yourself for free.
The idea behind the Honest Abe exhaust mod isn’t to make your M50 very loud, but it just make it a bit louder, and let out a bit more of that V-Twin rumble. It’s a great option for those who think the stock pipes are too quiet, but are worried that aftermarket exhausts might be too obnoxious and too expensive.
Over a decade ago, a online Suzuki Boulevard forum user known as “Honest Abe” shared his experiment, and it quickly became popular with the online Suzuki Boulevard M50 and Suzuki Boulevard C50 community. The idea is to take a metal rod of a certain diameter, stick it in your exhaust pipe, and bash it through two walls within the exhaust pipe. This allows the noise from your motor to exit your muffler a little more directly, as opposed to needing to zig-zag through a series of chambers designed to muffle sound.
Essentially from factory these pipes aren’t designed for optimum performance, they’re designed for compliance. Compliance with emissions and compliance with noise level laws specifically. The inside of your mufflers are like a maze because that quietens down the sound your motorcycle can make, but when you put a rod in, and smack it through the first plate, and then the second plate, you can let more of that rumble out, without being obnoxious.
It’s a quick and easy mod that you might be able to do yourself for free, and get a bit more V-Twin rumble from your M50.
Suzuki Boulevard M50 Mod #2: Braided brake lines
The second mod I would recommend to M50 owners is adding braided brake lines.
The Suzuki Boulevard M50 has a big fat disk up front, similar to the one found on the Suzuki GSX-R race bike. The problem is that the M50 only has one big disk, not two, and it only has a drum brake in the rear. Yes a drum brake. Antiquated technology that all but one or two of it’s competitors have left in the past. And of course, the M50 weighs a lot more than the GSX-R. This motorcycle really could do with a brake upgrade.
The Boulevard M50 comes with rubber brake lines. With time the rubber brake lines become soft, changing their size and performance under pressure, reducing lose some braking power, and limiting the feedback you get from your brake lever. By switching to steel braided brake line you maintain maximum braking force and feel, helping you come to a stop better.
Drum brakes are totally adequate for those who aren’t going fast, but we could all do with more braking control, and switching to braided brake lines isn’t too expensive. If you’re going to be looking for more power later, and you will, it’s best to make sure you have improved your braking first.
Suzuki Boulevard M50 Mod #3: Full Stage 1 upgrade
Now that we’ve got better brakes, we can add some more power! Unfortunately there are no big bore kits sold for the M50, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make some improvements to the M50’s performance.
Many M50 owners have experienced decent performance gains by removing doing a “Stage 1 Kit” which involves three main parts:
- Fuel processor
Stock exhausts and air filters are restrictive. By replacing those components with aftermarket exhaust pipes and air filters for the M50, you allow the motorcycle to breath in and out much more hour. That’s the start to better performance.
The next part is very important and often overlooked: Many riders overlook the fuel portion of their motorcycle’s air to fuel ratio. You need to add a fuel processor to correctly monitor and adjust how much fuel the motorcycle is getting in order to get maximum performance out of your M50. From factory the M50 comes set fairly lean. That means the bike could do with more gas than the motor gets for optimum performance. However, the M50 isn’t tuned from factory for optimum performance, it’s tuned for clean emissions and fuel economy.
If you aren’t worried about either and just want more power, grab a fuel processor like a Power Commander, and match it with an upgraded air filter and exhaust pipes so you can let the bike take it and shoot out more air. You may only see a 5 to 10 horsepower gain, but on a 40 horsepower motorcycle, that’s at least a 10% increase in power.
Suzuki Boulevard M50 Mod #4: Upgrade the IRC tires
At this point, the next step in really making your Suzuki Boulevard M50 faster is getting better tires. Suzuki designed the M50 to be the every man’s affordable mid-size cruiser. That meant making compromises, like the drum brake and the cheap, awful, stock IRC tires that the motorcycle comes with from factory.
People will argue over Metzeler vs Pirelli, or over whether or not the cost savings on Shinko tires offsets the shorter lifespan of these tires. We won’t get into any of that. I don’t care what tires you buy, I just want you to buy something other than these IRC tires. You will love your M50 a lot more when they’re gone. Whether you’re cornering aggressively or just racing down the highway, your M50 will feel so much better.
Next, I just want you guys safe, and an LED headlight can help you. You don’t have to get one of those crazy irritating LED lights that piss off everyone else in traffic around you. You can get a cheap $18 plain jane vanilla LED and it will still be 2x to 3x as bright as the stock H4 headlight, without upsetting traffic around you.
This has three main advantages:
- It lets you see more of what’s happening around, at night time this is great because it gives your brain more time to see and identify potential issues, process them sooner, and avoid trouble
- It lets you be seen better, at day time this is great because motorcycles are small and a brighter headlight can be the difference between making it through an intersection safely or a car turning left in front of you
- It uses about 1/3 the power of a normal incandescent headlight, meaning starting your motorcycle will be easier, even with a weak battery, and you can add extra electronic gizmos if you want to.
There are a number of upgrades you can do to your Boulevard M50 depending on your interests. People who want to go on longer rides might want to add a handlebar mounted phone mount, which is great for directions and avoiding police. Saddlebags can be a handy and a windscreen can make highway riding a lot more comfortable.
People also love doing aesthetic mods like debadging their M50s or going as far as making bobbers out of them.
Whatever you decide on, just enjoy your M50 and ride it! These are a fantastic motorcycles, trust me, I’ve owned three of them.