Article by: Mike Jacobs
Since 1981 when a bunch of motorcycle buddies made a pact to get together on their bikes every Friday the 13th, Port Dover has steadily inched its way toward the titles of the largest single day motorcycle rally in North America. On a summer day, attendance can often reach over 100k riders, but it’s perhaps the attitude of Port Dover that makes it really stand out. If there’s a more bodacious rally in Ontario, Canada I don’t know what it is.
In a world of motorcycle charity rallies, Port Dover (or PD13 as some locals call it) has always been about 100% pure wild and woolly attitude. From the perennial sightings of the jerky skinned “thong-man” to the hundreds, if not thousands, of custom bikes, trikes and scooters, PD13 is more about showing off your personal style than riding.
So what better place to showcase our test bike for the weekend, than at this events and on the backroads and byways of Ontario’s Southwest And what better bike for this, than Suzuki’s take-no-prisoners, hold-no-bars M109R Boulevard.
I haven’t had the chance to ride many Suzuki’s – not by choice, they just happen to be all signed out by the time motorcycle season comes up. I’ve tested their V-Strom with Roger Parsons of Motorcycle Mojo, and was impressed, but the M109R is a completely different type of bike.
We’re all aware that the Japanese manufacturers have been trying to claw their way into the Harley market for some time – with some success. However, even Harley can’t compete with the sheer brawn of this bike, without a few thousand dollars in customization.
The first thing that strikes me about the M109R is the back tire. Probably about a foot wide, I start getting worried about how this thing is going to handle. It’s way to easy to straddle the bike, and the rake is seriously intense, but after a first few wobbly turns to the gas station and then onto the highway, things start to make sense.
Following me in my V8 Mercedes E-class is our photographer, and we’re on the 407, so even at rush hour, traffic is moving fine.
He has trouble keeping up as soon as we leave Markham.
And this trend follows throughout the weekend. Once my riding buddy arrives on his junior Suzuki, we get a chance to ride into the countryside and it quickly become clear that the M109R is no slouch – it just looks like it might be a heavy American tank. But it’s raw power is easily controlled.
We hit a couple of backroads on the way to PD13 (including my patented route for beating the traffic) and find a crazy good parking spot right downtown. It’s not long before there a crowd of people around the yellow and black beast, asking me questions that unfortunately I can’t answer. But I can tell them it’s as fun to ride as it is to look at.
Throughout the event I’m continuously reminded that everyone has their own taste in bikes, and their own way of expressing themselves. There’s no accounting for taste. But for a factory custom, the M109R definitely put the crowd at PD13 on their back heels.
PD13 is mostly a daytime event, with the huge crowds riding out before the evening really falls – so when we pack up our stuff and ride out of town, we’re not the only ones. The organizers of the event have done a fantastic job of making sure traffic flows in and out of town smoothly – not fast, but smooth.
But it’s the backroads where the M109R are most at home. And when we discover we’re lost for the third time in a row, I really couldn’t care less. As the bike pulls my shoulders back and we round another corner, I know that it’s not just about the looks with this beauty – it’s also about the ride. And What A Ride it is.