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TL1000R – Suzuki 2nd & Best V Twin Superbike

The TL1000R followed on from the TL1000S, it was released in 1998 and had a production run until 2004. The model was never replaced with anything else.

Thankfully having been released a year after the S model, the R didn’t have to go through the disastrous recall the TLS had faced thanks to a rear suspension system that wasn’t up to par.

The TL1000R gained a reputation as a V twin superbike powerhouse, fun to ride, wild and crazy but a solid competitor for the V twins that had been coming out of Europe.

A race bike built from the ground up using the newly developed V twin engine that would propel riders to high speeds with big torque, top end power, modern design and build quality.

It doesn’t have the same rags to riches/comeback story as the TLS but it is still considered a Suzuki sports classic. So let’s take a look.

Suzuki TL1000R Review

In 1998 Suzuki released their second attempt at a V twin sports bike, the all new engine was fitted into an aluminium chassis which on this occasion was a supersport-style track bike chassis as opposed to the more street friendly chassis of the TL S.

The TL1000R had the same motor but it was tuned for higher top end power, it is thought that the power delivery to the rear wheel of the R was smoother and more linear than that of the S.

MCN praised the R’s motor “The Suzuki TL1000R has a truly awesome engine, producing a claimed 135bhp… the Suzuki TL1000R still feels like it makes as much poke as a Ducati 916 can manage, by about 6000 revs. Sheer, liquid, adrenaline-pumping lunge and the fuel injection works better on the TL1000R than on the Suzuki TL1000S.”

All good sports motorcycles are only as good as their engine, the fact is and many owners will agree the R’s engine is impressive. The new bike also received stronger connecting rods, forged pistons and twin throttle bodies that ensured the engine was strong enough to match an increased output as well as produce it.

It is the chassis however, that should get the most attention in this case and it is the thing that most people will have been focused on simply because the TLS had gone through a grand public mishap due to its, say spirited (but rather dangerous) handling.

Thankfully, Suzuki resolved this with the supersport version with an improved steering damper, revised steering geometry and the bikes naturally heavier weight increased stability.

What was interesting is that Suzuki did not change the rotary suspension system for the rear shock, so the rear spring remained separate from the absorber. This was likely to save costs of creating a whole new rear suspension set up for the bike. The frame was strengthened and the swing arm braced, so this also went some way to providing stability.

The revised version did enough to keep the front wheel down most of the time (unless you don’t want to) and the handling was certainly more stable and confident both around town and the track.

Suzuki also improved the brakes on the TL1000R over the S, with six piston calipers replacing the four piston calipers on the S; these gave you more than enough stopping power when coming down from speed.

The one thing to note about the TL1000R is that it isn’t a particularly comfortable bike, with a pretty rubbish stock seat, sports touring is not an option for the average rider with one of these unless you load up with rider aids and aftermarket parts to increase comfort. The bike is kept on the track and for weekend blasts in the twisties.

Overall the TL R was a success and it certainly offered an alternative to the more expensive Italian sports bike V twins that were on the market. It also gave fans of the Suzuki brand an alternative to the GSXR 1100 and ever present GSXR 750 if the Gixxer wasn’t their thing.

Suzuki TL1000R Specs list

Engine and Transmission

Chassis and Dimensions

TL1000R Variants

The TL1000R only had one other variant and that was the TL1000S, a half faired more street orientated version of the R.

Price guide

At the time of it’s release the TL1000R was priced around the same as the Honda Firestorm which made it pretty good value for money.

The TL1000R has a slightly higher average price than theTL S at around £4,000 in the UK. In the US prices sit anywhere from $3,000-$7,000.

Just like the TL S the R is slowly creeping up in value with riders looking back quite fondly on the first V twin sports bikes from Suzuki.

Does the TL1000R make for a good Restoration project?

The Suzuki TL1000R is a good bike for someone who wants to get into restoring sportsbikes.

The only problem you may have is that the bike is fully faired and should the bike have been dropped or in an accident replacing the original plastics like for like is always a bit tricky.

Aside from the bodywork, parts are easy to find, prices are reasonable and a well restored model could make you a bit of profit if you hold on to it while the value continues to rise.

Is the Suzuki TL1000R a future classic?

From the way prices are increasing for the Suzuki TL1000R I would suggest that the TL1000R will be considered a classic in the future along with the TL1000S. Both bikes are collectors bikes as it stands today, so good condition models in a few years time will likely fetch a high price tag if you find the right buyer.

The TL R is like a fine wine ageing well, hold on to it, treat it right and it will serve you well when it comes time to review whether to keep it or sell it.

Verdict

Just because the issues were fixed with the TL S before the TL R was released doesn’t mean the R was a complete pussy cat. It is a wild thing, with a lot of attitude and it is only thanks to a good steering damper that you can maintain a level of control when riding at speed.

The Suzuki TL1000R was a sports bike that meant business, the V twin engine was brilliant and made for a great ride and still does. To avoid the hassle of the TL S, I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase a TL R especially for a track hack to throw around on the weekends.

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