Suzuki TL1000R review

Posted: 25 Mar 2013

Where Suzuki’s half naked TL1000S V-twin street bike failed to ignite the sporting throng, the TL1000R made up for the S-model’s lack of sporting application by being a track focused tool… well, it looked like it could talk the walk. It certainly managed to hang onto the tails of Ducati big twins, and that was its failing – it failed to compete on several levels.

TL1000R was Suzuki’s entry into big sporting V-twin power. With 135bhp on tap it wasn’t lacking in top speed performance nor pure torque, but both were placed quite high in the rev range and needed total commitment to make the most of the 996cc engine. An engine that was free of ills with factory special components and it rightly got stamped with Suzuki’s fearsome reputation of being an unburstable motor. Even the fuel injection was top notch.

What wasn’t so good was Suzuki insisted on sticking to an offset rear shock to overcome the length of the V-twin engine squashed into a short wheelbase with a light front end. Wheelies are not a problem but strange handling characteristics of rapid front end steering made the front liable to tuck under with a cold tyre and faster speeds led to nervous steering. It wasn’t a third as bad as the previous TL1000S, but Suzuki still played safe with a steering damper as standard.

It’d be fair to say the TL1000R was born to race, but unless you had a mega-buck sponsorship package and a devoted engine tuner, there really wasn’t a lot more to come from the engine. This is underlined by the lack of TL1000Rs in superbike championship guise.

As a trackday tool the TL1000R was ok in its day but was horribly expensive to kick straight. As a road bike it was a single person’s tool – look at the seating arrangement for a pillion to see what we mean. A clean standard one today commands good money due to subdued sales in its day.

+ points – potent motor when used to its full. Looks better with age

- points – oddball handling

Year: 1998-2003
Power: 134.8bhp, 97.9ft lbs
Dry weight: 192kg
Seat height: 825mm
Colours: red, black, blue/white, yellow