Fact file: Suzuki TL1000R
Rediscovering the ’90s forgotten V-twin superbike contender
FEW MOTORCYCLES have been on as extreme a roller-coaster journey as Suzuki’stl1000s and subsequent R. Created, like Honda’svtr1000, in the mid-’90s as Japan’s response to Ducati’s all-conqueringv-twins, the two Suzukis seemed to have an awful lot going for them – on paper at any rate.
The S was first in late 1996 and intended as a pure road machine with a Ducati Ss-style frame and half fairing.the R followed as a track-focussed,wsb contender with a more powerful engine, uprated brakes, Gsx-rstyle frame and full fairing.
But if, on paper, thetls seemed to have it all, the reality was so flawed both were killed off after barely five years.
First the S, thanks to a mix of flighty steering, flawed suspension and punchy performance, it earned a reputation as a ‘widow-maker’ prompting a rapid recall and a steering damper. Its reputation, however, never recovered.
The R fared little better.with Suzuki persisting with the controversial rotary rear damper, the same questions were being asked before it even turned a wheel.
The real killer, though, was the R never came close to being the Ducati-beating Wsb-contender Suzuki intended it to be. Despite its stumpy wheelbase, the R was confoundingly both heavier and larger than the S and too bulky all round. Equally problematic was the motor.although producing a claimed 135bhp in stock TL-R trim, it proved difficult to tune and, as a result, never even competed INWSB. Suzuki decided it’d be too expensive to race successfully so stuck with its familiar GSX-R750 instead.
And all of that together – dubious reputation, lack of track success, ready-made, proven alternatives such as Suzuki’s own GSX-R andyamaha’s NEWYZF-R1 – cemented thetl-r’s sales failure.
Of course, none of that made thetl-r a bad bike – far from it.although in the mid-noughties used examples remained unloved and undervalued, in the years since the R has matured into a cult classic. Until recently, ATL-R was not just a characterful, lively road bike; it was also a comfortable, exclusive and downright cheap one.
And, although many have now caught on and prices are on the rise, the R remains a steal today.while impractical 996s and SP-1S and 2s cost more than £5K, a cleantl-r can still be had for under £3K and it continues to deliver a rich road experience. Buy one while it’s still a bargain.