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>1997 Suzuki TL1000S tested by us at DoctorDanger.com

We tested the Suzuki TL1000s and found it to be a fantastic bike with plenty of grunt. Those who think the TL is a bad handling machine probably haven't ridden one with the front steering damper removed, or have chosen the wrong tyres or setup. Sure the bike is a but twitchy but so is any sports bike with that much power and torque.

A report from the owner: Ricky Mullis (Team Physio for DoctorDanger.com)

Owners Report: This is the only brand spanking new thing I've ever owned (and I'm still paying it off after nearly 5 years!!). I think that it's worth every penny though. The torque of the engine and the noise it makes just turns you into a hooligan whenever you ride it. The original fuel injection mapping caused the power delivery to be a bit abrupt. Well actually, it came in with a real bang as you opened the throttle, and I believe that this was a large part of the problem that was reported in the first road tests (people were complaining of being spat off on bends, and of the front end getting a bit nervous when you crack it open). Naturally, the handling, chassis and the innovative (unfamiliar) rear rotary damper got the blame, but I reckon people used to smoother less torquey bikes were just a bit disrespectful of a potent beast.

Suzuki's typical corporate response was along the lines of... there isn't a problem with the handling of the TL1000S. but we'll retro-fit a rock solid steering damper anyway just to cure the problem that never existed in the first place. I kept the damper on for a good while, just out of ignorance really. When I finally decided to bin it, it just made the whole bike feel so much lighter and turn much quicker I wish I'd done straight away. I've not had any nasty incidents, it can get a bit lively when cranked over on white lines, but what sports bike doesn't?

I've had the fuel injection remapped by Steve at Symtek Racing, and it's a revelation. The power delivery is just so much more controllable. You can get on the gas much earlier out of corners without upsetting the handling; again it's light years ahead of the original settings.

I've still got the original size tyre on the back (i.e. 190 section). A lot of folks reckon that going down to a 180 section tyre helps the bike flip over from side to side quicker, so I might give it a try next replacement time.

I've only had a couple of problems. The first is well known. Basically the oil-bathed clutch slips if you use fully synthetic ultra-slippy oil.

Secondly, I had a problem with the fuel tank not venting properly. I've mentioned this to a number of dealers and to Suzuki UK direct and been told it's not something they've ever come across before. The first thing I noticed was that the petrol tank was mysteriously sunken inwards on top (like somebody had sat on it!). The bike had been running fine. When I opened the fuel filler to check out what was going on the thing popped back into shape like magic. The next time I rode it, after about 10 miles the tank started to implode on itself. Again the bike was running fine. What was happening was that the fuel pump (powering the fuel injection) was sucking like a good'un, while the tank vent (around the filler cap) was not breathing (i.e. not allowing air in to replace the fuel being used). The resulting partial vacuum was causing the tank to literally implode. On most bikes, and especially those with a gravity fed fueling system, the engine would simply cut out with fuel starvation. Once I sussed out what was happening, a tiny spacer placed under one of the tank filler mounting bolts fixed it instantly. Am I the only person on the planet to have experienced this problem?

The motorcycle
" It handles much better after taking the steering dampener off it, but if you went really gung-ho into the corners on a TL you can tell that its going to come back hard and really bite you!"
Comment from Chris Kirby.
Original Specification: 1987 Suzuki GSXR1100  
  • Engine: Four-stroke, watercooled DOHC, 8 valve, 90 V-twin
  • Displacement: 997cc
  • Carburettors: fuel injection
  • Lubrication: Wet Sump
  • Clutch: the old cable method
  • Ignition: Transistorised
  • Transmission: 6-speed, constant mesh
  • Overall Length:
  • Overall Width: who cares?
  • Overall Height:
  • Seat Height: 33 inches
  • Wheelbase: 55.7 inches
  • Ground Clearance:
  • Dry Weight: 187kg (411 lbs)
  • Suspension (Front): Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped, spring preload, fully adjustable
  • Suspension (Rear): Single spring with pre-load adjuster, separate rotary damper with individual adjustment for compression and rebound damping.
  • Brakes (Front): 4 piston brake system, twin floating discs, hydraulically operated
  • Brakes (Rear): 2 piston fixed disc brake, hydraulically operated
  • Tyres: Front = 120/70 ZR17 radial, Rear - 190/50 ZR17 radial
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 17L (3.7 Imp Gal.
Other bikes we have tested...
Modifications conducted over the years...  
About the modifications: Appart from the de-restrictor, all of the modifications to this bike were done by the owner (Ricky Mullis) possibly making this TL one of the most dangerous bike on the road!
The good bits: about the TL1000S  

Hooligans bike, motor, power delivery, fast, noise, reasonably comfortable (for a sports bike), attractive used prices.


Reputation as a widow maker with a scary rear rotary damper style shock, slightly twitchy, resale value (low due to reputation). It also has a small fuel tank which is a bit of a pain on long distrance trips.


Consumables: is the TL1000s expensive to run?  

It eats tyres like any modern performance bike. If it weren't for the track days I do, I'd get about 3,000 miles from the rear, a bit more from the front.

After trying the Rennsports on Chris's Yamaha R1 these Pirelli's will be going!


Favourite suppliers:  

Symtek Racing: they remapped the TL's fuel injection system and did a great job!

Malplates (licence plate supplier) order on-line and have receive the new plate in the post a couple days later!


Useful links for TL1000 owners:  

Here's what other members of DoctorDanger.com had to say after riding the 1997 Suzuki TL1000S