SUZUKI TL1000S (1997-2001) Review

Published: 24 November 2006

"Fast if you know what you're doing and take time setting the bike's suspension"

Suzuki TL1000S motorcycle review - Riding

"Fast if you know what you're doing and take time setting the bike's suspension"

  • At a glance
  • 996cc  -  125 bhp
  • 32 mpg  -  100 miles range
  • Insurance group: 15 of 17
    Compare insurance quotes now
  • Medium seat height (835mm)

Overall Rating 3 out of 5

The Suzuki TL1000S is a motorcycle which has become the Freddie Kreuger of biking. But it's not that evil really, it just suffers from a poor rear shock design that overheats far too easily. You can go fast on the TL1000S if you know what you're doing and take time setting the bike's suspension, but the Suzuki TL1000S will always retain the ability to scare the pants off you occasionally.

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

This is where it all goes Pete Tong for the Suzuki TL1000S. The rear shock's damping action is controlled by a teaspoon of oil being forced through valves - it doesn't work. The rear end starts moving, plus the front end of the TL1000S is liable to flap about as the sheer grunt lifts the front wheel. Result; one scared rider, and possible excursions into the scenery. The Suzuki TL1000S also chews chains and rear tyres easily.

Engine 5 out of 5

The TL1000S isn't the fire-breathing crazy monster that reports from the period will have you believe. Initial throttle response is neater and more predictable than a modern Panigale and the exhaust note is ias quiet as any Euro4 bike at low revs. There's an impressive kick at the top-end and it drives hard. The gearbox is slick, as you'd expect from Suzuki. 1997 'P' reg models offer full power. After that Suzuki turned down the power to try and tame the supposed instability.

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5

The build quality is patchy. Some Suzuki TL1000S machines were rusting when new. Paint rubs away, alloy discolours, electrics and the fuel injection can play up. Luckily, owners are quite fanatical about the Suzuki TL1000S and it's common to see beautiful used examples with a host of mods up for sale in the £2000-£3000 bracket.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

The TL1000S has a cult following thanks to its reputation so people tend to hold onto them. That said, you can get hold of them for under £3000, and even less if you're prepared to buy one that's a bit scruffy. Buying one now, in 2017, is a great idea as they're only going to go up in value. Find a Suzuki TL1000S for sale.

Insurance group: 15 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 3 out of 5

The TL1000S has some decent brakes, forks and a half fairing, but it never looked as well equipped as some rivals from the late 90s. Details on the Suzuki TL1000S like the rubbish front mudguard, the crude fairing struts, sticky-out subframe and the lack of rear grabrail all hint at a bit of a rushed development. 

Owners' Reviews

22 owners have reviewed their SUZUKI TL1000S (1997-2001) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your SUZUKI TL1000S (1997-2001)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.6 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.4 out of 5
Engine 4.9 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.1 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.8 out of 5
Equipment 3.8 out of 5
5 out of 5

True Love

02 September 2017 by Frankie Z

I've owned 3 1997 TL1000S's and they've all been excellent for what I need - never taken on a track day, but I reckon they'd not embarrass even there. They certainly get you over the Mountain on the Island with a huge grin on your face - equally glad of the speed limits on the cart track from Ginger Hall to Ramsay! I've always ridden all year round and as long as they're washed down thoroughly they can survive UK winters well enough (plenty of GT85/WD40 after cleaning). Great for fast distance work and with a grab rail good two up for a sportster too - really a genuine sports tourer - load her up and then have fun on arrival. Ride fast on the revs or nearly as fast on the torque just rolling on & off the throttle: bliss! I've had standard, Maxton and Ohlins equipped bikes and the standard damper is not as bad as its reputation suggests in my opinion. Likely annoyances are oil leak from clutch cover, oil leak from clutch push-rod seal and rear exhaust stub-pipe gasket. My current (granted well looked after) !997 TL has 86000 on the clock and although is a bit down on power compared to my 21000km TL is still my favourite ride from a choice of six bikes. Love em!

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Bit heavy on wrists at slow speeds but comfortable for big mileages loaded up. Tank range suits comfort - light comes on at about 125miles. Can get nearly 60mpg if you stick to legal motorway speeds - I average around 48mpg with mix of distance and the odd thrash. Can drop into 30s if on short fast local rides. I once rode from the north of Scotland home 760 miles in one hit and could still walk the next day! Brakes good enough but not outstanding especially compared to modern stuff but engine braking helps.
Engine
5 out of 5
Fantastic - post 98 the black box retards the ignition in the bottom 3 gears which is why they feel slower but cheap fix available to give it back. Love the induction roar on stock pipes which can get drowned out on loud cans. I'd give the motor 6 out of 5.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Clean well after rainy or winter rides rides. Polish and WD after and they're fine. Change oil regularly (whatever you ride!).
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
3 pairs of tyres every two years ( I do 10ish thousand a year) - handling better on 180 section rear rather than standard 190 for me - 20000 for a looked after chain. Change oil on shorter schedule to be on safe side (though I do this on all my engines)
Equipment
5 out of 5
Big enough for getting luggage on, small enough to ride on al kinds of roads. Only tyres I've not particularly liked on TLs were Pilot Road 3s but as I said I prefer 180 rears and those were 190s so...
Buying experience

Can still be had for under £2k

5 out of 5

TL1000s widow maker

25 January 2017 by Mal

Not for the faint hearted awsome exciting unpredictability is what makes you wish you never sold it. Not to mention the fact its the best sounding V Twin out there. TL1000s the bike that every RD rider should own.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
for me this was superb but then i did grow up on RDs so what do i know about ride quality and brakes. thrashed the life out of this and despite the odd fuck me where am i gona put it never killed me or even came off lucky i guess if you read some reveiws.
Engine
5 out of 5
Speechless
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
blah blah recalls means free upgrades we all like sumit for free. owned mine for three happy years replaced tyres and chain n sprockets once. Not out of the way for a bike with so much grunt.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
as above plus oil n filters plugs
Equipment
4 out of 5
you dont buy a tl for equipment if you want equipment managability and sadation by a vtr.
Buying experience

dealer asked £2700 got for £2200

5 out of 5

One of my favorite bikes ever....

30 December 2016 by Ted Holman

Best long distant sport touring bike I have ever ridden. The tranny was perfect, the motor with a set of pipes on it can't be beat for sound. My license plate for it was "EAT DUC" which I did a lot of at the track after replacing the rear shock with Penske.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Love the balance of the bike
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Never has given me a lick of problems
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Oil and gas
Equipment
2 out of 5
Two Brother Racing Pipes were made in Tijuana and burned out quickly..
Buying experience

Bought it new from Ted, my local Suzuki dealer who passed not long after. Loved going there and loved buying the bike from him. Crotchety old guy who sat over the heater vent during the winter, smoked and drank coffee....

5 out of 5

Why Not Have One

08 February 2014 by Gusty

been the Owner from New in 97,yes have to replace tyres each year, but the chain had lasted 15 years. plastic work always breaks when removing it, but Iput that down to age now.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Great engine

26 February 2013 by neilcowey

I had one of the first in the country,being on the waiting list at my local dealer,looked good in green. First year was a bit up and down with recalls and the press getting their knickers in a bunch over how dangerous it was. Yes it shook its head a bit but usually I was riding like a tit anyway. The steering damper recall spoiled the steering feel imho,and it would weave gently in fast bends but I loved it,brilliant engine torquey with top end and the handling you got used to, not a bad riding position either. Had it for 4 years only got rid because i fancied a change and I've regretted it ever since. Have had a Falco and a SV1000s they're just not as good/exciting.......

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
3 out of 5

Love/Hate

21 May 2010 by IronblockV8

owned it for 12 years,nearly new when I got it,when it runs right its fantastic,when it plays up it's a piece of junk.Ignore all the crap about Japanese reliability,it's a myth unless it's a Honda,I've had more problems with this bike than there is room to list,bad expensive things as well and as soon as I can afford it it'll be gone,needless to say the next bike will have a Honda badge on it.I think alot of the problems stem from the cheap shit build quality,you get what you pay for and after the CBR i had before this the TL feels like some Chinese thrown together budget bike.A great bike when it's not playing up,a bleeding nightmare when it is.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
1 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

I love it!

11 May 2010 by tbaria

My favorite Crotch Rocket. I have had a 95'CBR600f3, 98'ZX9R , 01'SV650S , I like the TL1000S the best. Makes riding in the triple digets easy. I don't know if it could beat the ZX9R I had but pretty close. I have not had a problem with rotary damper. I probably don't ride hard enough. Lots of power and torque. More than enough for most people. If you need more your crazy! It will kill you! This bike will do what you want it to do. The "bad" your rear tire will wear out fast ha ha!

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

The Dogs B*******

25 January 2010 by Roadrunner007

Have owned mine for nearly two years and I have to say what a machine. This was my first Litre Bike and took some getting used to, however it is very rewarding, sounds awesome and the engine never fails. When you go to a bike meet, many people look as the TL1000S is fairly rare these days and with unbaffled cans sounds like thunder. You need to muscle this bike a bit to get it to do what you want and be careful of the engine breaking as its pretty hard. All in all a lot of bike and fun for the money and rare to boot.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

get one before they disappear

23 February 2009 by GJB1

I've owned mine for 10 years and still can't think of what to replace it with. It is a fantastic bike, huge power everywhere (I had a ZZR 1100 previously)handling better than me and enormous fun. I run a full Yoshi system, and the noise is incredible...not so bad at tickover, but amazing when opened up. Best mods apart from the exhaust, fully adjustable Sprint steering damper (run at its weakest setting) and braided brake hoses. If you haven't tried one, make the effort, it's an adrenaline fuelled rush every ride!

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

IF YOU WANT ONE GET IT

21 February 2009 by mick750

The most fun you can have without busting the bank and fun it can be. The noise can loud with aftermarket cans ( art cans on mine )but they`ll hear you coming and you`ll be differant. Have fun but itis an animal when it wants to be so be warned

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

KEEP IT A SECRET

05 February 2009 by GIZMOSMITH

All i can say is ignore what the mags say about the TL remember they ride the bikes to the limit, how many of us can say we do i ride hard and fast and the TL is supurb yes get a new shock for the rear and yes get a new damper for the front get the suspension set up for you and more than anything remember to respect it. when the the TL was new it was one of the first big v twins to come out and have so much power and the said full throttle out of a corner it was a bit wild ! what did the expect try and do the same on a new GSXR 1000 that would get a bit wild as well!!!! I love the TL with race cans the sound it just adictive you find yourself cracking open the throttle just to hear that thundering sound it can keep up with most of my mates and we all have 1000cc sports bikes. I go to allot of bike meets and get the same looks and muttrings ( you dont see many of those around ) and thats the good thing its not another GSXR. Great bike loads of power great noise good handling when sorted somthing different oh and it makes you smile everytime you go for a ride isnt that what its all about.

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

My Pet Monster

26 February 2008 by widowmakerv2

I have owned my TLs for 7 years now and and love it. keep it on an optimate charger and look after its cailpers. Keep an eye on the 2 side bolts the lossen themselves off. also if you have a small water leak coming from R/H casing hole just to the front. That is your mechanical seal has gone it costs about £30.00 from your suzuki dealer. Its not a big job and not the end of the world. Leave lots off slack in your chain as it goes boe string tight when you pinch up nut on rear wheel. so find tigtest part of chain then ajust there . there is lots more but if anyone is looking to buy one and have a Qestion Email me on kennymcq@googlemail.com

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Animal

21 February 2008 by sm837

Hi I had the TL1000r and had to sell it due to personel reasons, Regretted it ever since, Just got the TL1000s and what a machine experieced rider's only, and give it respect loads of power handles well if you take it by the scruff of the neck, pulls pulls pulls although my TL1000r was a better machine.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Utterly underated and now incredible value

20 September 2007 by spondonste

I've actually owned 2 TL1000S so that itself says something about them. Some people can get on with V twin engines and others say they can't. If you can then you've got to try a TL1000S. The uummph from the engine from 6000rpm onwards is utterly addictive as is the engine noise with race cans. The handling can be twitchy when HARD on the power over bumpy roads. The main prob is the rear damper unit squatting under power which lifts the front end such that undulations on the road can cause the front to twitch. Its no worse than any other bike I've ridden but the torque allows you to get in that situation easier than some other bikes. Mines fitted with a WP rear shock and handling is more than good enuff to keep up with pretty much anything round the twisties on track days (brakes and chassis are capable of keeping with most things if in good sted). I've toured all over europe without aches and pains on it and if not in 'cane it' mode it'll return around 46miles per gallon. People who buy TL1000S all miss them when they replace them and quite a significant proportion go and buy another one. I can't think of a package that offers anywhere near the same fun and character of the TL1000S at the same price Very early bikes (97) produced the most power but had slightly lumpy delivery. This should be sorted nowdays with a recall remap. If the bike runs lumpy at 3-4000rpm then the throttle position sensor needs adjusting which is just loosening off a couple of screws, repositioning the sensor and securing.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

F.J.C Bike...

20 July 2007 by lount

A friend of mine who owns Leicester's best bike shop, called Chris Sharpe once said about the TL1000s, its got an FJC engine...Which he axplained as one of those rare bikes you ride and then say to yourself its an fjc, ride. "F...ing Jesus Christ"!Ride one and see what he was talking about.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

The TL 1000s

20 July 2007 by lount

To quote a respected member of Leicester's biking community, called Chris Sharpe.This bike delivers an unforgetable mad rush of power, which he called an "F.J.C" engine, {F..king Jesus Christ}...There are faster and wilder bikes out there, but nothing kicks like an angry TLS!

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

mint tl1000s

27 June 2007 by fazers123

Very nice bike,Plenty of power,Runs rough at low revs[3000] handles ok.It as Ohling shock. Front brakes very good back rubbish,Engine not as good a my Vrod but i will not part with it

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Bike for the brave?

12 October 2005 by Klaus20

Had my 1998 TL for a month now and im chuffed with it. Its a full power original version, meaning masses of grunt everywhere in any gear. It has race cans which are a must for the fantastic noise and extra power. Even without fuelling mods for the cans its kicking out 125bhp. The handling is fine once setup, even more so with the crap steering damper removed, but will be miles better when I fit Ohlins or similar. If you find the fueling at low revs is dodgy, adjust the throttle position sensor, then it will be as smooth as a babies bum. Strengths: Masses of grunt from the engine, comfy, just ticks along at high speed, cheap. Weaknesses: Handling is different!, thirsty when ridden hard, question mark over frames cracking.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

The most under-rated bike I've ridden in my 26 years on the street...

02 August 2005 by nGenTech

I've owned or ridden one of most major Jap bike models over the years and I can honestly say this is my pick of the lot. Replace the stock shock with a regular aftermarket piece, bolt on a full system and add a TRE and what your left with is the most fun race-rep you can get for your dollar. It also helps if you replace that steering damper with an adjustable piece. A few select mods has you between 125-130 rwhp and between 75-80 lbs of torque. Getting the bike down to a 470lb wet weight is not hard at all. If Suzuki had just tossed the rotary damper and put some track development into this bike I think it could have been a winner. Now, it's just a hell of a lot of fun for the person who can appriciate it. Go get one... Strengths: 120+ rwhp V-twin for sod all cash. Aggressive styling that still attracts more attention than most of the new bikes. Can easily be modded into the bike Suzuki should have built. Weaknesses: Stock rear shock. Stock exhaust too restrictive. No adjustment on steering damper. No longer loved by the after market community.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Fantastic, full of character, and still turns heads!

16 July 2005 by TLTimmo

Owned since new, no problems except lumpy power delivery around town or on part throttle. Power Commander should fix that and I will get round to fitting one eventually. Race cans a must, OEM exhausts too quiet. Handling ok except long sweepers - can't get suspension set up quite right, and rear pre-load adjustment impossible nearly. Strengths: Grunt, sound, presence. Weaknesses: Brakes, lumpy fuelling, crap finish.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

My Review

04 April 2002 by ratbark

Love just about everything except not sure about handling, BUT, it will be going for a couple of suspension mods shortly which will imporve things no end. Absolutely stunning bike. Have no regrets buying it.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
3 out of 5

My Review

05 March 2002 by johnherron

A real head turner, sounded great, brilliant engine, didn't handle the best and lost rear damping after a few K's when rotary damper became very hot... good front end, brakes ok but not as good as some... overall great for the street but could think of better things to ride on track. was exhausting to ride hard because of the weight and handling. Just couldn't seem to get the set up right on it...

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
2 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1997
Year discontinued 2001
Original price -
Used price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 15 of 17
Annual road tax £85
Annual service cost £130
Performance
Max power 125 bhp
Max torque 76 ft-lb
Top speed 165 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 10.9 secs
Average fuel consumption 32 mpg
Tank range 100 miles
Specification
Engine size 996cc
Engine type 4 stroke, V-twin, 6 gears
Frame type Alloy oval section trellis
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Seat height 835mm
Bike weight 191kg
Front suspension Preload, rebound, compression
Rear suspension Preload, rebound, compression
Front brake Twin 320mm disc
Rear brake 220mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/50 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1997: Suzuki TL1000S launched.
1998: Steering damper retro fitted to Suzuki TL1000S by Suzuki GB, fuel injection tweaks.
2000: New colours/graphics 2001 Suzuki TL1000S Model discontinued.

Other versions

None.

Photo Gallery

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  • Suzuki TL1000S motorcycle review - Side view
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