Twenty years ago was the perfect time for a Japanese invasion into the V-twin world. We’d already seen Yamaha dip a toe in the water with its faux-twin TRX850 in 1996, but it was under-suspended and under-powered. But a year later Suzuki and Honda put their money where their mouth was to take on Ducati at their own game.
Meet the TL1000S and the VTR1000 Firestorm: road-going sportsbikes developed without racing in mind and a key design brief to just be grunty, loud and bloody fast on the road. With their half fairings and confident styling they look similar, but their stories and level of success couldn’t have been more different.
Both used new tech ideas to make up for the added length that a V-twin configuration gives, but while the Firestorm was a good seller, the TL1000S gained a reputation as a slap-happy widowmaker to earn it a place in motorcycling’s hall of infamy.
But right now, both look like superstars. With styling that hasn’t been dated by shell-suit graphics and festooned in neat touches and novel technology, they have a presence and a heritage that makes them future classics. We were intrigued to see just how they fare in 2017.
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