1998 Suzuki TL1000R

26 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 1998 Suzuki TL1000R
motorcycle Suzuki AH

1998 Suzuki TL1000R

Just picked up this bike (5/28/99) at Clawson Motorsports in Fresno, California. It’s *much* different than the 1998 Honda CBR900RR I traded in for it – heavier, but generally more stable; not as quick to turn, but generates huge lean angles without fuss or drama; not of Honda build quality, but with the killer riding position.

It’s appearance has been very controversial, evoking either great adoration or complete disgust. When it first came out, I couldn’t decide which camp I fell into. After seeing it on the showroom floor, however, I loved it! Unlike everyone else, I like the rear seathump, sloped nose, and twin ram-air intakes.

The traditional Suzuki blue and white paint job does it for me too.

The engine is surprisingly strong, although after coming off the super-smooth Honda 4-cylinder, it did sound like it was falling apart and rattling itself to death. If you can get past the twin noise, you’ll find a very flexible engine with good low-down grunt, as well as a strong top-end. Once I get a few more miles on it, I’ll drag it down to a dyno and see how it compares to the 900RR (a fair bit stronger, I suspect).

With any luck this’ll be in the next couple of weeks, as I’ll likely be back in Fresno soon.

I had started to think the engine wasn’t that much of a powerplant, but got a chance to ride my old 900RR again after a week with the TL1000R. Amazingly, either due to the low reciprocating weight or different gearing, the TL1000R seems to rev much faster. I found myself shifting the 900RR at around 8k RPMs thinking I was about to redline.

Very weird.

The brakes on the TL1000R outshine those on the 900RR in a huge way. Aside from the warped rotors I suffered on the 900RR, the feel at the lever just wasn’t there. The TL1000R’s 6-pots, on the other hand, are very progressive with good feel, and will stop the bike on a dime.

The suspension on the TL1000R is firm, but not harsh. Straightlining is never a problem, although during cornering transitions, it can give you a scare. Once you get it on its side and in a corner, the bike is dead stable, and can generate some huge lean angles.

It doesn’t feel like you’re going that fast, but I’m convinced I’m actually cornering at much higher speeds than the 900RR (the lack of sensation of speed applies pretty much everywhere – you can cruise down the freeway at 3-digit speeds and still feel like you’re under the speed limit). Throw a nasty dip or bump into that corner, or throw the bike down hard setting up for a corner, and you’re often greeted with some serious rear- end squirming.

I haven’t played with the suspension enough to say the rotary damper is crap and should be chucked, however. Everyone else on the planet seems to think this is the problem, though.

One of the best things about the bike, though, is the gearbox. I started out on a 96 CBR600F3, then moved to the 98 900RR. The improvement in gearboxes was incredible. the RR’s was so much smoother it wasn’t even funny.

Then, I got on a friend’s GSX-R. Oh dear. The box on the RR felt like there were large rocks crunching between the gears after that. The TL1000R has a similarly silky gearbox – something that just has to be experienced.

Suzuki has a legendary reputation in this regard, and rightfully so.

Other miscellaneous nice bits are the headlights (nice bright, wide spread without the holes my 900RR had), riding position (low bars, high pegs), underseat storage (but will never rival the 900RR on this one), and maintenance accessibility. That last bit is especially nice. four bolts on each side drops the bottom fairing, which lets you drain the oil and change the filter; the gas tank is hinged and comes with a prop-rod for easy access to the airbox; there is much commonality among fastener sizes; the mirrors are amazingly useable, especially compared to the 900RR; etc.

Some not so nice bits: Very tall seat height, shitty fit and finish (stickers aren’t clear coated, and not well placed, loose bolts, etc.), bad tank design (see below), EFI stumbles under some circumstances, and the bike is HEAVY.

The only big problem I’m having with it right now is the fuel tank. It’s a 4.5 gallon tank, but I can’t use all of it. The fuel light is supposed to start blinking at 0.8 gallons left, and go solid at 0.4 gallons. Well, the light comes on at 2 gallons left, and go solid around 1.5 gallons. Once the light goes solid, I get a couple more miles, and then upon any sort of deceleration, the bike will die instantly.

It’ll start right back up, and be fine so long as I’m either at constant throttle or accelerating, but once I back off, the bike will die again. This is incredibly annoying, and potentially quite dangerous. So, the fuel light will come on just past 100 miles or so if I’m being somewhat nice to it.

The pisser is, there’s a lot more range hidden in there.

Other problems out there are the fuel line coming off the pump in the tank, which causes the bike to die until it’s fixed. There’s a recall/update on this from Suzuki, however – mine was done when I picked up the bike. More than a few people have reported slipping clutches, which Suzuki seems to be covering under warranty. Most people suggest staying away from fully synthetic oil, as this seems to just exacerbate the problem. Also, more than a few rear seat humps have gone flying down the road.

In the US there’s no recall for this, although in the UK there is a service bulletin along with a different latch and spring. Suzuki figures it’s the toolkit bouncing around and causing the latch to release.

June 19th, 1999 update: Of course my seat hump went airborne this morning, without provocation. The toolkit was secured in its compartment, and the latch was definitely engaged (I make bloody sure every time because of reports of flying seathumps). All the same, I heard a quick rattling, felt something hit my back, and saw the hump fly away in the rear view mirror.

Oh well. Clawson Motorsports is ordering me another. I did manage to go back and find the hump, but it’s well beat up, of course. Very annoying.

July 5th, 1999 update: Well, I got the bike dyno’d on July 2nd at Rob’s Cycle Repair in San Jose. As expected, the results are a fair shake healthier than the 900RR. I received 4 reports:

Single-gear horsepower against MPH

All-gear horsepower against MPH

Raw numbers

motorcycle Suzuki AH

Horsepower and torque against RPM

The short version is the bike pulled 119.6 horsepower and 73.4 ft-lbs of torque. The bike had about 2,300 miles on it, and was completely stock. This is about average for these bikes, so far as I can tell. In fact, the dyno operator said they’d done about 4 TL1000Rs in total, two of which when dyno’d stock turned up 122hp.

An Indigo and Yoshimura setup along with fuel injection remap netted those bikes 128hp and 129hp, respectively.

September 23rd, 1999 update: Since July, I’ve added a BMC air filter and a Yoshimura RS-3 full system. Curiously, the RS-3 cans had the optional QRB (quiet race baffle) rather than the standard race cans. I’m not sure what Yoshimura considers quiet, but these pipes are loud!

The additional baffling doesn’t seem like it’d do much, anyway.

Ah yes, back to the point. I went back to Rob’s Cycle Repair today to get the bike dyno’d again (about 7,400 miles) as well as have the fuel injection remapped. Here are the printouts.

Raw numbers, box stock (run 4)

Raw numbers, BMC and RS-3, no remap (run 5)

Raw numbers, BMC and RS-3, +10/+10/+0/11 o’clock remap (run 9)

All-gear horsepower against MPH (run 15)

Box stock versus remap (4 vs. 9)

Box stock versus no remap versus remap (4 vs. 5 vs. 9)

Short version again: 119.6 hp and 73.4 ft-lbs box stock. Just the filter and exhaust with no remap brought the numbers to 124 hp and 75.4 ft-lbs (+4.4 hp and +2.0 ft-lbs). The same modifications plus the remap totalled 126.8 hp and 76.8 ft-lbs (+7.2 hp and +3.4 ft-lbs).

So the remap itself was worth an additional 2.8 hp and 1.4 ft-lbs – definitely a worthwhile thing to do.

Here are some reviews of the bike:

motorcycle Suzuki AH
motorcycle Suzuki AH


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