Driving report Suzuki TL 1000 R

Driving report Suzuki TL 1000 R

On probation

With the super sporty TL 1000 R, Suzuki wants to prove that the two-cylinder principle can bear fruit with the TL 1000 S despite massive starting difficulties.

“The TL 1000 R, a motorcycle with the potential to win superbike races.” Suzuki gets to the heart of it so clearly on the first page of the official press kit.

Not an overly modest claim that the Japanese make, and above all not an easy task to live up to this claim. After all, in 1997, Suzuki was not able to achieve great success with its first sporty two-cylinder. Too many small and large weaknesses plagued the TL 1000 S to be able to speak of a well thought-out, mature concept. The new TL 1000 R should therefore not only be a sporty offshoot of the S version, but a consistent further development.
And it is important to get to know them a little better on the Australian Grand Prix circuit at Eastern Creek. The first pre-series machines are ready at a fantastic 35 degrees in the shade. At first glance it can be seen that this R version no longer has much in common with the TL 1000 S. The exterior is more like the GSX-R line than the two-cylinder model. The R looks very compact and massive.
It makes a rather dainty impression without disguise. The new aluminum bridge frame is extremely narrow, and the one-piece rear frame is welded together from the thinnest aluminum tubes. It is noticeable that the motor is not screwed to the chassis directly, but via additional retaining plates. In this way, the installation position of the engine can easily be changed later during sports use. The same applies to the new swing arm with stabilizing beams. Their point of articulation can be varied by means of various mounting sockets in the frame and, according to the same principle, the steering head angle (see box). However, these change options are only intended for use in racing. And for this purpose, Suzuki also offers a special kit. The complete set costs around 140,000 marks and includes pretty much everything that is allowed according to the Superbike regulations.
But back to the series. The heavily redesigned TL engine is hardly recognizable. Without even slapping once at idle, it purrs quietly and unobtrusively to itself. The thermal budget is apparently in order thanks to the two large water coolers, because even in scorching heat and five minutes at idle, the thermometer does not climb above 90 degrees. Although the new one lacks the powerful acceleration below the 4000 rpm mark, it shows up in the upper area as an extremely manoeuvrable companion who has to be put in his place again and again by the electronic limiter. From a purely emotional point of view, the promised 135 hp seem to be a fairly optimistic announcement due to the power curve increasing evenly from 6000 rpm, but a look at the speedometer, which marks almost 260 km / h on the home straight, suggests that the TL engine does not suffer from consumption.
A new, reinforced clutch ensures a smooth frictional connection. Equipped with six instead of the previous five springs, it is now hydraulically operated to reduce manual effort. While the controllability when starting off leaves something to be desired, the anti-hopping system already known from the TL 1000 S is convincing when driving (see box). Regardless of the speed at which you shift down, the rear wheel never begins to stamp.
There are excellent marks for the braking system. The six-piston pliers impress with their good effectiveness and constant dosing in both cold and hot conditions. Even after ten hard laps there are still no signs of tiredness. The GSX-R 750 could learn a thing or two about that.
The chassis ensures less enthusiasm. Despite the extremely short wheelbase of 1395 millimeters and a steering head angle of 67 degrees, the TL reacts rather reluctantly when it comes to turning into a tight bend. From an incline of about 30 degrees, it literally falls into the curve and looks wobbly and nervous. It takes a lot of effort to create a clean radius on the asphalt. Even when accelerating out, the R does not behave very confidently. It reacts to strong acceleration in an inclined position with a rocking and pumping stern. The reason for this improper behavior is quickly found, however. In the search for proper grip on the slippery slopes, the pressure in the Metzeler ME Z3, which was specially developed for the TL 1000 R, was reduced to 2.0 bar at the front and rear. With the standard air pressure of 2.5 bar, both the steering behavior and the stability when accelerating are significantly better.
A tighter setting of the rear rotary vane damper brings a further improvement. Despite a special valve, as with the TL 1000 S, the damping decreases drastically with increasing driving time. Actually, this valve was supposed to compensate for damping losses caused by temperature fluctuations, but after 20 minutes the rebound damping had to be turned off to the stop.
Already equipped with a steering damper as standard, the R can hardly cover up its tendency to hit the handlebars. The handlebars twitch again and again when the front wheel briefly loses contact with the ground while accelerating. For better weight distribution, the battery slid to the left of the front cylinder, but 51 percent of the weight is still on the rear wheel.
A.Speaking of weight: two bathroom scales smuggled out of the hotel reveal the TL 1000 R to be a real heavy athlete. These days, 217 kilograms with a full tank of fuel and no tools are a lot of wood for a super sporty two-cylinder. This means that the R not only weighs around three kilograms more than its sister S, but is also heavier than the entire four-cylinder competition such as the R1, CBR 900 or ZX-9R. In terms of price, however, Suzuki‘s sporty Vau, at 19,490 marks, is well below these competitors.

Technology transparent – Suzuki TL 1000 R

It is not uncommon for Japanese motorcycles to be facelifted just a year after they were presented. An intensive revision is more surprising. But if a completely new motorcycle in many components is brought onto the market after a year, it is like a sensation. This is what happened with Suzuki’s super sports car TL 1000 S, which was joined by the fully faired TL 1000 R Superbike in 1998. The completely new bridge frame causes astonishment, as the chassis of the TL 1000 S was not the cause of its controversial driving behavior With a comparatively weighty frame of 14 kilograms, the technicians justify the numerous possibilities for the planned superbike engagement. There are various inserts for the steering head with which the wheelbase, the steering head angle and thus also the caster can be changed. Furthermore, different inlets vary the position of the swing arm mounting by two millimeters up or down, quite apart from the usual adjustment mechanisms of the suspension strut. With various springs and reversing levers, the driver can choose both the entire chassis geometry and the spring characteristics according to his own ideas. But the Suzuki technicians also thoroughly revised the engine. Optimized intake ports, two injection nozzles per cylinder, a larger cooling capacity and a revised clutch, in addition to further detailed measures, are to do justice to the performance that has increased to 135 hp. The clutch, which caused problems on the long-distance TL 1000 S from MOTORRAD, is now reinforced and has a revised anti-hopping mechanism. In push mode, the claws of the clutch driver twist and disengage the clutch via ramps to such an extent that torque peaks caused by the high degree of irregularity of a large two-cylinder in push mode are reduced. The dreaded stamping of the rear wheel when pushing and braking at the same time is no longer necessary. The effort was obviously worth it, the behavior in push-pull operation was exemplary during the first test drives.

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