Welcome to Randy’s TL1000S Site!


(Oh my gosh, you guys.   The domain file for this web page got corrupt.  On top of that, Apple closed down .mac web pages and iweb pages.  So... here we go to the bottom of the search results!   I recreated the whole thing just coz I love the damned bike... will try to update as things change this summer!  ...June 2012)

Well, this is my TL1000 page.  After 10 years of ownership..?  I still love the thing.  Latest updates:

Odometer:  16,100

summer 2012 REASSEMBLY!  powder coated black chassis and swingarm, rebuilt suspension, refreshed motor (rings and valve job) at 15,800 miles.

Fall 2010: blew headgasket and bike has been apart till summer 2012  >8-(

Summer 2010: set personal best laptime at Blackhawk for the TL!  1:19.1

Summer 2009: finally fixed a misfire that has plagued me FOR A YEAR

Fall 2008:  Got 15 liter airbox working well with new fuel map

Summer 2008: dyno test of 97 vs 98 ECU,  dyno test of short vs long intake setup

Summer 2007: ECU shootout  F41 vs F40

March 2007:  pages on 97 ECU vs recall ECU, intake mods completed and dyno tests coming!

Jan 2007: pages on intake resonance and ram air

Jan 13, 2007:   Site refresh with new format, added Throttle body mods and swingarm swap

July 17 2006:   Included links to Sam’s terrific TL-S page, updated the top tips page

After riding the latest, greatest spaceships and owning a 250GP bike, is the TL still tops in my book?  Well, my 250GP bike has bested the TL’s lap times everyplace I’ve taken it.  As it should.  But the TLS is still a grin factory every time I ride it.  I still wouldn’t trade it for another streetbike.  I added carbon slipons,  Marvic Penta wheels and am going to change to mellower mufflers.  I had planned to fool with the throttle bodies and swingarm for a few years, and in 2009 I did both.   Check the “handling” and “throttle body mod”  pages for info on those topics.

With the wheels and cans, (and junking the rotary damper) my TLS weighs in at 450 lbs, wet. This is 1 lb lighter than the 06 CBR1000RR, ZX10R, and YZF-R1, while 6 lbs heavier than the 06 GSXR1000. In other words, the TLS may look big and bulbous but with a few tricks, is still right in line with the latest literbikes as far as mass.  

Loads of people have asked me about buying a TLS, since I’m so happy with mine.  Here are my usual answers:   .. BTW, obviously, all this stuff is my opinion  unless I mention some other source, so take it as you will!

Why am I so crazy about this bike?  I almost hate to say it.. character

Somehow, everything this bike does adds up to an unforgettable machine.  Instantaneous  throttle response and steep jump in the torque curve?  Hey, it’s like taming a tiger... you get a real sense of satisfaction from mastering this machine.   Unintentional wheelies?  Greenhorns had best keep away!   Sometimes it surges at lower RPMs, it’s like it’s saying “come ON! Let’s GO!!” With a set of modified exhaust cans or slipons, the exhaust snarl is spine-tingling.  Revs jump with instant authority when you blip the gas, due to miniscule flywheel effect.  Pulling out from a stop, a lot of guys stall it the first time, those flywheels are light.  Some guys hate the looks?  Who cares!  Nothing else like it.  Getting kind of hard to tell all those R6s, GSXR600s and CBR600RRs apart...

This bike wasn’t made for the average rider.   It is a very highly tuned, immediately responsive, extremely high performance machine.  Nowadays in 2009, it’s hard to look at a 113 Hp TL-S and see it as a devil-machine when any kid in flip flops has a 125 Hp ZX6R to ride to campus.  Still, the TL is a real hoot to ride.  Even 12 years later!

It’s like riding a two stroke.  A very good rider can use the 2 stroke’s instant response and light weight to full advantage.  The majority of literbike riders would have a cardiac arrest if they tried to get around a track quickly on a 130 HP 2 stroke.  It’s a whole different ballgame.  Same thing with a TL1000S.

A lot of people had problems with this bike.  They couldn’t handle the wheelies, razor-edge handling, or berserker throttle response.  Well, this bike wasn’t built for them!

Do I love it?  Hell yeah-  this is by far the most fun, most exciting, best 4 stroke I’ve ever owned.  My mates have all sorts of cool hardware that they let me ride, I’ve ridden plenty of 150-170 HP Gixxers, and other similar eyeball-flattening devices.  I’ve caned a 165 HP R1 around a racetrack, roadraced a TZ750, flogged a ZX12R, done laps on a Ducati 748 racebike, and swarmed into turn 1 against 40 other 250 GP bikes.  At the end of the day, I’m always happy to throw a leg back over my TL.  The Jekyll-and-Hyde personality it exhibits makes it a very interesting riding partner...  not only will it keep up with many of those those bikes on a racetrack, it’ll drone down the interstate, sucking up expansion joints in total comfort.  Its only competition in my garage comes from my 140 Hp , 300 lb RG500 Gamma, but that’s a story for a different web page!

To top it off, the grin-to-dollar factor is extremely high.  This thing is like a carnival ride, and it’s cheap, to top it off.  

  If you always wanted one, go for it!  It can be a fantastic bike.  But it has several rough edges that may wear on your nerves unless fixed.  Here’s my Buyer’s Guide:

1) Suspension:   The OEM rear damper is incredibly bad.  I always figured that I’d be the one to make it work.  Nope.   It has way too much compression and way too little rebound.  It fades.  For various technical reasons, it does not live up to the vision that Suzuki had for it.  If you like to ride hard, or if you plan on doing trackdays,  or if you can actually tell what suspension is there for...Do yourself a favor, before you get pipes, or fender eliminators, or any of that stuff.  Invest in an Ohlins shock!!!   Trust me, this is BY FAR the single best thing you can do for a TL-S.  The rear of the bike will work like magic.  At trackdays, my friends get off the TL and say “what bumps?” .  It’s a big, soft boat, but it’s a blindingly fast boat and it goes like stink over any type of pavement now.   The rear spring is OK for street/track use, I weigh 190 and flog it regularly on the track, and it’s a touch soft for race use but entirely up to the task.   The TL-S has no  trouble inhaling CBRs, GSXRs and R1s, so unless you are actually in a race environment,  you do not need some ferocious race-rate shock in back.   Besides, here in Iowa we have a lot of crappy roads, and rock hard suspension does NOT cut it for street use.  The front forks work well enough but are undersprung with respect to the back,  result is you get a lot of chassis pitch over dips; also, the forks bottom easily under braking.   I put gold valves in front and used Race Tech’s suspension wizard to select a 0.87 (or closest rate)  spring set, over the stockers which are 0.76 kg/mm.   The forks are still quite supple, but now bottom out rarely and only in track use, and front end feedback and confidence is WAY up.   Remember, this is my street bike first, and track tool second!  

2) Brakes:  A lot of guys run off and put 6-pot calipers on.  You can get killer brakes by installing a set of -02 goodridge ultra brake lines,  and Performance Friction HH pads.  The improvement in amazing.  Simply dropping in a set of HH pads will work wonders.   In my experience, -03 braided steel lines offer no real improvement over a good set of OEM rubber lines.  

3) Handlebars!  For some reason, Suzuki saw fit to put the lowest, most radical and goofy-angled bars in history onto the TL-S.  Drop on a set of Heli-bars, the riding position is 100% improved, and you can always drop them lower for trackdays (I do).  

4) The OEM-retrofit steering damper certainly sucks the joy and precision out of TLS steering.  I tried it with no damper, but it was a bit too lively.  I installed an adjustable damper and love it.    On the other hand plenty of TLs have done bigtime tankslappers, mine included, so I would recommend you proceed with caution.   My buddy rode it at Blackhawk and it went into a slapper on the straight and it shook his hands off the bars.. since then I dial it up a bit for track duty!  It’s powerful, and tall, and wheelies very easily, and it does make for a very lively ride when you have the hammer all the way down.  

5) The frame can crack on the mounting points for the rotary damper.  Have a look at the pix in my “Rear Damper” section to see what I’m talking about.  Be sure to check this area on the bike.  

Anyhow, those are the things I’d change ASAP.   There are a few things to look out for, as well.  

a) TLS oil level needs to be about 1/3 of the way up the oil fill window.  Higher than this, and it can lead to at best, oil in the airbox, and at worst, windage, foamy oil, and a lunched engine.  Especially if you do a lot of High RPM running.   I’d check to see whether the owner is aware of this.  There is an official Suzuki bulletin regarding where oil should be in the window.  Not sure where I have it saved, tho...

b) The TLS fuel injection is VERY responsive, at first it can be startlingly so.  If you snap the throttle open from 5000 rpm,  it seems like the NEXT piston to hit TDC will deliver full power.  This is nothing at all like typical CV carb response.  You get used to it, but it demands respect!  With 75 ft-lbs on tap instantly, you can not be hamfisted with the throttle on this bike.   At least, not for long, because you’ll probably have casts on your arms shortly...

c) TLs with out-of-synch throttle bodies can get very rough and annoying to ride down low.  Setting the TPS and throttle valve synch is pretty straightforward and I plan on doing mine ASAP!  Rough running can also be caused by stuck cam chain tensioners, check the “top tips” page.

d) TLS power delivery (I am speaking about the 97 here, 98+ are a bit softer unless tuned up) is actually quite peaky.  Mine makes 60 ft-lbs till 6000, then leaps up to 75 ft-lbs at 7000.  It’s a very noticeable jump and similar to a two stroke as it comes onto the pipe.  If you happened to be driving hard out of a corner as the tach crossed 6000 you might find that an extra 15 ft-lbs coming on-line is enough to break traction.  It’s a very fun bike, but it can bite, for sure.  There are more efficient and friendly ways to get down a twisty road or racetrack (R6 comes to mind) but the TL-S is very rewarding!

e)  The chain on a TL tightens considerably as the swingarm moves up.   You need to run the chain on the loose side;  keeping the chain too tight will cause it to bind when the suspension compresses.   That, in turn,  will eat the bearing behind the countershaft sprocket.  That can cause your tranny to lunch itself.  If the bike you look at has a tight chain, you might want to have a shop inspect it to make sure the countershaft bearing is still OK.  Suzuki went to an upgraded (larger) bearing for 1998, but the first line of defense is to keep the chain from binding!

f) The TLS needs to warm up with the “fast idle” lever on the bar.  If you don’t use it, the bike will idle allright, and  inject tons of fuel... which ends up in the oil pan.  A pan full of gas and oil probably doesn’t lubricate as well as 100% oil!  This nasty habit can raise the oil level significantly. So, if you notice your oil level seems to be mysteriously increasing, it’s probably got a lot of gas in it-- so change your oil and start using that fast idle lever!

And now a few things that anyone may have to deal with, on a 10-year-old bike... if you’re just going to ride it for a while, and don’t care to work on things, no need to worry about this stuff.  If you are considering keeping it for the long haul?  Then you may care about stuff that any old bike will run into:

g) The rear pipe mount collar tends to loosen up.  The result can be a farty leaking sound or a metallic tapping.  The pipe won’t fall off-  it’s secured by two mounts lower on the pipe.  However, no exhaust leak is a good one, so just snug that pinch bolt.  Also: that bolt will tend to get real dry and may rust or freeze with age- might be a good idea to shoot some WD 40 at it or something.  The gasket is actually a ‘slippy’ gasket, sort of shiny black graphite thing.  It’s hard to envision it wearing out.  Just tighten the collar and you’ll probably be fine.

h) The front pipe mount flange bolts can get really dry and seize in their holes if you ever have to take the pipe off.  If you are fooling with the bike, and think you may ever need to remove those babies, and they’re really tight?  Don’t just keep cranking away on them.  Break the bolt loose- just a bit-  then tighten again.  loosen, tighten again.  go back and forth till you break up the scale on the threads.  Work it out gradually, the bolt is strong enough to do this-  but if you put a breaker bar on it and just keep going, you can strip out the threads or snap the bolt.  And then you’re fooked, mate!  Once out, get new bolts, put anti-seize on it, and see if they will thread in easily.   If not, chase the threads with a tap to clean up the threads, then reinstall the bolts.  If you never envision removing the pipe, then don’t bother!

i) Shock mount and damper mount bolts can get extraordinarily dry. Mine were beginning to corrode and were difficult to remove.  If you’re in the swingarm area, or if you have the footpegs off, might be worth it to remove those bolts, lube them with a bit of grease or anti-seize, and reinstall.

  1. 1.j)10-year-old brake calipers may need a bit of attention on any bike.  My rear brake was beginning to ‘drag’ a fair bit.   Remove the caliper and brake pads.  gently pump the brake lever to push the pistons out a bit, until you can see the clean part of the pistons.  One will probably move before the other- whichever is cleaner will move first.  The piston will be all crusty with baked-on brake dust.  NEVER INSTALL NEW BRAKE PADS AND JUST PUSH THE PISTON BACK INTO THE CALIPER!! YOU ARE TRYING TO FORCE ALL THAT CRAP AND JUNK BACK INTO THE CALIPER!  Use a q-tip and brake cleaner to gently clean the piston to it is shiny and clean as new.  THEN gently press it back into the bore.  Hold it there with a paint stick or something and pump the other piston out till you see clean area, and repeat.  The piston should push easily and smoothly back into the bore once clean.  NEVER use pliers- they should move easily, if you push them in perfectly square.  Do not pump them out too far, or else they will simply pop out.  In that case, you are going to have to re-bleed your brakes. You can clean the rubber seals and everything with brake fluid, gently removing the seals with the tip of a plastic fork tine.  I did this anyway, that way you can get everything squeaky clean.  Clean seals and piston retract better, you have less drag, and your bike goes faster.  neat, eh?

k) Spark plug caps can become corroded inside.  It is almost impossible to look inside the front spark plug cap without removing it entirely.  Mine was corroded from moisture and caused an intermittent misfire and sometimes *crippling* dead cylinder along with much banging and popping.  I would just replace these plug caps if they are original-  cheap insurance!!!

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