Author Archives: Marty

Full Name: Marty G Website:
Info: owner, zanemoto zane laverda nutter, currently owning more than I should bit of a collector too
Bimota December 28, 2017 posted by Marty

Bitcoin level Bimota: Zero miles 1992 Bimota Tesi 1D in Switzerland

Here is a time capsule, a zero miles/NOS Bimota Tesi 1D SR that has never had fluids installed.  The 1st generation Bimota Tesi is already a bit of unobtanium and something every collector considers so this one is certainly one to take notice of...plus the color scheme is perfect for the holidays.

1992 Bimota Tesi 1D with zero miles in Switzerland

Thinking back on the late 1990's, it seems safe to say that the manufacturer that best embodied the period ethos of "throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks" was Bimota.   Part of that was due to its small nature/lack of multi-layered governance and part of it was also probably due to it being an Italian firm where a certain level of fla.ir is expected.  Regardless, Bimota was willing to bring unproven concepts all the way to market and while some of these never delivered as promised (cough-VDue-cough), the Tesi series actually did what it promised.

The Tesi promise was improved handling via a new suspension feature; hub-centered steering.  The Bimota hub centered suspension setup transferred braking force into the frame, not up into the headstock area like on a conventional bike.  Without the impact of braking on the forks, the front end was significantly more stable which made handling feather quick and rock stable.

NOTE:  A good write up about the concept of hub-centered steering and Tesi can be found here.

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At the launch of the Tesi 1D Bimota said the plan was to build 300 but the actual production numbers are a bit vague.   According to sources I found, over 400 were produced between its launch and end in 1994 and this number is said to have included about 50 produced with 400cc for Japan as well as some "Final Edition" and SR models which came with a 904cc 851 motor (the seller indicates this is one of the SR editions).

Mounted in Bimota's beautiful "Omega" frame the 904cc Ducati powerplant worked with the hub-center handling improvements to deliver a bike incredibly nimble for its size.  So why didn't the the Tesi and it's hub-centered design become the future of motorcycling?  The main factor was probably price.  When introduced the Tesi was offered at the eye-popping price of $40,000 USD which made it the most expensive motorcycle on the market.   Also, the complexity of the bike scared away some owners, especially after reports surfaced that the futuristic electrics and digital dash board could suddenly shut down or give wrong readings.

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Now lets look at this particular Tesi 1D.  According to the seller, the bike has essentially been a display piece since production.  Below is a summary of what the seller has to say:

  • Never ridden, never run, properly prepared for long term display.
  • Specifically ordered from the distributor without any fluids when new in 1992. Neither the hydraulic brake system front and rear, nor the cooling system nor the original battery have ever been filled with fluids.
  • All mechanical components inside the engine are still coated with assembly lube from the Ducati factory. The engine is filled with a light-weight oil to preserve internals, it has never been started or run.
  • Kept in a climate controlled environment without UV light present, so there has been no deterioration of any rubber pieces and no discoloration of any painted or coated surfaces. Of course there is no oxidation present on any metal surfaces or fasteners.
  • The protective yellow zinc plating on all three cast iron Brembo rotor surfaces is still present, the seat foam on the molded solo seat pad and backrest is still uncompressed. The tires mounted were specified to be racing tires when ordered new. Levers, grips, pegs, chain, sprockets as most everything else on this motorcycle are as new as they were in 1992.
  • Comes with all the original ownership documents, customs forms, the owners manual, the warranty booklet, copies of the parts manual and workshop manual and the original Tesi toolkit in duplicate.
  • The original early Tesi rear stand, the one off custom front stand (for displaying the bike with both tires off the ground) both mph and km/h dash boards (km dash & computer packed up, mph dash with protective white film still underneath, mounted in the fairing) and two original Weber Marelli P7 ECU computers, one chip'd for regular street use and the other fully open P7 ECU chipped for race use performance, are also included.
  • Multiple other original spares come with this bike. Of course the red Bimota cover is present and in its correct Bimota bag.

Note:  The seller also provides additional photos via an online photo album here.

Now for the real question - is this bike worth the current asking price of $150,000 USD?   Yes, you read that number right - $150,000 USD.   That's almost 4 times the original asking price which is a level of increase I don't think we have ever seen on RSBFS before.  To be honest, when I saw that asking price I thought this was possibly a test listing by the seller but after communication with them, this is in fact the actual Buy-It-Now asking price.  Since in most cases sellers expect offers with 10-15% of the BIN price, its seems safe to say this one is going to cost 6 figures US for any interested parties.

So is a zero miles 1D SR Tesi worth that much?  Personally I don't think so but the 1D and 2D series of the Tesi come up for sale so rarely I don't know what the current value is.   I do think the current ask price means it won't go to an investment oriented collector but it could draw interest from the zero miles/"crate-bike" crowd.   I guess we can only wait and see...but it would sure be a nice way to start the new year with it in your living room.

-Marty G/Dallaslavowner

Bitcoin level Bimota:  Zero miles 1992 Bimota Tesi 1D in Switzerland
Suzuki December 17, 2017 posted by Marty

1st year big bird: 1999 Suzuki Hayabusa on ebay

Here is a 1999 Suzuki Hayabusa,  the first year of the big bike from the Hamamatsu Japan based manufacturer.  Unlike the following year(s) models, the 1999 wasn't restricted and with a top speed of over 300 kph was considered to be the fastest production motorcycle for nearly 10 years.  While it was produced in large numbers in the following years, the 1st year edition holds a special place in history and seems to be the one that is starting to climb in value/is a target for collectors.

1999 Suzuki Hayabusa on ebay

In 1998 Suzuki offered a wide range of sportbikes including but not limited to the TL1000R, TL1000S, Katana 750, GSX-750R, SV650, GSX-600R, Katana 600 and even the aging RF900.   But even with this lineup Suzuki was lagging a bit behind in sales, especially compared to the competition such as Honda and Yamaha.  A large part of this was due to the fact that Suzuki didn't have a "halo" bike, a bike that made them stand out from all the other competition.  Honda had the Fireblade/CBR900, Yamaha had its new R1 but what did Suzuki have?  The answer came in 1999 with the Hayabusa.

The Haybusa was something of a risky move for Suzuki.   The company could have tried to offer a light/focused 750cc/900cc machine to compete against the Fireblande and R1 but this might have impacted the sales of their GSX-750R lineup.  Suzuki instead decided to go after a market that many thought was dying off; the big speed/big bike sportbike.  Companies such as Yamaha and Kawasaki had made dramatic moves away from the big sport/big speed segment, Yamaha in particular with their shift from their ThunderAce to the R1.   Suzuki decided there was still growth opportunities in the segment and the 1300cc 300 kph Hayabusa was the result.  Sure it wasn't as pretty as a Ducati 916 or as technologically significant as a Fireblade or R1, but it did what it promised (big miles at big speed) better than anyone had ever seen.   Sales were initially mediocre but the bikes reputation for hyperspeed and rock solid stability spread and the Hayabusa kept selling more and more each, eventually becoming a sales leader for the company over the next few years.

It is also important to recognize that the Hayabusa holds a significant place in history due its long run as the fastest production bike.  Consider the following excerpt from Wikipedia:

"In 1999 fears of a European regulatory backlash or import ban led to an informal agreement between the Japanese and European manufacturers to govern the top speed of their motorcycles at an arbitrary limit.  The conditions under which this limitation was adopted led to the 1999 Hayabusa's title remaining, at least technically, unassailable, since no subsequent model could go faster without being tampered with.  After the much anticipated Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R of 2000 fell 6 km/h (4 mph) short of claiming the title, the Hayabusa secured its place as the fastest standard production bike of the 20th century.  This gives the unrestricted 1999 models even more cachet with collectors."

As for this particular Hayabusa, mileage is an impressive 24,600.   While its not 100% stock the owner has refrained from any major mods such as the elongated rear swingarm and custom paint.   Modifications appear to be limited to chromed/polished wheels, a double bubble screen , crash "bungs" and an aftermarket exhaust, all of which could be fairly easily reversed.  Also  the seller indicates the majority of the OEM pieces are included in the sale, including the exhausts and stock black wheels.

Here is what the seller has to say

  • Original owner - I purchased the last copper/silver one the Dealer had here in Fort Walton Beach Fl. December 1999.
  • Corbin king and Queen Seat (also org. seats go with the bike)
  • Yoshimura RS-3 Stainless four into one exhaust (org exhaust goes with the sale)
  • Power commander Dyno tuned 161.3 H.P. at the rear wheel
  • New chain and sprocket’s, crush drive.
  • New Michelin pilots tires.
  • Stock Busa Wheels chromed (Org. black one’s go with the sale)
  • K&N air filter factory replacement.  100% full synthetic Motul 4T Oil changes every 1000 miles.

So to summarize:  its the desired first year edition, has been maintained fastidiously by its current owner and looks like it can easily be turned back into a stock bike with almost no additional monies spent.  The seller lists an asking price of $6,250 USD which is well above the current average price for an early Hayabusa but the fact that its a first year edition, the pricey mods and the inclusion of almost all the changed OEM pieces make me think the price isn't really unreasonable.

Perhaps the real question is whether the 1st year Hayabusa is going to be another one of those bikes that collectors regret not buying back when they were "cheap as chips".    The Ducati 916, the 1st edition Honda CBR900RR/Fireblade, the Suzuki GSX-750 "Slabbie" and "Slingshot" editions, all were significant bikes but were produced is such large numbers that no one thought of them as a collectors item until the prices were already climbing.  Personally, if I live closer to Florida, this one would be something I would be giving serious consideration to.

-Marty/Dallaslavowner

1st year big bird: 1999 Suzuki Hayabusa on ebay
Laverda November 28, 2017 posted by Marty

Collector Alert: 1998 Laverda 750SF/Formula with updates (UK)

Note:  This listing was removed from ebay (sold?) while in the queue for posting here on RSBFS but the post contains some interesting info so we decided to put it up anyway.  If we hear from the seller as to what price it went for, we will update in the comments.

Here is a zane-era Laverda 750 Formula which is probably the most collectible model of the later Laverda models.  Only produced in 1998 and 1999, the Formula was the top shelf bike in the lineup during the brief-rebirth of the Laverda marque.  This one is especially rare due to its having the updated/Type 3 crank installed of which less than 100 were produced.

1998 Laverda 750SF/Formula in the UK

For anyone not familiar with the zane-era of the Laverda marque, its a typically Italian motorcycle manufacturer story.  In the mid-to-late 1980's Lavera was a small motorcycle company that didn't have the financial resources to do continuous development.   Instead, designs were evolutionary, focused on the parallel twins and triple engines the company was known for.  In 1992 a new series of sportbikes were designed and ready to launch when the the company hit yet another financial problem which this time proved un-resolvable with creditors.  The result was Laverda filed for bankruptcy in late 1992 but after a multi-year trip through the courts local businessman Francisco Tognon bought the marque and re-started production.  The purchase included the designs for the "new" bikes but this meant that when the Laverda relaunched in 1994/1995 their bikes designs were already about 3 years old.

Note: The motorcycles produced in this post bankruptcy period are often referred to as zane-era Laverdas.  This is due to the fact that while the prior production was at the old factory in Breganze, the new bikes were built in a new factory located less than 6 miles away in Zane Italy.

The new lineup included a 650cc trellis framed bike known as the Ghost that was very similar to the Ducati Monster.  Another offering was a 650cc sportbike known simply enough as the 650 and a top shelf racer called the 650 formula that came with a new beam frame designed by Nico Baker.   Regardless of the model, the entire lineup came with the same basic engine (although the formula had upgraded cams and ecu mapping).    The reason for this was that Laverda had decided to follow the business model established by John Bloor's reborn Triumph motorcycles; offer a series of model options all based around a common engine architecture.  This business model means that no single model can break the company (cough-Bimota VDue-cough) and the monies from these early bikes could keep the lights on and also go into the development of new designs.   The business model actually worked for a bit with updates to the 650 air cooled engine being implemented in 1996 and capacity bumped slightly to 668cc's.  A new water cooled 750cc parallel twin engine was launched in in late 1997 and the modular philosophy continued with a standard bike known as the 750 Ghost, a street oriented sportbike known as the 750S and finally a "top shelf" 750cc Sportbike known as the Formula or 750SF.  All the new 750cc machines came wrapped up in lots of top shelf goodies including the beam frame design by Nico Baker, Paoli shocks, Marchesini wheels and lots of carbon fiber bits.  The 750SF/Formula edition got some extra bits including hotter cams, revised ECU mapping for better top end performance and termignoni exhausts as an option.

The 750 Laverda Formula was a solid competitor to the Ducati 748 of the era, down on power due to its older engine design but making up for it with better handling due to better suspension, braking and a neat letterbox fuel tank system that lowered the center of gravity of the bike as the fuel tank emptied.   Reviews were positive but not outstanding, with most comments saying the new 750cc model was equal to or slightly better than its Italian competition and a good step forward but not a world beater.

Sadly, even with the positive reviews and moderate sales success, Laverda was still a small European maker trying to compete against the well-funded Japanese and a resurgent Ducati (which had just gotten a large influx of private equity investment).  Development of the long-awaiting 3 cylinder engine dragged on and by early 1999 Laverda was again struggling financially.  New financial partners came in with the condition that Franciso Tognon relinquish his majority control.  Tognon instead decided to exit the concern completely, selling his interest but somehow managed to take the rights for the design of the new triple engine with him (which became the new powerplant of the reborn Benelli Tornedo Tre 900) and within a year the entire Laverda concern was bankrupt yet again in 2000.   A brief flicker of hope for a rebirth occurred when Laverda was acquired by Aprilia in 2001 with Aprilia even showcasing a new Aprilia powered SFC model in 2003 but Aprilia soon ran into its own financial difficulties.  The entire Aprilia group, which also included Moto Guzzi, was soon acquired by the Piaggio Motors who quickly made the decision that Laverda was the weakest brand of the 3 and in 2004 the Laverda marque was mothballed.

Ok, now that we have covered the history, what does all this mean to prospective collectors?   Its simple; the 1998-1999 750SF/ Formulas can be thought of as the last official development by Laverda, the model that contains all the final updates.  Bikes that represent the last of a marque are sometimes referred to as a "legacy" model and are usually a good investment opportunity, especially if they look as good as the Formula does.

As for this particular Formula, mileage is approximately 12,500 kilometers but the seller indicates it hasn't run in a few years so a reconditioning might be required.   Condition looks to be good with all the carbon bits in place and while I did notice that some bolts appearing to be non-OEM I don't see any major damage.  The seller indicates it does come with the optional Termignoni exhaust system including the chip but probably the most important aspect of this bike is the fact that it comes equipped with an updated/Type 3 crank.  This is important because depending on how they were ridden and maintained, the zane-era Laverdas could experience lower bearing failures/oiling issues which could cause engine failure by 25,000 miles.   These problems were most pronounced in the earlier 650/668 air cooled engines and while the risk of this could be partially prevented by an update to a stainless oil filter system and regular maintenance, the company did redesign the crank for the later 1998 and 1999 models to further reduce the chances of this issue occurring.  The seller indicates this bike has been equipped with one of the updated factory cranks which is quite rare and an important value add for the bike.

So now to the question - what's this bit of turn-of-the-century-possibly-tempermental-carbon-fiber-accented-Italian goodness worth?   Well its a 1998 model which means it not quite as desired by collectors as the final edition formulas from 1999 that came in a truly beautiful blue/orange or silver/orange color scheme.   Parts will be a bit of concern, although several suppliers are available and there always seems to be a 750s model being broken on ebay.uk.com.  Givn that only an estimated 600 formula editions were built over the two year model run and the fact that this one has had the crank issue resolved, I would say this is a solid opportunity for a collector.

I would guess reserve somewhere around 4500 GBP/6000 USD.  Value won't probably shoot up, it will be more of a slow gainer but its still a rare sportbike and probably a solid long term investment opportunity.

-Marty/Dallaslavowner

 

Addendum:  I feel its only fair to note that I personally have a zane-era laverda collection and make a bit of money on the side selling parts/doing restorations/helping people mechanic their issues.

Collector Alert: 1998 Laverda 750SF/Formula with updates (UK)
Honda November 5, 2017 posted by Marty

“carro Babbo Natale”: 1989 Honda VFR750 RC30 with less than 3 miles in Italy

1989 Honda RC30 with less than 3 miles in Italy

Previous RSBFS posts have waxed eloquently about the RC30, about how its perhaps THE most collectible bike available insofar as modern machinery goes.  1500 units were produced each year over its two year production run and the well healed buyer was able to purchase what was truly a race bike with lights.  The RC30  came with components such as titanium and magnesium cast components, slipper clutches, a first gear designed for track starts up to 80 mph and a single-sided swingarm, etc, items never before made available on a bike available to the general buyer.

A good review of the RC30 by visordown.com can be read here but he story of how the RC30 originated is that Mr S Honda decided to show the world what Honda could do when it went all out.  The mandate he gave the engineers was simple; win on the track....and woo boy did they deliver.  The RC30 dominated in a way that hadn't been seen since the days of Agostini on the MV Agusta, with 15 of the 25 finishers in the top F1 class being on the new Honda in 1990.  The bike quickly became a legend, significantly burnished Honda's reputation and is often referred to as the progenitor machine for much of Honda's future F1/MotoGP success.

Given the mileage on this bike there isn't really too much to add for this post regarding maintenance or servicing.  There is pretty much no info from the seller other than a standard blurb about this being basically a new bike that has never been off the rear stand (although it had to be for these pics to be taken in what appears to be a parking garage).  Hopefully fluids were removed before being parked and I would expect a thorough going through would be required before firing it up including possible the fork seals? Also new rubber in case the new buyer intended to actually ride it (I know, I know...stop laughing).

Now let's turn to the question of price.  The Buy-It-Now price of 58,000GBP seems a bit outlandish at first, especially given it is more than double of a similar 8000 mile version also currently for sale on ebay.   But  there is a segment of the collecting community who crave the zero miles/so-called "crate bikes" which this bike seems to be targeted for (either that or an early investor in Bitcoin).  But even so my personal opinion is that this one is worth no more than a max 30% over the price of the "run in" versions we typically see here at RSBFS, especially given that its unlikely to ever be more than an object d'art.

-Marty/Dallaslavowner

 

Note - this bike also seems to be listed on ebay uk from a dealer but given they have 0 feedback, I would assume the location is actually Italy.

“carro Babbo Natale”:  1989 Honda VFR750 RC30 with less than 3 miles in Italy
Triumph September 3, 2017 posted by Marty

Future Classic?: 2000 Daytona 955i

The current big news in reborn motorcycling makers is Norton, especially now that the reborn company is rolling out its new V4 superbike but back in 1991, it was John Bloors relaunch of Triumph Motorcycles that had everyone's interest.   Triumph began with a series of both 3 and 4 cylinder engines but after a few years decided it would focus on the 3-cylinder engine configuration, in part due to cost but also due to Triumph's long history of producing 3 cylinder machines.  When it came time for the company to roll out their first new 3-cylinder sportbike the result was the Daytona series powered by a 955cc 3-cylinder engine.

2000 Daytona 955i on ebay

When it was launched in 1999, the new Daytona got very positive reviews but wasn't a a huge sales success.  There were several reasons for this; the competition such as the Fireblade and R1 were more sharply focused/delivered better performance, Triumph was still a bit of an unknown brand due to its long absence, and an odd branding moniker of T595 that was confusing to many people.  A decision was quickly made to rename the bike to to the 955i and to also re-position the bike away from the lightweight competition.  The 955i would instead be positioned as an option in the so called "sportbike-for-adults" segment dominated by the Honda VFR.

Wrapped in a very attractive design, the second generation 955i came with a Lotus designed engine that produced about 128 bhp.   In other words, not slow but not an equal to the Fireblade or R1.  Riding position was upright and comfortable, handling was neutral and build quality was excellent.  And perhaps best of all, while other bikes of the era were still being clad in graphics packages that could make your eyes bleed, all the Daytona models came in mono-chromatic paint schemes with simple and subtle graphics.  Today's listing is clad in perhaps the best of the these and seems to be the most sought after by collectors, Aluminum Silver.

Perhaps the key thing about the 955i was that it really did meet its goal of being an alternative to the VFR.   While not a pure hyperbike, it was sporting enough to deliver speeds that met the needs of almost all riders while also able to handle daily street duty, excel at weekend canyon corner carving and be comfortable enough for medium level touring.  Unfortunately, Triumph was unwilling to wait for the market to develop and after only a few years Triumph revised the bike again/rolled out a 3rd generation machine.  The new machine had an improved engine and was lighter and the bodywork was a more angular style.  While these changes moved the 955i closer to the compeition it was still no match and the new style made the 955i look similar to most other bikes of the day, thereby losing a large part of its appeal.  The effect on these changes was the opposite of what was intended and this misstep together with the development advantage of the larger Japanese companies led Triumph to discontinue their larger sportbike effort entirely in 2006.

Now lets turn our attention to this particular 955i.  Mileage is just below 10,000 miles and condition looks to be excellent.  However the seller (who seems to be a dealer) indicates some damage to the front rim but will include a new front wheel with the sale of the bike.  Unfortunately there is no information about service history and some of the pictures are a bit blurry.  Also I think the front windscreen might be aftermarket but this would need to be verified by the seller.

Here is what the seller has to say

  • Has a Black Widow performance exhaust system - a $1200 upgrade
  • Minor scuffs and scratches as shown in the pictures.
  • Small repair as noted in bottom fairing, see pictures. This is a typical area for damage.
  • Also a ding in the front wheel from a pothole. An extra front wheel comes with the bike. 

So now let's go to the question; what is this bike worth?  Well its not perfect, isn't the fastest machine of the period, had no significant race success and didn't really introduce any significant new technology.  Also the front wheel issue mentioned by the seller on this one is concerning, a VIN check is probably in order.  But on the plus side it is probably the best looking edition of the entire Daytona lineup and seems to be the model and color scheme most likely to appreciate in value over time.

I will admit that this one is tempting, especially since the current bid price is slighly over $2,000 USD while previous listings on RSBFS of this same model and color scheme have gone for around $4,500 USD.  But price is not the only point of appeal for this bike; the 2nd gen Aluminum silver edition seems to be akin to the 1993 Honda VFR 750 in that even though it wasn't the best bike of its time, it just looks right.  Sure the next generation bike 955i was technically a better motorcycle, but this is the one that would always put a smile on my face and really, isn't that a large part of the fun of a sportibke?

 

-Marty/Dallaslavowner

Future Classic?:  2000 Daytona 955i
Suzuki August 21, 2017 posted by Marty

Tu Meke TL: 1998 Suzuki TL 1000R in New Zealand

While the majority of RSBFS posts are tied to North American ebay listings we really do like to showcase bikes from all over the world.   You could even say we seek to span the globe to bring you a constant variety of RareSportbikes...the thrill of the Britten V1000...the agony of  the Bimota VDue (NOTE: Bonus points to you if you read that bit of text and heard the voice of the dearly departed Jim McKay).

Today's post is a very nice 1998 Suzuki TL1000R located far from the RSBFS offices in Wellington New Zealand.  This one looks to almost completely OEM and has the lovely and cleanly-styled phlolina-yellow bodywork which seems to be the most desired by collectors.

1998 Suzuki TL1000R in New Zealand

For anyone unfamiliar with the TL series, lets begin by saying there aren't many motorcycles that have been through such a roller coaster of desirability.  It all began in the late 1990's when Ducati V-twin powered machines were killing it on the track and the sales floor.  In response Suzuki announced they would deliver their own V-Twin powered sportbike, including both a WorldSuperBike/WSB capable machine to compete against the Ducati on the track and a street version for everday use.  The result was the TL-S/R series.

Anticipation for the new Suzuki V-Twin was very high and the TL-S/street version was launched in 1996 with the R version scheduled for the next year.   The quick verdict was that the new 90 degree v-twin engine was equal to or better the Ducati .  However, while the engine was good,  a significant handling issue quickly reared its head; front wheel lift (no pun intended).   The problem was quickly traced to the rear suspension, which was an offset rear shock with a separate rotary damper, a setup that had been chosen due to the reduced space caused by the new V-Twin configuration.  While this configuration worked in day to day riding,it could become overwhelmed by heat and heavy loads, which obviously happen on a sportbike quite a lot.  The result would be front end lift and when a rider rolled off/dropped the wheel, major tank slap and high side crashes could happen.   The problem was so significant that Suzuki offered steering stabilizers as standard on both the TL-R launched the next year and TL-S's but the entire TL lineup never really shook its reputation as a "widowmaker".

Note:  For anyone interested, a really good explanation of the rotary suspension function on the TL can be found here.

The handling wasn't the only challenge the TL1000R had to deal with.  Another major issue was that the R version never really delivered on its promise to rival the Ducati as a WorldSuperBike/WSB machine.

"The real killer though was that the R never came close to being the Ducati-beating WSB-contender Suzuki intended it to be.  Despite its stumpy wheelbase, the R was confoundingly both heavier and larger than the S and too bulky all around.  Equally problematic was the motor: although producing a claimed 135 bhp in stock TL-R trim. it proved difficult to tune...After only 2 seasons Suzuki decided it'd be too expensive to develop/race successfully and re-focused its race development efforts on its proven inline 4 GSX-R750 series instead."  Practical Sportbikes 2017

Perhaps the final issue that set the TL1000R up for sales failure was that Suzuki never developed a unique identity for the bike.  The TL1000R was even offered in the Suzuki traditional blue/white color scheme which made it hard to distinguish from the its GSX-R sister bike.  Since a large part of the appeal of the TL was supposed to be that it was NOT an inline 4, making it look just like one seems to be quite an odd decision.  The result of all this is that the TL1000R developed a reputation as a big failure for Suzuki and some models were left on the sales floor for quite a while.

Now despite all the issues noted above and the bikes general reputation as a failure, the TL1000R was still a very good bike for 98% of riders.  While it didn't live up to the hype at the time it was launched, it still had a bonkers engine that was significantly easier to live with than its Italian competitor (no belts!).  It was also surprisingly comfortable and was quite attractive.  Later models came with the aforementioned steering damper which solved much of the handling problems and many of the concepts introduced on the TL1000R can be seen in the later Hayabusa.

Unlike many late 1990's Sporybikes the TL1000R has managed to maintain an active community of owners on the web and the fandom for the bike never really went away.  More importantly from a collectors standpoint, the TL was recently named as one of the top 10 collectible bikes to acquire "before prices get stupid".

OK, now lets turn our attention to this particular 1998 Suzuki TL1000R.   First, location means this one is probably only going to appeal to one of our Australian or New Zealand readers, or perhaps someone who is willing to incur some shipping costs.   The seller indicates that was previously a Japanese bike but unlike a lot of bikes we see from Japan, this one it looks to have been well cared for/not treated as a disposable item and kept in stock trim.  The only non-OEM pieces I am seeing are some rear turn signals/indicators and some stickers on the rear fairing hump.  NOTE:  The rear seat cover/"hump" is a fairly rare item so bonus points for it being in place and looking to be in good condition.

Mileage is stated as just about 14,000 miles/22,000 kilometers.  A new battery and rectifier have also been fitted and rubber looks to be in good condition but no mention is made of age and fluids would probably be due for a refresh.

So what's this V-Twin bit of Suzuki history going to cost you?   Prices for a pristine TL1000R have definitely started to climb but aren't reaching stupid money yet.  The asking price for this one is $6,900 USD which is towards the high side of recent TL1000R's listed on ebay but given the condition of this one and the fact that its in the best looking color scheme, the asking price doesn't seem to be out of wack.    Also the seller does appear to be a dealer so some negotiation wouldn't seem unreasonable.

Let me just conclude by saying this -  I have always liked this bike a lot; I think it looks like a meaner and more manageable Hayabusa.  Also I think most potential buyers will admit that a large part of the TL1000R appeal is that its different and its reputation for not suffering fools gladly.   While a TL1000R probably won't experience a dramatic appreciation in value, if it was located closer to my current location I would definitely be considering trying to acquire it for my personal collection.

-Marty/Dallaslavowner

 

Tu Meke TL:  1998 Suzuki TL 1000R in New Zealand