Introduced in 1997 and made until 2001, the TL1000S was a shot across Ducati’s bow. Tired of the Bolognese firm getting all the press for their sexy, thunderous twins, Suzuki did them one better: a reliable, low-maintenance, liquid-cooled v-twin that made the power of Ducati’s 916 at the price of their air-cooled 900SS…
While 125hp may not sound particularly scary now, it was a pretty big number for a v-twin in 1997 and the grunty power delivery, combined with relatively light weight and a compact wheelbase, made for notoriously “entertaining” handling.
In contrast to Ducati’s “L” twin, Suzuki rotated their 90° motor backwards in the chassis, allowing better packaging at the front of the bike. This left less room at the back for a traditional shock, so Suzuki whipped up a “rotary” damper that was far more compact than a traditional “linear” shock. Unfortunately, one of the reasons traditional spring/shock combos are so widely used is that they’ve got 70 years of development behind them and just flat work. When ridden hard, the TL’s rotary unit gets hot and loses its damping ability, which may contribute to the bike’s reputation for “tank slappers”, unintended wheelies, and all-around beastliness.
On paper, the TL1000S should have stomped Ducati flat, but that really never happened. But while the first bike to house Suzuki’s new twin may not have set the world on fire, the potential in the engine was obvious. It became the Engine That Powered a Thousand Bikes, finding homes in Bimota’s SB8 and the Cagiva Gran Canyon and Raptor models, and it still thumps on in the Suzuki VStrom.
From the original eBay listing: 1997 Suzuki TL1000S for Sale
A 1997 TL1000S. This V twin super sports bike was only made for a few years and this just happens to one of the cleanest one's around. This bike has never been raced or molested. It has some tasteful upgrades and that's it. The bike has a full Vance and Hines carbon fiber exhaust, not just slip on's. The rear has a turn signal eliminator kit on it, the turn signals are in the brake light. It looks very clean. Tires are good there are currently no issues with this bike at all. It is one of the cleanest TL's still around. This bike is has one of the most unique sounding engines due to the factory gear drive timing. If you’re looking at this then you know what you are looking at. This bike has a cult following. Here is your chance to pick up a very nice ride!
This is a very clean bike, it has been garaged its whole life! Must see to believe. There are no paint or decal flaws
Later reviews toned down the emphasis on the TL’s “widowmaker” tendencies, suggesting that things had been exaggerated just a bit at the time. And, if you do plan to really ride this bike hard, a modern steering damper will help keep things under control, and kits are available to change out the rotary damper for a more traditional unit.
The 996cc engine does sound amazing with a set of aftermarket cans fitted, and the bassy thump that pumps out of the twin exhausts is pretty distinctive, like a very good computer simulation of a Ducati, with added bass.
The TL1000S is aging better than I would have expected: the bulbous 90’s styling is handsome at the front, although the rear is still a bit awkward to me. This example is in very nice shape, with under 11,000 miles. With bidding at $3,300 and just three days left, this represents a ton of performance and character for very minimal outlay of cash. The motors are pretty bulletproof, parts should be readily available, and would make a great day-in, day-out bike for someone who wants big twin noise and feel, but doesn’t feel like paying for Ducati maintenance.
Or someone that really, really likes wheelies.