Suzuki TL 1000 S endurance test

Runs … does not run…

Hardly any motorcycle went through more ups and downs during 50,000 endurance test kilometers than the Suzuki TL 1000 S. But when it runs, it is a lot of fun.

March 17, 1997 was one of those days that it would be best to forget.

Cold, rainy, no longer winter, but certainly not yet summer. A day to stay in bed. But as it is: when work calls, the hard-working Swabian stands on the mat and does his duty. And that was just that day: Go out and buy a Suzuki TL 1000 S..
Not a good plan, at least not in the eyes of those responsible for Suzuki at the German importer and the Japanese manufacturer. Because since March 17th, the red long-term test TL1000 has almost regularly made headlines that one would have preferred to do without.
Everything had started so well. The first big bang at the IFMA in autumn 1996. Everyone was amazed, but the biggest was made by archenemy Honda. The success of their VTR 1000 F, which had received praise in advance, seemed suddenly and completely unexpectedly in danger. Then the first presentation in sunny Florida. A super-level racetrack in the speedway oval of Homestead and a highly attractive scenic drive to Key West under strict speed limits made the TL appear in the best light, not only in the photos.
Even the first test machines were barely showing any weakness, impressed with a powerful acceleration, excellent running smoothness and, not least because of the independent design, found a lot of fans. Chassis problems such as the poor response of the rear rotary vane damper, an unduly high fuel consumption as well as the not very fortunate choice of first tires were still under the heading of teething problems.
That such teething troubles can degenerate into chronic ailments quickly became clear from the TL 1000 bought anonymously from MOTORRAD. The first entry in the driver’s log from March 18th complained about massive engine misfires at speeds below 3000 rpm. The tendency to flick the handlebars is also immortalized on the first page of the then still virgin document.
Suzuki reacts. Just one month later, the first spectacular retrofit campaign takes place, in which all TLs that have already been delivered worldwide are prescribed a steering damper. Not an easy step for the Japanese company, but in retrospect it deserves praise for this very late but correct decision.
Nothing changes about the constant hiccups, slaps and pops. Suzuki reacts again. A circular informs all dealers how this problem can be remedied – or at least alleviated – by correctly synchronizing the throttle valves. The MOTORRAD-TL 1000 is also subjected to this treatment. Unfortunately, the success is short-lived, not 300 kilometers later the next entry on the subject of dying.
But that’s not all. True to the motto: Worse is always possible, the long-distance TL also draws attention to itself through an initially inexplicable production of engine oil. In the course of the first inspection at 1000 kilometers, no less than 1 ¼ liters more run out of the V2 engine when the oil was changed than was originally filled. The smell of the drained lubricant reveals the riddle: oil dilution with petrol.
As was officially recommended by Suzuki later, spark plugs with the identification NGK CR 8 EK with double electrodes are installed instead of the standard CR 9 E-plugs to prevent the constant slapping. That leaves the two-cylinder relatively cold, it keeps slapping and still goes out when idling.
Suzuki reacts. Sends in-house mechanics to try their luck on the stubborn under the eyes of MOTORRAD. Synchronize, adjust valve clearance, synchronize again, change spark plugs again, to finally find everything to be perfect. Unfortunately, the TL seems to be resistant to any remedy, as it turns out after just a few test drives.
Suzuki reacts. In autumn 1997, recall campaign number two followed. The control unit for ignition and injection as well as the thermostat are exchanged free of charge – again worldwide. And this time too, kudos for Suzuki: As a small compensation for the circumstances, they give every TL owner a free inspection. The majority of customers are satisfied with this solution.
The measure is finally having an effect, fuel consumption is reduced by up to two liters per 100 kilometers, and the worrying oil dilution is slowly leveling off to a level that is still barely tolerable. MOTORRAD had the oil, which had been heavily diluted until then, analyzed in a specialist laboratory – and received alarming values. In order to determine any damage that has already occurred, the engine is dismantled for safety’s sake at mileage 10,980 and reassembled after an assessment by Suzuki engineers without replacing the lower connecting rod bearings that have already been slightly worn in.
Of course, the logbook doesn’t always read like a horror novel, but there are also lots of expressions of enthusiasm to be found there. Mostly triggered by the bearish thrust of the two-cylinder engine. Graphic artist Katrin Sdun-Heinlein, for example, was afraid of becoming addicted.
There is always praise for the frame too. The sitting position is perceived as comfortable, especially by tall drivers, even in the long term. Smaller test riders, on the other hand, complained that the handlebars were too bent. The weaknesses of the rear rotary vane damper criticized in various test reports are only negatively noted by very few TL everyday drivers. Everyone agrees: The TL 1000 is a lot of fun and beguiles with its independent character.
But as soon as the TL seems to have shed its peculiarities, it is already writing negative history again. The clutch briefs. At first only sometimes, mostly after a long motorway drive at a constant speed of around 6000 rpm. Then more and more often.
Suzuki reacts. Replace the component on the MOTORRAD test machine a total of three times under guarantee and will soon be offering a modified clutch free of charge for all TL owners concerned.
After a good 30,000 test kilometers, one has got used to the slap and unmotivated dying of the V2 and is more likely to enjoy the positive things like the newly fitted Bridgestone tires. Great handling, easy turning, precise cornering and good grip make the BT 56, especially in the "narrow" 180 version, next to the Pirelli MTR 01/02 Dragon pairing, a MOTORRAD tip in the tire recommendation in issue 7/1998.
There is also joy in the fact that the unpleasant cup of defects will once pass the MOTORRAD-TL. Recall campaign number three is for tanks that tend to crack due to vibrations and are replaced free of charge. The fuel tank of the long-distance test machine still holds tight after 50,000 kilometers. In return, both rear silencers fail with vibration cracks and are replaced under guarantee at 38,000 kilometers.
There is great tension again after the end of the test distance. How did the innards of the always slightly snuffy TL 1000 hold up? How much did the oil dilution gnaw at the bearings? How did the camshaft and crank drive cope with the constant, hard slapping?
But on the dissecting table of the MOTORRAD workshop, the TL demonstrates true greatness. All the annoying ailments passed her almost without a trace. All tested components are within the installation or operating tolerance. The only exception are the four inlet valves, the seats of which are turned too wide. In addition, traces of fire on the sealing surfaces of the outlet valves indicate an imminent malfunction of these "heart valves".
The two lower connecting rod bearings, some of which are severely damaged by cavitation, are also threatened with a near end. The only flaw, by the way, that can be directly connected to the initial oil dilution. And if an open heart operation is already taking place, the connecting rod bearings should also be replaced with the main bearings of the crankshaft, which have also reached the wear limit.
Otherwise, both the engine and the chassis are in a pleasantly good condition. Signs of fatigue can hardly be seen in the sporty two-cylinder. When assembling the TL, however, a new shock absorber has to be added. The piston rod is crooked and is responsible for the strange squeaking noises over the last 3000 kilometers.
And last but not least, a new tank will be made under guarantee. Not because the old one had a problem, but better safe than sorry. Because in its next life, the MOTORRAD-TL1000 S should no longer be plagued by constant niggles. So that she is also cured of her strange hiccups, Suzuki Germany wants to take this TL under the microscope again to finally find the fault. After all, in engineering circles one is not willing to get used to the idea that there are simply days in Japan on which it is better not to get up – and certainly none TL takes 1000 S off the belt.

Reading experiences

After a good year with the TL 1000 S and about 11,000 kilometers you have to look at the motorcycle from two sides. Once before and after the conversion campaigns. Before these retrofitting campaigns on the part of Suzuki, the driving behavior as well as the engine set-up was miserable (valve jerking, consumption around 11 liters / 100 km, handlebar knocking, petrol dilution, tank leaking). Only with the retrofitted steering damper, the new thermostat and the modified ignition box could the TL be enjoyed (until then I was thinking of selling). Now the engine was no longer recognizable. It ran perfectly from idle to the top without jerking the valve. The chassis and the coordination of the springs and damping elements can be classified as mediocre at best. If you want to be fast on country roads with the TL, after half an hour the adrenaline rushes back and forth: I have finished.Rolf Wirfler, Gelsenkirchen Last year I bought my TL 1000 S at a reasonable price as a demonstration motorcycle from Suzuki Germany. All upgrades were promptly and reliably carried out by my local dealer. The consumption was reduced to 5.5 l / 100 km on the country road, up to 7.1 liters on the highway. I padded the bench and pushed the fork through as much as possible, so that there is a safe and comfortable sitting position even for people with short legs. Together with the MRA touring windshield, the TL is now absolutely suitable for touring. If no unusual problems arise or if Suzuki continues to be so accommodating, the TL will be a pleasure for a long time. Wolfgang Hoder My experiences with the TL are mostly positive. Registered in May last year, the odometer now shows 12,000 kilometers. Mainly from longer weekend tours. She has never let me down. Initially, however, the high consumption and the short range were annoying. Since the control unit and thermostat were converted, consumption has fallen to 6.5 to 7.0 liters / 100 km. Compensating TL owners for the circumstances with a free customer service was extremely accommodating by Suzuki. It is annoying that Suzuki does not offer a G-Kat despite the injection system. If this policy is not reconsidered, the TL was my last Suzuki. Roland MerktSince May 1997 I have unwound 10,000 kilometers up to now. Three product recalls and a warranty case (new camshafts) forced unscheduled visits to the workshop, but these were handled so quickly and easily that the slightest frustration never arose. The criticized chassis weaknesses are not felt in everyday life, and the engine is a real icing on the cake. With the new control unit, consumption over seven liters can only be achieved with full gas heating. I could have saved the 300 marks for my steel braided brake lines for everyday use – hardly any noticeable improvement. All in all a great motorcycle, whose reputation is much worse than the TL 1000 deserves. Roy Stephan I have been driving this since March 1998 Moped and I’m thrilled. Apart from the recall campaigns, there was only one slightly damaged gas cap (blemish) to complain about. These recalls were not a problem because my dealer always provided a replacement vehicle. Since the installation of the new control unit, the jerking has gone and the fuel consumption is lower (on average 7.7 l / 100 km). The only disturbing thing is the fuel level. Two to three liters more would be just fine. I had none of the problems reported in the press. I also have no plans to buy another machine. Georg Wagner I bought my TL in September 1997. When I dismantled it over the winter, I particularly noticed the very good workmanship of the Suzuki. The engine had the well-known quirks, but these were remedied after modifications. Since the TL sometimes ran out when approaching an intersection, I exchanged the original candles for NGK CR 8 EK, a K.&N air filter installed and the idle speed increased by 200 rpm. Since then there has been silence. I also installed a superbike handlebar, an adjustable steering damper, steel flex lines and recessed footrests – all in all a motorcycle that is a lot of driving pleasure. That’s why I won’t sell my sister S anymore. Oliver kraft

Suzuki comments…

…Since the middle of September 1997 we have been offering all TL 1000 S drivers a modified thermostat (control temperature raised from 50 ° C to 82 ° C) and a modified ECM (control unit) as part of a free conversion campaign since mid-September 1997 On the one hand , the operating temperature of the engine was increased, and on the other hand, ignition maps were changed in the ECM and fuel injection quantities and frequencies were reduced. Both components counteract the symptoms mentioned above …. on the constantly slipping clutch, which has been replaced three times If such problems occur in customer vehicles, a modified clutch set with the part no. 21440-02F00 … to the constant slamming and sudden death of the engine Usually, such symptoms are eliminated if the valve clearance is precisely adjusted and the injection system is then synchronized … to the heavy tracks of the connecting rod bearings It is difficult to assess whether foreign bodies or other circumstances have led to this storage condition. The connecting rod bearings should be replaced …. on the scorch marks on the inlet valves A valve clearance that is too tight could have been the cause …. on the heavily grooved oil pump The tracks on the Eaton oil pump are completely harmless as the oil is protected by a suction pipe and a steel sieve, can certainly suck in smaller particles, but these are then separated by the oil filter so that they do not get into the oil circuit …. to the bent shock absorber.

Condition – Suzuki TL 1000 S.

Pistons, cylinders and crankshaft drive: Pistons within the operating tolerance with small tracks and few carbon deposits, also on the webs. Piston pin without discoloration in very good condition. All compression rings with slightly increased joint clearance, but within the operating tolerance. The coating of the cylinder liners shows slight grooves, the wear is within the operating tolerance. Timing chain rails with tracks. Connecting rod bearings with tracks, bearing play at the wear limit, replacement due. Connecting rod eyes with discoloration. Crankshaft bearings with tracks, bearing play at the wear limit, must be replaced. Valve drive: All valves with small deposits and tight seat, valve seats on the inlet side at the wear limit, on the outlet side within the operating tolerance. Camshafts with discoloration at bearing points and cams, camshaft bearing seats with slight tracks. All valve guides within the installation tolerance. Clutch: clutch friction and steel disks in very good condition. Coupling basket with slight chatter marks. The clutch was renewed three times during the long-distance test. Transmission: Traces of wear on the flanks of the gear pairing of the first gear. Bearing seat of the gearbox output bearing with slight marks. Pitting formation in the claw engagement grooves. Otherwise in very good condition. Exhaust: The black painted exhaust manifold is discolored brown by dirt. No rust perforation. Chassis: Frame with no visible damage. Steering head bearing in very good condition. The Simmerring of the right fork leg is slightly leaking.Brakes: Brake discs with slight scoring.Piston play: slight marks in the cylinder and on the piston.Piston joint play 1st ring: within the operating tolerancePiston joint play 2nd ring: within the operating tolerance Crankshaft bearing play: worn with heavy tracks shortly before the wear limit camshaft bearing play: slight grooves, but within the installation tolerance cam height inlet: inlet camshafts with discoloration cam height exhaust: exhaust camshafts with discoloration valve stem play inlet: good condition valve stem play outlet: good condition valve seat width inlet: slightly hammered in, within the wear limit valve seat width exhaust outlet

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