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The Biggest News: Suzuki TL1000S

The biggest news, of course, is the introduction of Suzuki's new V-Twin sportbike. Hot on the heels of Honda's announcement of their VTR1000 Firestorm for the European market, American Suzuki joins the large displacement V-Twin fray with the TL1000S, an aggressive new 1000cc sportbike with several innovative features.

           

The big V-Twin's two cylinders are positioned 90-degrees apart (the same angle as that of the Firestorm's Vee), and the engine features downdraft cylinder heads with four valves per cylinder, double overhead cams and liquid cooling. The big bore, short stroke (98.0mm x 66.0mm) layout of the twin was designed to be narrower, shorter and lighter than traditional V-Twin motors. Equipped with two-stage electronic fuel injection, digital engine management system, six-speed transmission, and the same Suzuki Ram Air Direct (SRAD) induction system found on the GSXR750, this powerplant should generate impressive performance numbers for a V-Twin engine.

In following with the "lighter is better" approach, a built-in back-torque limiter system will allow the clutch to handle the TL1000's low-end grunt with smaller-diameter clutch plates in a more compact, lighter clutch assembly. An automatic decompression system, making it easier to turn over the 11.3:1 compression engine, allows the starter motor and battery to be smaller and lighter as well.

The TL1000 also features the first mass-produced aluminum truss frame that Suzuki claims is extremely compact and should offer exceptional torsional rigidity in a lightweight package. Another innovative feature found on the new V-Twin is the rear suspension system and its rotary damper design. Suzuki states the obvious advantage to this system, which utilizes a fully adjustable "rotary" shock chamber mounted separately from the spring, is its compact size and shape, smoother, more consistent damping performance and reduced stiction with better damping control than conventional rear suspension systems. The separate spring is mounted near the center of the machine for better weight distribution, while the damper unit is mounted in the traditional single shock location behind the engine. The front end of the new twin features inverted, 43mm fully adjustable forks set at 24 degrees of rake. Brakes are 320mm dual discs up front equipped with four-piston calipers, and a single 220mm twin-piston setup in the rear.

"Power," Team Graves Motorcycle Online's lead rider Chuck Graves tells us, "at least in the short time I got to ride it, seemed comparable to Ducati's 916 -- about 100 rear-wheel horsepower. The seating position was really nice and the bike had a good all-around feel, and appeared to be very light. I didn't get to test it on the racetrack -- I only got to tool around public roads on it -- so I have no idea if it'll hang with a Ducati once the going gets fast." (Graves, in case you were wondering, was hired by Suzuki to be a photo model for the GSXR600's action pictures they released in their media kit. -Editor)

Suzuki claims the TL1000 to be 412 pounds dry, which would make it considerably lighter than Honda's Firestorm, and right in the ballpark of the 916. Suggested retail price for the TL is expected to be $8,999, an absolute bargain when compared to the red-blooded Italian, but can it capture the "personality" that has made buyers lust for the 916 on showroom floors the world over? That remains to be seen...