TL1000 Frequently Asked Questions

This is a Frequently Asked Questions page for the Suzuki TL1000 V-twin motorcycle compiled by H. Marc Lewis and subscribers of the Suzuki TL1000 Mailing List.

Links to other useful TL1000 resources:

Subject Index:

Is aftermarket bodywork available?

Replacement fairings, fenders, etc. for the TL1000 are available from:

Sharkskinz Racing Bodies
300-50 Industrial Park Boulevard
Sebastian, FL 32958
+1 (800) 519-7229

Check out Roger Lamb's Web pages. He's got the full SharkSkinz setup (with color photos).

(Submitted by H. Marc Lewis) — [Index]

What about aftermarket pipes?

Aftermarket exhaust canisters and complete exhaust systems are available from many sources. In the USA some of the common vendors Two Brothers Racing, Vance & Hines, Yoshimura, and Indigo. Other systems include Renegade, Quill, D&D, and I'm sure many more.

I have the oval aluminum 2Bros (canisters only) installed on my TL. They are normally straight-through systems (as are many others) and produce a deep and throaty but very loud sound. 2Bros offers "Quiet Tips" which are inserts which decrease the diameter of the internals and quiet the pipes down to an acceptable level for the street (IMHO). If you opt for the Quiet Tips I suggest you have 2Bros install them at the factory.

Some photos of the 2Bros systems (oval aluminum cannisters, oval carbon fiber w/both cans on right side) are available here too.

(Submitted by H. Marc Lewis) — [Index]

What about aftermarket handlebars?

Aftermarket handlebars are available for the Suzuki TL1000 from Heli-modified Corp. for about $245US including delivery in the USA. They raise the bars about 1.5" and pull them back about 1.75". Amazingly enough, this feels like a significant change making the riding position much less racer oriented and putting less weight on hands and wrists. Early production models were steel, painted gloss black. Later production seems to be painted a glossy silver/steel color. The early production models didn't allow the clutch lever to be rotated down very far from the horizontal. This could be cured by removing the clutch interlock switch.

It has been reported that with the retro-fit Suzuki steering damper fitted the Heli-bars no longer fit due to interfererence with the steering damper bracket. This is because the base bracket for the Suzuki damper attaches to the stock handlebar mount. This problem can be circumvented by using the upper triple clamp bolt instead — which requires a longer allen-head screw and a bushing sized to fit the hole in the bracket. I've seen this done and it works fairly well.

It has also been reported that as of about July, 1997, Heli-bars now supplies a redesigned handlebar for the TL1000 which works with the retrofit Suzuki steering damper. The Heli-bars do work fine with aftermarket steering dampers such as the Works Enduro Rider damper.

(Submitted by H. Marc Lewis) — [Index]

What aftermarket tires are recommended?

There are a lot of tire choices, and a lot of opinions as to what tire combination is best for what purpose. Here are a couple of useful URLs where you can learn more about tires than we can describe here:

And here are some motorcycle magazine's opinions. First, tires rated according to Performance Bikes (7/96):


Corner Grip:
1) Metzeler MEZ1
2) Dunlop D204
3) Avon RZ V250
4) Pirelli Dragon
5) Continental R2000
6) Bridgestone BT57
7) Michelin TX15/25
1) Metzeler MEZ1
2) Avon RZ V250
Tie) Dunlop D204/Continental R2000
5) Pirelli Dragon
Tie) Bridgestone BT57/Michelin TX15/25
1) Metzeler MEZ1
2) Dunlop D204
3) Pirelli Dragon
4) Avon RZ V250
5) Bridgstone BT57
6) Continental R2000
7) Michelin TX15/25


Street Compound:
1st Place Tie) MEZ1 / RZ V250
2nd Place) Dunlop D204

Here are RIDE magazine's (6/97) radial tire recommendations for "Big Bikes":


Pirelli Match Radial
Dunlop 205


Metzeler MEZ4
Pirelli Dragon GT
Dunlop 205
Michelin Macadam 90x
Avon Azaro


Metzeler MEZ1
Pirelli Dragon
Dunplop 364
Michelin TX15/TX25 Hi-Sport
Bridgestone BT-57
Avon AV22R/AV23R


Pirelli Dragon Corsa
Michelin TX15/TX25 Hi-Sport (race)
Bridgestone BT56
Dunlop 364
(Submitted by Kai Tiffany) — [Index]

What about Break-in procedures?

You can follow the directions in your owner's manual, or you can read the following and form your own opinion. Many of us subscribe to the belief that the owner's manual method just doesn't do the job...

"The best way to "break-in" any new piston engine is to NOT "baby it" by keeping the RPM under some manufacturer's "magical limit". Have you ever heard the line "if you don't break it in hard, it will never run hard?" Well, there IS quite a bit of merit to this statement once all the reasons are fully understood.

I'm sure that we can all agree that THE ONLY WAY any piston engine "breaks in" is by "wearing off" and "polishing" any and all the "high spots" to make a perfect, custom, low friction fit between all the important parts. Time alone at reduced RPM WILL NOT ACCOMPLISH THIS! It takes MAX RPM for all the parts to make contact that would NOT normally contact and "wear-in" at some reduced RPM level. The best method for this to occur is to run the engine right up to the manufacturers listed "red line", BUT with the LEAST LOAD POSSIBLE (remember load = heat and NEW pistons DO NOT like excessive heat!).

How do you do this? Well, with any vehicle that has a gearbox, it's real easy. When the bike/vehicle is brand new, you begin a series of "low load", HIGH RPM runs (right up to red line), but ONLY in FIRST GEAR. This gives the VERY necessary "high RPM wear-in" for the pistons and max "gas pressure" on the rings to press them into the cylinder wall so they can seat WITHOUT high load/heat. This first gear high RPM blast will only last a second or so max. DO NOT be tempted to run through all the gears on a new bike - WAY TOO MUCH LOAD = HEAT! In fact, it's well known that if you DO hold WOT on your new bike in top gear, the piston-to-wall clearance can actually approach a PRESS FIT!!! As the mileage rolls up on your bike/vehicle, you can create higher load by simply going UP into the next gear and grab WOT, to your max RPM "redline". What I normally suggest is that you perform a "WOT first gear blast" about every 20 miles or so until you reach 100 to 150 miles. "Second gear WOT blasts" will obviously take longer (about 2 seconds) because of the taller gear and more load and should be performed at about the same intervals as the "first gear runs" and continued until around 500 miles. Continuing with the above WOT and "next highest gear" scenario is pretty much up to the individual and is not completely written in stone as to how fast to progress through all the gears, but completion of all 5 or 6 "WOT gear runs" should be within 1500 to 2000 miles (very subjective here).

An occasional COMPLETE COOLING OFF about every 100 miles or so is very important to help "heat cycle" and "season" the various high temp engine components. If you want to know the WORST WAY to break in an engine, just follow the manufacturers suggestions "TO THE LETTER" by keeping your engine under some "magical RPM limit" and continue to upshift all the way into 5th or 6th to prevent exceeding this "contrived RPM limit" while adding a little more throttle to keep up the pace with traffic (or your buddies!). You can easily see that you will eventually begin to "lug" the engine which is ABSOLUTELY THE WORST THING you could do to your new ride. With this scenario, you will quickly get into that "operational press fit" situation I described above - possibly damaging your engine. So - LET IT REV!!! (within the above guide lines of course)."

(Submitted by Rustie) — [Index]

A warning about chain adjustment

When the TL's axle nut is tightened after adjusting the chain, it tends to pull the chain a bit tighter than it was with the axle nut loose. Watch out for this and check your chain tension again after the axle nut is tightened.

Don't forget to spin the wheel to find the tightest part of the chain before you attempt an adjustment — sprockets aren't always perfectly round and the chain doesn't always stretch evenly.

The British motorcycle magazine PERFORMANCE BIKE found a further potential problem with chain adjustment. As the rear suspension compresses, the chain gets tighter. PERFORMANCE BIKE found that the chain would bind the suspension at about 70% of it's travel (at which point the chain had zero slack) unless it was adjusted on the loose side.

(Submitted by H. Marc Lewis) — [Index]

What about gearing changes?

Many report that lowering the overall gearing is one of the best and cheapest modifications you can make to a stock TL1000. The consensus is that the TL is geared too high to begin with and that lowering the overall gearing improves both acceleration and ridability.

The most common gearing change is to swap the 17 tooth countershaft sprocket for a 16. (BTW, some other Suzuki models do come stock with 16 tooth sprockets). The stock Suzuki part is quite expensive, but inexpensive (under $20) aftermarket sprockets are available from several vendors as well as from many Suzuki dealers. The TL uses the same countershaft sprockets as current GSXR750s.

The 16 tooth swap has the advantage of not requiring the chain be broken. Concern about abnormal wear, or wear on the swingarm, is apparently unfounded according to those who've done this mod. Changing the sprocket requires a 36mm socket and ideally another person to sit on the bike and apply the rear brake.

Less common is swapping the rear sprocket for one with several more teeth. This mod requires a new chain (unless you are willing to splice the stock chain with a couple extra links). This swap is also more likely done in conjunction with replacing the stock 530 chain with 520 (thus requiring new sprockets and new chain). The advantage of 520 chain is weight savings.

The TL takes its speedometer input off the countershaft sprocket, so any gearing change alters the speedometer reading. Swapping the 17 for a 16 on the countershaft makes the speedo read almost 6% higher than stock. Thus your speedo would read about 75mph where is used to read 70mph.

Final Drive Ratio
1638 2.375
17 38 2.235 (stock)

(Submitted by H. Marc Lewis and Brian Faulkner) — [Index]

Clutch adjuster self-tightening

Several TLs exhibit a tendency for the clutch cable adjuster to self-tighten as the handlebars are moved from side to side, as when parking and/or backing up. If yours does this, you will hear a small click. Eventually your clutch adjustment may become so tight that your clutch may start to slip. If your clutch slips (and some do), you should rule out this potential cause before calling your dealer.

There are two cures for this. Easiest is to lubricate the metal cable end with a little grease (not WD-40) where it fits into the knurled adjuster screw. Some report this fixes it. Another solution is to cable-tie, or safety-wire, the adjuster so it holds its adjustment.

(Submitted by H. Marc Lewis) — [Index]

Continue to Part II