R267 EYJ - The Widow Maker
“Big bouncing biscuit-shaped barrels of fun. That’s V-Twins for you. No other engine gives you that mid range wallop, that exhaust note or the sheer sensation of acceleration.” The opening lines from the April 1997 issue of SuperBike magazine perfectly describe the kind of riding hit a big V-Twin delivers.
The group test in that issue was between the Ducati 916, the Honda VTR Firestorm and the Suzuki TL1000S. In the 24 years between then and now, each of the bikes in that test have found their own fans in the used bike marketplace. It’s the Suzuki TLS that we feel represents the best opportunity in terms of a useable and appreciating asset.
The TLS gained notoriety, often being referred to as ‘The Widow Maker’ thanks to the rotary mounted rear damper. Something Suzuki opted for at the time due to the lack of space for a traditional rear shock setup. Quick steering, monster torque and the F1 inspired damping setup meant head shake was normal. To some owners it was all too much and the bikes were quickly sold on, others found an aftermarket workaround. The current owner of R267 EYJ was more than happy to just put up with it. That said, the current owner is former WSBK, BSB and Grand Prix racer James Haydon.
I’d never had a big road bike before, obviously I was happy on them on track. Suddenly I was out there on the road riding the TLS, a bike that at the time was getting a bit of bad press, but compared to the SuperBikes I was racing at the time, I found it to be perfectly well mannered. Sometimes things got a bit flighty and it shook its head a bit, but I was used to that with my day job and it never really bothered me.
R267 EYJ was first registered on the 04/08/1997 and was sold out of P&H Motorcycles in Crawley. We would consider it to be in fair and standard condition, which represents the perfect opportunity to either ride and enjoy the bike immediately, or invest in bringing it back to factory fresh condition.
When I was racing for Suzuki in 1999, as part of the deal I got a mx bike and a road bike to ride. The MD of Suzuki GB at the time had a red TL1000S with Remus end cans that was mint. They asked me if I’d like to ride that one and I said yes immediately.
I just loved being on it. At the end of the year when it was time to hand the toys back to Suzuki, I bought it off them. I kept it for a while and when I moved onto the next chapter of what I was doing at work, it just didn’t make sense to keep it. I regrettably sold it not long after.
_Fast forward twenty years and I saw this one for sale. It was at a dealership in Banbury, had done nice mileage and had a nice history. I spoke to the dealer, who said it was a lovely and honest example that I could either push to make mint, or use without fear of it letting me down. It was ideal. _
I absolutely loved the ride home. It’s not hugely powerful but it makes a lovely noise and is full of character. I was thrilled after the ride home and really enjoyed reconnecting with the TLS again.
Those that know Suzukis of this era will already know how thin Suzuki used to lay paint on its bikes. The paint work on R267 EYF is generally in above average condition, though a few hairline cracks can be seen in the passenger seat cowl. The standard indicators and exhausts are a hopeful indication that all of its seven owners at least had the sense not to modify to taste.
I enjoyed a few great ride outs with my mates, the TLS was perfect for enjoying a blast and then sitting in a sunny beer garden with. It’s just been great fun to own and conjured up some evocative memories for me. The TLS was the first bike I took my wife on the back of, it was the first big bike that she experienced on full chat. Not all of my great riding memories are based on track and this one that you’re looking at allowed me to reconnect with those memories.
R267 EYJ had a comprehensive service in June 2019. New fluids (including suspension) and filters, head bearings adjusted, new fork seals installed and braided brake lines were fitted. The HEL lines viewed by TLS owners as a practical modification that immediately improves the riding experience. A previous owner has addressed the head shaking rotary damper issue by replacing it with an oe damper from a different bike, along with heavier bar end weights. Research shows that a Yamaha R6 unit was a popular fitment, it looks likely that this is the unit that has been used on this bike.
The Suzuki TLS made more power and torque than the Ducati 916 and the Honda VTR Firestorm competition did back back in that 1997 group test. Not just on the dyno, but it was a properly fast bike on the road as well. That it was Japanese as well meant only good things for reliability then and now. The strength of the market for a used TLS is strong enough for Suzuki GB to have added this model to their Vintage Parts Programme. This TL1000S has a guide price of £2,500 - £3,500.
Over time things change and I found I was using it less and less. I feel that I’ve ticked the box on the TLS, I’ve done that one now and while I’m glad I owned one again it just feels like the right time for someone else to enjoy it. It means it frees up a little space in my garage as well, which can only be a good thing...
R267 EYJ is not a show winning bike. It’s the perfect example of the kind of machine that we’re interested in on SuperBike Auctions. Honest and ready to ride, it has a fresh MOT and has covered 15,852 miles, with the last 1,000 miles taking thirteen years to cover. That bad boy reputation the TL1000S has gained creates an allure that the Honda Firestorm could only dream of. The reserve is realistic and represents a great opportunity for the new owner to buy into a bike that is only going to go one way in terms of value. Knowing that it’s been cared for and enjoyed by a rider that has won BSB races for Suzuki and scored points in 500cc Grand Prix races only adds to the appeal of this particular example.
The result of the group test in ’97 was a draw for the TLS and the 916. We’ll leave former editor and writer of that test, Mr John Cantlie to summarise. “Winding the Suzuki on out of roundabouts is sheer biking pleasure. Feed that Metzeler rear tyre in, feel the grip and then go for the revs and big power. Boom! With a lift of the wheel and a waggle of the bars and you’re outta there. The TL is for people that always wanted a 916 but couldn’t afford it. Now they can.”
All UK-registered road-going motorcycles on SuperBike are validated via an online HPI check. This vehicle shows no insurance database markers for damage or theft, and has no finance owing.