Suzuki TL 1000S The New Wave in Super Sport Motorcycle
commentary by Masatsugu Arimoto


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Reassessing super sport motorcycles a new generation of the Suzuki super sport motorcycle made its debut in Cologne in early October. Called the TLIOOOS, the new machine carries a 1-1iter V-shaped 2-cylinder engine on an aluminum frame and an organically shaped cowl. Strangely, at the same show Honda unveiled its VTR1000F also with a 1-1iter, V-shaped twin engine. This makes one think that changes are taking place in the world of super sport motorcycles, which previously all carried 4-cylinder engines. Most of the demand for motorcycles in the super sport category (with large displacements of 750 cc to about I Iiter) is in Europe and the United States. Suzuki says that the TLIOOOS will be the main model in its lineup of super sport motorcycles in Europe. Though strong sales of this category of bike cannot be expected in Japan because of the country's stringent licensing system, this category is important to manufacturers as a showcase of their technical abilities. The TLIOOOS project got started about two years ago, in the summer of 1994. Says Yuji Nishimoto, a planner in the product planning and design department who was involved with preparations for the project even before it actually got off the ground, "We started off by reexamining the definition of a super sport motorcycle. We thought that super sport motorcycles should not simply be racer replicas." The term "racer replica" is only used in Japan. It refers to a category of motorcycle with an alminium frame concealing a multi-cylinder engine inside the cowl and designed with thorough emphasis on performance. The term was coined during the racer replica boom in Japan in the '80s. The word "replica" is not really accurate to describe marketed motorcycles that are not simply racers remodeled so they can run on public roads. Still, recently some market motorcycles have been developed with super bike races in Europe in mind, Iike the GSX-R750 Suzuki unveiled at the Paris Salon in the fall of 1995. The distance between racers and "replicas" is shortening, and with this the hardware, structure and styling of these motorcycles are becoming increasingly uniform. Nishimoto's aim was to stop this trend.
But that does not mean that Suzuki pursued performance any less. Says Nishimoto, "The racer replica boom in Japan tapered off in around 1990, but their popularity overseas remains high. Racer replicas have become the core of super sport motorcycles. That is why we developed the GSX-R750. But then we wanted to build another core, a machine aiming at high performance but with a new type of appeal, a more emotional attraction. We thought we could do this with a 2-cylinder engine." It is said that 2-cylinder engines are appealing for their pulsation and the sense of acceleration they provide. Also, at the time the project got started V-twin Ducati's had begyn winning super bike races. According to racing rules, 4-cylinder bikes must only have a displacement 750 cc, but I Iitter displacements are allowed for 2-cylinder,r machines. Though we still don't know whether the TL1000S will participate in super bike races, it is not hard to imagine that it will.

The V-twin engin
The TLIOOOS carries a 1-litter 90' V-shaped 2-cylinder engine that was developed from scratch. Small angle V-twin engines like those used on the American style "Intruder" have a high center of gravity that makes the bike diffrcult to handle. Inline 2-cylinder engines are lighter but have a wide crank case, Iimiting the banking angle. Another advantage of 90' V-shaped engines is that theoretically they eliminated primary vibration of the crank shaft. On the TLIOOOS the engine is mounted on the frame with the cylinder at the front side at a 30' angle from the horizontal. The Ducati has the front cylinder virtually horizontal. of layout tends to make the wheelbase longer and results in a lack of weight on the front tire. The height of the cylinder head at the exhaust side(the front side of the front cylinder) was set lower than the intake side, also to keep the wheelbase short The work of the designers started before the shape of the frame and engine angle were decided. Even so, the design of the TLIOOOS revolves around the V- twin engine. Says Tsuyoshi Murakami, Manager of the product planning and design department and the person responsible for supervising the design of all two-wheelers, "We wanted to show the engine.We wanted to get away from the 'universal Japanese' image through a new engine and a new design" The frame is of the twin spur type directly linking the steering head and swing arm pivot, so the rear cylinder is hidden from view. But the front cylinder is clearly visible under the front cowl. Incidentally, on the Honda VTR that made its debut at the same time as the TLIOOOS the cowl extends almost to the crank case so the engine cannot be seen from the side.

A new balance
According to Fumichika Sugiura, chief designer in charge of road sport motorcycles, 'We tried to achieve a design unlike the uniform designs of racer replicas." Kiyoshi Katagiri, a young designer who participated in the development of the TLIOOOS and worked on the winning proposal, says "We were careful not to make the new motorcycle look simply like a racer replica without the lower cowl." On racer replicas the rear cowl is usually somewhat on the large side so that there is enough space for applying the racing number. The TLIOOOS was designed for a rich sense of volume, even though the rear was lightened. and the front sleeve shortened to show the engine. The balance of the volume leans towards the front, creating a sense of forward motion and giving the TLIOOOS its distinctive look. Actually Suzuki created a sensation 16 years ago when it proposed the same sort of balance on its GSX1100.
The black zone extending from the transparent screen above the cowl to the headlight also stresses forward motion. Such details as the expression of the headlight (with a projector type low beam) and the air intake with its CFRP-Iike water transfer print give the TLIOOOS an aggressive look unlike that of regular racers. The air intake provides a supercharging effect at high speeds due to wind pressure. This is no longer a rarity in the world of racers and super sport motorcycles, but the TLIOOOS takes a new turn in making its presence stand out through the CFRP-Iike surface treatment. A separate panel is provided inside the cowl to carry the meters, "in an aim at achieving a high sense quality unlike racer replicas" (Murakami).
Another feature of this cowl is its organic form making an extensive use of curved lines and surfaces. The trend today among Japanese four-wheelers is for sharp shapes, but with two-wheelers that have markets around the globe apparently manufacturers do not have to worry too much about the trends in forms. In fact, Sugiura says "We aimed at a non-Japanese look through thoroughly rounded surfaces." According to Katagiri, "Aerodynamic requirements were not as strict as for racer replicas, so we did as much as we could get away with." These statements show how much the designers stressed the shape. We would be lying if we said that the TLIOOOS does not remind us of certain other models like the Egli and Bimota, but it has been a long time since we have even wanted to discuss the taste in shapes of Japanese motorcycles. Let's hope that this is a sign of a turning point for motorcycles.