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buying a ragged TLR - should I or shouldn't I?

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  • buying a ragged TLR - should I or shouldn't I?

    Hi everyone. While browsing the local classifieds I came across a TL1000R at a great price. These are pretty rare bikes here and I don't often see them advertised. I thought I'd ask you guys - the TLR experts - for some advice. My last bike was a '99 ZX9R, which I sold a few months ago. I didn't really want another superbike and I have been looking for something more upright, but I've always hankered after a big twin as these days I prefer low to mid-range grunt over top end power, and always thought the TLR was one of the best looking bikes ever made. Given that this one is being sold very cheap, I thought I'd at least go have a look.

    It's lived a rough life, it would seem. The engine, however, sounded good and it started up right away. Revved smoothly and I couldn't hear any funny noises, see any smoke or smell anything weird. The frame looked good, and forks didn't seem to have been bent, even though the front mudguard was missing, indicating a front-end accident, I'd guess. Both clutch lever and front brake lever were broken off on the ends, indicating that it had gone down on the left and right at some stage.

    Rear light didn't work at all, but front was working fine. Front indicators (non standard items, probably also crash damage) dead, rear were working. Horn dead. Either poor wiring or some other electrical gremlins? Unknown pipes on the bike with peeling carbon fibre tape on the end cans. They sounded decent though, although perhaps not as deep as I would have thought for a big twin. Fork seals were leaking, and from what I could tell there was a bit of oil near the front sprocket area, but the fairing hid most of the engine so it was hard to see that much. Tyres are both shagged, rear very squared off but to be expected at this price. Rear brake seemed to be seized. I could push the bike around easily though so at least it wasn't seized shut. Paint job looked like it had been done with cans of spraypaint. Chain seemed pretty slack and worn, will probably need replacing.

    The radiator fan was switched on manually (is this normal?) - the guy turned it on as soon as he started the bike up, said he always does that when the bike is running "to keep it nice and cool". I remember the temperature showing 68 after maybe a minute of running, I wasn't paying too much attention to that while I was inspecting the bike.

    Speedo was primarily miles per hour (outer ring in white) with kilometres per hour in green in an inner ring. Vehicles are always km/h here in South Africa, so I was wondering if this was perhaps an imported bike or if all TLRs everywhere in the world came with both mph and kmph clocks? I also don't know if the odometer was showing miles or km total then - which was 43000.

    I'm thinking that this would be a good buy at the price, given that the engine sounds good. My aim would be to restore it to original, or as close as I could get to that. I have a little mechanical knowledge (I can do standard maintenance like oil, filters and spark plugs etc at home, but don't do things more complex than that) and have been riding motorcycles for many years, but I'm definitely not particularly mechanically minded.

    I guess I'd like to ask if you guys think that getting this bike is a good idea. I hope to restore it to original, and most of the stuff I've mentioned I think I can fix myself. I know a good spraypainter who wouldn't charge too much to respray the bike (back to yellow), and I can hopefully source a front mudguard and rear hump, and then sort out the electrical issues with the lights and horn. What mechanical issues could crop up, though? Or major electrical issues (I'll probably replace the regulator rectifier right away, as most 90s bikes I've had before have had reg rec issues). I'll also insist on taking the bike for a test ride before handing any cash over - anything I should look for while riding that would indicate a serious issue that would mean I shouldn't buy the bike?

    A pic: (excuse the poor quality, it's a cheap phone)







  • #2
    Welcome to the forum trapjaw!

    You haven't listed anything that would be a deal breaker - in my mind. If you are looking for a TLR project bike in an area where they are hard to find, this could be the one, if the price is right for you. I've seen worse examples on craigslist in my part of the world for 2K to 3K dollars.

    The manual fan switch is a common modification in warm climates.

    I can't speak for the worldwide market, but here in the US, the speedo face is black with MPH in larger white markings around the outer edge. KPH on a smaller inner radius.

    Nice that it has the fairings. If they are the OEM plastic, even better.

    You will want to inspect the charging system as you mentioned. It is a TL weak point. However, it is not just a matter of replacing the R/R. The wire loom itself has issues.

    The oil you mention near the front sprocket could be the seal for clutch push rod or the front drive shaft. Either one is something you could handle. They are not major surgery.

    The rear rotary damper is problem in my opinion, but you can be the judge if you get to ride it. There are upgrades available. Not difficult to install, but it can be a pricey mod.


    January 2012 - BBOTM & TLOTM

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    • #3
      I would add that you go back and look at the radiators. See if they are bent. In doing so, you will be able to tell if the bike was a wheelie machine. That could show how the bike was used as well. And, 68 degrees C converts to 155 degrees F. That seems to be a little too cool for the TLR. It should be running in the 180F or 82C.

      Far be it from me to chime in and add to what Tony says, but I would also check the two large electrical connectors, white and yellow, on the left side of the bike, right near the clutch lever. Pull them apart and see if the connections are clean or have any corrosion on them.

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      • #4
        Thanks for the advice guys! Very much appreciated, I guess I'll be going back to see if the guy will give me a test ride, and will closely inspect the radiators and electrical connectors. With regard to the charging system, short of taking a multimeter along and getting readings while the bike is running, are there any telltale symptoms that would tell me that the r/r and or wiring loom are trashed?

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        • #5
          On the charging the wire loom was undersized from the factory...simple fix to do the charge mod, Iím a idiot when it convenes new to electrical issues and did mine in 10-15 minutes...

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          • #6
            Originally posted by trapjaw View Post
            ....short of taking a multimeter along and getting readings while the bike is running, are there any telltale symptoms that would tell me that the r/r and or wiring loom are trashed?
            The system is likely not "trashed." It is just not optimized. You say that it starts and runs fine, so it will be fine until you get it home.

            January 2012 - BBOTM & TLOTM

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            • #7
              I'd get rid of that plastic and turn it into this. That's my opinion.

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