Posted: 16 Jun 2013
The original king of speed can still display a stunning turn of pace.
It’s hard to believe that Suzuki’s Hayabusa turns 14 years old this year. Now in its second generation, the bike that caused such an upset with its remarkable 193mph top speed is refusing to grow old gracefully. And why should it? The Hayabusa is a machine that loves to court publicity and seldom shies away from a fight.
Named after a bird of prey that likes to munch on blackbirds, it was certainly no coincidence back in 1999 that the bike to beat when it came to top speed honours was great rival Honda’s Super Blackbird. Not exactly subtle were they?
Having decimated the Honda, Suzuki then ran into a problem. While an insane top speed was all well and good, justifying the need for a terminal velocity that was nearly three times the national speed limit was tricky. The anti-speeding lobby was gaining a louder voice in European parliaments and so the Japanese manufacturers voluntarily signed a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ in 2001 that limited their bikes’ top speed. Well, limited is one word, capped is probably a better description as the limit was set at a mere 186mph. Honestly, what was the point, did any MPs actually read the paperwork?
Over the years hyperbikes have come and gone. Honda dropped out the game in 2007 when the Blackbird was discontinued, Kawasaki’s ZX-12R was short lived, BMW’s K1300S never really hit the headlines and so the top speed war turned into a two horse race between the Kawasaki ZZR1400 and Suzuki Hayabusa, which grew in capacity and power in its 2007 update to match the green threat. But fast as the Busa is, there has always been a slight fly in the ointment – its brakes. Oddly for a bike that can hit 186mph, the stoppers have always been noticeably poor. For 2013 this has changed.
Due to the economic crisis and also the fact that hyperbikes are limited in their appeal and therefore don’t justify huge R&D expenditure, Suzuki have only very slightly altered the 2013 Hayabusa. Essentially it is the same bike as before but with the GSX-R1000’s monobloc Brembo radial calipers and ABS fitted. Although to be fair to Suzuki, there wasn’t much more that needed doing.
Everyone should experience the thrill of flat out acceleration on a Hayabusa once in their life as it is quite simply staggering, just watch the video for evidence. The Suzuki rips up to its top speed with indecent haste and from a rider’s point of view the speed that both the rev counter and speedo flick around is remarkable. It’s addictive, wonderful and something that no other bike can replicate. The power and drive that the 1340cc inline four delivers is nothing short of remarkable and although there is no justification whatsoever for a 186mph top end, the sheer grunt makes the Busa a relaxing bike to ride. Especially for larger riders, which is the audience the Busa seems to attract. But does it now stop properly?
Although I wouldn’t describe the Busa’s ABS as cutting edge, it is certainly up to the job. From treble figure speeds you can now grab the brake lever as hard as you like and although the lever pulses and the tyre chirrups as it briefly skids before the ABS kicks in, there is no fear of the front locking to the point it will throw you off. Stopping over 266kg of bike plus 100kg of rider (maybe more…) that is traveling at such huge velocities is never an easy task, however the new brakes certainly have more bite than before and the ABS is a much-needed safety net. Bikes as long and low as a Busa tends to push the front rather than nail it into the tarmac, meaning they have a tendency to lock the front, necessitating ABS. While the Suzuki system may not be as sophisticated as something like Honda’s C-ABS, which you can’t actually feel working, the unlinked Hayabusa’s ABS brakes will certainly save a spill.
Is it worth owners updating their current bikes? Busa owners tend to be very loyal and if they are looking for a reason to renew their bike then this is it. As a further temptation Suzuki are bringing in a limited number (just 40) of yellow bikes to go with the more standard white paint scheme. According to Suzuki, reactions to the yellow split opinions at the NEC show with some loving it and others hating it – a Hayabusa causing controversy, who says this old dog can’t still cause an upset or two?
Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa
Price: £11,299 (£11,399 for yellow)
Engine: 1340cc, liquid-cooled, inline four, DOHC, fuel injection
Power: 194hp @ 9,800rpm (claimed)
Torque: 115ft.lb @ 10,200rpm (claimed)
Seat height: 805mm
Colours: White, black, yellow
+ Points – Engine, ABS, effortless power
- Points – Losing your licence!
Some silly Hayabusa figures…
0 – 60mph: 3.56 seconds
0 – 70mph: 4.16 seconds
0-100mph: 6.41 seconds
0-180mph: 23.12 seconds
Top speed: 183.1mph in 30.20 seconds