Conspicuously missing from Suzuki\'s promotion of the Hayabusa is any mention of the bike\'s top speed potential, quarter mile abilities, or anything else that might imply the possibility of this bike being blindingly, antisocially, anarchistically, frigging fast. Nope, all that Suzuki promises is "effortless performance". Hell, the bike doesn\'t even carry the GSX-R appellation given to all of Suzuki\'s full-out sportbikes, but instead simply has the same simple GSX moniker of the company\'s…uh, 600 Katana. Suzuki almost makes it sound as if the Hayabusa is supposed to be some kind of very nice easy chair.
So by now you\'ve heard that the Hayabusa is fast. Real fast. But there\'s surprisingly much more to the Hayabusa than just that. It\'s also a for-real sportbike.
There\'s nothing really remarkably cutting edge about the Hayabusa\'s design but that\'s because it\'s based on Suzuki\'s cutting edge bikes of the last few of years. No, the important thing about the Busa\'s edge is that it\'s a wonking big edge. The Hayabusa\'s basically familiar engine, frame, and body design pretty well reveal what the bike really is: it\'s a GSX-R750 on steroids.
The engine of the Hayabusa is the largest inline four-cylinder unit that Suzuki has ever built, sporting 1298ccs to be exact. That\'s basically 450ccs more than the Fiat sedan I once owned. And at 158hp the Busa puts out about 100 more horsepower than that car ever dreamed of. Considering that I actually got a speeding ticket while driving that car I think that this bike might mean trouble for me.
The Hayabusa is fuel injected just like the latest versions of Suzuki\'s GSX-R750 and TL1000R. And like those bikes, it also has the added advantage of ram air. SRAD, as Suzuki likes to call it. But on the Haybus, the ram air intakes are located much closer to the center of the fairing, which Suzuki claims is where the highest air pressure exists at speed.
Everything inside the Hayabusa\'s engine is just plain big. Big pistons, big valves, big injector bodies, and so on. But the bigness is limited to the inside of the engine with the exterior of the unit shrink-wrapped around the components, resulting in a giant power-producing plant that is smaller than Suzuki\'s previous GSX-R1100 engine. Those tricks that allowed Suzuki to make its latest version of the GSX-R750 smaller and lighter have been incorporated into the design of the Hayabusa engine to make its 1300ccs fit into a package smaller and lighter than the old 1100.
Another difference between this engine and the now retired 1100 unit is that the Happybus\'s motor has a six-speed gearbox rather than just five speeds. This makes the bike a little easier to ride in around-town traffic but in reality the ratios of third gear by itself probably would have been enough. Suffice it to say that first gear alone will get you well beyond the legal speed limit. Quickly.
The trick to building not only quick, but also fast, is to pay just as much attention to aerodynamics as to horsepower. The cost of pushing air is not linear: it\'s quadratic. In other words, the faster you go the more expensive each additional mile per hour costs. So in concert with Suzuki giving the Bus the most powerful engine they\'ve ever manufactured, the bike also has the lowest drag coefficient of any Suzuki, ever. And possibly that of any mass-produced motorcycle. And that\'s why the thing looks the way it does.
The aluminum twin-spar frame of the Hayabusa is virtually a beefed up GSX-R750 unit that features a huge cast steeringhead and a swingarm that has been significantly reinforced up to its giant, cast, pivoting end. One is tempted to try to adapt a 750 swingarm to the bike to see how it would handle with a shorter arm, but it might be best to add structure to such a modification first. Be forewarned, the bike might steer quicker but it will also certainly go vertical much easier, too. Like, to the moon, Alice.
The Haya\'s forks are upside down, 43mm units with full adjustability, and they carry a pair of six piston Tokicos mated to a set of 320mm rotors. The rear is suspended by a shock that also features full adjustability and which sports a piggyback reservoir rather than the conventional remote tank. The rebound adjustment is a little hidden but by flexing the rear fairing pan it can be accessed. Getting to the preload adjustment on the shock is just as difficult as it is on most bikes.
The Bus sports a dash set in a fake carbon fiber frame that stands apart from most every other dash byvirtue of the tachometer being on the left rather than on the right. Why, we don\'t know. A fun thing about the gauges is that when the key is first turned on all of the needles do a full sweep before returning to their default positions. It\'s not a detail of any great import but it is entertaining.
The idiot lights are the best we\'ve ever seen because they\'re bright so you don\'t have to look at them six times and then block the sun with one hand and look three more times to see if any of them are on. One glance is enough to see these lights. The bike also has two trip meters that each have independent fuel consumption gauges that estimate the mpg you should be getting from how you\'re riding the bike. And just like every other vehicle designed to breach the time continuum, the bike comes with a clock.
Regarding the Happybus\'s looks, I have to admit that it starts to grow on you after a while. After living with the bike for a few days certain details of its shape actually become attractive and I don\'t think it\'s simply a case of the bike\'s personality shining through. We were floored by how the bike grabs the attention and imagination of non-motorcyclists. Never before with any other test bikes have so many people in cars at traffic lights been unable to stop themselves from commenting positively about the bike\'s looks. And on the first day that photographer Blake took the bike to his other job, he was called by a good dozen women in the office who couldn\'t resist telling him what a great looking bike the thing is. If a bike\'s looks can inspire women to spontaneously call, who among us can complain?
The Hayabusa\'s shape was reportedly designed in a wind tunnel with concerns for airflow having more weight in the bike\'s final shape than simply styling whims. No, it doesn\'t look much like a GP bike, which we all know are very fast, but then again, those things don\'t carry giant four cylinder, four-stroke engines, either. Secondly, if Suzuki had made it look like a sharp looking sportbike it would have been just another sharp looking sportbike. Sure, most sportbike riders love the look of the Yamaha R-1, but no one else seems to notice the thing. It just might be that Suzuki has discovered the coolest looking design for the largest possible audience. That aside, the last thing to consider about the Haya\'s looks is that it just plain doesn\'t matter. Only a fool would turn his back on this bike\'s performance just because he didn\'t like its looks.
On paper the Hayabusa appears to be an overly heavy sport-touring slug that would be best suited for the open road. The open and straight road. The shocker about the Bus is not so much its incredibly stunning acceleration as much as it is the fact that it is a very capable sportbike. And it has incredible acceleration.
When we initially took the Hayabusa down roads that had tight turns, it frightened us by the way that it threw its weight all over the place. Especially under braking. It was immediately obvious that the beast had springs but whether or not it had damping we couldn\'t yet tell. On what we considered to be just moderately hard braking, the bike would dive full to the fork stops, putting the machine into a skittering chatter that caused wide running in the turns. It\'s hard to have confidence in throwing a machine over on its side if its front end\'s connection with the pavement is dubious. Or feels dubious, anyway. An illusion of traction is necessary for a rider to experience the full thrill of the illusion of riding talent.
Before we made any changes to the bike\'s suspension, photographer Blake took a turn in the saddle so that we could commiserate on our confused adjustments. It\'s always best to be dumb in pairs. As soon as we saddled up, Blake came screaming by me on the Heyimgoingtoofast, driving into the next unknown turn way deeper than I ever would have been willing. I thought, wow, that guy must really ride much better than I do to have that kind of instant confidence and feel for a machine. At our next stop, Blake related a frantic little story about how he scared the crap out of himself by going way too fast into the first turn he encountered after he got on the big Zuke. So much for talent and confidence. I think "fools rush in" pretty well covers it. Oh, I forgot. Blake\'s online now so I can\'t bad talk him anymore. Or so he might think.
Although our Haya had been set up just fine for blasting down the expressway it was way too soft at that setting to control the sprung weight when ridden hard. After experimenting with tightening the suspension up we soon found nirvana. Because of the available adjustibility of the Hayabusa\'s suspension we were able to transform the bike from a nasty, swaggering beast into a very nicely handling sportbike. If the bike we had started out with at the beginning of the day had been the total package - no adjustments possible - we would have flatly stated that the Bus ain\'t no sportbike. But by just turning a few screws and things here and there the Haya transformed into a ripping sportbike that, although will never corner as fast as a lighter bike, will never corner with shame.
On tight roads only the ultra-tight switchbacks made the thing anything less than an absolute riot to ride. We have listed our suspension settings for your convenience. Keep in mind that although Blake has the fattest ass of the two of us he still only weighs in at 175 lbs. Also, since you\'ll want to try different settings while you\'re out on the road don\'t forget to bring a socket wrench with you because, once the fork preload adjusters are turned down level with the clip-on holder, you can\'t screw them in any tighter with the bike\'s toy tools.
There is no other bike for sale that shoots off the turns like the Hayabusa while also generating such great confidence when entering and apexing those turns. The Hayabusa\'s mix of heaps of torque and a balanced chassis is the real success. While other high-speed machines are compromised cornerers, the Hayabusa is shockingly nimble. Yes, it\'s heavier than any full-fledged sportbike but its ability to control its weight together with its intoxicating torque makes excuses unnecessary. The Hayabusa\'s horsepower is resoundingly impressive but that\'s only a small part of the story; it\'s the torque that makes you love it.
Although the Hayabusa surprised us with its incredibly competent sporting abilities, there are a few minuses in its performance that merit mention. The mapping of the Hayabusa\'s efi causes the bike to lurch when rolling the throttle on from full-off, much like the GSX-R750 does. It\'s certainly no cause for alarm, but it is annoying. It is not as bothersome as with the Gixxer, probably because when it happens on the Bus the engine is usually at a lower rpm. The good news is it should be possible to tune out this problem.
The re-mapping boxes that Yoshimura sells for tuning the efi of the GSX-R can also be used to modify the Happy\'s brain, too. Racers have discovered that by going 10% richer on the high-end mapping the lurching of the GSX-R all but disappears. If that doesn\'t cure the problem with the Hayabusa then try richening the low end, too. Or…
The next thing to try after that is to change the resisters that tell the bike what gear it\'s in. There\'s a rumor going around that cutting a pink wire will increase second gear performance, but it is doubtful that there is any gain from doing so. It\'s true that cutting the red wire on the GSX-R1100 improved first gear performance on that bike. But the Bus is wired much differently, allowing it to recognize each of its gears through differing resisters. Getting no message does not allow the bike to properly select the best map for conditions. Again, those racing 750s have experimented with this on that bike and some of them have found out that by using the third gear resistor for all of the gears produced the best results. We\'re sorry that we can\'t be more specific, but no one we\'ve talked to has yet identified the best alteration for the Hayabusa. Just get some beer for your electronics buddy and start experimenting on your own.
The other thing the Bus does that\'s less than honorable is that it has a tendency to stand up during mid-corner braking much more than any other sportbike we\'ve ridden in the last couple of years. Our suspension tuning allowed for better rider control of this, but we were unable to find any solution that inhibited the behavior.
What might be most surprising to many riders is that when the Hayabusa is ridden in a "normal" seating position it offers very limited wind protection. The streamlining of the fairing helps make the wind hit the rider in a nice smooth blast with very little buffeting, but it still hits the rider in mid-chest. In order to get out of the wind the rider has to assume the position. The position of speed.
The other surprise of the Hayabusa is that the bike is very kind and gentle at slow speeds. The efi delivers smooth acceleration once the throttle has been turned, and the bike is quite happy to be ridden around town. If the throttle is not turned aggressively, the beast\'s other personality will remain hidden. On the other hand, the bike goes fast, deceptively. Cruising at 65mph, the machine is only pushing 3,100rpms and at 80mph it\'s at around a scant 4,100rpms. The weight of the rider\'s hand is more than enough throttle for expressway riding and checking the speedometer is an unrelenting responsibility.
We learned quickly that when taking full advantage of the Hayabusa\'s acceleration, it\'s important to keep in mind that the closing speed of this bike to other traffic is well beyond the concept of those sitting in cars. It\'s also a bit beyond what your average motorcyclists might anticipate. Just a turn of the wrist gets the bike from here to there in a compression of time and space that demands serious respect and attention.
In short, it\'s not so much that the Hayabusa\'s fast: it\'s that it\'s also so easy to ride slow. It\'s not so much that the Hayabusa\'s fast; it\'s that it goes fast so easy. It\'s not so much that the Hayabusa\'s fast; it\'s that it\'s also a real sportbike. It\'s not so much that the Hayabusa\'s fast; it\'s that it is really fast. Because of that we recommend that only experienced riders should consider owning this bike. Or rather, all experienced riders must consider owning this bike.