During the speed wars of the ’90s, motorcycles were reaching ridiculous top speeds, with 300kph being the gold standard. Not one to miss out on the opportunity to flex, Suzuki pulled out all the stops and smothered the competition with the fastest production bike in the world in 1999, the GSX-1300R Hayabusa. Capable of a top speed of 312kph when it was first introduced, the Hayabusa was as fast as its namesake, the Peregrine falcon.
Two decades on, the Hayabusa has now evolved into a high tech 21st-century mile-muncher, while still retaining the brutish power that made its forefathers a household name in the police department’s speeding books.
At a glance, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the all-new Hayabusa and the previous generation. Staying faithful to the original’s low-slung and wide aerodynamic silhouette, its heritage is unmistakable. Take a closer look at the Hayabusa, however, and you can start to tell that things have changed.
A freshened face with new vertically stacked headlights starts Hayabusa’s new look. The signature air intakes flanking the headlight cluster are now more angular, a theme repeated across the entirety of the new bike’s design, from the wing mirrors all the way to the signature seat hump.
The side profile of the Hayabusa is also more angular with sharper, straighter lines, further accentuating the Hayabusa’s already long 2.18m length. The side vents are now much larger than before for better cooling and aerodynamics. The massive twin-mufflers have also been redesigned for a more aggressive upward sweep. The LED taillight cluster is entirely new.
Complementing the angular design, the dash and dials have been given a new injection of modern technology. The new tachometer and speedometer are separated by a TFT digital display panel that shows a plethora of information to the rider. LED’s illuminate each of the dials and also provide lighting for all sorts of indicators, including turn signals, warning lights, ABS indicator and engine coolant temperature warning, just to name a few. An ambient lighting sensor automatically adjusts the instrument cluster’s brightness level based on surrounding conditions, all necessary creature comforts for what’s coming up next.
The heart of the beast is a heavily revised 1340cc liquid-cooled four-cylinder four-stroke engine carried over from the previous generation. Now Euro5 emissions compliant, there were numerous engine variations tested for the Hayabusa. Supercharging, turbocharging, and even six-cylinder engines were considered to give the new Hayabusa its brute power.
Despite extensive reworking on the engine, restrictive emission standards have curtailed Hayabusa’s power, dropping 7hp and 5Nm of torque from the previous generation. Yet, the Hayabusa still packs a sledgehammer of force, with 190hp and 150Nm. Despite being down on power, the engineers have done their part, increasing low and mid-range power and torque. With the six-speed constant-mesh gearbox, paired with newly developed electronics to reign in all that grunt, this new Hayabusa is the fastest launching version made to date. The big bike does 0-100kph in 3.2 seconds and onto a limited top speed of 300kph.
While still immensely powerful, the boffins at Suzuki have strengthened the Hayabusa’s engine to make sure that it can take the abuse and still provide good day-to-day riding and worry-free maintenance. Everything from the combustion chambers, pistons, camshafts, crankshafts to the cam profiles and clutch assembly has been beefed up in some way, shape or form. The new intake and exhaust system allow the Hayabusa to breathe easier while the new ride-by-wire electronic throttle system works together with the twin fuel injectors per cylinder to provide the most efficient and optimal ‘boom’ to propel the big bike.
The Hayabusa, while primarily a big, sports touring bike, has always been praised for its surprising nimbleness and agility despite its heft. Ensuring that uncanny chuckability and high-speed stability isn’t lost, the engineers at Suzuki have revised the chassis and suspension set up of the Hayabusa to make sure it’s as fun and sure-footed as its predecessors. The tried and tested twin-spar setup with a new all-aluminium frame and subframe increase the bikes rigidity while keeping weight down. Suspension is fully adjustable, with front duties handled by inverted telescopic coil springs and rear managed with link-type coil springs.
Stopping this 264kg behemoth are a set of four-piston Brembo disc brakes with a 320mm twin-disc setup, while at the rear are single-piston, single disc Nissin brakes. The unique seven-spoke wheels come as standard wrapped in specially-designed Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 tyres for maximum traction and performance.
An all-new suite of electronics on the Hayabusa truly sets the new apart from the old. Suzuki Intelligent Ride System (SIRS) is the core ride management system from which all Hayabusa’s systems are controlled.
Among the critical systems introduced for the new Hayabusa include Active Speed Limiter, 3-stage Launch Control System, Suzuki Easy Start System, Low RPM Assist, Cruise Control, Combined Brake System, Motion Track Braking, and Slope Control and Hill Hold Control System.
The pièce de résistance of the Hayabusa’s electronic system is the Suzuki Drive Mode Selector Alpha (SDMS-α). Utilising technology from Suzuki’s championship-winning MotoGP machine and the latest GSX-R1000R, this magic piece of software will make any average biker look like Valentino Rossi. The SDMS-α come with three factory preset rider modes – Active, Basic, and Comfort, altering the throttle response, traction control, dampers and the quick-shifter response.
With the Motion Track Traction Control System embedded into the SDMS-α, the Hayabusa monitors numerous parameters such as lean angle, front and rear wheel speed and throttle position to detect loss of traction. The ECU does some complicated maths, reigning in the raw power of the Hayabusa to make sure riders stay on the bike and not end up human projectile. Moreover, the launch control system works in tandem with the anti-lift system, allowing riders to set the launch RPM for optimal off-the-line performance without worrying about uncontrollable wheelies.
Much like how JDM cars are now cult classics, the Suzuki Hayabusa cemented its place in history as a supremely capable machine, thanks in part to the early 2000’s action flick Biker Boyz. While staying true to its roots as a sporty cruiser, Suzuki has pulled out all the stops to thoroughly modernised the Hayabusa, making it a far better all-rounder than its predecessor. Make no mistake, though, while it is perfectly docile at low speeds, all it takes is a twist of the Hayabusa’s throttle to put the fear of God into anyone who dares to tame the beast.