Wanting, Hoping, Praying for Hayabusa

11/21/2012 @ 6:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

Fifteen years ago, I fell in love with the Suzuki Hayabusa. A courtship that started well-ahead of my formal indoctrination to two-wheels, the Hayabusa was the capstone of motorcycle performance in my youthful eyes.

I lusted after its sleek wind-tunnel tuned lines, and marveled at its outright speed, which at its debut, trumped everything else on the market.

Approaching the 200 mph mark with their designs, Japan sold us on a “gentleman’s agreement” between the factories to govern their machines to 186 mph — I call it the pinnacle of technical collusion of the first degree.

It is so much easier to compete against another manufacturer when you don’t actually have to compete against them. The Suzuki Hayabusa could co-exist with the Honda CBR1100XX and Kawasaki ZX-12R in bubble that assured no one bike, on paper, could trump the other, after all…they all went 186 mph in the newly declared speed war.

It is debatable whether this self-governing measure by the Japanese OEMs avoided a nanny state imposition of laws and regulations onto the motorcycle industry, but there can be no debate about the stagnation the gentleman’s agreement caused in the marketplace.

Once designated as being hyperbikes, a term that gave a nod to the performance specifications being beyond the superbikes found on the race track, we have watched the cessation of the Honda Super Blackbird (2003 in the USA, 2007 worldwide), and witnessed the Hayabusa and ZX-12R, later the Kawasaki ZX-14R, morph into capital “s” sport-tourers that are a far cry from their original intents.

Whether you caste the current Suzuki Hayabusa as the second-generation of the machine, or simply a massaged version of the first-generation GSX-1300R, it has stood motionless for far too long since its beginnings 15 years ago, and revision in 2008.

It is time for the Hayabusa to return to its hyperbike roots, and once again captivate the imagination of little boys, and grown men, with what its possible on two wheels.

Watching the liter-bike class catch, and in many ways surpass, the performance marks of the Hayabusa and the “hyperbikes” of yore, has been a bit disheartening for this motorcycle enthusiast.

Unconstrained by racing class rules, the sky is the limit for bikes like the Hayabusa, which is certainly why the Japanese OEMs quickly agreed to a self-imposed treaty of speed.

However now, the current state of the motorcycle landscape sees that the Japanese OEMs have commoditized their of big-displacement offerings, and accordingly suffered on the dealership sales floors during the recession.

There was a point in time when the Japanese OEMs stood for maximum performance, with modest pricing and bullet-proof reliability.

I have already argued before that the Japanese motorcycle brands need to stand for more than just these basic attributes, and the Suzuki Hayabusa is one of the few examples from the island nation of a motorcycle that lived through a brand of its own. That brand, however, has been eroded away with time.

With the Japanese OEMs (Suzuki in particular) floating listlessly in the western world, a revisiting of the original purpose of the Hayabusa could be greatly beneficial in getting consumers excited about motorcycles once again.

Building off the idea that the Suzuki Hayabusa is not constrained by race homologation rules, a completely clean slate of out-of-the-box thinking can be undertaken, with the Hayabusa being the showcase of Suzuki’s unfettered technical prowess.

In a similar way that Honda has debuted its key technical innovations on the VFR series (ABS, variable valves, single-sided swingarms, oval pistons, etc), Suzuki should look at the Hayabusa again as its hyperbike platform, and though while outright speed will be only a side-benefit, the company should foucs on the Hayabusa showcasing the technologies and innovations that set the Suzuki brand apart from the rest of the Japanese OEMs, and the motorcycle industry as a whole.

For example, Suzuki has can a take page from the loyal tuner community that now surrounds the Hayabusa, and experiment with forced-induction motors. Developing small-displacement boosted engines for the hyperbike market could lead to motorcycles with higher power-to-weight ratios, the golden metric for the sport bike enthusiast.

We already see car manufacturers developing in this realm (BMW, Fiat, Ford, etc), and while motorcycles are more compact and efficient machines, what track day enthusiast could turn down an affordable street bike with MotoGP power and mass measurements?

Additionally, if electrics are truly the future of the industry, it would behoove companies like Suzuki to explore electric drivetrain options (if they aren’t already). While battery technology may limit the practicality of fully electric machines (at least for the time being), there is no reason that electric push-to-pass KERS systems cannot be developed and successfully implemented.

Formula One has played with this technology for sometime now, and it baffles my mind why MotoGP hasn’t followed suit with a 20hp or more on-tap electric boost.

Aside from the obvious long-term benefits of developing technology for high-performance electric motor and batteries, a hybrid KERS/turbo engine system is complimentary in design to a forced-induction motor.

A performance oriented hybrid providing on-tap electric torque for corner acceleration that is balanced out with a top-end turbo boost for maximum top speed, we already see that Porsche has caught onto this idea with its 918 Spyder design, which should be out next year.

These are just two examples of what is possible with the Hayabusa platform, though I am sure Hiroshi Iio-san and his group of Suzuki engineers, if given the proper leeway, could devise even more captivating pieces of ingenuity for the Hayabusa.

Priced effectively above the GSX-R superbike line, but within reach of mortal men, Suzuki could build a potent halo brand with a strong hyperbike offering.

Retreating from the gentlemen’s agreement with the other Japanese manufacturers, a little competition between the brands could improve the breed, and save the Japanese motorcycle as we know it.

Photo: Suzuki

  • Mitch

    “…morph into capital “s” sport-tourers that are a far cry from their original intents.”

    Are we sure? The larger motor, the longer wheelbase, the differentiation in naming (Not GSX-R1300; GSX-1300R) – I think the idea for a more stable and less knife edged bike was always the goal. Adding KERS or boost would both add weight and tons of price and grant nothing to the bike that it doesn’t already have (tons of power in the entire band).

  • Mitch, I’m calling for a ground-up new model, with say maybe half the displacement, but even more performance.

    If you don’t adhere to a racing rulebook, it’s not that hard to bring a bike to market with GP-bike power and weight (200+ hp, 350 lbs).

  • Mitch

    Ohhh… hm, I never saw the Busa as some kind of attempt to create step beyond the Superbike, personally.

    What you’re suggesting isn’t impossible, but it would be close to impossible to sell and service an incredibly small niche that thinks a liter bike isn’t hard enough. But, if rumors are to be believed, Honda may have something up that alley soon… :D

  • Gonzo

    The ‘Busa was the ugliest sportbike out there, in my opinion. Until the ZX14 came out. And talk about asinine tv commercials? Kawi steals the show! I’ll keep my S1000rr thank you.

  • Jacek

    I’m not a big fan of the Busa as for me it seems it’s a bike for the “older generation”. What I’m hoping for when I get older though is that Suzuki will look into their books and base their design on something as epic as “Nuda” project from 1986!


  • meatspin

    the way I see it now, the Busa is losing out big time to the ZX14. Suzuki needs to rework and come back and do a leap on the other pretenders and put on a good stomping. They already have the aftermarket locked up, so really the ball is in their court. Whats sad is that hyperbike owners should have to worry about liter bikes catching up to them. Just give the bike more attack with ridiculous power.

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  • jake

    I have never been a fan of the Busa, ZX14, etc……If you are interested in simple straight line speed and nothing else I guess they were good for that, but I found those big heavy bikes just boring. And I don’t mean that to offend anyone, different tastes. It just seemed the main point was just I’ve got the most power and fastest top speed. But the thing about this article that I hope doesn’t happen is what was mentioned with the electronics. I know they are here to stay, but more than anything else electronics have quickly and effectively killed my interest (that and the ugly design of most new bikes) in the new bikes. That is why, not the bad economy, I won’t be purchasing a new bike.

    Push to pass? Really? What is the point? In racing it’s the lamest thing and F1 has it as a gimmick because they’ve made the cars so efficient the races are boring. What happened to skill deciding who won a race? On the street again what is the point? If you need a button to pass a car then you probably shouldn’t be riding. I am not afraid of technology, but at the same time all these advanced rider aids have taken the fun out of riding and when it gets to the point that these systems can’t be disabled or removed (ABS, traction control) then I will quit riding. In my 13 years of street, track and off road riding there has NEVER been a moment where I thought damn I wish I had traction control or abs. I don’t buy into the marketing hype from people who say I need this stuff simply because they are trying to sell it. I have never been one to buy used bikes, but going forward I won’t have a choice because not one of the bike manufacturers are making anything that interest me in the slightest in regards to street bikes. So far off road has been left alone and hopefully it will stay that way because that apparently the only way I will be able to avoid the autobike stuff that is being pushed right now

  • Random

    If any Suzuki bike could be developed as a track/road display of new engineering solutions it’s the GSX-R 750, which already don’t belong to any current racing class. But given the current economic climate and Suzuki financial troubles I don’t see it happening in the near future.

  • Westward

    + 1 to the first two sentences of Jakes diatribe….

  • Halfie 30

    The way I was understood the 186 mph agreement was that it was between (exotic) car manufacturers and motorcycle manufacturers. Not something the Japanese big four made an agreement about. Seeing as though Ducati, Aprilia, and the like still adhere to the 186mph I would say that is pretty sound.

    Ferrari, Lambo, and other high price tag car makers started yapping that 200mph speeds were to much speed on a bike and should be limited so no one on bikes kills themselves trying to get more top end out of their sportbike than a Euro supercar. A stupid agreement that should be broken seeing as though cars are still advancing at a rapid pace (at higher selling volume I might add), while the motorcycle industry has definitely stalled.

    I’m a spec geek. So I’d really like to get back to swing new techno ogives pushed to the limit to get the most out of two wheels. Electronic aids are great, and I’m glad they are becoming the standard, but now it’s time to push other technologies to improve the actual performance of the bike. Not just the rider.

  • Starmag

    Jensen, I dont think you’ll be hitting your weight goal, with CAD CAM design and stress testing available for some time now, I dont think that can shrink much anymore. If it’s power you’re after, how about a 700HP ‘Busa or a stock 381HP BMW S1000RR 420LBS:

    :140HP more than a Motogp bike

    In my opinion, what you’re really asking for is intervention by worthless lying politicians looking to justify their jobs by passing some restrictive laws that are “just looking out for the publics best interests”, “making the roads safer” or some such, later touting their” track record on safety” during their re-election campaign.

  • Hayabrusa

    Having owned 2 of these bikes (one of each iteration), I think Jensen’s idea of half displacement and more power is way off point. This bike has always been about excess, so making it 700cc isn’t going to cut it. Make it 1500cc, slap a supercharger on it, and make it get 50 mpg – THAT would be something! I love my ‘Busa heritage, and would hate to see it go in a totally new direction. That said, Suzuki could sure do a lot better job of updating the bike and keeping it to the forefront of their lineup – economy notwithstanding, I don’t understand why they don’t put more effort into it. It would have to improve sales, which I gotta believe is job 1.

  • 2ndclass


    The 186mph limiter came after a number of high-profile people in the US wiped themselves out on sportsbikes, and an increase in public knoweledge of how fast bikes were getting in the late 90s. There was talks of power-limits and potential import bans so the manufacturers voluntarily limited themselves to 299km/h to (successfully) take the heat off themselves.

  • MikeD

    They need a clean sheet of paper design.
    The thing is starting look older than the frigging Sun coming up every morning…as effective and functional as it may be.
    Less weigth is ALWAYS nice BUT not a must.
    Take it up to 1400cc.
    More power ? Sure. Make it 220hp. Smooth it and spread it out, fool it, make it “conduct” itself as a TRIPLE with today’s electronics. REAL VVT, not the useless crap that Kawi got on the C14 or Honda on the VFR800.
    Better MPG (one map for HIGHEST HP and another for the highest possible MPG and smoothest throtle action).
    Spread the new platform, try to get most of your R&D xpenses back. Make several models out of one.

    Tourer, standard, hyperbike, w/e else they can sell/make off of it.

    THAT or put into production the STRATOPHERE.

    Supercharger+complete new engine made for supercharging+higher top end+KERS+hibrid b.s= lots of $$$$$$$$$$$ + unwanted attention (not that 220hp will make you invisible and “fly” under the radar).

  • MikeD


  • It’s time for streamliners to make a comeback. Add speed and MPG’s for a little wind-tunnel time. And talk about making a statement with looks!
    Pic—> http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_wmEjJKtJYHs/TQJD9e3t0yI/AAAAAAAADUE/p3FeQl-sQeE/s640/pic05055.jpg

  • MikeD


    Oh Man, that’s one cool looking 2wheeler.

  • brad west

    I would much rather thrash the living daylights out of a bike like
    the VFR400RR than ride a overweight pig around just so it goes
    fast when I get a chance to tug on the throttle.

  • Jordan

    One thing that seems to be missing from the argument FOR these hefty machines is a certain type of rider. Namely the big guys, over 6 foot and over 200lbs. Those bigger guys that want the speed and performance of the superbikes but aren’t comfortable on them for more than 10 minutes at a time. The longer wheelbase and wider stance helps fill that bill nicely (though, to be fair, the zx14’s wheelbase is only an inch or so longer than the current liter bikes).

  • Yaw

    I think the Hayabusa concept is fine for a couple of reasons.

    One its performance out of the box is pretty much at or beyond what a human being could manage safely

    Two its versatility is second to none. You can literally tour on it all day, kill everything at a drag strip, and if you dont’ mind the laughs do a track day out of the box

    Three its perfect for the folks who buy it. Drag racers who need a long + stable + powerful platform, people who want a sport tourer with edge, people who want the biggest + baddest. None of the techs suggested would add to any of those.

    If Suzuki is to experiment with new techs it should be on other platforms. Put the KERS system on a middleweight commuter or scooter. Put the tech on a track/racing focus sportbike flagship like Honda’s supposed new V4 offering, where it will actually be appreciated + usable for marketing.

    One thing I am dying to see is for someone to ditch traditional forks on a sportbike. That could be Suzuki’s opening

  • MikeD


    +1 , i momentarely climbed aboard a mid 2000’s R1 & R6 and thought BOTH were an instrument of torture.

    Those things are made for midgets (Pedroza, Lorenzo, Stoner sizes)…At 6′.2″ i feel like the proverbial elephant $%&*#$ a football…and im not even fat (185lbs)…out of shape but not fat. LMAO.
    So yes, this bikes do make more sense than what people like to see (dick measuring contest and str8 line acceleration).

    Yaw makes good points too…if u are inclined enough these Paquiderms can do it all (track, commute, tour) all while been A HECK of A LOT MORE COMFORTABLE.

  • mxs

    Yeah sure, make it 350HP and 600lbs ….. go big or go home .. .LOL

  • MikeD


    Is not like you are going to buy one or anything…Hater…Fat Girls need love too…ROTFLMAO.

  • I’ve seen a few turbocharged Hayabusa that could match the cruising speed of their namesake the Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nakajima_Ki-43 . The name Hayabusa means Peregrine Falcon in Japanese, which can hit +200 mph in a dive.

  • Tom

    If you don’t adhere to a racing rulebook, it’s not that hard to bring a bike to market with GP-bike power and weight (200+ hp, 350 lbs).


    Jensen, there are those on here who continue to argue that racing rules do not retard motorcycle development. Its good to see that the owner of this site knows that that idea is bunk too.

  • Ken

    The Busa is respected all over the world.People who nothing about bikes will bring their kids over and say “Thats a Hayabusa” What Suzuki need to do is to bring back some of that awe and wonder push the boundries of what is accepitable.Ditch the Gentelmans agreement give us 220 miles an hour.

  • Bjorn

    More torque through the midrange allied to a screaming top end along with some nice egos and light weight please. Also keep offering a full house version as a naked.
    More power would allow it to hit whatever speed target the Nipponese choose to adhere to without resorting to the revolting styling. [I know some of you will disagree, but this is my comment dammit!]

  • Kurt

    Aaron Brown… Are you truly familiar with the namesake for the ‘Busa? The reference to the Nakajima was a truly nice touch. However, the story goes something like this… The Honda Super Blackbird 1100XX was the “Top Dawg” for a while. Had it all… top speed, best brakes, best handling. The idea for Suzuki was to build something that would literally “kill” the BLACKBIRD. Well, with the proliferation of Blackbirds flying around the cities and neighborhoods in Tokyo and other Japanese communities, Suzuki took a page from the book of nature. The Japanese breed of the Peregrine Falcon is the Blackbirds’ natural predator in Japan. It keeps the population down and feeds on the smaller black birds, effectively cutting down on the pest factor. The Japanese word for the Peregrine Falcon is “Hayabusa”… loosely translated, of course. SOOO… here we have it. The natural predator built to kill the Super Blackbird is the Hayabusa.

    Now, IMHO… make the Busa a bit more comfortable, while making it slightly more powerful. Tweak the front end, similar to what Yaw was saying. Whether that be a Suzuki variant of the BMW Duolever or Telelever suspension, or a re-engineered Bimota-stlye Hubcentric swingarm front end. Yamaha used the Parker engineered system on the GTS 1000 back in ’93, I think. Someone in the motorcycle community has the knowledge and engineering expertise to make this bike a true “Hyperbike”. Lets see what comes out of the woodworks. There’s plenty of life left in the Hayabusa name, lets see it live up to its’ potential.

    Until it does, I’ll stick with my tried and true, trusted and smooth BMW K1200R Sport.

  • Uhhhh

    The Hyabusa is aesthetically an atrocity. It looks like two pelicans being anally raped by a watermelon after a series of brutally devastating strokes.

    The only people I’ve ever seen riding a Hyabusa look like they got caught masturbating to a video of two pelicans being anally raped by a watermelon after having a series of brutally devastating strokes.

    Realistically, the only reason to actually buy a Hyabusa, is to park it in your garage so your friends think you’re cool. Except any friend that thinks you’re cool for having a motorcycle that is literally trying to kill you, probably isn’t a good friend.

    More realistically, the only reason to have a Hyabusa, is to make sure everyone knows you have a micro-penis.

    Seriously though, if you’ve got her loaded up for drag racing that’s another story. Though you shouldn’t be riding it on the street.

    Bottom line is it’s not practical bike for the street. If it’s not a drag bike, then you’re probably a micro-penis’d pelican fucker.