Supersonic speeds and teeth-grinding acceleration are old hat to 'Busa owners. What we wanted when we heard rumors that a new 'Busa was coming was an entirely new monster-something that would bring back that stupid grin inside our helmets. But Suzuki's new model doesn't seem all that different-at first.
Totally scrapping the mold that grew this bike into an anomaly would be senseless. And, after all, it's not like Suzuki made the thing slower. Chill out and don't get in a huff until you know what the changes are all about.
Would any of us really be happy if Suzuki stuck the 'Busa motor in a GSX-R chassis? Well...maybe, but let's forget that and think more about what an iconic bike actually is (style, performance, and a special X-Factor that causes a love/hate reaction) instead of what would make it a lot of fun for a few months before it was cast off for something more practical.
Suzuki sent tremors through the biking industry when the 'Busa hit sales floors in 1999. There were some outrageous claims being made about performance, and the styling had a fair amount of riders reaching for sick bags.
But on the flip side were those who saw potential and originality. It was this group that gave the 'Busa a chance and eventually turned it into the legendary machine that it's become-and stuck a big sock in a lot of the haters' mouths in the process.
America's Midwestern states are not normally an area that sings out to motorcyclists in search of killer riding. But Wisconsin's Road America and a Chicago-area dragstrip were listed as destinations, which meant the bike would definitely get a good beating.
Suzuki surprised us with its unique approach to covering the finer points of the bike's new look and history. Press conference time is typically dry-lots of tech spec and objective design information in PowerPoint format, but Suzuki left the slides aside and instead used video and music to showcase the bike's true environment-the strip and the street...particularly on bike night.
The words "modifications" and "street cred" were being thrown around as loosely as "rake and trail" usually are. This may seem rather anticlimactic, but it's the first time that a manufacturer has introduced a new model while explaining the importance of the aftermarket and its influence. We also learned that many of the previous model's parts will bolt directly on to the new bike (swingarm kits, fat tires, etc.).
What better way to get a taste of the beefed-up bird's abilities than by flogging it down the strip? There wasn't a warm-up ride around the streets or an equivalent petting zoo to get used to the bike though, just two allotted passes through the quarter-mile. Needless to say, setting a decent time is a bit tricky with only two runs, but average times were in the low 10-second range, with a few riders dipping into the nines after doing a handful of extra passes.
Immediately noticeable was the addition of a back-torque-limiting clutch (slipper clutch) that came into importance at the end of the track. Typically the 'Busa likes to get a little loose under heavy braking at the end of the strip, but the rear held tight even when slamming down through the box. Also obvious was the decreased amount of chain snap-whether from the altered final-drive sprocket ratio alteration (18/43 instead of 17/40) or the decreased wheelbase (58.5 to 58.3 inches) we can't say for certain, but it's a nice bit of 'Busa history to leave behind.
Interestingly, the quick 10 seconds it took to make a pass offered some insight into the new bike that we would again discover on the road course and street: a beneficial slipper clutch, less chain slap, better wind protection and a shorter wheelbase.
The 150-mile road test portion following the dragstrip unfortunately didn't allow for much more than a few spirited handfuls of throttle over the bumpy and boring Midwest roads, but it said a lot for the comfort and ridability. The roomy seat allows for plenty of position adjustment, and the lower and stronger subframe would be a welcome change for a passenger (especially if she likes to bounce her big back).
While stuck in slow traffic there were some opportunities to experiment with the fancy S-DMS (Suzuki Drive Mode Selector) system, and unlike the GSX-R1000 it was introduced on, it's totally noticeable and beneficial on this bike. Below 6000 revs the power feels about the same while fingering through the three fuel maps, but once in the midrange the pull is similar to letting a shot of nitrous loose when changed from C to A mode on the fly. Mostly used for amusement on this trip, the S-DMS system might be a handy way to get some controlled launches at the strip in C mode before clicking into second gear and A mode simultaneously.
Scrolling through the modes was easy and obvious with the new instrument cluster, and though the gear indicator and programmable shift light are a nice touch, we'd ditch them both for a legible speedo-this one certainly isn't. Big digital numbers look tacky in a car's dash, but they're a good idea on a machine as fast as this when time looking down should be limited. At Road America there were two speeds according to the analog speedo-pretty fast and buried.
The 'Busa isn't designed for roadracing, but Road America was the perfect venue to allow exploration of the upper gears and their blinding acceleration. Equally important was the discovery that the new front end works much better than the earlier model.
Older Hayabusas have a tough time slowing down, but the improved brakes and suspension worked a charm on the new model-until fade set in. Braided brake lines would be high on the list of early modifications, but for the record they probably would be fine under less extreme riding conditions.
The forks have been upgraded and received a diamond-like coating to reduce stiction, and the fork lowers obviously host radial-mount brakes. Because of the stiffer and stronger calipers, Suzuki was able to downsize the rotors from 320 to 310mm, thus reducing rotating mass.
At the track we were able to explore the handling, and though there have been only minor changes they do make a difference. Working in partner with the upgraded front end is a swingarm that's 10 percent more rigid with internal ribbing running throughout, and the wallow and bounce that the previous bike suffered from has been calmed down. A stock steering damper is now included as well, indicating that the extra power might make the 'Busa a little frisky.
The front end didn't get out of shape, but it wasn't for the larger motor's lack of pushing it along briskly. Capacity is up from 1299cc to 1340cc, and that 20 horsepower means a lot. There's absolutely no laziness anywhere throughout the rev range, and the front tire likes to come up for air more often than a drowning dolphin.
Did we mention 20 more horsepower? Of course, but think of it like this: our 2007 with a full exhaust and Power Commander put out 160 hp on the dyno, yet that's still far below what Suzuki claims the 1340cc motor rocks as stock. Getting this baby on our dyno will be fun.
It's gonna be a serious bloodbath between the ZX-14 and this new and improved Hayabusa. The top-speed and big-horsepower battle is back, and we can't wait to see how it unfolds. If this brutish new 'Busa is anything to go by we've got a golden age of big horsepower bikes coming. Wait-it's already here.
|Dry Weight:||485 lbs.|
|Engine:||Liquid-cooled 1340cc brute|
|Torque:||Est. 105 lb.-ft.|
|Horsepower:||Est. 175 HP|
|Colors:||Orange/Black, Black/Gray, Blue/Black|