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.