Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa

Suzuki’s Hayabusa may be the single most modified motorcycle ever produced. A simple search of Google results in 535,000 images of Hayabusas, less than five percent that look even close to what it does in stock form. Extended swingarms, nitrous oxide, off-the-chart paint jobs. You name it and someone has modified a ‘Busa as such. For the past decade it has been the custom sportbike of choice. For our comparison we are leaving the bikes totally stock; from the tires to the handlebar grips, not a single modification, to see why it’s such a popular base platform. Not to mention, find out how it stacks up against the updated Beemer.

Once you get past the sheer outright size of the bike and are underway, you can’t help but be astounded by the engine. From as low as 1000 rpm the 1340cc bike pulls away with voracity rarely know to this world. Forget million-dollar sports cars or even jet airplanes: the GSX1300R combine’s neck-snapping torque with an arm-stretching mid-range and a mind-altering top end. With the exception of Kawasaki’s ZX-14R, there is no other motorcycling experience like it.

A perfect example of this insane acceleration shows up first on the dyno and then at the drag strip. The 166.6 rear-wheel horsepower @ 9500 rpm and 101.40 lb-ft of torque the white beast spun on our dyno is utterly impressive. Even more impressive is the bike’s ability to make almost 90 lb-ft of torque from as low as 3500 rpm, which then steadily continues to build to over 100 at the 8400 rpm peak. This is all done in a completely linear fashion, after which it only slightly drops off before reaching its 11,000 rpm redline. Just take a look at that dyno chart – no two ways around it, the ‘Busa engine flat-out puts the BMW to shame. In fact, it puts just about any stock sportbike to shame, especially in terms of torque. This may give you a clue to the public’s tendency to use it as the base of its many customizations, and also gave us an idea of what was in store for our date at the drag strip

With a mere two runs to my name and the advantage of my featherweight 140-lb frame, my second pull on the Suzuki was instantly in the nines, and as such we are booted on-the-spot from the open testing day as those kinds of speeds require a pro license, which I no longer hold. Thankfully we got one solid run in, which was enough to top the timesheets for the entire day as well as our test. The end result was a brain-melting 9.87 @ 146.70 mph on only my second try!

“We all know the Hayabusa is fast. They always have been and I’ve ridden plenty to know,” Waheed commented. “This is why when I first hopped on the bike I was so surprised. I figured I’d know what to expect, but coming from so many miles on the K1300S, the difference was huge. It caught me off guard at first. Though within a few miles I was totally at home and loving the arm-wrenching acceleration and speed that bike provides. It really is something special.”

As for top speed, it’s also limited to 186 mph, much like the BMW, though ours ticked the GPS at a smidge higher 187.1 mph. But the real telling factor was that while the Beemer felt out of steam and packing down at that speed, also a tad unstable, the Suzuki slammed against the electronic limiter hard, was stable as a rock and could easily have kept on going to what felt like well past 190 mph if not for the ECU interruption.

While the outright acceleration and speed trump the BMW hands down, comfort for long distance riding is where the German bike nudges some points back. The unorthodox Duolever and Paralever suspension make freeway riding a breeze, while wind protection is also ever-so-slightly superior. Add to this the adjustability of the suspension on the fly via the ESA II system and we have to give the long-distance nod to the Beemer. But not by much. The ‘Busa seat is quite comfortable and the massive windscreen and hugely bulbous bodywork make for ample wind protection at any speed.

The only place it loses ground to the German is the suspension, as it’s more evenly balanced and handles square-edged freeway transitions without upsetting the chassis nearly as much. This translates to a more distance-friendly ride for both the driver and passenger. The slightly smaller rear seat on the Hayabusa and the much-more leaned-forward riding position also caused some discomfort for the pillion especially, making two-up rides only sweet when they were also short. Fortunately for the Suzuki, this is where it’s weaknesses and the BMW’s strengths come to an end.

Come twisty canyon roads and the BMW fast fell behind. For a motorcycle that weighs 579-lbs full of fuel, the Suzuki handles nimbly and is confidence inspiring no matter what one throws at it – including the racetrack if so inclined. The Hypersport machine really can do it all.

Speaking of doing it all, the ‘Busa also has the best brakes of the bunch. Unhindered by ABS or any such gadgets, the Suzuki’s Tokico calipers grabbing 310mm rotors easily brought the large and speedy machine back to orbit without the slightest bit of fade on the street. Don’t expect them to last all day at the track though. Feel and feedback were equally good, allowing for trail-braking where needed. Though on the street we try and avoid this whenever possible, as road hazards such as oil and coolant left from old cars and trucks can make things sketchy.

As for the Suzuki’s appearance, well I’ve got a feeling if we say too much on this subject, death threats will start coming in the mail. No doubt a a motorcycle with some of the most fanatical cult-followers the Hayabusa has gained immense popularity for both its performance and unorthodox appearance, so we’re going to leave it at that. You be the judge. As for its sales numbers, well those speak for themselves as well.