The origins of the Suzuki Hayabusa are well known, but it roughly goes like this if you don’t know. During the late 90’s making the fastest production motorcycle was a huge badge of honour, with Kawasaki and Honda taking being the biggest contenders. The ZX11R had a top speed of 176mph and later on, the CBR1100XX SuperBlackbird hit 179mph. Suzuki wanted in. In the natural world, the peregrine falcon ( Japanese ‘Hayabusa’) is the fastest bird and eats blackbirds for breakfast, lunch and tea, quite fitting. New for 2021, Suzuki has bought the Big Busa back. and I got the opportunity to ride the new model, here’s my review.
The first generation Hayabusa released in 1999 saw its inline 4, 1299cc engine make 173 horsepower. 11 more than the blackbird, its’s bulbous bodywork cut through the wind allowing the more powerful engine to work easier and faster. The 173 horsepower was unheard of at the time, but by using a big displacement engine, ram-air intakes and sophisticated aerodynamics, it made light work of the speed record.
All this was a great ego boost for Suzuki, but in the real world, riders are not out to break the speed record every ride. Still, the power from the engine at any speed allowed great real-world performance, allowing the gears to be used better, giving great rideability and efficiency.
2021 Hayabusa review
Remember at school, the fat kid who was really rubbish in PE, was always picked last but still surprised everybody at the 100m sprint, long jump or throwing a discus. This was like the old Hayabusa; it was heavy, it didn’t really look pretty compared to other bikes, there were other better options for a track day, a long tour, or a Sunday cafe jaunt. It still was the fastest production bike. Fast forward 23 years and that fat kid has lost masses of weight and is playing sport at a professional level, surprising everybody at the high school reunion. Big shock.
The 2021 Suzuki Hayabusa still keeps its visible heritage to the original; if you only saw the bike by its silhouette, you would still know it’s a ‘Busa. Some call this iconic, some call this a lack of imagination, but if it works, why change it? Why not just make it look more modern and add more tech? This is certainly what Suzuki has been good at in recent years.
A brand new, old engine for the 2021 Hayabusa
Despite rumours of a new turbocharged, compound charged, six-cylinder, with NOS and a pair of Space X Falcon heavy boosters strapped to each side. Suzuki decided that the old was good enough. Kind of disappointing that we didn’t get anything super new and exotic, but if it works, why mess? The new third-generation GSX1300R Hayabusa keeps the same 1340cc as the gen2 bike, making 190 horsepower and 150nm of torque.
Revisions include updating to Euro 5, giving us hideous exhaust cans, but Suzuki knows these cans will be changed anyway. Some fans will be disappointed with a 7hp drop in maximum power and that the bike isn’t over 200hp. The low and middle range is improved, and let’s be honest, the weight reduction makes up for the power drop. If you are desperate for power, a decat and map would easily see over 200hp. This engine does have proven tuning ability if you want more power.
A great induction noise from SRAD
With the standard pipes, the bike was quiet and unassuming to the onlooker. It might even blend into the norm for those not knowing the legacy of the Hayabusa. The new Hayabusa still makes a great induction growl, arguably louder than that of the exhaust, which I actually didn’t mind. Navigating through the city, heading out to the sticks, the Busa was happy being sensible and civilised. Keeping the RPM needle down low in the gauge took no effort, as did the average speed camera 50mph zone.
Big cc torque monster!
If there is one thing the Hayabusa is built for, it’s getting away from people and pressing on. A quiet road allows the Hayabusa to spread its wings (or tuck them in) getting down to business, gobbling up miles, quickly. When that national speed limit sign approaches, a fistful in any gear propels it forward at an alarming rate. Sure the drop in peak power and the heavier chassis than a sports bike means it won’t be as fast, but it still puts a big grin on the face. Even if you keep it in 5th or 6th and use the masses of torque from the big cc engine, it quickly gets you up to cruise speed. Suzuki says the mid-range rev area has improved over the 2nd gen Busa, not that it lacked before. The low down torque whisks you away regardless of gear.
The Hayabusa’s fuel tank packs 20 litres, averaging 40mpg should be achievable if cruising normally, giving a 170-mile range. Realistically you won’t get 40mpg, whilst I was riding, it completely slipped my mind to check the MPG readout. *Facepalm*.
2021 Suzuki Hayabusa electronics
Updated to Euro5 means an all-new electronics package for the Busa, with ride-by-wire throttle allowing quick-shifter, autoblipper and cruise control. The quick shifter and blipper are buttery smooth, smoother than the ageing GSXR1000, which first appeared on a Suzuki. You do have to be aggressive with the ‘kick’ up to the next gear. There were a few moments where the quickshifter cut, but it missed the gear. I thought it was traction control kicking in and saving my talentless behind, but it happened a few more times. I’m guessing more than anything it’s a user error, being too gentle! The throttle action was smooth and didn’t have the jerkiness on the GSX1000/750, where the slightest throttle gave a massive jerk. It’s been smoothed off, and Suzuki has got it right.
From a rider aids perspective, the 2021 Suzuki Hayabusa uses SIRS (Suzuki Intelligent Ride System), which features a Six-axis internal measurement unit (IMU). This system is the most advanced yet from Suzuki and allows cornering traction control and ABS, speed limiter, cruise control, anti-wheelie and the hill-hold system. It all works seamlessly and is controlled easily through the switchgear and TFT dash panel. It’s simple to navigate, even I could work it all out, so that’s a winner. Rider modes are adjustable with six in total, three custom and three preset. Also adjustable is 10 stage lift control and traction control, and adjustable engine braking.
Hill-start assist on the 2021 Hayabusa works 99% of the time
The hill start assist feature, where if parked on an incline, the bike will drag rear brake on to stop from rolling back. It is a nice feature. I’m sure 99% of the time works well, except for that moment you don’t want it to hold. Normally, these release off a timer, e.g. 5 seconds, or when the clutch lever is released to pull away. I presume Suzuki is the latter. However, as nice as it is, having a car rolling backwards at a set of traffic lights, a bike that has locked itself up, not allowing itself to roll backwards is not a nice situation.
Onto that TFT dash, and I think Suzuki has done a number with the dash area. Simultaneously, as screaming old school, it screams modern. The subtle nod to the original iconic clocks of the previous models, but modern with the screen between. The gauges are easy to read, although the sign of the times, I did find it weird to have to read a clock and not just have the number in front on the TFT panel.
2021 Hayabusa suspension
I often have high expectations from Suzuki to be kind of let down, like the engine. I was hoping Suzuki would go big with the suspension and fit the Showa big piston forks from the GSXR1000R. Or maybe even some fancy electronic suspension for a super plush ride?
No, Suzuki did neither; the fitted KYB forks have been fettled with, giving 120mm of travel. The now everywhere DLC coating reduces stiction on the sliding parts and provides a harder wearing surface. The forks are fully adjustable for preload, compression and rebound. Same with the rear shock, it’s been tinkered with, and on the whole, the experience is positive. Rubber comes from Bridgestone’s new S22. The large rear 190/50 rear, and despite the long and heavy bike, grip well and gives a planted feeling, making the busa effortless.
The frame and swingarm are fabricated aluminium sections and castings combined. Despite being more costly to produce it’s needed on such a machine. 50-50 weight distribution gives accurate handling. The handlebars are moved back towards the rider by 12mm, which Suzuki says reduces fatigue and allows better bracing for the rider under braking.
2021 Suzuki Hayabusa brakes
Brakes are in the form of the Brembo Stylema caliper and large 320mm front discs. The rear comes with a Nissin caliper on a 250mm disc. Despite being commonly seen on superbikes, like the Ducati V4, and the Aprilia RSV4, they do a good job of stopping the Hayabusa even with the extra 60 odd kgs of weight. Every stop was full of confidence, and the only downside was the hill hold moment, which was one of those circumstances which happen once in a blue moon.
It’s just built for speed
Styling with the Hayabusa is marmite; you either love it or hate it. Personally, I’m a fan; it’s an exercise in engineering and technology and there for a purpose, the purpose of being fast. Funnelling the airflow directly into the airbox for more power, to punch the hole in the wind to ride through to get that mental top speed. The red accents look amazing in the silver version, as does the bronze tinges to the black model. A nod to the original bronze paint? The awkwardness here is that the screen sits too low and pushes the wind right at your face. For me, half an inch taller would have pushed all of the airflows over the helmet giving a slight bit more comfort; however, that would ruin the styling. I’m pretty sure that’s just a moan over nothing.
As always, several aftermarket parts to customise your Busa are available from Suzuki, including the pillion seat cowling, billet aluminium black levers, chain adjusters and carbon mirror covers. Give it a few months, and I’m sure even more parts from aftermarket manufacturers will become available. It does make me wonder if this model busa will meet the same customisation and tuning status as the previous models that remain to be seen.
Is the 2021 Suzuki Hayabusa good?
Overall I’m immensely surprised by the 2021 Suzuki Hayabusa. I was expecting it to be a real pig, but the low 800mm seat height made everything manageable, and the riding aids have made it even easier to make up for my lack of talent. Being on the short side, comfort wasn’t an issue for me. However, a lankier rider might struggle a bit. I was surprised at long the bike was. Even with my short figure, I couldn’t reach the rear grab handle to manoeuvre it on the flat, having to make do with using just the seat.
The biggest surprise of them all was just how fast the Hayabusa actually is. I’ve grown up with the stories, the myth and legend, if you will, and it didn’t disappoint. It lived up to the hype, and I think it will sell well, the £16,499 price is cheap for the performance and spec, and with the demise of the ZZR1400, K1300 and other big CC ‘tourers’, it seems the only bike in its class unless you class the H2SX as in the same category or consider a Rocket 3 as a rival.
As always, thanks to the boys at Powerslide Suzuki in Stoke for the call to take it out. Check out their ised bike fleet here!
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