Suzuki SA recently embarked on a road trip around the country with their new Hayabusa, to introduce it to their dealers countrywide. Various members of the motorcycle media joined them along the route to ride the bike. Probably a good idea, as the thought of letting a whole lot of journos loose on a press fleet of Hayabusa’s, would be ridiculously expensive and probably downright foolish! I was fortunate to crack the nod for the ride around the “Fairest Cape of them all”.
The latest version of Suzuki’s iconic Hayabusa hyperbike is literally like nothing else in the world of motorcycling. 1340 cc’s of DOHC four-cylinder, four-stroke power and torque, wrapped in a chassis and bodywork dedicated to worshipping at the Altar of Speed. To be frank, I am amazed that in the sterile world in which we currently find ourselves, we can still buy a bike like the ‘Busa. Peak power is slightly down from the last generation, now at 187 hp (previously 194) and toque is also 4 Nm shy of the old ‘Busa at 151 Nm.
Cunningly, Suzuki has totally reworked the engine and transmission, improving oil flow and pressure, with new cams, pistons, conrods and crank to bump the midrange (between 4 and 6,000 rpm) significantly. The toughness of the motor is now enhanced even more. The result is a harder accelerating ‘Busa with massive midrange stomp. In theory, the top speed is down, but on real-world roads, riding with a buddy on his ‘old’ ‘Busa, you are unlikely to ever find that out.
What is also instantly apparent, is the new ‘Busas level of refinement. The motor is rheostat smooth, delivering urge in top gear, at virtually any speed, that makes your typical Superbike feel limp by comparison. In theory, Superbikes with more horsepower and much less weight, should best the ‘Busa performance-wise. Not on your Nellie! The 264 kg Suzuki is endowed with reworked KWB suspension which is absolutely superb. The long wheelbase, weight and supple suspension allow you to traverse bumpy open roads at a pace that would have a typical, super rigid Superbike tying itself in knots. In addition, you would have to fan the Superbikes gearbox like a gunslinger of old, to try and match the massive grunt of the ballsy ‘Busa out of bends.
Comfort-wise, the new ‘Busa has an incredible seat. It makes you wonder why, if Suzuki can get that incredible seat foam compound so right, what is the excuse for all the crappy seats out there? The bars are 12 mm closer to the rider, so less of a stretch there too. This means less wrist pressure and a less acute neck angle. I found that the clean windblast over the screen kept my head supported and in smooth air, minimising neck strain once up to speed. Tall riders will find their legs with quite an acute bend at the knee, however, having said that, I found my 6’3” frame wrapping quite comfortably around the bulky ‘Busa.
Whilst still instantly recognisable as a Hayabusa, Suzuki have, in my opinion (for what that is worth) turned the iconic bike into quite a looker. Gone are the ‘melted in the sun GSXR looks’. The 2021 variant has sleeker, less ‘jelly mould’ like lines, which are easy on the eye from all angles. Our bike was pearl white, with a glimmer that looked amazing in the sun. Cruising the internet to see how the world has received the 2021 ‘Busa, I was amazed to see just how iconic this legendary bike is. Hits on articles score in the millions! So it was with a real sense of wonder and privilege that I climbed aboard this latest version of the legend to put it to the test on some incredible Cape roads.
Suzuki’s affable Chris Kuun, riding a DL 1050 V-Strom (which he pedals with serious skill) rode along to accompany me on the ‘Busa. We rode from our overnight accommodation at the lovely Houw Hoek Hotel on a route around the edge of the Theewaterskloof dam. The rain with which the Cape has been blessed, has not only filled the dam, it has transformed the countryside. We traversed patchwork farmlands and stunning yellow Canola fields on a route that undulated and swept across the countryside. Cape roads are miraculously free from the potholes that plague our up-country roads. They are a little bumpy, however. The first noteworthy feature of the ‘Busa is the phenomenal quality of the suspension. It soaked up irregularities in the road, keeping the bike eerily stable at all speeds. Talking speed, the Hayabusa is still the unequivocal King of Speed. In fact, to be blunt, the ‘Busa makes speed its bitch!
Watching the speedo needle sweep around the analogue clock is mind-blowing! It moves so fast that you do a double-take to make sure that you are not watching the rev counter. There is none of the low rev hesitance of a litrebike. The massive torque, already apparent just off idle, simply endows the bike with warp speed thrust last witnessed with the Starship Enterprise! The fuelling is flawless in the ‘A’ mode. Once in sixth, you really don’t need a gearbox. Opening the throttle has the bike gathering speed like no other.
If you have never ridden a Hayabusa you have missed out on one of motorcycling’s most amazing experiences. The brakes on the previous generation ‘Busas tended to be OK, but nothing more. The 2021 chap boasts Brembo Stylema callipers, chomping on bigger, 320 mm discs. Problem solved. Open road sections are dispatched by engaging the standard cruise control. Funny though, using ‘cruise’ and Hayabusa in the same sentence seems odd!
The other big change with the new Hayabusa, is the introduction of all sorts of electronic aids to assist in taming the beast. A six-axis IMU endows the bike with 6 riding modes, cornering ABS, 10 stage anti-wheelie control, 3, stage engine braking, hill hold assist and 3 stage launch assist. A colour TFT display between the analogue speed and tacho give you all the relevant information. Fact is, the mountainous midrange allows you to ride the ‘Busa with all the electronics switched off and still make incredibly rapid progress. This is testimony to how incredibly well the bike works.
Riding the mountain passes, I tried to ride decent lines, rolling on and off the throttle smoothly, surfing the crest of the wonderful midrange. The bike steers slowly, given its long wheelbase and bulk, which gives an enhanced sense of stability. It, therefore, prefers long sweeps to tight twisties. This has always been a Hayabusa characteristic. High-speed straights, interspersed with sweeps, are its reason for being. It devours distance like a rabid hyaena does meat on a kill. Living on the main jet will also drop the fuel gauge extremely fast! Use some restraint, however, and stay under the warp speeds that the ‘Busa is capable of and you will cover at least 300 k’s on the 20-litre tank.
Reflecting on my day spent riding this incredible bike I felt more than a twinge of covetousness!. This is R329,000 well spent. No one who buys this bike will be sorry. Current owners may be wondering if it is worth upgrading. Without doubt. The exceptional refinement of the new Hayabusa makes its otherworldly performance seem even more effortless. It is now also seriously handsome. Seems you can now have your cake and eat it. Huge shout out to Stuart Baker, Chris Kuun and Clint Lake from Suzuki SA who spared no effort in making my Hayabusa experience an absolute pleasure! You boys rock!
For more information on the bike that we tested in this article, click on the link below…