The Suzuki Hayabusa (or GSX1300R) is a sport bike motorcycle made by Suzuki since 1999. It immediately won acclaim as the world's fastest production motorcycle, with a top speed of 188–194 miles per hour (303–312 km/h).
Hayabusa 隼 is Japanese for Peregrine Falcon, a bird that often serves as a metaphor for speed due to its vertical hunting dive, or stoop, speed of 180 to 240 miles per hour (290 to 390 km/h), the fastest of any bird. In particular, the choice of name was made due to the fact that the peregrine falcon preys on blackbirds, which reflected the intent of the original Hayabusa to unseat the Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird as the world's fastest production motorcycle. Eventually, the Hayabusa managed to surpass the Super Blackbird by at least a full 10 miles per hour (16 km/h).
In 2000, fears of a European regulatory backlash or import ban led to an informal agreement between the Japanese and European manufacturers to govern the top speed of their motorcycles at an arbitrary limit.
The media-reported value for the speed agreement in miles per hour was consistently 186 mph, while in kilometers per hour it varied from 299 to 303 km/h, which is typical given unit conversion rounding errors. This figure may also be affected by a number of external factors, as can the power and torque values.
The conditions under which this limitation was adopted led to the 1999–2000 Hayabusa's title to remain, at least technically, unassailable, since no subsequent model could go faster without being tampered with. Thus, after the much anticipated Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R of 2000 fell 4 mph (6 km/h) short of claiming the title, the Hayabusa secured its place as the fastest standard production bike of the 20th century. This gives the unrestricted 1999–2000 models even more cachet with collectors.
Besides its speed, the Hayabusa has been lauded by many reviewers for its all-around performance, in that it does not drastically compromise other qualities like handling, comfort, reliability, noise, fuel economy or price in pursuit of a single function. Jay Koblenz of Motorcycle Consumer News commented, "If you think the ability of a motorcycle to approach 190 mph or reach the quarter-mile in under 10 seconds is at best frivolous and at worst offensive, this still remains a motorcycle worthy of just consideration. The Hayabusa is Speed in all its glory. But Speed is not all the Hayabusa is."
First generation (1999–2007)
When first shown to the press in 1999, the first Hayabusas made a profound impression. No previous motorcycle has broken the production model top speed record by such a margin, 10 to 14 mph (16 to 23 km/h), depending on which measured speeds the source was relying on for the CBR1100XX and the GSX-1300R.
The first generation had a 1,299 cubic centimetres (79.3 cu in) liquid-cooled, inline-4 engine with sixteen valves driven by double-overhead cams. This configuration, technologically unremarkable for that time, delivered a record-setting claimed 173 brake horsepower (129 kW) at the crankshaft by virtue of the largest displacement ever in a sport bike, and a ram air system that forced cool, pressurized air into the cylinders at speed. Combined with sophisticated aerodynamics, this powerful engine pushed the Hayabusa's top speed far above the Honda CBR1100XX Blackbird by a significant leap, contrasting with the incremental gains that preceded the Suzuki hyper sport entry. The 1997 carburated CBR1100XX had previously only inched past the previous top speed record holder, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-11 of 1990.
A remarkable feature of the Hayabusa engine was its abundance of power throughout its entire rpm band. The 1299 cc powerplant was the largest and most powerful sport bike engine when introduced in 1999, and remained the largest until Kawasaki's ZX14 was released.
The Hayabusa's abundance of power at any rpm made the Hayabusa easier to ride by giving the rider a greater choice of gear selection for a given speed and stunning acceleration.
The ram air ducts at the front of the drooping, rounded nose squeezed frontal area away from the headlight, and this, along with the need for a narrow frontal area, necessitated a stacked headlight and high beam behind a single lens. Moreover, the need to reduce the extreme drag encountered at high speeds determined the Hayabusa's entire bulbous, and much-criticized, bodywork design. Koblenz remarked, "non-traditional styling generates the main controversy of the Hayabusa." When viewed through the eyes of those who judged its beauty on the basis of its functionality, or given a little time to get used to it, the bike's looks did find admirers. The striking two-tone copper/silver paint scheme was similarly loved by some and hated by others, but was successful if the intent of an all-new, flagship product is to make a bold statement. So while it was called ugly by some in the press, this aerodynamic shape was key to the Hayabusa's ability to reach record-setting speeds.
Reflecting in 2009 on the initial design, the creator of the Hayabusa's look, Suzuki's Koji Yoshirua, said that the intent in 1999 was, "to create a somewhat grotesque design and create a strong initial impact... The mission was to create a total new styling that will not be out of date within few years, and a styling that will be the ‘Face’ of Suzuki." Yoshirua also said that the goal was not to achieve the status of fastest production motorcycle, which in early stages was slated to be only 900 to 1,100 cc (55 to 67 cu in), but that, "as a consequence of, pursuing the best handling, acceleration, safety, power, riding ability, original styling, etc., for the good of the customers, it became the ‘Fastest production motorcycle’ … By doing this, once the model was out in the market and the performance of it have been proven, I thought that people will start to show interest to the weird design, and then the design would be caked in peoples mind.”
The engine used a gear-driven counterbalancer to reduce vibration to the point that the engine could be solidly mounted to the frame, for the purpose of increasing chassis rigidity. Employing a conventional twin beam frame, fully adjustable upside down forks, using specially developed Bridgestone tires, and being relatively light at 473 pounds (215 kg) dry, the Hayabusa's handling was considered excellent for a machine of this class. One reviewer, Koblenz, noted a hesitation perhaps related to poor low-rpm mapping at slow speeds, noticeable as a "pause and slight lurch" when rolling on and back off the throttle. Minor low speed FI revisions were addressed with either a "Yosh Box" or "Teka SFI" FI adjusting tool.
Top speed limited by agreement
With rumors and then pre-release announcements of much greater power in Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-12R in 2000, clearly attempting to unseat Suzuki and regain lucrative bragging rights, the speed war appeared to be escalating. There were growing fears of carnage and mayhem from motorcycles getting outrageously faster every year, and there was talk of regulating hyper sport motorcycles, or banning their import to Europe.
The response was a so-called gentlemen's agreement between the Japanese and European manufacturers to electronically limit the speed of their motorcycles to 300 kilometres per hour (186 mph). While Honda did announce that its motorcycles would not go faster than 300 km/h, Suzuki and Kawasaki would not speak on the record about this issue. The agreement between them and the other brands has never been officially acknowledged by the manufacturers, though media sources report it via unnamed informants, and by testing the top speed of motorcycles known to be capable of exceeding the arbitrary maximum. The informal agreement went into effect for the 2001 model year. So for 2001 models, and those since, the question of which bike was fastest could only be answered by tampering with the speed limiting system, meaning that it was no longer a contest between stock, production motorcycles, absolving the manufacture of blame and letting those not quite as fast avoid losing face. Both Kawasaki and Suzuki would claim, at least technically, to have the world's fastest production motorcycle. But the speed war continued underground, out of the spotlight, with fierce competition among enthusiasts of the "200 mph club", albeit with the slight technical modification necessary to bypass the speed limiter, separating that war from the ostensibly at peace world of stock motorcycles.
After the inclusion of the speed limiting system in 2001, the Hayabusa remained substantially the same through the 2007 model year. An exception was a response to the problem of the aluminum rear subframe on 1999 and 2000 models breaking when the bike may have been overloaded with a passenger and luggage, and/or stressed by an aftermarket exhaust modification, so 2001 and later Hayabusas had a steel instead of aluminum rear subframe, adding 10 lb (4.5 kg) to the 1999 and 2000 models' approximately 550 pounds (249 kg) wet weight. The 1999 model had an MSRP in the US of $10,499; accounting for inflation that would be US$13,509 in 2009 money.
Second generation (2008– )
Suzuki lightly revised the GSX1300R for the 2008 model year, with a minor restyling of the bodywork, and fine-tuning of the engine's head, pistons and exhaust. Though the engine changes were relatively limited, they still yielded a large horsepower increase, and brought the bike into compliance with new noise and emissions requirements.
In 2004, market researchers from the US and Japan began working to identify which elements of the Hayabusa design had attracted so many buyers, discovering that, in spite of having its looks sometimes disparaged in print, customers were much enamored with the old Hayabusa. A redesign meant to strengthen the bike's appearance without departing much from the original found approval with dealers and focus groups. Underneath the skin, Suzuki decided to save considerable development cost by keeping major portions of the frame and engine unchanged. This was because engineers had determined greater power was possible without a significant redesign of the old engine, even faced with the need to comply with more stringent noise and air pollution rules. The target was to produce more than 190 brake horsepower (142 kW) at the crankshaft, and they delivered 194 horsepower (145 kW), a 11 or 12 percent increase over the previous output. When the new Hayabusa was released, independent tests bore this out, with 172.2 bhp (128.4 kW) @ 10100 rpm measured at the rear wheel.
Suzuki's Koji Yoshiura designed the look of the new Hayabusa. He had previously styled the first generation Hayabusa, as well as the Suzuki Bandit 400, RF600R, TL1000S and the SV650. For research, Yoshirua traveled around the United States to bike nights and clubs for a first hand look at the styling aesthetic of the Hayabusa custom scene, and was inspired as much by the look and build of the Hayabusa rider as their custom bikes. While the second generation is very close to the first in overall shape, and is largely dictated by wind tunnel tests, the raised lines and curves are meant to suggest a muscular build. Said Yoshirua, "I wanted to create a masculine form that complements a rider's muscular structure with hints of developed bicep, forearm and calves."
Engine changes consisted of an increase in stroke by 2 mm, enlarging displacement to 1,349 cubic centimetres (82.3 cu in). The compression ratio was boosted from 11:1 to 12.5:1 and the cylinder head was made more compact and was given lighter titanium valves, saving 14.1 grams (0.50 oz) and 11.7 grams (0.41 oz) on each intake and exhaust valve, respectively. The valves were driven by a chain with a new hydraulic tensioner. The pistons were made lighter by 1.4 grams (0.049 oz) and used ion-coated rings and shot peened connecting rods. The crankcase breather system had reed valves added to control pressure waves in the intake airbox, a way of avoiding power loss.
Fuel injectors from the GSX-R1000 were used, with smaller 44-millimetre (2 in) throttle bodies, called the Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve (SDTV) system. It has three selectable options of power delivery for a range of touring to wide open high performance. The exhaust system was overhauled, using a 4-2-1-2 system, meaning four exhaust outlets merging into two pipes, and then joining into a single pipe before splitting into two enlarged, quieter mufflers, which added a few pounds of weight compared to the first generation Hayabusa. The exhaust also included a catalytic converter and an oxygen sensor in order to meet Euro 3 emissions requirements.
The suspension was upgraded with a 43 mm Kayaba inverted fork with sliders having a diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating. The rear shock is also a Kayaba, and the overall suspension is firmer than the previous model. The swingarm is similar in design to the old one, but was strengthened. Front and rear remain fully adjustable. The transmission was given a heavier-duty, slipper clutch. The final drive ratio was slightly lower, and gears 5-6 were spaced farther apart, and gear ratios 1-2 moved closer together.
Ergonomic and cosmetic changes for the 2008 model include a higher windscreen, and interlocking gauge faces with a digital speedometer, as well as a new gear indicator and adjustable shift light. The fairing fasteners were hidden to uncomplicate custom paint work. The twin-spar aluminum frame was carried over from the previous version, and wheelbase, rake/trail, and seat height were the same, while overall length grew by two inches, and the taller windscreen added about ½ inch. Weight was saved by omitting the centerstand.
Technical improvements in the chassis include Tokico radial brake calipers, allowing smaller discs and therefore lower unsprung weight, translating into superior handling. Increased front braking power necessitated a sturdier lower triple clamp. The rear brake caliper was moved to the top of the disc, giving a cleaner visual appearance. New 17 inch wheels were designed, using Bridgestone BT-015 radials taken almost directly from the GSX-R1000.
Other changes were a steering damper with a reservoir and dual cooling fans with a larger, curved radiator. Because of increased vibration from the longer stroke, the fuel tank was put on floating mounts. All told, the changes for 2008 resulted in a dry weight of 490 pounds (222 kg), 5 pounds (2 kg) heavier than the prior generation.
Suzuki has dropped the GSX1300R designation in some countries and simply called the motorcycle the Hayabusa. The 2009 model has a MSRP of US$13,199.
Recently the company celebrated the tenth anniversary of Hayabusa in Santa Pod raceway where more than 500 owners of Hayabusa converged. Many events were organized and prizes were distributed to people who visited the event.
There are no changes for the 2010 model year except new colors.
Alongside the second generation Hayabusa, Suzuki developed the new B-King, a naked bike in the streetfighter mold, using the same engine but with a different intake and exhaust.
Typically, a new sportbike model sells well in its first year, and then sees its numbers decline every year as it grows older. The Hayabusa reversed this pattern, selling in greater numbers every year from the 1999 launch through the 2008 revision. From its debut in 1999 to June 2007 over 100,000 Hayabusas were sold worldwide. In the United States in each of the years 2005 and 2006, over 10,000 units were sold.
It was predicted that the gentlemen's agreement speed cap would hurt sales, because buyers would not want a bike that was hobbled with a governor, even riders who would never approach the hypothetical maximum. However, sales in the United States have increased year after year since its release in 1999 until 2006 and went from just a few thousand units in 1999 to over 10,000 in 2006.
Since the first launch in India of the Hayabusa, along with the 1,783 cc (108.8 cu in) Suzuki Intruder, in November 2008, total sales of these two large-displacement bikes have reached about 100 units, at prices around Rs. 1,250,000. In contrast, the Tata Nano car, with an engine less than half the size of the Hayabusa, aims to be the least expensive production car in the world, costing less than one tenth the price of the Hayabusa, leading to sales of over 2,000 times as many units as these motorcycles.
Previously 1000 cc-plus superbikes were imported to India only by special order, with an estimated total of only about 3,000 such bikes in a country with more than 37 million two wheelers. Suzuki's move into India follows the successful introduction of high-end motorcycles by Ducati and Yamaha. Because these motorcycles are brought into India as completely built units they pay an import duty of 114%, with no plans to switch to local assembly for the time being due to the anticipated sales volume of about 350 units per year.
On July 21, 2009, Suzuki Thailand introduced the GSX1300R on the Thai motorcycle market, making it the largest displacement motorcycle available in the country.
Many riders have found that the Hayabusa lends itself well to any number of legitimate functional purposes, to include competitive motorsports.
The Hayabusa has been used in sanctioned closed course road racing, drag racing, and top speed competition.
Top speeds of over 270 mph, engine outputs of over 700 horsepower, and performances in the standing quarter mile as quick as 7.125 seconds and as fast as 209.14 mph have been recorded by street registered Hayabusa motorcycles using standard-width (190mm) DOT-approved street-legal rear tires.
The Hayabusa has been one of the top choices for streetbike customization, perhaps even the most popular customized sportbike. One reason may be the unique, instantly-recognizable bodywork. The easy tunability of the engine, the wide selection of aftermarket parts, possibly more than any other Japanese motorcycle, and the interchangeability between models of Suzuki parts have also played a role. It was the vibrancy of this custom scene that prompted Suzuki to send Koji Yoshirua to the US for feedback and inspiration for the second generation design.
Horsepower enhancements like nitrous injection, which can add 100 bhp (75 kW), and turbocharging, which can raise rear wheel power to 250 bhp (190 kW) and beyond, are common.
Bikes are typically built to impress with being the most extreme, and most innovative. For professional custom shops, the status as the first builder to introduce a new style or customization — a 300 mm-series rear tire width, for example — is often hotly contested, and can pay dividends in media attention and in sales. Celebrity customers, such as rappers or NBA stars, also serve to build the credibility of a custom shop. The bikes themselves, at shows, racetracks and dragsrips, and at build competitions, also serve as "rolling billboards" for their makers.
Bikes are usually built around a theme, such as a NASCAR-inspired bike with retro-70s chrome wheels, racing numbers, flames and sponsor insignia reminiscent of a stock car, or a bike that takes its cues from popular films, such as Freddy Krueger of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Other common motifs in custom artwork are sexy women, skulls, bones and other gruesome figures, and money and bling, such as "Ben Franklins," $100 bills.
In 2006 the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) converted a seized Hayabusa into a pursuit vehicle, setting up the bike with equipment including a radar unit, police lights and siren, and painting it in official colors and insignia. Impressed with the positive response from the public and the motorcycling community, the OHP purchased two more Hayabusas, to supplement their main fleet of Harley-Davidson police motorcycles. While they are used for patrol, the primary function of the Hayabusas is public relations and community outreach, due to the kind of attention the exotic bikes attract. According to the OHP, "There are clear lines dividing sportbike and cruiser motorcycle riders. We feel the sportbike community has not been given the proper amount of attention and focus in the area of community involvement and rider safety education."
Other uses of the Hayabusa powerplant
The high-powered lightweight engine in the Hayabusa lends itself to non-motorcycle applications. The Westfield Megabusa is an English sports car, based on the Lotus Seven, which uses the Hayabusa engine. Suzuki was the first to put the motorcycle's engine in a car, with two concept cars in 2001, the Suzuki GSX-R/4 roadster and the Formula Hayabusa, an open wheel race car "designed for a new Japanese one-make competition series."
Mike Akitoff's 2004 land speed record attempt Ack Attack streamliner used twin Hayabusa engines in an attempt to exceed 300 miles per hour (483 km/h) at Bonneville Salt Flats. In 2006 and again in 2008 Akitoff's Ack Attack, piloted by Ricky Robison, succeeded, first going 342.797 miles per hour (552 km/h) in 2006, only to be surpassed two days later, then returning in 2008 to set another new record of 360.913 miles per hour (581 km/h). That record stood until it was broken on 24 September 2009 by Chris Carr going 367.382 miles per hour (591 km/h).
Radical Sportscars combined two inline-four Hayabusa engines on a single crankshaft to create the 2.8 L (170 cu in) Powertec RPA V8 engine to power their SR8 car. The 455 bhp (339 kW) sports car set the record for the fastest production car at Nürburgring. John Hartley, president of a custom printing machine manufacturer, also built a 75° V8 engine that weighs 200 lb (91 kg), out of two Hayabusa engines, initially intended to power his Caterham Seven sports car, producing 400 bhp (300 kW) and 245–250 lb·ft (332–340 N·m) torque.