The anticipation is killing me.

The Hayabusa is the king of the drag strip. Suzuki’s Ultimate Sportbike slays everything from Ninja H2s to Dodge Challengers in the quarter-mile. On the other hand, the Busa also fell victim to a Jeep Grand Cherokee—yes, you read that right—so it isn’t exempt from defeat either. Like all motorcycles, Hayabusas don’t race themselves, they need a skilled rider to pilot them or all that power goes to waste. When a Harley-Davidson challenges Suzuki’s quarter-mile king for the drag strip throne, the only question is: will the rider screw this one up?

Drag races reek of anticipation. Racers tend to spend more time at the starting line than they do on the throttle. Runtimes measure in the high-eights (seconds) to the low-teens and races are typically decided within the first 100 feet. With this recipe for drama, one phrase constantly bounces through the minds of spectatorswhat if? 

What if the Busa rider wheelies out of the gate and can’t recover? What if the Harley had work done and the Busa is stock? What if the Harley racer is a superior rider?

On paper, Suzuki’s Hayabusa lords over most sportbikes. With 170+ horsepower and nearly 100 ft-lb of torque, the Busa is bred for straight-line speed and acceleration. While the Suzuki sportbike is anything but light at 586 pounds wet, the 1,340cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC inline-four more than makes up for the stout build of the model.

Conversely, Harley’s Electra Glide Ultra Classic weighs in close to 900 pounds and its Twin Cam engine puts out around 65 horsepower. The Suzuki should tear up the drag strip whereas Harley’s Touring bike should be cruising Main Street. Funny enough, that’s what both motorcycles end up doing. 

Once the green light illuminates, the competitors push out of the gates without a hiccup. But just 30 yards down the course the Hayabusa gallops ahead of the Harley by two bike-lengths. 

Though the race is clearly over, the Hayabusa charges toward the finish line, trying to beat the 8.88-second fastest-time the announcer keeps droning on about. Unfortunately, the Busa’s 9.04-second runtime doesn’t reach that mark but it does achieve a top speed of 161mph.

The Harley, seemingly resigned after the first quarter of the quarter-mile, clocks in at 13.5 seconds with a speed of 96mph. The margin of defeat in real life actually aligned with the spec sheet comparison with the kingly Busa putting a royal beat down on the lumbering commoner by more than 4 seconds. 

Regardless of the outcome, we’ll almost always wonder what if when racers line up for the quarter-mile. Until then, we’ll see who’s brave enough to go for the Busa’s throne next because there’s certainly no shortage of challengers.