The 2013 Suzuki Hayabusa has been updated with new Brembo Monobloc radial brake calipers and Anti-Lock Brakes. Can such a minor change keep it relevant in 2013?
A day of riding the 2013 Suzuki Hayabusa on a well-planned route around Palomar Mountain? Sign me up. The Hayabusa is a very interesting motorcycle, unlike almost anything else on the market and, with the changes made for the 2013 bike, it promised to be an awesome day. We got to ride brief stints on the freeway, long open stretches of highway, beautiful fast sweepers, and tight mountain roades and all with one final ingredient: a police escort to block off sections of road for us so we could set up awesome photo opportunities. A good day indeed.
We were surprised when we went to the presentation for the "all-new Hayabusa," or so the invitation email called it, only to find out that the only changes made were to the brakes.
The front brakes have been upgraded to radial mount Brembo Monobloc brake calipers, which give more feedback while being lighter and more rigid than their more conventional predecessors. The piston's were also enlarged on the 2013, going from 32-30mm to 32-32mm, which also improves both grip and feeling.
In addition to the new front brakes, the 2013 Hayabusa also now comes with ABS.
That's it. Same 1340cc, 180 horsepower, 100lb-ft engine. Same swooping, bulbous body style. They said the ABS added a pound or two, so we'll call it the same 575 pounds.
The route for the day was a 200 mile loop from our hotel in El Cajon out to Palomar Mountain and back. The PR team from Suzuki did a brilliant job planning the route and I'll try and get more information about it so you can follow it yourself (which I highly suggest). I've ridden the 78 out to Julian for pie a few times but am not very familiar with the area and didn't really know where we were for most of the route, which I was fine with as I was completely content to just take in the beautiful roads and scenery and enjoy the bike.
The route began through a few small towns as we made our way out to the nicer sections of road. Press launch rides come in all shapes and sizes and I wasn't sure if this was going to be one of those rides where we get to ride the bike as we would normally or if we would be stuck in some slow group where no one would admit they sometimes ride at speeds slightly over the legal limit. We made a right onto some highway and the answer was clear instantly as the group simultaneously used all 1,340cc's to accelerate to a pace I was more than content with.
The first section of the route was full of fast, smooth sweepers and long open straights on two lane roads. The Hayabusa is at home at these conditions unlike any bike I've ridden. We rode about 40 miles until the first photo stop and, when we pulled over, you could hear the same conversation being echoed amongst each pair of riders. Each of us shared the same experience of riding at a swift, yet very comfortable pace only to look down and see that we were doing anywhere from 20-40 mph faster than we thought. While liter bikes feel safe and competent at high speeds, none feel as unaffected or planted as the Hayabusa. It literally feels like you are just not going very fast. The suspension absolutely consumes road imperfections, the large windscreen displaces the air perfectly, and the power is endless without feeling frantic.
At one point, I came around a bend to a straightaway that looked endless and without a cross street or driveway in sight and noticed I had fallen fairly far behind. I got on the gas until I saw that I was finally making ground the group when I looked down and saw that I was traveling FAR faster than I expected. It was completely undramatic, the only real adrenaline coming from knowing the fact that I had been traveling that fast, not the actual experience of doing so. When I pulled up to the group at the end, it was immediately obvious I had fallen so far behind because everyone had taken the opportunity to push the Busa's upper limits on that section of road when the first question was "So what'd ya hit?"
As we rode higher into the mountains, the turns got tighter and the straightaways less frequent. The oaks turned into pines as we climbed until we hit a lookout where a police escort was waiting. One on a motorcycle and the other in a police cruiser, Suzuki had them join us so we could take photos on some of the twisty mountain roads without fear of oncoming traffic. They set up their boundaries on each sides of the sections we wanted, letting groups of cars pass between runs.
With our photo opportunity done, it was finally lunch time and we continued up the mountain to Mother's Kitchen at the Palomar Summit. Most of the group left before the escort, I was too busy taking photos and putting all my gear back on (black leather was a bad choice) and ended up sandwiched between the police bike and police cruiser for the last few miles to lunch. I wish I could have taken photos of people's reaction as the three of us passed.
After a quick lunch, we set up for our final photo spot on the south side of Palomar Mounatin. This section was far tighter and required far slower speeds and far heavier breaking than any of the previous sections. The police set up their boundaries and we were off for a few passes to finally put these new brakes to the test. Unfortunately....they didn't quite stack up as hoped. While the new Monobloc Brembo's do add some stopping power, the master cylinder is still unchanged and, when paired with the budget rubber brake lines, lead to some very soft and squishy braking. That problem is shared with the 2013 Suzuki GSX-R1000.
I noticed it first when coming to a quick stop after one of the earlier photo passes to make the place we were supposed to turn around, but didn't think as much of it until trying to navigate this very large, very powerful motorcycle around these very tight turns. We finished our photos and headed down the mountain.
"Sorry if I was holding you guys up but, if I crash this thing, they're going to make me ride a Harley," the bike cop said when we got to the bottom. From my angle, the guy was hustling pretty good and we appreciated he was letting himself have a little fun with it. We stopped at the bottom so the police could take a photo with all the bikes and then headed back to the hotel. We had been lucky to have almost zero traffic in the morning, but the afternoon route was both more direct and at a busier time of day and we hit a good deal of traffic. The Hayabusa is not a small motorcycle and does take some extra attention when lane splitting. The squishy brakes were also evident as it seemed the drivers were as ready to get off the road as we were, some of whom got a little aggressive when presented with our group. One guy was abruptly cut off by a suburban and he did the ABS test none of us wanted to, nice to know that works well at least.
Back at the hotel, it was surprising how similar all of our experiences were. We had each hit a bump in the road we didn't see until it was too late, expecting it to punish our butts or our backs, only to be surprised when we felt barely anything at all. We had each had a moment during the final leg where we were surprised how comfortable the riding position was and how little fatigue was felt after spending the better part of 7 hours on the bike. Many of the dudes grabbed their bags and jumped back on the bikes to ride them home that night, the rest of us would have to pick up our loaners later in the week.
I now understand why people use Hayabusas as a sport touring bike. We have had them in the past, but I hadn't had an opportunity to do the miles like we did this trip, and it's absolutely fantastic for it (assuming you find a decent way to strap your gear down). So often, when we think of Hayabusas, we think of drag racing or extended swingarms or that culture of over-the-top customizations and, while the bike definitely has a home in those communities, it's also great for long trips or long weekend rides like the one we did.
The power is absolutely fantastic. It is both enormous and calm at the same time, not frantic like 600cc or 1000cc super sports. The fueling is spot on, the gears flawless, and the clutch effortless to operate.
The seating position manages to be both sporty and comfortable, a fact I'm only realizing now thinking about how there wasn't a single time during the day I thought "I wish the seat was more/less _____" like I do on pretty much every other bike. I never wished it were sportier when riding fast or more upright and comfortable after stints around town. The seat iself is incredibly plush, yet still manages to be firm enough to firm enough to offer support.
The cockpit doesn't lock you in, leaving you plenty of room to adjust your riding position or or move around. The reach to the bars is far enough that you can get fully tucked easily, but doesn't leave you so stretched out that your weight is shifted into your wrists.
The first, obvious answer is in the looks department. I have a friend who likes big, stable sportbikes but who isn't trying to be the next king of The Snake or Angeles Crest and this bike would be perfect....but he'd never go for it. It just hasn't evolved as everything else that's gotten sharper and and more svelte. I mean, that ass.
I thought it was just me expecting too much, having just taken the Aprilia RSV4 Factory up to Wes, when I first started to feel unimpressed with the brakes; it being the only change to the "all-new" Hayabusa. But as the turns got increasingly tight, I continued to struggle with them and by the end of the day, had lost significant confidence in them. Suzuki really needs to improve the master cylinder and include steel braided brake lines with a bike of this size, weight, and power.
Finally, the display is more of a car dashboard, along the lines of the Goldwing, than you should include on any motorcycle that can reach those speeds that quickly. The center digital display shows your gear and odometer readout and the analog tachometer does its job well, but the analog speedometer was difficult to read, especially when trying to glance down to see what speed you had hit. As with most big sport bikes, the speed should be front, center, and large.
The 2013 Hayabusa retails for $14,399 for the regular white and black, the limited edition yellow will set you back another $200 with a retail price of $14,599. The only real competitor is the Kawasaki ZX-14R, which is priced only slightly higher at $14,999. Personally, I feel these two bikes have very different characteristics and the decision between the two should be based more on the riding style than a $300-$500 difference. We feel that, while 14k is nothing to scoff at, you're definitely getting your money's worth. Oh, and they're offering 0% APR for 60 months across most credit levels for the GSX-R and Hayabusa line through the end of August.
The Hayabusa is a wonderful motorcycle. If you know someone with one, ask to ride it. Take it somewhere remote and safe and just experience what a bike that unique feels like, but don't necessarily feel the need to push it. It's a wonderful bike for long weekend rides or for trips, or for those of you who like to have the power there but maybe don't always want to be pushed to use it. We'll have one around for a little bit and I really look forward to spending more time with it. That said, I don't know that I'll try and take it anywhere as tight and twisty as Palomar Mountain again, it's just a lot of motorcycle. The new Monobloc brakes are an improvement but unfortunately aren't enough stop this beast sufficiently for me, though the addition of ABS is welcome and is especially useful in light of this.
RideApart Rating: 7/10
Helmet: Schuberth C3 Pro
Jacket: Dainese R Twin Leather Jacket
Pants: Dainese Alien Leather Pants
Boots: Dainese TRQ Race Out Boots
Gloves: Dainese Druid Gloves