A worthy successor.
The needle creeps higher. 164, 165... Tunnel vision is setting in. Top of 4th and my left foot is enticing me “Up. One. More.” Turn one is coming up quick and my nerves are running out. Don’t screw this up. 166, 167… Roll out. Stay tucked. Hit the brakes. Down two gears and tip in. Breathe. Not too bad for a 580-pound land rocket, a machine named after the fastest animal on the planet.
It wasn’t long ago that this Peregrine Falcon was feared to be a Dodo. Due to ever-tightening emission regulations, many fans thought their beloved Hayabusa would soon be discontinued. Thankfully, Suzuki put in the time and effort and released a new Hayabusa for 2022. What better place to showcase its performance capabilities than the land of speed and salt, the great state of Utah?
We began with a day of twisties just north of Salt Lake City. First sight reminds you that this is the grandchild of the fastest production bike ever made. The characteristic over-under headlight flanked by two integrated turn signals has gotten the LED treatment. Same goes for the now split taillight that also has turn signals integrated. In between, the previous generations’ style cues have gotten an update without being sharpened too much. Throwing a leg over I was very relieved that the seat has a very slight forward slant but is mostly flat and plush. The “touring” part of “sport-tourer”. The bars are a bit of a reach but less so for my 6’4” frame. Finally, a bike that doesn’t make me look like a monkey riding a coconut.
Lifting off the side stand is a reminder this isn’t your normal GSX-R. At near 600 pounds wet, it's a bit heavy getting it upright but not terribly so. Doing so shows off the beautiful dash. Suzuki went with an analog-style needle tach and speedo buddied up with fuel and coolant temp gauges on the shoulders and a large touchscreen in the middle. All display what they should very well, except for the top 2/5ths that are blocked by the windscreen when I sit upright (again I’m 6’4”). Suzuki does make a taller windscreen that should alleviate this issue, but the stock screen is a touch short for taller riders. The center-mounted TFT display shows off Suzuki’s Intelligent Ride System (or SIRS) which includes the standard slew of rider aids—Traction control, Lift control (wheelies), Cruise control, engine braking, and engine power modes. There are a few uncommon features as well, like a rider-controlled speed limiter. More on that later.
The new Hayabusa’s aesthetics are surprisingly well done. The little details you notice the longer you stare at it show the level of care that went into its design and production. From the Kanji symbol tucked into the headlight and the way the fuel and temp needles disappear when you power off, to the simple and elegant main color with bright accents typical of traditional Japanese kimonos, it is a welcome change from the very angular, sharp-edged design language used by other manufacturers.
As with many heavy bikes these days once you get rolling the weight seems to melt away. Especially when steering, bar input to initiate the corner is minimal if not completely unnecessary. It almost feels as if you could steer with the seat. This is in part due to the bike’s 50:50 weight distribution, along with updated steering head geometries. The 43mm KYB inverted front forks and rear monoshock suspend the big bird well at their stock settings. For highway stints, the ‘Busa floated along like an old Cadillac, and bumps that would normally be a punch in the shorts turned into little hiccups. The suspension works well at a casual pace through the twisties, but hard canyon riding would require some adjustment. If touring is your thing, though, the transition from highway to twisties is effortless with stock settings.
On the touring side, Suzuki built in some nice long-haul comforts like the plush flat seat, cruise control, and an integrated damper system in the upper triple clamp to reduce handlebar vibration. The damper works well until you get to the upper part of the rev range and the buzzing makes its way into your hands. I found the wide tank initially uncomfortable for my hips but adapted over time. There are also factory touring accessories such as tank bags, heated grips, and a taller touring windscreen, with more to come.
The bike handles its own well enough in the twisties despite its heft. Cornering takes little effort to initiate but chicanes that require quick transitions remind you how heavy this bike is. Slowing for these corners is done with large 320mm, full-floating front disks gripped by new Brembo Stylema calipers. A big feature of these brakes is that the front lever activates the front and rear (up to about 30% rear), while the rear pedal only activates the rear. This is nice for touring/street use but since it can’t be turned off it forces you to relearn when to brake. Since Suzuki has added a Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit, the new ‘Busa now has lean-sensitive ABS that adjusts actual brake pad pressure based on what lean angle the bike is at.
This new Bosch IMU, along with Suzuki’s Intelligent Ride System (SIRS), allows for a host of other rider aides like Traction Control and Lift Control (Wheelies), both with 10 levels of adjustment. Having that much adjustability for TC allows for a precise amount of intervention to suit each individual rider's style. On the other hand, the 10 levels of Lift Control (yes, TEN) seem to be a bit excessive, as it was still difficult to lift the front wheel in level 1 with the throttle alone. This may be most attributed to elevation as we were at 4000 - 5000 ft so I won't knock it too hard, but I couldn’t discern much between level 1 and 10.
Another new feature is the ability to display data from the ECU—throttle position, brake pressure, lean angle, acceleration/deceleration g-forces, etc. A nifty feature as long as you don’t get too distracted by it. Additionally, the new ‘Busa has three-level adjustable engine braking. Each level is distinct and works well. Along with that is a two-level, two-way (up and down) quickshifter. Level 1 has very sharp and quick shifts suited for aggressive riding while level 2 is a bit more relaxed for casual riding and touring. Both levels work well for their intended purpose, but I was still able to get it to fall into neutral unintentionally while in the twisties.
A unique rider aid to the Hayabusa is the combination of cruise control and the Active Speed Limiter. Now, cruise control is pretty standard as modern touring bikes go, but the Active Speed Limiter is not. What it does is allow the rider to put a speed limit on themselves to ensure they don’t get hassled by the fuzz. Should you need to exceed your set limit momentarily to pass just quickly twist the throttle and the system will allow it.
The SIRS has even more features, like hill hold assist, easy start (one push of the starter while in N), and low RPM assist (for stop-and-go traffic) to name a few, but the biggest one is the three different engine power modes. Level one is full ‘Busa and gives full power and the quickest throttle response. Levels two and three have progressively less power and throttle response for more casual riding or in low traction situations.
All the user-adjustable rider aids are controlled via the Suzuki Drive Mode Selector-alpha (SDMS-a, so many acronyms) which has 3 preset rider modes A, B, and C. A is the most aggressive, with B and C providing progressively softer-edged riding. There are also user-defined presets (U1-3) that allow a rider to tailor the bike’s performance to their own tastes. Each mode has different presets for engine power, TC, Lift Control, engine braking, and quickshifter. Setting each user preset does require navigating through the menu but one handy feature is once in any ride mode you can quickly adjust each individual system (power, TC, etc.) to suit your current needs. This won't be saved to that preset mode without having to go through the menu again, but it is nice that it allows for testing on the fly to see what settings suit you best.
Our second day of riding was on track at Utah Motorsports Campus. This is where the big ‘Busa really surprises. We ran the bigger and faster 3 mi long outercourse which includes the full 3,300 ft front straight. The perfect location to let the Hayabusa’s all-new 1340cc engine really let loose. Now I know “all-new” is a bit of a stretch to some but hear me out. While Suzuki has re-engineered almost all the engine internals the overall architecture is very close to the Gen 2. Suzuki did make a point to say that it prototyped multiple different engine designs, including six-cylinder and forced induction mills, before settling on the tried and true 1340cc inline-four from the previous generation. This was done in part to retain the ‘Busa’s “character” and to allow the aftermarket to get up to speed quickly.
In reality, two more cylinders would make it heavier and we all know most of these will get the turbo treatment anyway. Some will argue this is necessary as the third-gen ‘Busa puts out 187 HP compared to the second-gen at 194 HP. This sounds bad, but in reality, most ‘Busa owners would never know the difference as the new engine’s torque curve is stronger in the mid-range (where most riders are most of the time) and smoother, allowing for more predictable power delivery. Even being down on power Suzuki claims this new generation ‘Busa is quicker than its predecessor by .2 sec in the 0-60 and .1 in the 1/8 mile.
On the track, the ‘Busa performed like a 130-percent bigger GSX-R1000. Handling favors smooth lines rather than “point and shoot” cornering. As on the street, the extra weight is not too noticeable until you need to slow down from 160+ mph. After a few hard laps, the brakes begin to fade noticeably. This is something the rider can learn to work with, and once I did It was a truly wonderful track experience. After we finished circulating, we had one last and crucial test to do: Acceleration.
Now I’m no Rickey Gadson and Suzuki knows this. Because of this, the new ‘Busa features three levels of launch control. All you need to do is hold the starter to initiate Launch Control, select which level you want, hold the throttle wide open and let the ECU control engine rpm, then strictly focus on clutch control. Level 1 holds the launch RPM at 3,700 rpm, level 2 at 6,000 rpm, and level 3 at 8,000 rpm. Launch Control also has its own preset parameters for TC and Lift Control to allow for optimal acceleration. The nice folks at Suzuki Motor of America let us have 3 launches, one at each level, but no more for fear of excessive clutch wear. While this feature does make you feel like a drag racer, a seasoned racer could probably outperform the electronics.
All in all, this bike is worthy of the Hayabusa name. It's a capable canyon carver, Hypersport tourer, and track bike. Suzuki has done its research and made a new generation Hayabusa that should please the faithful. While it may not be the dyno-busting powerhouse some had hoped for, its familiar engine architecture should allow the aftermarket to quickly fix that. Priced at $18,599 the new Suzuki Hayabusa lands on dealer floors in June 2021.