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2013 Suzuki Hayabusa First Ride

Friday, August 23, 2013

How strong is your will power? Personally, I have very little. I eat too much, I gamble too often and I ride too fast. So when the invite to ride the 2013 Suzuki Hayabusa popped into my inbox, I tried my best to pawn it off on someone else in the office who might be more apt to resist the temptations that come with riding a machine whose horsepower numbers and top
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Watch the 2013 Suzuki Hayabusa First Ride Video to see the Busa in action on the backroads of Southern California.
speed flirt with the double century mark. Alas, we are all weak-willed souls here at MotoUSA and not a single taker could be found. So I was it. “Moderation in all things” would be my mantra in the days leading up to the intro, but as soon as I thumbed the starter button on the Hayabusa that all went out the window. It seems the little devil on my shoulder had other plans…

The Suzuki Hayabusa has reached legendary status since its introduction back in 1999. Over its decade and a half run as the motorcycle synonymous with top speed, the Busa has received updates and reboots. For 2013 the changes to the current version can be counted on your thumbs. Right thumb – ABS. Left thumb – Brembo Monbloc front brake calipers. That doesn’t seem like much when you consider the Kawasaki ZX-14R has had ABS, traction control and a 100cc displacement advantage for the past two years. However, the standard white or black 2013 Hayabusa will leave you with $600 more in your pocket in comparison to the non-ABS Ninja thanks to its $14,399 MSRP. The limited edition yellow paint scheme will leave your wallet $200 lighter, but the limited edition Kawasaki with ABS tops out $700 above that.

In the past we’ve been critical of the Busa’s stoppers, feeling they were vague and spongy, so the addition of the Brembo Monoblocs is welcome. Not only are the calipers more rigid and lighter, the piston diameter is larger, growing from the 32 and 30mm of the former Tokico units to 32mm all around for increased initial bite and feel.

While the Brembos may shed some small amount of weight, the compact ABS control unit located under the airbox adds “a couple of pounds” in the words of the Suzuki PR reps. With a claimed wet weight of 586 pounds, adding a couple more is a non-issue. An overzealous lunch stop could move the scale’s needle more than the ABS unit.

Powering the Hayabusa is the tried and true 1340cc mill that cranked out 178.51 rear-wheel horsepower and 108 ft-lbs of torque on the MotoUSA dyno last year. Suzuki’s Drive Mode Selector (S-DMS) gives the rider three power settings to suit the conditions or riding style by varying the delivery from the Busa’s monster motor. The default A setting brings forth all the fury on tap, while B and C lessen the sharpness and thrust incrementally.

“Moderation in all things” would suggest, perhaps, I should choose Mode B. My resolution to uphold that credo lasted all of about five minutes as we picked our way through traffic to the open highway. As soon as we made the turn onto the freeway onramp the little devil screamed, “Mode A! Full Power! You know you want it!” From then on the S-DMS selector was set for full tilt boogie. Even so, the power delivery is controlled and smooth, almost easy to handle. However, unwitting newbies will find themselves arriving at the scene of their next ticket or accident in short order if they are misled by the Hayabusa’s seemingly linear power delivery. There is so much on tap and the Busa goes so willingly and without fuss that before you realize it you’ve entered the realm of serious consequences. Even when I thought I was being judicious with the right grip, I often found myself traveling 20mph faster than I thought I was. Sometimes even more, like, much more.

The bubble behind the windscreen is so quiet that once again it is not difficult to match the speed of the bird for which the Hayabusa was named. This is not an admission of any particular behavior… I’m just saying it is possible.

Not only does the engine of the Busa make for ease of speed, so does the chassis. The suspension and frame feels so planted and stable that it chews up the miles. When the asphalt follows nature’s chosen lines, the big beast handles admirably. It’s long and low, requiring minutely more of an effort to initiate a turn than a liter-bike or a super sport as would be expected, but at the same time it is rock solid once leaned over. Only the tightest of mountain roads will be hard work on the Hayabusa. Long sweepers are nirvana.

Hauling the Hayabusa down from speed highlights the newly added Brembos and ABS. As a former hater of ABS, the manufacturers have finally got the systems calibrated as to not be too intrusive, and the Suzuki system is up there with the best of them. Grabbing a handful will not immediately result in a pulsating lever, and the ABS will only kick in during the direst situations. Only once did I get too deep into a corner while trailbraking where the front brakes were taken over by the Busa’s brain. It saved my ass. I may have been able to avoid washing-out the front on my own, but I’ll take certainty over the possibility of a crash any day.

The braking performance from the Monoblocs is much improved, but I was expecting more. It’s not night and day, but it is better. More bite is available initially, and the stopping power is amplified. But the feel becomes wooden when you really lean on the front binders. This could be due to the fact the master cylinder and rubber lines were not upgraded to support the Brembo calipers. Only hardcore canyon carvers are going to have any criticism.

As we returned to the hotel from our 190-mile loop, I was left highly impressed with the 2013 Suzuki Hayabusa. The addition of the Brembos and ABS has made it a better bike without question. It’s not a complete reboot, but with the rock solid handling and unbelievably friendly and powerful engine it didn’t need one. Traction control would be nice, but to be honest I never was left wanting. What it could use is a mute button for that little devil.
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 2013 Suzuki Hayabusa Specs
The 2014 Suzuki Hayabusa has been updated with ABS and Brembo Monobloc front calipers.
Engine: Liquid-cooled 1340cc Inline Four, 16-valves Bore and Stroke: 81.0 x 65.0mm
Compression Ratio: 12.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Electronic fuel-injection
Clutch: Wet multi-plate slipper clutch; Cable actuation Final Drive: Chain 17F/42R
Six-speed; chain final drive
Frame: Twin spar aluminum
Front Suspension: 43mm inverted Showa BPF fork; 3-way adjustable for preload, compression and rebound; 4.9 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Showa gas-charged shock; 3-way adjustable for preload, compression and rebound; 5.1 in. travel
Front Brakes: 310mm discs with radial-mount Brembo Monobloc calipers with ABS
Rear Brake: 260mm disc with dual-piston caliper with ABS 
Tires: 120/70R17, 190/50R17 
Dry Weight: 586 pounds (claimed)
Wheelbase: 55.3 in.
Rake: 23.0 deg. Trail: 3.8 in.
Seat Height: 31.7 in.
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gallons
MSRP: $14,399
Colors: Pearl Glacier White, Glass Sparkle Black, Limited Edition Yellow ($14,599)
Warranty: One year, unlimited mileage

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ForSure   September 8, 2013 03:14 PM
The FZ09 is ugly, the Busa I'd call borderline queer, style-wise...but it's something of the Ferrari of motorcycles in the sense that you see one and you know it's fast. It undoubtedly gets respect among the sportbike crowd, at least and it's not a bad touring bike either. Hard to put an exact simile here, most Ferraris are not as bad-looking for a car as the Busa is for a bike but in no way would I call it a Lotus or Jaguar of motorcyling. But I can think of no car equivalent of borderline-ugly styling, slow handling and outright speed...the ZX-14 is similar, but with better handling and not quite so outrageous styling. And a scraped-up sportbike is kind of par for the course, but a scraped-up Busa is just sad. Sign of a rider clearly in over their head, on a bike that doesn't deserve to be abused & neglected like that.
ABN2nds   August 28, 2013 10:52 AM
Great performance, but they just look ugly!
ImpossibleToPlease   August 26, 2013 11:38 PM
" just install different handle bars, footrest and a seat to make the bike more comfortable and controllable, then see how much enjoyment you can get from riding rather than complaining" absolutely it would be a better all-around bike (that can still do 175+ and 10sec quarters) but it's never going to handle like a literbike or even a 14R. That's the yin and yang of it. It's like comparing a Barracuda with modern disc brakes to your average Japanese coupe with a 200hp turbo 4-cylinder engine. The Busa can accelerate and stop with the best of them, you can manhandle it through the turns like a big cat but it just will not, cannot turn with the lighter, smaller bikes. Of course often you don't need it to, but still you'd better keep that in mind before you need it to do that just to stay on the road. Cause it ain't gonna happen.
ImpossibleToPlease   August 26, 2013 11:00 PM
"178 hp is pretty passe these days" yeah I've heard this complaint now and then. The kind of logic that has a team kicking a field goal from the 2 yard line when down by 5 with 2 minutes left in the game. Yep, 170hp from the stock engine with 80ft-lb of torque available over 90% of the RPM band, that's "passe" all right. It'll "passe" right by you on your CBR as it struggles to get up to 12k. Oh wait: your bike weighs 100lbs less. So what? It's still slower. Yet you are right in one sense that a bike that can do 10sec quarters is not a whole lot faster than an 11 or 12sec bike w hen it comes down to it, same with 150mph or even 130mph at the top end. And you're right there are a LOT of bikes like that. Heck you might as well just buy a Ninja 300. PS you can change the bars & pegs along with the gearing, the ECU, the exhaust, etc.
Maxx   August 26, 2013 10:50 AM
Its seem like every sport bike has the same complaint (people feel too bunched up on them) now, you are offer a sport touring bike that provides the the ability to stretch out and people complains about it? Why not, instead of installing power adder, just install different handle bars, footrest and a seat to make the bike more comfortable and controllable, then see how much enjoyment you can get from riding rather than complaining. AT 6' 2" 230 it fits me great and I use it for sport touring.
neo1piv014   August 26, 2013 07:14 AM
Just sitting on one of these bikes at a dealership let me know that I wouldn't ever own one. I'm a pretty tall guy, so that might have caused it, but I can't understand how people tour on those things.
rogase   August 25, 2013 07:34 PM
Still one of the ugliest bikes on the planet and 178 hp is pretty passe these days with the likes of the BMW S 1000 RR. My re mapped 08 blade bumps out 168 hp albeit with less torque.
RoadRash201   August 23, 2013 12:53 PM
The new brakes and ABS are nice but the bike just needs higher bars to really find its own niche going forward. It's just too slow-handling to really be considered a "sportbike", and the bars are way too far forward and low for it to really be a "sport-tourer". Suzuki just needs to bite the bullet, copy the pullback bars on the 14R and market the Busa as a Super-VFR750. What the FJ1200 should be. The current bars just don't make sense unless you seriously intend to buy that bike and ride it 100mph+ on the street. But I like the mirrors. Like 'em more if they weren't so wide end to end. The stability is nice on most roads and the engine delivers nice, smooth linear power in abundance without the big midrange kick of the 14R which is a bit too much. Overall a nice bike with a bit too much emphasis on going 185mph on straight roads. I can't imagine riding that bike over 80mph on the average two-lane as the handling is just so slow, and the bars sheesh I might be able to ride it for an hour once or twice a day even then I'd have to lay on the tank half the time.