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2008 Ninja ZX-14 vs Suzuki Hayabusa

Friday, January 18, 2008

The open-class sportbike heavyweights return for a rematch, with the re-designed Suzuki Hayabusa aiming to retake its crown from the re-tuned Kawasaki ZX-14.
Ladies and gentlemen, may we have your attention ringside please. MotorcycleUSA.com is proud to present, for your adrenaline-pulsing entertainment, a comparo of felonious extraordinariousness! A merciless exhibition of titanic magnificence! A heavyweight bout of such gravity, such weight, it can only be described as the greatest two-wheeled extravaganza of all time! Two masters of the dojo from the land of Tojo... The biggest show outta Tokyo! A bitter duel between monster mounts mightier than the majestic massiveness of the Pacific Ocean they cross - the 2008 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 and the Suzuki GSX-R1300 Hayabusa!

Okay, so our Don King impersonation is third-rate, at best, but the ZX-14 and Hayabusa are the epitome of two-wheeled heavyweight brawlers. Sure, pound for pound, the 1000cc Superbikes may be the ultimate in production two-wheeled performance, but these two are the bad boys, the big cheese, the meanest monkeys in the sportbike jungle.

We discovered as much when we pitted the duo against each other in our 2006 Hayabusa vs. ZX-14 Comparo. In that encounter, the all-new ZX-14 got the better of the, until that point, unchallenged Busa. Fast forward to 2008 and we have new versions of each bike in our garage. But which contestant will come out on top in this latest clash of the titans?

In the challenger's corner, wearing orange and black, is the Hamamatsu Hammer, the Duke of the Dragstrip, the purveyor of horsepower porn - Suzuki's 2008 Hayabusa! Alright, alright... We'll drop the ringside announcer shtick.

Now, the Suzuki may be the challenger by our '06 comparo score, but there is no doubting the potency of the mighty Hayabusa through the years. Anyone who thinks otherwise need only be reminded that in 2005 John Noonan took a turbocharged Zook up to 256 mph on the famed Bonneville Salt Flats, making it the fastest conventional, non-streamlined motorcycle in the world.

The Hayabusa did not take kindly to its split-decision loss at the end of '06 so the '08 machine comes to the table ripped to the nuts, fueled by rage and more powerful than ever. We'll get into the nitty gritty details later, but the long and short is Suzuki bumped the displacement to 1340cc, an answer to the stinging 1352cc Kawasaki salvo. The result is increased horsepower and torque complimented with upgraded brakes and suspension.

The train may crank out a couple thousand extra ponies  but pound for pound  the Ninja is about as potent a machine as you can get.
The train may crank out a couple thousand extra ponies, but pound for pound, the Ninja is about as potent a machine as you can get - dead even with the Busa.
As for the title-holding Kawasaki, the Ninja ZX-14 was the new kid on the block back in 2006, but this year it's back as the mean knuckle-busting punk - the kind that don't like to be called kid. In '06 the Ninja came out off the corner swinging and bloodied up the stalwart Busa, knocking it off the top of the hyper-sportbike heap with its combination of a smooth motor, comfy ergos and just enough power to keep the Busa on its heels.

The mad Kaw is also changed for 2008. It would be easy to assume the mods are nothing more than standard fare upgrades, but Kawaski did make some internal tweaks to the motor. The latest ZX-14's new tuning promises improved power off the low end while also meeting stricter emissions and noise regulations. All this was accomplished while maintaining similar overall peak power numbers of the original.

Claims, schmaims. As the saying goes: If PR claims were fishes, we'd all cast nets. So, let's test these ink and paper assertions with our own real-world observations. Our own, tale of the tape, as it were. Since the headlines for both these bikes are their monster motors, a showdown on the dyno will reveal just how monstrous these beasts really are.

Both 16-valve DOHC Inline Fours herald power numbers close to 200 hp at the crank, so we rolled the giants onto our Dynojet 200i to sample rear-wheel horsepower. Back in 2006 it was the Kawasaki that got the upper hand, humbling the Suzuki in both horsepower (169.1 to 155.9) and torque (103 to 94). This time around the reverse was true, at least in horsepower.

Peaking at 166.8 hp at 9600 rpm, the new Hayabusa mill enjoys an advantage of 5.1 ponies over the ZX-14, which registered 161.7 hp at 9200 rpm. Torque saw the Kawi hold its mastery with 102 lb-ft at 7700 rpm, but the new Busa is right there at 101.4 lb-ft at 7200 rpm, 500 rpm quicker than the Ninja. Just for the maniacal hell of it, we also buried the speedos during our final dyno runs. Pinned in sixth gear until they hit the rev-limiter, we saw a top speed of 182 mph for the Suzuki and 185 mph for the Kawasaki.

Smoke  em if you got  em.
On the drag strip, the Suzuki Hayabusa smokes the ZX-14, but by the slimmest of margins - 0.02 to be exact.
It is important to note that we used a more-seasoned dyno in '06 than we did this year. Head to head, however, the most obvious difference from '06 is the Suzuki moving past its nemesis in peak horsepower and evening the score in torque. Yet, although it loses ground, when comparing '06 and '08 the ZX-14 curve shows improved torque and hp in the low end - just like Kawasaki promised.

While the Kawasaki's raw dyno numbers are a bit of a setback, at weigh-in the Ninja gets its mojo back. In 2006 the duo were a mere three pounds apart on the scales (527 for the ZX-14 to 530 for the Busa - tank empty). The Hayabusa has since added some bulk, tipping the scales at a tank-empty 546.5 lbs, compared to the ZX-14, which is almost identical to its '06 fighting trim at 528.7 lbs. Those numbers equate to tank-empty power-to-weight ratios of 0.3051 for the Busa and 0.3058 for the lighter Kawi. You can't get much closer than 0.0007. 

Although producing more power  the new Hayabusa is also heavier.

Well, it turns out you almost can, as we would discover at the Phoenix, AZ, Firebird International Raceway. Any definitive answers we sought about overall performance on the dragstrip were dashed, as the quarter-mile results were also razor thin. In our best uncorrected runs the Suzuki just nipped the Kawasaki, running a 10.378 to the Ninja's 10.398. To put that disparity into context, 0.02 is less time than it takes for some species of hummingbird to flap their wings. Trap speed was also marginal, with the Busa coming out on top 139.36 to 139.08 mph. 

The Busa got the upper hand on the Kawi on the drag strip  but both our testers agreed that it had the better potential.

That's not to say our two drag testers, MCUSA Editorial Director Ken Hutchison and Associate Editor Adam Waheed, didn't have an opinion about the duo's abilities at the strip.

"At the drag strip the Hayabusa just barely has the ZX covered," argues Hutch. "While the ZX is easier to get a strong launch on, my fastest run was set on the Suzuki by a couple hundredths so it's tough to pick a winner there. In almost every clean pass the Busa was faster in outright speed and that shows the Suzuki seems to have an edge. Then again, Adam was significantly faster on the Kawasaki than he was on the Busa."

Although the Ninja was easier to launch for beginners, our greener tester confirmed Hutch's assertions.

"The ZX is easier for a novice to go fast on and have fun," explains Adam. "On the other hand, I believe an experienced rider who knows how to extort full performance out of a bike will have more fun on the Busa. I feel confident that given more time on both bikes, I would go faster and have a better time on the Busa."

Limited to just six runs apiece, the raw numbers seem to give the Hayabusa the early edge, but it's time to take these two monsters out on the pavement to determine a winner.

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2008 Ninja ZX-14 vs Suzuki Hayabusa
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Our testers give the nod in the engine department to the Suzuki  but not by much
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Comments
REDD -BUSA LOVER  January 24, 2011 12:42 AM
ZX14 GSXR 1300 DO THE MATH OF I WAS TAUGHT THAT 14 IS A GREATER NUMBER THAN 13, ALSO LETS REMEMBER THESE BIKES ARE GOVERNED LETS MAKE THE BUSA 1400 AND TAKE THE RESTRICTOR PLATES OFF BOTH BIKES THEN THEY WILL TRUELY BE IN THE SAME CLASS TO COMPETE ITS LIKE RACING 3400 V6 WITH THE 3800 V6 I OWN A 03 MONTE CARLO LS BUT THE 3800 IS CLEARLY FASTER, SO LETS BE REAL, I WILL PURCHASE 08 BUSA THIS SUMMER CURRENTLY HAVE A 600 KATANA 05 GETTING USED TO WEIGHT FOR THE BUSA
ZX14_Fan -ZX vs Busa  August 3, 2010 02:46 PM
Maybe all you guys need to see which bike holds the record in ProStreet for Nitrous in the 1/4 mile ..... That would be a ZX14...and he is the only one breaking that record...over and over... So them Busa don't have much to talk about anymore....
Jerry -too many dreamers on here  June 2, 2010 08:41 AM
It never ceases to amaze me how many people are full of b.s on here. Unfortunately the sportbike community is full of a lot of b.s people. Those who "claim" which bike is faster and bragging how their imaginary bike is faster than others truly show their stupidity by demonstrating to everyone that you don't even own a bike. Enough with the garbage trash talk already nobody is dumb enough to believe you people who like to b.s. A person that owns one of these badboys will know it's the freakin RIDER and not the bike, you will NEVER EVER ride the full capabilities of these bikes and also if you want the most powerful bike out there it's not a hayabusa or zx14 it's the new S1000RR
jose boricua -Big Bike hayabusa 2008  May 9, 2010 08:27 AM
I have 2008 suzuki hayabusa i would not exchange it for nothing is excellent and the driving is great.
Tommy B -08 BUSA IS straight Orange White Or Blue  March 18, 2010 09:45 PM
There nothing like a Busa maybe in the next 10yrs kaw will get it right every bike want to challenge the busa two all you busa owner if not at the strip dont race just slow down so the world can see you are on a BUSA the baddest bike on the planet it have already been proven. when someone try to talk to you about speed just laugh. be safe ill be on a blue one an gold
abhishek tyagi -speed  January 11, 2010 03:15 AM
i want to join us and my id is aryantyagi00@gmail.com
Stephan (PORTUGAL) -BLA BLA BLA alot of  November 7, 2009 04:24 PM
I bet most of you will never explore nor one or the other to the limits, you're better off riding a 125cc. LOL
JJB -09 ZX14 SPECIAL EDITION  November 3, 2009 07:38 PM
HI ALL, I AM A 55 YEAR OLD AND HAVE BEEN RIDING FOR ABOUT 37 YRS. IN MY DAY THE HIGHEST PERFORMANCE MACHINES WERE HONDA 1100F, KAWASAKI 1100GPZ AND THE SUZUKI GS1100. I OWN THREE BIKES AT THE MOMENT 03 GOLDWING 05 ST1300 AND MY LATEST 09 ZX1400 SE. THE PROBLEM I AM HAVING IS THE REACH AND LOW BARS, ITS KILLING MY HANDS AND NECK. I LOVE THE BIKE BUT CANNOT RIDE THIS THING FOR MUCH MORE THAN A HALF AN HOUR. THE BIKE HAS 500 MILES ON IT SINCE LAST MARCH. OTHER THEN SELLING IT AND TAKING A MAJOR LOSE WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE THIS BIKE FIT ME BETTER. I HAVE ALREADY PUT ON RISERS AND WAS THINKING ABOUT LOWERING THE BIKE BY 2INCHES. WHAT ELSE CAN I DO? THANKS JJB
Tommmy B -08 busa  October 27, 2009 06:53 AM
I love it when rider by a zx14 leave me no Challenge, I JUST SMILE
g8rboy -u like it u ride it  October 9, 2009 09:57 PM
avid busa fan'totaled 2, own 1 now ,love it power and speed. dude ur gonna need a jet sooner or later.
Danny -Mad Max gone ZX Indiana  October 8, 2009 06:56 PM
I've owned 4 VMaxes since i've been 19 after crappy transmissions,and
high speed wabble. I bought my first sport bike. A 09 ZX14 stretched
it 10 inches, lowered it, 60 shot nos, automatic air shifter, 300 rear
drag seat, steering damper and more. It will not stand up witch allows
me to give it all hell and rip it up. I dont have nothing against busas,
but I dare one to F with me!!! PS all the harley guys in town like it
also.

bestride -14r vs busa  October 4, 2009 05:50 PM
both are equally good bikes and everyone must agree though the y2k busa and the 12r were much better than both lol
Gugi47 -zx-14  October 1, 2009 07:50 PM
The-Big-Guy, you say you have ride a Ninja 1400? I can say you never have it. Becouse if you do, you will not say that the Busa its a better bike. Right now i have the 2009 one. No bike in the wold can take the 1400. Just in drime maybe.lol.
Bikeman -In the twisties  August 27, 2009 07:17 AM
OK, I just got back on sports bike this past year and went with an 09 ZX14 (my 6th bike over 20yrs) and loving it. I just rode my friends older Busa 2000 vintage. The big differance between the two I noticed other than the subtle ones was the ZX wants to stand back up in turns and the Busa wants to stay leaned over. Can somone commnent on this why and which is preferred. I found both worked but the Busa seemed to take the twisties a little smoother.
deva -the great  July 15, 2009 02:55 AM
iown both of them.so i like both
Carl -Bashed every busa to date !  July 10, 2009 08:53 AM
I have a 2007 ZX-14 with a TRE installed.. going to order powercomander 5 soon. All I have to say is weight is a big factor, I weight 140 lbs and every time I have came across a busa (New or old one) I have smoked it ! I just dusted a 2009 busa last week. Yes it depends on the riders abilities, weight is a big factor when riders are close in there abilities. Most of the riders I see on the busa's are fat..like 200 lbs or more. loose some weight you Busa riders and you might have a chance against me. Up Until then, I will just keep on bashing them ! Carl
busa boy -suziki rules da road  June 30, 2009 06:30 PM
i gotta a 08 busa and i smoked a zx-14 a blew past it in 4th
speedy- z -hard to hang on in 2nd especially  June 29, 2009 05:22 PM
put a 1534 stroker kit on my 08' 14, turned it into a beast, busa or no busa, she's a missle! aint scared but still respect my personal rocket
Cory lang -tyrone  June 22, 2009 07:32 PM
i love bikes
george hacbet -wanna race mee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  June 8, 2009 07:15 AM
ur bike aganist miii zx15 cant touch mine ill leave u in 2nd gear burning rubber and you'll be eating miii dust. rrrrrrrrrrrrrrm! screch hear mii tires burn wheelie:)
TIMOTHY GLADDENJR. -COOL BIKKE HOMI3  June 8, 2009 07:03 AM
DAT DAMN BIKKE IS SOOOOO DAMN HOTTTTT DUDE:)
busa-rules-all -ride what u got  June 1, 2009 08:14 PM
i own a busa and my lil bro owns a 14 and iv riden both,ill never give up the busa, the ride height of the 14 sucks and cant take corners like the busa, insurance girl-just like a women to pick a bike on looks, the busa has a better track record and was the first of its kind and will be the victorious one..ride what u got and be happy...Suzuki for life!!!
ResidentEvil -bikes  May 31, 2009 04:53 PM
You can tell by reading these post who has ridden a Busa or 14. Like they point out, both are good bikes, so It will depend on the rider.....It's the rider not the bike.
MetalDude -Don't be a hater...  May 19, 2009 08:13 AM
Just bought an 08 ZX-14 and I love it. This is my first sport bike and it's insane. Both bikes are very capable and have pros and cons for each. The ZX just looked better to me, was more comfortable, and all my buddies are Busa fans. Just ride one and love it.
Paul -FYI...  May 11, 2009 03:06 PM
How many years did it take the Ninja to catch the performance of the Hayabusa? Honestly, the 'Busa has been kickin ass for years and only recently the Ninja caught up. GL
Paul -Are most posters on here 12?  May 11, 2009 03:05 PM
TOo many funny posters about which bike is faster. Most have never ridden either, let alone both. Its funny how ignorance is fueled by stupidity Read the reviews and see what the pros say. Then go out and buy either bike. Im an experienced rider and know full well that the determining factor on either of these bikes is the rider.
kevin morris -hey  May 8, 2009 08:12 AM
i think the zx14 is faster because my friend travis one and he out ran a hyabusa with 3 shots of nos
TrickyRickey -ZX14 VS GSX-R1300  May 5, 2009 06:21 AM
The bikes are very very close and like someone said before, it all depends on the rider. I'm a very experienced drag racer and I ride a Y2K Kawasaki ZX12R. It's a stock motor with some mods to the bike like Muzzy exhaust, Dale Walker power shifter, extended swingarm, etc. and my best time thru the 1/4 mile on that bike has been 9.28 at 147mph. That's a stock motor. I know of some fellow racers who can also go that fast on the Busa's stock motor. When it comes to racing, it all depends on the rider, the reaction time at "the tree" getting a good 60ft time and getting thru the gears smoothly. All this stuff that happens out on the streets is not racing but rather a bunch of novice riders who really wouldn't have a clue if they got on a real drag strip. The ZX14 and the Busa are the top two bikes out there and only a better rider can put one ahead of the other.
pounder -lol  April 29, 2009 06:43 PM
its up to what a person wants to ride i have a busa not an 08 so im sure a 14 might beat me i am an experienced rider though, of course im running the old mill 1299cc i think its funny that kawi has to add cc's just to outrun the busa. as for an 08 mill to the kawi its still got more ccs than the busa but the busa is still faster.lololol
BigBoreBiker -Hayabusa vs ZX-14  April 29, 2009 04:45 PM
I own both bikes and it all comes down to the better rider. So forget all the brand bashing fanboys, buy what you want and learn how to unleash the power of the beast. Both are great bikes.
insaneninjakiller -i hate kaw  April 21, 2009 09:09 AM
dude you all need to buy suzuki its time to reresent the busa would destroy a ninja any day
dan -My opinion  March 27, 2009 07:05 PM
I like the ZX14 way better than the busa.Than again i don'tknow which is faster because i never ride either one before but i do owned a ZX600 and is pretty fast to me....
tony -believe it or not!  March 26, 2009 10:30 AM
my little brother is lucky enough to own them both,but im the most lucky of all because he thought enough of me to toss me the keys to the zx-14 for free.
Ruttbucker -ZX 14  March 20, 2009 12:12 PM
I have a 2008 ZX 14. I started riding bikes last summer. I've already smoked two busa's and they were experienced rider's. Yall busa riders can get on wit that bull. Kaw still is in da lead!
The-Big-Guy -crazy  March 7, 2009 12:45 AM
These are two amazing machines. I've ridden both and the suzuki is the faster of the two hands down. However it is easier for a novice to go fast on the zx14. It takes a experienced rider to tap the full potential but once your in that range the busa takes the cake.
Insurance Girl -Lovin' the Looks  March 6, 2009 06:29 AM
I love the looks of the ninja, very sleek, the Hyabusa reminds me of an ant and has extra bulk in the front. Not that we should purchase cycles because of the look, but the ZX14 is very pleasing to the eye.
Goat -re-tard  January 22, 2009 01:19 PM
that slow ass boossa anit got nothen on the zx14 ill smokem 6th gear whiELLE !!