For My Money Picks Ken Hutchison
MCUSA Editorial Director
Although it came up short in our regular voting, the Kawasaki gained more For My Money selections, with our testers valuing comfort over handling if it was their dollars on the line.
For My Money I pick the Hayabusa. When we finished this same test two years ago the Kawasaki was clearly the better bike but not by much, so I had a feeling the Suzuki was going to give it a run for its money this time around. Things were not so cut and dry this time because while the ZX-14 is still a great bike the Hayabusa has a new attitude and flat our brought the heat to the big bore battle. It has the stronger motor and there is just something about the way it looks now that I dig.
MCUSA Managing Editor
It's amazing how close these bikes are. I could have voted a draw on just about every category. That said, I'd pick the Kawasaki ZX-14 with my FMM pick. Although the Hayabusa is a better handler in the turns, I value the Ninja's lighter feel and more upright stance. I also preferred the Kawi's transmission and clutch. As far as engine goes, to be honest, the difference between 167 and 162 rear-wheel horsepower on regular roads is lost on a mere mortal such as myself. In acceleration and throttle response, they were so close, maybe the Busa, but by the slimmest of margins. Stylewise, I prefers the curved, bug-eyed front end of the Kawi, although the Suzuki's rear, with distinctive hump, is preferable out back. The Kawasabusa 14 has a nice ring to it.
MCUSA Associate Editor
With both of these big-bore heavyweight sportbikes boasting engine sizes larger than many of the world's cars, there's no question that the current crop are fast-really fast. But each machine is focused a bit differently, making the selection process not as easy as just looking at the numbers. With the roomy cockpit, widely adjustable clutch and brake levers, the Suzuki feels like it was designed for larger, more experience riders. On paper and in the saddle, the Suzuki is faster. But it has a very aggressive bottom and mid-range power delivery making it more difficult to control than the Kawasaki. The Busa's chassis and brakes feel sharper and more precise than the ZX's and the Suzuki handles very similarly to that of the current generation GSX-R line. The ZX on the other hand seems to have been designed for riders of all skill levels. It's easier to ride and it isn't as razor edge as the Suzuki.
Which bike is best for you? Robin (left) preferred the Busa while Adam (right) thought Kawasaki was best.
The ZX is a good compromise between the needs of the sportbike purist and more upright-oriented touring rider. Aesthetics of the ZX are also much more appealing to me than the Hayabusa's. The 14's lines are sharp, clean and flow well. For my cash, I would go with the Kawasaki.
MCUSA Graphic Designer
While I am usually not a big Suzuki fan, in the last few years it seems that they have stepped up their game, the new Hayabusa not only handles great but the motor is smooth and very usable. The ergos are comfortable and confident when sport riding. While the ZX-14 is a valiant effort it doesn't quite reach the level of the Hayabusa in my mind.
MCUSA Photog and Best Buddy
If these two manufacturers wanted to put a grin on my face and offer either one for free - I'd take the ZX, it simply could offer me comfort, performance and lots of scoot! I like the appearance of the Busa better but I doubt I could ride the touring miles I'm accustomed to doing in a day on the Busa.