After two glorious decades of being one of the world’s most recognisable superbikes, the Suzuki Hayabusa is signing off in December 2018. We Take a look at its journey from concept to production to global dominance in the superbike scene.
The Hayabusa name needs no introduction. Christened after the fastest bird in the word- the Peregrine Falcon- the Suzuki Hayabusa is capable of almost as much speed as its namesake. In fact, it was this 1,299cc two-wheeled missile that triggered the Gentlemens’ Agreement. European and Japanese motorcycle manufacturers came together and agreed to limit their performance motorcycles’ top speeds at 299kph.
Upon its launch, the 1999 Suzuki Hayabusa GSX-1300R-X immediately replaced the Honda CB1100XX Super Blackbird as the fastest production motorcycle on earth. First-generation unrestricted Hayabusas were capable of clocking 312kph before the agreement kicked in.
Despite its ferocious turn of speed, the Hayabusa is one of the most user-friendly motorcycles in the world. Reviewers all over the world have lauded the bike’s all-round performance. Two decades ago, there was such a bike that could ride as fast as a bullet train, yet you could take it out for everyday chores.
Suzuki did not skimp on blessing the ‘Busa with a checklist of highlights either. Handling, comfort, reliability, fuel economy, noise, vibration and harshness levels- you name a department and the bike has got it covered. All in a stupidly reasonable price. I mean it is priced ridiculously low for all it offers.
Kawasaki tried to take a dig at Suzuki by trying to beat the Hayabusa with its much-awaited ZX-12R. The bike fell short of the Hayabusa’s top speed by 6kph. Until today no motorcycle has been able to take the falcon’s top-speed crown, at least technically.
Jay Koblenz of Motorcycle Consumer News commented, “If you think the ability of a motorcycle to approach 190 mph or reach the quarter-mile in under 10 seconds is at best frivolous and at worst offensive, this still remains a motorcycle worthy of just consideration. The Hayabusa is Speed in all its glory. But Speed is not all the Hayabusa is.”
The 173hp motorcycle achieves its incredible top speed aided by its aerodynamics. The aero advantages are the reason why the Hayabusa looks like a chubby teddy bear. The creator of the Hayabusa’s look, Suzuki’s Koji Yoshirua, said that the intent in 1999 was, “to create a somewhat grotesque design and create a strong initial impact. The mission was to create a total new styling that will not be out of date within few years, and a styling that will be the ‘Face’ of Suzuki.”
Suzuki updated the GSX-1300R in 2009 when it started sporting a displacement of 1,340cc. No other motorcycle in its can quite lay claim to being such a famous name in motorcycling. However, good times are about to end. Suzuki put to bed the rumours of the Hayabusa walking off into the sunset by confirming them. The company has stopped producing the legendary bike and has given its dealers a grace period extending until 31 December, 2018.
However, its not at all a bad end for the Hayabusa which lasted until 20 years in production. Suzuki is said to be working on its replacement, but hasn’t confirmed the news yet. Will we see a new, faster Hayabusa? Only time will tell.