The allure of big numbers is irresistible to a certain segment of sportbike enthusiasts, and there has never been a motorcycle more effective at producing outrageous performance figures than Suzuki's Hayabusa. Want a 600-plus-horsepower streetbike capable of a 7-second quarter-mile and a 260-mph top speed? Buy a 'Busa, dip into the incredible aftermarket that has sprouted to serve the alpha Suzuki and those figures are just the swipe of a credit card away.
Since the first unrestricted Hayabusa appeared in 1999 and registered legitimate top speeds around 194 mph, the bike's street cred has been secure. And although moto-journalists spoiled by the two-year sportbike development cycle whine that the 'Busa hasn't been updated this century, that longevity and platform stability have allowed the aftermarket to develop expansive product lines.
As a result, the Hayabusa has become a true performance icon, as synonymous with two-wheeled performance as the small-block Chevy V8 is to four. There's not another sportbike that's had an impact as broad, as deep and as potent. Not only does the 'Busa remain, eight years on, a showroom success and primary object of moto-lust, but it absolutely rules streetbike drag racing and land-speed racing, too, where essentially every two-wheeled record is held by a Hayabusa. Make no mistake, the 'Busa is the ultimate performance bike.
Velocity Racing's Barry Henson was one early adaptor who put the Hayabusa on the map in drag-racing circles, and cemented its reputation as the straight-nastiest streetbike in the land. Identifying the stout and efficient big-cube engine as the perfect platform for turbocharging, Henson has since developed a reliable 500-bhp turbo package (pushed as far as 700 bhp with race tuning) capable of quarter-mile passes in the 7.2-second neighborhood at 200-plus mph. That combination has won a stunning nine national championships in the past five years, including the premier AMA/Prostar Prostreet title three years in a row. You can buy the same Stage 3 turbo kit from Velocity Racing for $8995.
The ultra-aerodynamic Hayabusa is dominant on longer courses as well. The East Coast Timing Association organizes top-speed trials on an abandoned airstrip in Maxton, North Carolina, which have become almost the exclusive domain of 'Busa jockeys. The ultimate top-speed record-an amazing 260 mph-is held by-what else?-a stock-wheelbase, street-legal, Mr. Turbo-motivated Hayabusa, owned by Rich Yancy and ridden by Lee Shierts. That jaw-dropping speed was achieved, by the way, in the standing-start mile. On a longer track such as the 11-mile "long" course at the Bonneville Salt Flats, the Ack Attack streamliner, powered by a pair of Hayabusa engines, held until very recently the ultimate motorcycle land speed record of 342 mph.
With numbers like these, the popularity of the Hayabusa in performance circles shows no sign of slowing down. Even with a new model on the horizon, it's not unreasonable to expect the first-generation 'Busa will mark the beginning of a multi-decade legacy not unlike a small-block Camaro. And to think that low 7-second quarter-miles and 342-mph top speeds might be just the beginning...