Bigger and Better
After nine years in production, the original Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa engine has become legendary among performance junkies for both its durability and its outright performance potential. The announcement of a new engine for '08 created a lot of anticipation in those circles, and some anxiety as well--would the new powerplant offer the same tuning potential as the old one? After inspecting a disassembled '08 engine piece by piece at Barry Henson's Velocity Racing shop, let us assure you that every change made by Suzuki looks to be an improvement.
The most obvious change is the bump in displacement from 1299cc to 1340cc. The cylinder bore remains 81mm, while the stroke is increased 2mm to 65mm. Suzuki kept the cylinder height the same by downsizing the wrist pin and relocating it 1mm closer to the piston dome, which allows the piston to sit lower in the engine.
New pistons boost compression from 11.0:1 to 12.5:1, and are fitted with new rings that are chrome nitride-plated using Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) to reduce friction and improve ring seal. The new shot-peened rods, forged-alloy pistons and smaller-diameter wrist pins combine to save 20 grams, according to our scales.
Lightweight titanium valves replace the old steel pieces, saving 14.1 grams per intake valve and 11.7 grams per exhaust valve and allowing the use of lighter valve springs to further reduce reciprocating mass. The new engine also utilizes different cams with an additional .04 inch of exhaust lift and .01 inch of intake lift to better service a new higher-flow head similar in design to that of the GSX-R1000. Finally, the cylinder bores are plated with Suzuki's Composite Electrochemical Material (SCEM) for improved heat transfer, and massive ventilation holes in the crankcase reduce air pressure under the descending pistons to let the engine rev more freely.
The intake system has been upgraded with Suzuki's Dual Throttle Valve (SDTV) digital fuel-injection system, featuring dual injectors and dual throttle valves (the primary is controlled by the rider and the secondary by computer, just like the GSX-R1000), and a new engine-management system controlled by a 32-bit, 1024KB ROM microprocessor. Spacing of the throttle bodies is also revised for '08, so don't get any ideas about bolting a set onto your first-generation 'Busa. Also like the big Gixxer, the '08 'Busa features Suzuki's Drive Mode Selector (SDMS) that allows the rider to toggle among three preset engine control maps to alter power characteristics on the fly. A mode allows access to full power at all times; B mode softens delivery slightly at anything short of wide-open throttle; and C mode restricts power delivery dramatically across the rev range, limiting peak power to 118.08 bhp and peak torque to 66.65 lb.-ft. (an across-the-map decrease of roughly 30 percent), should you find yourself wanting a kinder, gentler Hayabusa. Yeah, right!
I liked the Kawasaki ZX-14 so much that I eventually bought one. I planned to keep it mostly stock, just adding hard luggage to build the ultimate hypersport-tourer--smooth, silent and atomic-fast. Somewhere along the way I was distracted by the Muzzys catalog, though, and my bike morphed into a 215-horse, 202-mph animal that's virtually unrideable on the street. Riding this new Hayabusa has me dreaming of a hypersport-tourer again, and thinking it's better that I waited. The new 'Busa feels stronger than a stock 14 (especially in the lower gears, where the Ninja is severely neutered) and it turns better too, even if it gives up a little in outright comfort compared to the less-cramped Kawi. Suzuki might not get this testbike back.
If you're sick of hearing about how damn fast the new Hayabusa is, stop reading now. "Shot from a cannon; accelerates like a rocket-powered grenade; bat outta hell"--you've heard all the clichs, and every last one of them applies. For anyone worried that Suzuki would lose the plot with this redesign, fear not. The Hayabusa is still the fastest thing out there, especially compared to the old bike. What's more incredible, though, is how gentle this giant is when you're not caning it. You could ride it over a church altar and not offend anyone, it's so calm, quiet and composed. I'd consider owning one if I didn't value my driver's license.
Forget the pressure of drag-strip testing for one of the world's largest motorcycle magazines...that's nothing compared to performing for the crowd that gathered at Great Lakes Dragaway as I staged the first new 'Busa in the Midwest! The drag-racing crowd is definitely excited about this bike. Even with a tire that was practically corded after a burnout-heavy photo shoot, traction was not a problem--the new 'Zook knew only one direction, and that was straight up! I did at least three wheelies that first run, just in first gear! By the end of the night I was launching with my helmet over the headlight and I still couldn't pin the throttle in first or second. We're gonna have to lower this baby to see how fast she really goes...