2007 And 2008 Suzuki GSX 1300R Hayabusa - New Busa vs. Old - Big Bird Smackdown

Has Suzuki built a better 'Busa? We ride the first- and second-generation GSX1300RS head to head to find out

By Aaron P. Frank, Photography by Kevin Wing, Rich Chenet, Brian J. Nelson

The old bike, all blobby and amorphous with soft edges and shapeless transitions, looks obsolete parked next to the new one. The new shape is distinctly muscular. The lower fairing vents are now larger and separated by a bulging vane that floats over a contrasting bottom panel. A more severe, delta-shaped headlight replaces the old jellybean, accentuated by a pointier front fender. Integrated turn signals are housed in stylized, elongated pods, and the tailsection--a simple structure that looks especially dated on the first-gen bike--is now pinched, stretched and shaped into a gorgeous form, set off with strong swage lines that initiate on the tank and continue over the tail. The new 'Busa is aggressive and visually striking in a way the original--which was mostly just strange--never was.

The Hayabusa is Suzuki's flagship sportbike, so designers sought to imbue the revised version with a luxurious, top-end feel. A new saddle is thicker, softer and more supportive, and a taller (by .6 inch) windscreen creates a calmer cockpit. Complete instrumentation (including analog tach and speedo, plus digital trip computer) is housed in an elegant series of interlocking circles that shame the cheesy, fake-carbon-fiber-clad dials on the old bike. Control action is velvet, especially the hydraulic clutch with revised piston ratios this year to reduce lever effort, and a reworked transmission with improved oiling to reduce mechanical friction and noise. The '08 'Busa slots into gear like the slide of a well-oiled Glock G37.

The sensation of riding the new Hayabusa is one of absolute composure, like driving a Mercedes S-Class sedan. At normal road speeds the new 'Busa disappears beneath you, smooth, silent and utterly understressed. The only distraction (shared with the old bike) is a band of high-frequency vibration through the pegs at 4500 rpm, and another through the bars and tank near 6500. But with such a broad spread of power, it's easy to avoid these trouble spots with a quick shift up or down the gearbox.

That power spread is where the differences between the first- and second-generation 'Busas emerge. Suzuki completely redesigned the GSX1300R powerplant, bumping displacement from 1299cc to 1340cc and taking extreme measures to reduce reciprocating mass and internal friction losses wherever possible (see tech sidebar on page 69). Producing 172.2 horsepower at the rear wheel, the '08 Hayabusa is among the most powerful production motorcycles ever built--on par with Kawasaki's ZX-14 and more than 16 bhp ahead of the old, 155.9-bhp '07 'Busa.

By Aaron P. Frank
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