Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa - $9000 Streetbike Surgery

Building A Better 'Busa

By Don Smith, Photography by Darryl Cannon/Killboy, Don Smith

Suzuki coined the term "hypersport" to describe the first Hayabusa in 1999, and the big, bad roadburner has defined the unlimited sportbike category ever since. In the intervening decade, a lively aftermarket has emerged to support the GSX1300R and help enthusiasts build whatever sort of bike they desire--from a gentlemanly sport-tourer to a 7-second drag racer. Last year brought the release of the second-generation model with more power, stronger brakes and improved handling. It's a better 'Busa in every way, but there's still room for improvement--making it a perfect candidate for a Streetbike Surgery.

Our plan was to improve the already excellent base package with some simple and subtle--but still very effective--modifications that would enhance the bike's best qualities. We wanted to take a different path than most 'Busa tuners: no nitrous, turbo, fat rear tire nor garish paint. We'd reduce weight, improve handling and braking, and pick up a few ponies without lifting the valve cover. It would be a classic Gentleman's Express.

For all its improvements, the Gen-II 'Busa is a porker--29 pounds heavier than the old bike, mostly due to a new, Euro 3-compliant exhaust. Off went the stock exhaust then--all 48 lbs. worth--replaced with a Brock's Performance Street Megaphone ($1315) that netted a 35-lb. weight savings. The Pro Stock-style pipe looks badass in ceramic black and sounds great, too, provided you have the billet-aluminum baffle installed; it'll rattle your eyeballs uncorked. To tune the fuel curve to suit, we slid in a Dynojet Power Commander III USB ($349.95) uploaded with Brock's own custom map.

Like many other modern big-bore sportbikes, the Hayabusa comes from the factory with an electronic governor that limits top speed to 300 kph (186 mph) in top gear. What self-respecting gentleman wants to be limited by The Man? Schnitz Racing set us up with a specially modified gear-position sensor ($109.95) that disables the speed limiter by fooling the ECU into thinking the bike is in fifth gear when it's actually in sixth. The best part about the Schnitz unit is the bike's digital gear indicator still works normally in first through fifth, and only continues to display "5" in sixth. Other similar products make the gear display read "6" in every gear. Installing the unit requires removal of the clutch basket, however, so it's more than a one-beer job.

The next item on the weight-loss action plan was to replace the factory wheels with Dymag seven-spoke forged-magnesium hoops ($3011). This saved an additional 12 lbs. of unsprung weight, which the rider really feels. Before installing the Dymags we fitted them with trick ceramic wheel bearings from Worldwide Bearings ($395). These are the same bearings that Larry McBride uses on his 248-mph Top Fuel drag bike, and they dramatically decrease rolling resistance.

Before we bolted on the Dymags, we turned our attention to the brakes. The four-piston, radial-mount calipers on the '08 'Busa are a huge improvement over the six-piston calipers of yore, but we boosted the stopping power further with Galfer wave rotors ($588), HH pads ($106.89) and braided-steel brake lines ($169.95). At nearly 600 lbs. full of gas, the Hayabusa is a heavy motorcycle, and even after our weight-loss program slowing it down from speed would generate enough thermal energy to rapidly overheat the stock binders. Galfer's wave rotors shed heat better than stock, the HH pads are less likely to fade as temperatures rise and the more-rigid brake lines will hold their shape even as the fluid nears the boiling point. To complete the rolling stock, we spooned on a fresh set of Michelin Pilot Power radials ($300) in the stock sizes.

In addition to exhaust systems and engine performance products, Brock's is an official Ohlins dealer, so we turned to owner Brock Davidson for some assistance in optimizing our 'Busa's suspension. He set us up with a fully adjustable S46-C1 Road & Track shock ($1206.25), complete with remote spring-preload adjuster for quick, tool-free tuning. Up front, the OE fork was gutted and sent off to have Ohlins install its own Supersport fork internals ($730.25), custom-calibrated for this application based on information collected by Davidson detailing my weight and riding style.

The last item on our Streetbike Surgery docket was tightening up the look of the bike. The Pazzo levers ($199.99) and Vortex rearsets ($407.95) we installed look trick and are fully adjustable, plus the rearsets increase cornering clearance. A taller Hotbodies Racing GP Dual-Radius windscreen ($69.95) looks racy while doing a better job of deflecting windblast at triple-digit speeds. A Tiger Racing replacement metal chain guard ($69.95) made the bike legal for land-speed racing, and a fender plate ($29.95) relocated the license plate to clean up the 'Busa's big, ol' butt.

The end result is a Hayabusa that's better in every way. You can feel the dramatic weight loss the instant you tip the bike off the side-stand, and the rolling resistance is nil. You especially notice the lack of unsprung weight in the corners; our hopped-up Hayabusa has no trouble keeping up with GSX-Rs when the going gets twisty. All the chassis pitch that plagued the squishy stock bike is gone; the firmed-up Ohlins suspension holds its composure much better against the significant acceleration and braking forces our upgraded bike produces. Speaking of which, our heavy-hitting Hayabusa now produces an honest 181 horsepower at the rear wheel, up from 170 stock. Even better, it runs on pump gas, and will likely last forever in this mild state of tune. It's a machine fit for the most discriminating gentleman, and a much better all-around ride than if we had dropped the same $9060 on candy paint, nitrous and bolt-on bling.

By Don Smith
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