In 1999, Suzuki gave horsepower-hungry motorcyclists around the world a lesson in Japanese ornithology. The original GSX1300R Hayabusa was capable of an honest 190 mph. Or, roughly the dive speed of its Peregrine Falcon namesake. It was the fastest bike in the land.
The original Hayabusa’s 1299cc inline-four made 158 horsepower and a real-world-friendly 96 lb.-ft. of torque. In 2008 bore grew to 85mm, bringing the engine to 1340cc. With that change came more power: Right around 170 bhp and 104 lb.-ft. of torque. Sure, at 550 pounds wet, the ‘Busa is no lightweight sparrow, but sportbike-like steering geometry (24 degrees of rake, 3.8 in. of trail) help keep the GSX feeling lighter than it is.
Brock Davidson has helped develop many Hayabusas. These include a 550-bhp Pro Street drag racer, another that’s done 6.90 seconds in the quarter mile and a highly modified Hayabusa that, in July 2012, ran to 311 mph from a standing start in just one mile. Brock advises that first-generation ‘Busas have some issues to watch for. Rounded second gear dogs can cause shifting problems. Weak stock sprocket covers can crack when using heavier clutch springs. The right handlebar’s throttle pin can break, and voltage regulators occasionally fail. Despite these niggles, Brock’s seen examples that have done 100k miles; he describes stock ‘Busas as “brutally reliable.”
If a stocker won’t sufficiently straighten your arms, Brock’s Performance or other aftermarket suppliers can sell you pistons, turbochargers, nitrous kits and other speed junkie paraphernalia that will. Thousand-horsepower Hayabusas exist, but these are used solely to compete in dyno shootouts. Brian Warner of aftermarket supplier JE Pistons also advises that properly tuning air/fuel ratio and ignition timing is critical for Hayabusa horsepower chasers. Otherwise, your engine’s life span may be measured in minutes.
Second-generation bikes addressed some earlier mechanical issues, so we’d recommend a 2008 or later ‘Busa. Avoid one that has been obviously abused and be aware that an overzealous owner is sometimes the most dangerous part on a Hayabusa.
|Furiously fast fun.
|2007 | GSX1300R $8,100
|2011 | GSX1300R $10,800
2003 | $5000
The bike that began the top-speed arms race. Honda’s Blackbird hasn’t been imported since 2003, but for the price of a used Jetta, you can go 170 mph right off of Craigslist.
2008 | $7800
Team Green’s latest entry into the horsepower wars is electronically limited to “only” 186 mph—as is the current 'Busa. It’s still the Incredible Hulk of Sportbikes, and a capable competitor of the Hayabusa.
2009 | $11,800.
Like a fine Chianti Classico Reserva: It’s big, red, Italian…and intoxicating. Not as brutally fast as the 'Busa and more expensive, but you knew Sophia Loren would never be cheap to keep.