Grudge Match! ZX-12R vs. Hayabusa

Take one of the country's hottest drag racers. Mix with the two hairiest road rockets of all time. What do you get? A day of wheel-spinning, trash-talking, record-shattering insanity

THIS FIGHT'S BEEN A LONG time coming, and it has already been rehearsed on countless Internet forums, in hundreds of barrooms and on dozens of very secret streets, often late at night. In the grassroots dragracing community, spread all over this great country of ours, two mega-motor streetbikes reign supreme: Kawasaki's ZX-12R and Suzuki's GSX1300R Hayabusa.

These bikes were never intended to be drag racers; they were designed to beat each other's brains out, fighting for the title of World's Fastest Motorcycle, as in 190-mph fast. But that little detail hasn't worried the country's quarter-mile racers, owners and tuners one bit. Take your pick, Brand K or Brand S. Either way, you've got somewhere around 160 rear-wheel horsepower, pushing a little over 520 pounds of highly aerodynamic plastic, aluminum, steel and rubber. Do the math and you wind up with the fastest-accelerating street-legal machines ever sold to the public, no matter who makes 'em, how much you spend, or how many wheels touch the ground.

But which is the quickest? The hottest? The all-out, put-yer-money-where-yer-mouth-is king of the strip?

Being curious, and having access to the bikes, the people and the brainpower to make it all happen, we figured we'd find out.

So we rented an NHRA dragstrip. Then we gathered the bikes. Finally, we hired none other than Keith Dennis, world champion dragracer and, maybe most importantly, a guy without a whole lot of allegience to one factory or another. We ran the bikes in three guises: Stock ride-height, lowered front and rear, and re-geared. Otherwise, they were bone-stock, right out of the crate.

How close were they? Which bike won? Well, you'll have to wait until the August 2003 issue of Motorcyclist -- on sale at newsstands everywhere beginning in late June -- to find out.

The wait will be worth it.

Bets, anyone?

ON SALE: July 1, 2003