1st Generation Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R - First impressions

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Original Posting: August 1999 - August 2000 - 9 August 2006
Last Updated : 02 July 2012

This article refers to the 1st generation 1999-2007 Hayabusa! - for the 2nd Generation Hayabusa see the new page : 2nd Generation Suzuki Hayabusa Review

It seems so long ago that I lusted after the Hayabusa. Back in late 1998 when the first pictures where released I wanted one from the very start. It was in a tatted mag that a mate had given me whilst leaving Darwin. The pictures convinced me that this was the bike for me. I didn't know what the specifications where and didn't really care, all I wanted to know was when it was going to be released in Australia. No the Internet did not have anything on the Hayabusa hence the birth of this site!

The GSX-R was going to break by suffering back, wrists and internals if I didn't do something about it. Great, fun and exciting bike but was very uncomfortable for me. It seems to fit some and torture others. Perfect for 10 minutes and a real pain after 11. I wanted comfort so I could enjoy riding the great distances in the NT. The bike I wanted also had to be great to ride but not too rev hungry.

Choices at the time included the GSX750F, the Bandit 1200, ZZR1100, BMW K1200, BMW1100RT, VFR400, VFR800, CBR1000F. Anyway all was forgotten once I saw the Hayabusa. The first live Busa I saw was in England in early 1999. A Red and Black one filtering through traffic.

Suzuki Hayabusa GSX-1300R - 3 year old review

I thought I'd better add in how I came about buying the Hayabusa and motorcycles in general. You see it all started with the Japanese cartoons when I watched as a kid. I remember a Manga cartoon called 'Battle of the Planets' in Australia. Although not seen very often in the show it was the bike (The Galacticycle) that was all too cool for a kid in the 80's anyhow and sort of looked like the Hayabusa in hindsight apart from the rocket launchers !! (In hindsight too it is not unusual for the female protagonist to be riding the hottest motorcycle available.)

Anyway, it was years later, I think it was in the early 90's after watching another Japanese movie, this time an Adult manga called Akira, that got me in motorcycles. The hero (Kenada) had another cool sort of bike, and after that movie I went out and got may motorcycle license ! If you have no idea what Japanese Manga or Anime is just do a search on it, after reading what I have to say first of course ! (While you're there check out the movie Akira, you'll understand how an impressionable teenage at the time could be influenced)

I digress, the day I saw the Hayabusa in a bike magazine a couple of years ago, I knew I had to have one. Last year there were finally some details as to when the Hayabusa was to be released in Australia. I don't like getting the latest models as they tend to be the ones with most problems ! Regardless it wasn't until I was holidaying in the UK in April 1999 that I saw the Hayabusa in the flesh. It was in York a tourist town north of London. As I was walking to the B&B near the town castle gates I saw it. It was drizzling and carrying a hefty backpack I was in no mood to care about anything else but getting dry.

The rider was cruising through traffic. My first thought was I was going to get one when I get back. Mind you I had to sell the car and the GSX-R which I had just bought a Yoshi pipe for in Melbourne Australia just 3 months ago, which I hadn't even fitted yet ! Yes I live in Darwin 4000km from Melbourne, go figure !

Anyway, several weeks later when I arrived home I saw it. The first and only Hayabusa in the Northern Territory of Australia for the next 2 months. It was a Gold/bronze one, I saw it, I loved it and I bought it.

Since owning the Hayabusa I have found many things to like about it but some which I don't particularly like, mainly to do with other aspects of ownership as opposed to the bike its self. I previously rode a GSXR-600 which will give you some indication of the type of riding I enjoy most.

Endearing attributes :
Love the Manga style looks. (Japanese cartoon)
Love the spinning dials and other instruments.
Quality of the bike is the best I've seen. Its nice to check out a bike with quality fit and finish.
And of course the power.

Dislikes :
It is impossible to make a subtle arrival. I was cruising in peak hour traffic when I swear that a car driver was checking the bike out rather than look where he was going and consequently ran into the car in front of him. Speed was a mere 20km.
It is TOO easy to speed.
The finish on the exhausts should be in polished or chrome.
I don't think the weight is a problem.

How to ride the damn thing :

Tyres : All the press reports indicate that the rear tyre will last about 3000km. This is not true. Under normal use the rear tyres last very well all things considered. Although I've had to replace my rear tyre at 2000km it wasn't because I ran out of thread but because I got a stupid bolt (1 cm in width and 3 cm in length) that punctured through it whilst riding in town. I estimate that if I didn't get the bolt it would have last at least 5000km.
A tank lasts about 270km before the reserve light comes on in normal city riding and about the same in the country if kept at sane speeds. Riding hard will see this figure rise dramatically. Fuel consumption is usually 5.6lt per 100kms although I have had 7.2 litres per 100km at one stage. It seems to be more economical when using Premium unleaded. Yes, the bike has a fuel computer readout.

Riding in town is fine. The Hayabusa's power characteristics are not dangerous or unpredictable in any way. The power is smooth and very progressive. I'm sure you are familiar with the jerkiness, chain lash etc etc associated with travelling in slow traffic at constant throttle, well the Hayabusa doesn't exhibit any of those problems, apart from when you're too liberal with the throttle when taking off. However it is a big bike and squeezing in traffic is whether you consider the cost of mirrors negligible.

The 6th gear was difficult to find for the first 2000 kms however it has loosened up and now works fine although not perfect. Higher the revs say 3000rpm - 4000 rpm the changes are very smooth. I have not had the chance to go over 6500 ish rpm in any gear as I've just run it in and haven't had the chance to take it out of town.

On the straight it is VERY 'planted', feels like its leaving rubber on the road when accelerating. The Hayabusa is very stable.  The Hayabusa does not feel as 'planted' as say the GSX-R600 when cornering. It has slightly cornering less feel than a standard '99 Honda CBR600. Although it is very stable (using original Radial J spec tyres) it is very easy to steer. It doesn't require conscious pushing to get it to lean. Initially it felt it required effort, but I soon realised I had tensed up before the corner. Why ? partly because I had just spent alot of money and I didn't want to destroy it and myself so soon but I also knew that if I power on too early it'll snap (fear ? or just the wrong gear ?). Note : I have spun the rear wheel whilst overtaking at 80k's in 5th gear, too much throttle I think. I also think I'm still a little protective hence too cautious when cornering.

This is a very powerful bike. Cornering must be taken cautiously. The back loses traction easily. Be extra cautious if you're unfamiliar with the condition of the road ahead. Oil slicks on the road are more deadly than usual. Although the Hayabusa is my only form of transport I would be reluctant to take it out in the rain. Especially if you've seen the type of monsoonal downpours we get in Darwin you'll know what I mean. Considering the place gets small rivers crossing the road even in town I think a trail type bike would be more appropriate and less costly to fix.

This is a very powerful bike (really its true !) and it will not corner like a sports bike eg GSX-Rs. It will do it at the risk of grounding the pegs, four favourite riding outfit or fairing. Note : The speed you'd be going is just as fast as a regular sports bike. It's too risky on public roads unless you consider $18,000AUS as petty cash.

I find that you can steer predictable and under power by letting the back wheel slide. It feels very scary at first but you get used to it. The other method is to lean the bike over near the apex of the corner so the corner becomes a right angle. Feels great and scares the poo-poo out of car drivers. Again too hard a lean WILL ground the pegs. Shifting weight to the bars don't seem to have much impact. (caused by the steering damper ?)
I also find going with flow or riding smoothly is the best thing to do on the Hayabusa. Rewards are better. Find out more as I publish updates on what's it like to own a Hayabusa.

The end : It seems so long ago since my last ride on the 1st Generation Hayabusa but alas it was only less than 12 months. I don't know where it is now or who the new owner is. The last time I saw it, it was parked in an underground car park, it back towards me waiting for the bike yard guys to pick it up whilst they delivered my new car. I didn't look back either as I walked into the sunlight.

The decision was easy to make really. I was on the move again and this time I couldn't afford to have it laid up for 3-6 months. Australian insurance is very expensive. It cost me $1 per cc. plus approx $300 for 3rd party. Maintenance is expensive and with my future uncertain it was the best thing to do.

A new beginning : Yes it wasn't long before I had the need for the new Hayabusa! You see in 2006 Kawasaki released the updated ZX-14 a motorcycle which I found much better than the ZX-12R but knowing the a 2nd generation Hayabusa was going to be made I held back - I would have got the ZX (this is a good bike) if Suzuki had waited any longer. It wasn't out of brand or model loyalty but a combination of factors. So I ended up with the 2nd generation (2008) Hayabusa and its still with me today!

Follow my new and previous adventures with the Hayabusa by following these links :

2nd Generation Suzuki Hayabusa Review
Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R - 1st Generation Story



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