European motorcycle tour on a Hayabusa

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First published: 20 September 2010
Last Updated : 02 July 2012
Article by Joe MacFarland

The following is an email I received from Joe MacFarland from Europe detailing his touring experience with the Hayabusa. It's a good read and he was happy for me to post his experiences to the site and so here it is - enjoy!

Hi Peter, Hopefully this information may be of interest and possibly some help to anyone whom may be considering purchasing the new Hayabusa, as your articles have been to me prior to purchasing. I am a retired Engineer and live in Spain where I have been riding a Suzuki GSXR600 for the past three years and was looking for something more suited to touring but also with a performance potential and the ability to eat up the miles with a relative degree of comfort. Perhaps the Hayabusa is not the ideal choice for everybody with these requirements but the Pan Europeans, Goldwings etc do not really appeal to me at all, albeit that they are indeed excellent and well proven touring machines. As I was going back to Northern Ireland for the Northwest 200 in May I decided to have a look at both the Hayabusa and other similar options that were available.

I took delivery of my new K 8 in June this year the bike had zero mileage and was fitted with two Yoshimura exhausts which look much better than the standard issue, which in my opinion, seem somewhat vulgar and detract from the general lines of the machine. Within the first week I had completed a little over the required mileage, 820 actually, to have the bike receive it's first service. During this short period I was very impressed with the overall handling and general performance of the bike and also the degree of comfort when compared with my GSXR 600. During this run-in period I seldom exceeded more than 120 mls on a day's outing but felt confident that extended mileage would not be a problem, especially as I was intending riding the bike home to Spain the following week. On 15th June I completed the 245ml journey from our house in Northern Ireland to the ferry port of Roslare, the journey took about 4 hrs with one fuel stop en route. No problems whatsoever, even the weather was ideal. You had mentioned a noticeable vibration in one of your reports but so far I was not aware of any degree of vibration that would cause concern, although the bike had noticeably loosened up a bit having now completed just over 1000mls.

The next leg of the journey was from Cherbourg to Bordeaux 432mls but I ended up logging 461 mls due to a few mishaps with directions. Initially the weather was windy but dry and sunny and for approximately the first 220mls I was mostly pushing into strong headwinds and averaging around 110mph. The bike proved to be very stable in general even when caught in gusty cross winds and also offered a surprising degree of protection from the wind. I seldom exceeded 150mph during this stage. Just south of Nantes the rain started, at first light and intermittent, but gradually developing into a steady and continuous downpour which lasted for the remainder of the journey to Bordeaux. This is where I felt that the power selection was of positive benefit as I used the "B" mode for most of the latter part of the journey, only engaging the "C" mode during the more heavy downpours. There is of course a noticeable difference between the B & C modes, but I personally didn't find any extra benefit when using the "C" mode whereas the beneficial difference between the "A" and "B" modes were obvious. Perhaps the "C"mode would prove to be more suitable in UK wintry conditions like sleet and snow etc? It's never pleasant riding in continuous rain but I was surprised at the ease of handling and degree of protection from the elements. Again, the overall performance of the bike was impressive and inspired confidence. I arrived at my designated Formula 1 hotel somewhat tired, but not uncomfortable, but certainly felt that was enough for one day. I think I was actually more pissed off with the weather than physically tired. The overall time for the journey was just over 8.5 hrs with three fuel stops.

The following morning started off grey, overcast and damp but at least the rain had stopped. With 590mls left to go, Bordeaux -Javea I wasn't sure if I would make one or two overnight stops en route and decided just to get on with it and see what the weather had in store as the forecasts were not favourable. All was fine for the first 80mls until nearing Bayonne when the rain again started and didn't clear until I was just the other side of Pamplona having covered about 200mls. This was most unfortunate as the route up through the foothills of the Pyrenees is very picturesque but due to the mist and continuous rain I saw nothing of the scenery. At last the skies cleared and I decided to make the most of the sunshine and just go for the remaining 390mls. This is where the Hayabusa truly came into it's own and I seldom dropped below 130mph at times hitting 170mph on the long clear empty roads. The miles just flashed passed with effortless ease and surprising comfort. I arrived home feeling comfortable and obviously a little tired but nothing like the previous evening. After a hot bath and shower and a cool beer I was feeling great but very much aware enough was enough for one day. The overall journey took almost 12hrs with 6 fuel stops.

As previously mentioned I was not aware of any undue vibration during any part of the overall trip but I did suffer a noted weakness in the fingers of my left hand which lasted for about four days before it eventually cleared. This had never happened before and was only apparent after completing the Bordeaux-Javea sector of the journey. Perhaps just that little bit too much mileage in one stage?? To date the bike has covered 4600mls and already had it's second service. The bike is now well run in and noticeably much freer as well as a noticeable improvement in fuel consumption. also the vibration has indeed on occasions become more noticeable, or perhaps I'm now just more sensitive to it's characteristics. On a number of occasions when suitable I have had the bike at full throttle and the Speedo off the clock but normally we don't exceed 150mph and generally tour around at about 85-90mph.

Although I am well pleased with the bike in general and certainly the performance is exceptional there are a number of things that I personally would like improved.

Firstly I think the fuel capacity of 21 litres is a bit small for long distance touring given the fuel consumption of the machine. This is more an incontinence and certainly not a problem when plenty of fuel facilities are available en route, but this is not always the case and especially so on some of the French motorways. I found the fuel gauge to be more an indication of having fuel on board rather than exactly how much as it is not very accurate. When I fill the tank the gauge remains well above the full mark and stays there for the first 65-70mls before dropping to the full mark after which it drops off noticeably much quicker until when the needle reaches the beginning of the red section at which stage the fuel warning light comes on. I don't know if this is common to other machines. My average fuel consumption appears to be about 10mls/ltr which should give me a reserve of at least 40mls. I don't know how this compares with other owners and would certainly be interested in any comments.

Although the Speedo gives both mph and kmph it is not possible to change the digital mileage indicators to klm which would be a positive advantage when travelling in Europe. The GSXR's have this facility so why not the Hayabusa.

Any constructive feed back would be appreciated and hopefully this article may be of some interest to other owners.

*Email me (PL) and I will forward on to Joe!

 




 




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