Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R Review (1st Generation)

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Originally written in December 2001
Last Updated : 02 July 2012


Anyway, after 3 years - has the desire to keep the Hayabusa diminished?  Well you have to read the story below as there is no simple yes or no as it simply doesn't do the bike (anything else for the matter) or potential owners any favors.  A perfect example is comfort.  What I find comfortable a taller person or shorter person for that matter may find it less than ideal.  Furthermore an important factor is the rider.  Some riders are simply not happy unless sitting perfectly upright, sitting back or hunched over the bars.

I guess what I'm saying is one rider's bike may not be another's !

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS

On the road the ride is great, firm but not soft.  Handling and stability meets or often exceeds expectations.   Power is something else, smooth and effortless - you accelerate so quickly without even trying.  The EFI system is close to flawless with absolutely NO surging or NO flatspots what so ever.  Even at slow constant throttle speeds.  The only thing that feels weird about the bike is the vibration that occurs after 4500rpm.  You can feel some through the handlebars and to a lessor extent the foot pegs.  They do subside after about 5500rpm.  The engine despite being solidly mounted to the fairing is smooth.  With that in mind ALL bikes have vibes to some extent, it depends on how you interpret them. The front brakes do not bite initially as per sportsbike hence require a stronger squeeze,  however using them at higher speeds they work as expected without attempting to throw you off.  The front steering damper hidden behind the fairing and headlight is completely unnoticed.   Only when you hit some bumps does it make a clunking sound.  The engine makes is car like sound except a louder and having a deeper tone and sound typically like a Suzuki bike slightly 'loose' .  If your taller the top of the screen does hide the top of the instruments, this is clearly due to the aerodynamics.  It was designed to exceed 300kph after all.  The bike does feel heavy and solid when manoeuvring with your feet but quite agile once on the move even at low speeds.  The clutch also has a torque limiter which delays the full power sent to the rear wheel when taking off from standstill.  It is essential as with 1300cc, because if the response was immediate from standstill...I'm sure you can imagine the consequences.  When changing down to lower gears at high rpm the rear wheels do not lock up either which is fantastic. A final item is the semi-remote front end.  It is a tad remote but in the same league as the CBR600 although over time you do understand that they do have feedback but they talk softly.  However at the same time telegraph limits etc...

I call these things 'character'.

COMFORT

The riding position is still comfortable.  I can understand why it's slightly leaning forward, because you do have to hang on when accelerating and its more comfortable to duck behind the screen when travelling is excess of 160kph.  The seat is one of the best features.  It's really comfortable.  You may get a sore back if you slouch over the tank but your butt remains free of pain. I have yet to hear of a Busa owner who has got a sore butt.   Ride a CBR6 F4 for an hour and you'll know what a sore butt really feels like.  The Hayabusa's fairing is good for all speed providing considerable wind protection at ALL speeds.  Tall riders may find the screen a tad short but I don't have a problem.  If you have longer legs you may find your knees resting on the edge of the front fairing.  Although like all bikes in this class there are riders who prefer it handle bars raised a little, often they would also like the screen taller.   I conclude they are taller riders.  Likewise there are those who prefer the foot pegs further down or forward.  Again this is dependent on you body type and personal preference. I am yet to hear of anyone who finds the bike uncomfortable.  I happy with the arrangement but tend to slouch so I would like the position more upright.   Yes it is comfortable enough to go touring on.

In traffic the bike is comfortable no sore wrists, butt or any other limb, on the open road the bike also comfortable etc.. although like all bikes except, possibly tourers or super tourers you do need a stretch after a tank of fuel.

I describe the Hayabusa as comfortable.

HANDLING

Speaking of handling, the Hayabusa can boogie with the rest of them on the road.  It can be a bit imprecise in multiple fast corners such as roundabouts or multiple corners but mainly because powering into such corners then backing of for the apex is how I usually like to ride.  I like the feel of physically turning or forcing the bike as opposed to the recommended throttle off technique.  Mainly because I sense a lack of feel when doing it this way.   It is not a flickable bike unless you carry some weight.  I'm not a talented rider by any way shape of form so don't get any ideas.  Keeping a steady throttle around a corner the Hayabusa will hold the line, however not in the same league as it feels in the straight line, which it is totally razor-blade like.  I think the lack of feel has been caused by the fitment of the steering damper. 
Note : due to smooth power delivery you will require significant throttle and speed before it will wheelie.

It initially feels big and heavy when starting off but on the move it feels much like a bigger CBR600.  The difference is more effort is required to control the Busa.  Around town its relatively easy to ride, smoothness and easy to steer, unfortunately very easy apply power as the throttle is immediate, no surging or chain lash at all.  General cornering and high speed corners are fine.  But a tad worrying on tight roundabouts due to the ultimate lack for feedback and huge power.  The power factor is in its element in town as it is on the open road.  I often use 2nd for take-offs and leave it in 4th in town - 2000-300rpm.

When traveling with smaller cc bikes the Hayabusa rider needs to ensure that they keep the revs down.  Speed happens very quickly and at low revs.  The smaller cc bikes may need many more 1000's more rpm to keep up.  The in gear performance of the Hayabusa is amazing.  Whilst the smaller sporties will carry more corner speed hence handle more precisely, the Busa will invite slower cornering but encourage much much hard power up exiting the corner.

On the track it's quite different.  You really do have to set the suspension and be committed to ride on track competitively.  Standard suspension is way too soft and there's not enough feel.  The Busa wasn't designed as a track weapon, it is clearly designed to be the fastest and hence have some sort of sporty handling to enable control but not ultimate track handling as per genuine sports bikes.  Eg. almost all the 600s the R1 Fireblade etc..  A less experienced rider will go much faster on a 600 around the track than on the same rider on a Hayabusa.  Riding the Hayabusa at the same speeds does require more experience and nerve.

I describe the handling as sporty but will require skill to push hard.

MAINTENANCE

The tyre situation is amazing, regardless of brand or model the Hayabusa is capable to translating alot of power into the rear wheel and destroying the tyre in less than 1000kms.  In normal use I think you'll find that the rear tyre can last between 6000-10000kms and the front tyre 10,000km if you keep pressures and not riding too hard. 

From experience the front end does shimmer and makes a loud 'whoo-whoo' sound when the front tyre gets old and/or due for replacement.  Once the tyre is replaced the front end feel is actually quite good !  So good condition tyres are necessary to enjoy the Hayabusa in Full.   That goes to any bike other too !

It still amazes me on how the engineers could design a bike that can allows so much useable power in low revs and still continue in the uppers rev range.  The fuel consumption is likewise outstanding.  I have a lowest recorded figure so far of 5.0lt per 100kms.   Highway riding is superb due to the torque available and the low revs. The screen is definitely too low when in a normal riding position you can keep this up to about 180kph.  My bike seems afflicted with a wheelie tendency at about 180kph probably due to me weighing under 80kgs.  Further I have the centre stand installed.   Hence the bike is not in full aerodynamic mode.  Hiding behind the screen fully is really not required till past 200kph.  You can feel the aerodynamics work much better at high speeds when hiding behind the screen.

Other maintenance issues such as chains and sprockets oil etc are on par with any other chain driven bike.  Due to EFI it should be easier to maintain.  Valve clearances, sparks are scheduled as per any other bike too.  Servicing as with any other bike is very important but it does not require anything special.

Problems that can effect the Hayabusa are the same for any other bike so nothing special to lookout for.

FURTHER RIDING EXPERIENCE

The spinning dials, now copied by various other manufacturers have NOT lost their appeal.  I love the clock and the fuel consumption gauges. The distance per litre or mile and consumption per 100kms or mile is also handy.  The look of the dash has not dated either.   A passer-by commented on how much it resembled an aero plane.  Regardless of opinions, the overall look of the Hayabusa is definitely unique.  It 'hides' it's looks in the darker colours, the brighter ones do attract more attention.  In my opinion the Blue and Silver one is the best colour scheme so far.  The Copper and Bronze is certainly different and is still an attention grabber.  It reminds me of the original GSX-R750 black gold and funny decal model.

Quality of manufacture of the Hayabusa is high.  The fairings and paint job coped with the ultra-high UV in the territory without fading for the past year.  The plastic bits still look fine.   Nothing has fallen off or corroded. Mind you it's only been through several Darwin wet seasons.  Whilst riding there isn't any 'plastic vibes'. 

So how does it rate on a daily transport basis ? Short rides on any sort of bike like the Busa doesn't do it justice.   Longer rides in traffic or in the country are just as fun.  The ability of the bike to be predictable is great.

Long term satisfaction with the Busa is dependent on how well the bike has been serviced.  Unfortunately the bike has also been the subject to 2 recalls on the same or similar components when first released.  Luckily it has not effected my bike.  I have heard absolute horror stories of mal-treated by Hayabusa owners from around the world on the poor servicing.  I am fortunate to have a great dealer in the NT so my bike is always maintained at its best.

As I have got to know the Hayabusa I can't imagine replacing it for anything less.. for what I use it for.

RECOMMENDATION

Personally I find it hard to say 'good-bye' to this bike.  It does everything well and some things the best I've experienced.  There isn't anything about the Hayabusa that makes it difficult to live with.   Only 2 drawbacks : it can't do dirt and it can't carry hard luggage (although from 2002 onwards this is now possible).  Oh! and it can't turn invisible when a speed or radar is aimed at it. - But it tries !

 




 




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