Suzuki Hayabusa - Riding Impression

Big Bird flies on.

Suzuki Hayabusa - Riding Impression

Suzuki Hayabusa - Riding Impression

After being off motorcycles for six months due to a broken neck sustained in a motocross crash, I wanted to pick the right mount for my first post-sabbatical asphalt assault. I wanted to be fulfilled; a scooter just wasn't going to cut it. So, when I saw the gleaming Pearl Mirage White Hayabusa sitting in the Cycle World garage with virtually no miles on it, I knew that was the bike to transport me out of my armchair and back into action.

No, I didn’t hit the highway, hold the throttle wide-open and try to see God on the way home—although it crossed my mind. But I did, I admit, do my best Rickey Gadson impersonation leaving a few stoplights.

No surprise, the Hayabusa is a master in this theater. Awesome bottom-end torque from the 1340cc inline-Four, a silky-smooth hydraulic clutch and long, 58.3-inch wheelbase make the Big Bird easy to fire out of the hole when the light goes green. The last Hayabusa we had on our dyno grunted out 173.4 horsepower and 104 foot-pounds of peak torque (S-DMS, mode A). Despite its considerable dry weight (552 lb.), the bike posted a 0-60 time of 2.58 seconds, 4.99 sec. to 100 mph, 9.90 sec./147.94 mph in the quarter-mile and a measured top speed of 186 mph in our “Turn & Burn” test (July, 2008).

Considering its reputation as a land-speed record-setter, the big Zook is an awesome around-towner, as well. The same attributes that make it easy to launch also allow it to be a very forgiving urban prowler. You’d be hard-pressed to kill this bike leaving a light; you can practically crawl away with just a touch of throttle. Another area that gets high marks is the transmission, which shifts slickly and positively.

The riding position is more relaxed than that of, say, a GSX-R1000; footpegs are not as rearset and lower, while handlebar placement is not as aggressive. The seat is plush and just 31.8 in. off the ground, making footing solid for all but the shortest of rider inseams.

When moving the bike around the garage or out of a parking space, you would swear that the ’Busa weighs even more than its already hefty measured mass suggests. Once you are on board and in motion, however, that cumbersomeness dissolves into virtually nothing.

When ridden aggressively on a tight, winding road, the Hayabusa isn’t as nimble as supersport-type machinery, but what it lacks in agility, it makes up for in stability; the Hayabusa is rock-solid in fast sweepers. Suspension that would be called soft on a racetrack is plush-yet-composed on the street. Tight corners and quick transitions test the bike’s cornering clearance but not to the point of taking away any of the fun.

With its comfortable riding posture and awesome engine, the $13,699 Hayabusa is not only a very good (and don’t forget, very fast) sportbike, it’s also a great mileage-eater; a few carefully chosen mods could easily transform it into a sport-tourer that would slay the competition. The Big Bird lives on.