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2013 Suzuki Hayabusa is a righteous rocket

November 01, 2013|By Charles Fleming
  • The 2013 Suzuki Hayabusa is a road rocket with newly improved disc brakes that make the bike's insane speed a little less insane.
The 2013 Suzuki Hayabusa is a road rocket with newly improved disc brakes… (Suzuki )

The Suzuki Hayabusa was famous from its 1999 debut for being the fastest production motorcycle on the planet, capable right out of the box of a top speed of almost 190 mph.

For a few years afterward, the shortest distance between any two points, on any two wheels, was a Suzuki.

True to its name ("Hayabusa" is Japanese for the peregrine falcon, one of the bird kingdom's fastest and most fearsome hunters), it became the favored bike for a certain kind of urban street stalker, a sleek, scary badass whose "Busa" could claim MPH bragging rights without even raising its voice.

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The bad rap on the bike was that it was only good for fast, straight-line riding -- too straight to be interesting, too fast to be safe.

Make no mistake, all these years later, it’s still a rocket. On my early rides on the Hayabusa, I kept thinking of aerospace words like “thrust” and “fuselage” and “payload.”

The acceleration is stunning. A lot of bikes go fast. This bike goes fast fast. It has an enormous 1340cc engine that puts out massive power.

And it distributes that power, through a 6-speed constant mesh transmission, quietly and smoothly. You have to look at the speedometer -- or notice the rapidly approaching taillights of the cars in front of you -- to realize you just went from 60 to 90 mph with only the slightest throttle adjustment.

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For some riders, the Hayabusa isn't quite fowl or fish. Not racey enough for the rearset set, but not comfy enough for the sport cruiser crowd, it was dismissed by some people as a drag racer and by others as just a drag.

But it sold well -- Suzuki estimates more than 85,000 Hayabusas have been sold since 1999 -- and became a favored ride for bike customers who chopped it, stretched it, and glorified it with more adornments than you're likely to see on anything other than a Harley. 

Contrary to the motorcycle's critics, the Hayabusa isn't just a bullet train on rubber tires. This motorcycle cruises canyons just fine, and after two hours in the saddle, I was still enjoying myself.

Earlier iterations of the Hayabusa have been criticized for not having enough braking power to safely handle that sudden speed. The new one features twin disc Brembo brakes, front and rear.

Other bikes have come along to challenge the Hayabusa's top speed trophy -- Motorcyclist Magazine gives the crown to Kawasaki's ZX-14R -- and there is now a field of hyperfast bikes from other manufacturers that can get from here to there just as fast or faster.

But with the new brakes, the shortest safe distance between two points could still be a 'Busa.

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