It was the year 1999 when Suzuki rolled out the Hayabusa. Sigh! 1999, when kids played in the fields and not in front of television screens and when a power figure of 160 bhp could earn a motorcycle the title of the world's fastest motorcycle. This was the time when electronic systems like traction control were unheard of and if you'd heard of it, you were a car driver. Suzuki built the Hayabusa with an intention for it to be the world's most powerful production bike, and they did. It was also one of the first 'big bikes' to be recognised in India.
The motorcycle came to be known across the vastness of the country, not for its speed or handling or anything about it actually. It is no secret celebrity endorsement works in India. And so it happens that in 2004, someone in Bollywood thought of making a movie which featured superbikes. This was the first time Indians would see big bikes on the big screen.
The first installment of the Bollywood film 'Dhoom' featured a Suzuki Hayabusa in the hands of Bollywood hunk John Abraham who played the baddie. It was since then the Hayabusa started to be known around the country as the 'Dhoom bike' because most still didn't know what it really was.
Eventually, the name Hayabusa was associated with speed. So much that a classic case of road rage would include one of the parties yelling out something like - “You're not riding a Hayabusa, go slow!” Ask anyone who has a minimal understanding of motorcycles but loves the idea of riding a fast bike and they would say their favourite bike is the Hayabusa.
Suzuki have kept the Hayabusa looking quite similar to how it did when it was first launched in 1999. But now, it's fallen behind the ever stringent emission standards. The Euro4 emissions standards that came into effect on 1 January 2016 but manufacturers were given a grace period of two years to clear stock. This period is ending on 31 December 2018.
So, after 31 December 2018 it will be illegal to sell a Hayabusa as a new motorcycle. It will remain on sale in America until next year. In India too, the remaining stocks of the Hayabusa will remain on sale until BSVI emission standards kick in by 2020.
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Suzuki Hayabusa was the first production motorcycle to break the 320 km/h speed barrier straight out of the showroom. That's where it gets its name too. The word Hayabusa is Japanese for Peregrine Falcon - a smart looking bird which happens to be able to accelerate to 320 km/h when it dives.
The 1999 Hayabusa made a claimed 173 bhp which may not be a disturbing power figure today, but back then it was 25 bhp more than the other powerful ones. The 2008 upgrade of the bike saw a bump in displacement from 1299cc to 1340cc with 194 bhp.
Busa fans, however, need not feel too upset. There have been talks of a next-generation Suzuki Hayabusa which will likely feature a semi-automatic gearbox but this could be an optional equipment. It is also expected to have a bigger engine, say about 1400cc, and it could be turbocharged too. Read more about the new Hayabusa here.
The Hayabusa may return with fancy modern tech but the old school ready-to-eat power with no electronic gadgets to assist the rider will be missed sorely by many.
Suzuki Hayabusa has been highly instrumental in how modern superbikes have come to be honed – how focus shifted from top speeds to acceleration & braking & dynamics & overall improvement that gave rise to 1000cc bikes with speeds like the Hayabusa.
In today's world, the word 'icon' is used very carelessly. There are only a few things and people that qualify to be called an icon. And the Hayabusa clearly does.