Out of all the superbikes on the planet, the Suzuki GSX-1300R Hayabusa enjoys a special and highly loyal fan-following. And the reasons behind this are the ones that certainly make the ‘Busa worthy of this star-stature. The 22-year old journey of the iconic sports tourer is no less a fairytale with some twists & turns and a lot of heroic moments. The Hayabusa started its life back in the year 1999 and it instantly rose to glory becoming the world’s fastest production motorcycle achieving speeds of up to 312 kmph. Also, the ‘Dhoom’ bike was the fastest production bike of the 20th century – a title that is exceptionally prestigious for any two-wheeled machine. In order to celebrate the arrival of the 3rd-gen Busa in the country, let’s take a look at the amazing journey of this superstar through the years.
‘Hayabusa’ – What’s in a name? Think again!
The word ‘Hayabusa’ is Japanese for peregrine falcon – the fastest of birds that is primarily known for its predatory capabilities and the fact that it can vertically dive at insane speeds of 320 kmph or 200 mph while hunting down its prey. And it is no coincidence that Suzuki chose this name for its road missile as the pure intent was to knock down the Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird to claim the prestigious title of world’s fastest motorcycle in mass production. Ohh and did I tell you that peregrine falcon enjoys feasting the most on blackbirds?! The name is clearly not a coincidence!
The Gentlemen’s Agreement and why its need?
All this while, Kawasaki was watching the arrival of the Busa silently and wanted to dethrone it in the year 2000 with its ZX-12R. It actually started claiming that the 12R will be much more powerful and can snatch the title from the Busa. In the pursuit of this, the speed war escalated and manufacturers started gunning for the ultimate gold title for speed. But thankfully after that, in the interest of public safety, the fear of government bans, and also, to end this warfare once and for all, the European and Japanese manufacturers joined hands for an agreement on electronically restricting the top speed of big bikes to 300 kmph. The said agreement was called the Gentlemen’s Agreement and bike manufacturers comply with it even today.
When the Hayabusa was showcased to the world for the very first time in 1999, it certainly made an impact as no other superbike had broken the previous top speed world record, that too by a decent margin (up to 23 kmph). The first-gen model used to draw power from a 1,299cc, inline four-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine churning out a staggering 173 hp at the crank. Besides its mammoth engine, another big highlight of the Suzuki Hayabusa was its supreme aerodynamics. While this helped the bike achieving some mind-boggling numbers, the bulbous & curvy design of the Busa was criticized by many. Also, the original copper-on-silver of the first-gen Busa wasn’t loved by many but more shades were added as the years passed by.
The Suzuki Hayabusa got its first proper generation upgrade in the year 2008. The bike received a design update as well, it looked much fresh but the appearance was essentially an evolution of the original design. The engine was now Euro3 compliant and in order to meet the stringent emission norms, a new exhaust system was integrated with a catalytic converter for the very first time. In addition, more importantly, the engine displacement was increased from 1,299cc to 1,340cc and hence, the power output also increased to 194 hp. Moreover, it was during this generation update only that Suzuki dropped ‘GSX-1300R’ from the name and the bike was just called Suzuki Hayabusa. With this, Suzuki made it clear that this speed demon stands out from the brand’s GSX line-up and hence, has its own distinct identity.
The 3rd-Generation – Now
It is only yesterday that the third-generation Hayabusa was launched in India, making the loyalists and enthusiasts alike more than happy. The new 2021 model gets a lot of electronic nannies in the pursuit of becoming a safer and much more controlled motorcycle. While the engine displacement remains the same, the power has gone down to 190 hp with the transition to even stricter Euro5/BS6 emission norms. The design has gotten sharper and more desirable and the bike has gained numerous bits like a six-axis IMU with a lean-sensitive 10-stage traction control system, 10-stage wheelie control system, launch control, and also, engine-brake control. Moreover, you now get a bi-directional quickshifter as well as standard.
So, with the Gentlemen’s agreement in place, while the Hayabusa has lost its rights to enjoy the world’s fastest production bike title, the fact that it was proudly once, will always keep it special. No matter you remember it as the ‘Dhoom bike’ or the ultimate quarter-mile missile tearing those drag strips or simply an extremely capable hyper tourer, the Busa always gives you that grin that only a purist can feel and understand. And I would now end things here with a hope that the Hayabusa continues to instill this emotion in many more human generations to come, something which every other bike on the planet can only dream of.
What a classic case of Man-Machine bonding, that too, presented by a timeless beauty! And a legacy this strong certainly deserves an applaud. Truly an icon!
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