Like a normal Hayabusa, but dialled up to 15 – video below
Half a mile back, the blue flashing lights in the distance get bigger in my mirrors. Play it calm, I think. It won’t be for me. No-one saw what I’d been up to in the previous 20 minutes while I explored the SuperBusa performance on near-empty back roads, including a runway straight stretch… did they? Those lights aren’t for me. Please… let them not be for me. The blue lights are getting closer, I decide to stick at 60mph and move over to the left to show I’m an observant road user. I’m the only other person on this long stretch of asphalt, if they’re not after me they’ll pass. If they are they’ll stay behind me and I’m done for. My heart sinks as they sit on my tail with lights and siren still blaring.
I indicate that I’m pulling over. My mind is full of pathetic excuses. “It was a moment of madness officer. I wasn’t aware I was going that fast and the conditions were perfect and there was no-one else around. I’m really, really sorry I’ll never do it again, the supercharger caught me by surprise. I like your beard, where did you get it?” As my indicator flashes and I slow down even more they move alongside. I’m expecting the window to wind down and an aggressive finger to start wagging in my direction, but instead I get a wave, and the car disappears into the horizon. I breathe the heaviest sigh of relief since the day I thought I’d had my phone nicked at the gym but found it near the squat rack. Phew.
It was the last day of my week with the SuperBusa; a bonkers collaboration between myself and supercharger specialists TTS Performance based in Silverstone. I say collab; I supplied the visuals of what the bike would look like and made suggestions to the name and some other bits and bobs, and Richard at TTS would build this beast, the first supercharged Gen 3 Hayabusa on the planet. It was to be the Busa that Suzuki should have built for the masses, had money been no object. The SuperBusa name stuck.
Two years on, I’ve got the keys to the prototype, not for razzing down the runway which I’ve done in short bursts previously, but to ride on the road, for the first time ever, by anyone.
Walking around the bike and there is no mistaking this for a stock Busa. First you’ll notice the classic GSXR slabby-inspired paint, then it’ll be the carbon fibre winglets, exclusively developed by TTS and CAD-created by an ex-F1 engineer, their organic shape matches the smooth lines of the bike perfectly. These are final v3.0 winglets, now 20mm smaller than the previous 3D-printed prototypes seen after listening to public feedback.
The next few observations will be a toss-up between the single-sided swingarm (ironically from a supercharged Kawasaki H2…), carbon Rotobox wheels and the carbon vent outlets which allow hot air from the TTS-fabricated intercooler to escape. Finally, you’ll clock the supercharger itself, encased in beautifully machined alloy on the left hand side of the crank and so neatly tucked away and protected by a carbon surround you’d be forgiven for thinking it was standard fitment.
There are other details that are appearing all the time as development continues – there’s a Brembo RCS brake master cylinder to switch between a progressive-feeling front brake to a brick wall experience. A welcome addition that wasn’t on the bike when I saw it a month ago.
With key in the ignition, the familiar Hayabusa symbol appears in the central TFT digital display which is flanked by two good old-fashioned analogue clocks. The growl from the stubby Brocks cone silencer is throaty, deep, and full of menace, it’s not the final exhaust system but as a development unit it’s serving its purpose to showcase the back wheel and help hit the peak figure of 401bhp on the dyno (since reduced to 380bhp for useability and reliability). The whoosh from the blow-off valve as excess air is dispelled from the bike’s lungs is a real novelty on a motorcycle, I could just sit and blip the throttle for hours and be entertained on that alone. After 7 days of riding that novelty is still there: sitting at lights it feels menacing, all rumbles and poise, ready to launch. But this isn’t Santa Pod, it’s the A605 from Peterborough to Thrapston, and we’re siding up to a Transit van.
The main question wherever we rock up is always going to be “What’s it like to ride?”. You’d think that after hearing this a fistful of times I’d be able to rattle an answer off by heart, but the truth is, the words don’t come out of my mouth with any flow. Even after all this time I struggle to find the superlatives to describe the experience.
At 380bhp and 201ft-lb of torque at the back wheel it makes twice the power of a stock Hayabusa, itself an astonishingly rapid bike. Whereas that bike accelerates harder than most, this is a whole new level of insanity.
Twist the throttle moderately and the SuperBusa is a pussycat, totally useable as an everyday ride it has plenty of torque to potter around town on, swing by Tesco and pick up some fruit and veg. Twist the throttle with more enthusiasm and things disappear in the mirrors real quick. Give it some proper beans and the world goes backwards like the warp drive has just been engaged, bananas, potatoes and cabbage tumbling down the road in the distance. Despite the ear assault from the Brocks exhaust there’s an eerie calm as the bark gets left behind.
Where a typical superbike like, say a Panigale, would pull you forward like a slingshot as it gets into its stride the SuperBusa is like a giant hand that pushes you from behind in a linear fashion, the supercharger matching your engine speed with ever increasing forward momentum. On a runway it’s driving me forwards as hard at 150mph as other bikes are at 100mph, and on the right gearing you’d swear it’d be good for 300mph. It isn’t of course, but MCN have tested it to a calibrated 218mph on 19-41 gearing. Richard himself has managed a 9.2 standing quarter at Santa Pod. Astonishing.
The power is delivered in a slightly surreal manner, no fuss, just seemingly relentless, linear forward motion with no bumps in the acceleration curve. On the road it’ll keep propelling you forward until you no longer have any need for a driving licence. It’s almost electric in the way it surges towards the horizon, and I mean that in the nicest possible way, the noise it makes is anything but the futuristic whine from an electric bike.
But there’s more than just straight line speed, we know it does that well; Carving through fast, sweeping A-roads the SuperBusa is as nimble as a stock bike, despite the inch-longer wheelbase. Electronic rider aids grace the gen 3 Busa and this is what sets it apart from previous gen bikes the most, they allow an accessibility, usability and control like never before and is the key to allowing the rider to unlock the most from the supercharger in a safe way.
With the right tyres I’d be happy to take this on a track day, and on the right track with a long straight and fast sweeping bends (like Snetterton) I reckon it would hold its own. It’s still a heavy beast of course – a few kilos heavier than stock – and hauling it up is never going to be an easy job but the bigger 330mm Braketech discs and Brembo master cylinder help.
I’ve massively enjoyed my week with the SuperBusa, but in retrospect I almost didn’t. The paranoia of riding a bike like this is very real. Using it to any degree of its true performance – and you still should – is a bit of a lottery on the road. The trick is to pick your moments, take it to a drag strip or a track day to give it the freedom to run as it deserves.
I was relieved to give the keys back to TTS, but then I thought about how badass I felt filtering through traffic that parted on hearing the exhaust, that moment when the burger shack guy said it looked like the batbike, memories of lane-hogging cars that move over at the sight of this thing filling their mirrors, turning up at any biking venue and generating an instant crowd, all with phones out and marvelling at the sheer quality of the engineering on display. Then I realised that every single ride had become a sense of occasion, a memorable experience to cherish. Arriving home with frazzled nerves and pounding heart, this is the how a Hayabusa should make you feel. This is the Hayabusa Suzuki should’ve built.
HOW CAN I GET ONE?
Prices start at £50,000 for a base model SuperBusa. Optional extras include a bespoke Kardesign paintscheme, suspension and brake upgrades. You can supply the bike yourself and TTS will fit the kit for you, or TTS can supply the bike from new. It’s currently only available in the UK, certain EU countries, and North America. More info at superbusa.com
Thanks to www.bemoto.uk for their support
Thanks to Matty Graham at www.pixel-click.com and Jason Critchell at jasoncritchell.com for their photo and video skills