What do you do when you get the keys for the 2021 Suzuki Hayabusa for an hour? As much as you can cram in…
Meh. So much meh. The first 15 minutes filtering through traffic at legal speeds is tedious; I’ve just jumped off my Tuono V4 and the 1340cc Suzuki in comparison feels long, heavy and wide. I am the Ever Given cargo ship traversing the narrow Suez Canal as I glide past cars either side of me. You can’t say Hayabusa without using the word bus and there’s a reason for that, though to be fair it’s less of a bus than previous generations. This 188bhp steed is wasted slicing through traffic.
More roadworks, more traffic lights, I only have an hour on Suzuki’s fastest road-going production motorcycle and it’s being spent getting to the roads I can use it on. Mildly frustrating, but comfortable I have time to admire the new clock display with its classy little notches next to the speedo and tacho numbers. The new TFT display in the middle is tidy too. There’s all manner of extra electronics on this new model including cornering ABS, various customisable power modes, cruise control, up and down quickshifter, blah blah blah. You’ve heard all the specs by now.
Have you noticed when you’re going fast you meet the most traffic? That’s because you’re going fast, and you’re catching traffic…
Finally, the road opens up on one of my favourite flat-out stretches of speed camera-free Tarmac. So far the Busa has been pleasant and well behaved as if we’re at a family dinner and I’m meeting her folks for the first time, and very much what I remember from previous Hayabusas. It pulls with a tractability that reminds me of my mildy-tuned 2006 GSX-R1000, but even more so. It even has a similar rasp and intake noise.
So here we are… 2nd gear, let’s crack the throttle and OHMYGO… ?… snick 3rd and WHATTHE… ?… then 4th and WOOHOO… ? The speedo thinks it’s a tacho at the rate it’s moving and I back off as I’ve arrived at a T-junction sooner than I had anticipated.
It’s all good as it gives me an opportunity to wind it up again. This is a straight, flat, near-deserted road, but a bike like the Hayabusa finds bumps, curves and traffic when going at the speeds it was designed to go at. It wooshes, glides and roars, like an angry Starship Enterprise going into battle, and it’s glorious.
I rode one of the first Hayabusa press test bikes in the country back in 1998, a year that also gave us another mind-bending motorbike, the R1. That made less power but it felt even wilder thanks to a short wheelbase and much lighter weight. The Busa may be long and heavy but it makes the kind of grunt that destroys tyres and ripples asphalt. Working on the UK’s biggest bike magazine at the time I’d ridden so many testbikes back then but both the R1 and Busa made me whoop so hard. Like properly whoop.
And here I am today, whooping in my helmet again.
YES, it makes less peak power on the dyno than last year. NO, it doesn’t matter as you simply won’t notice that claimed 7bhp trimmed off the top. What you WILL notice is the extra power and torque in the middle, this makes it faster accelerating and even more usable in the real world than before. I accidentally-on-purpose left it in 4th while going round a 1st gear hairpin and it chugged through without any hesitation. This is an incredibly flexible engine – it may not have gained much muscle mass but the improved core strength allows it to do so much more than before. It also feels lighter and more manageable thanks to a few chassis updates. The new Brembo Stylma calipers partner with bigger 320mm discs for much-improved stopping and while the bike carries its weight exceptionally well you’re still aware this is a big, thunderous motorcycle.
I was expecting it to be much the same bike as before, and it kinda is, but turned up to 11 in a refined, but brutal manner – like a heavyweight boxer with a posh accent. I was prepared to be mildly underwhelmed, but I really wasn’t. It’s not a GSX-R1000, it doesn’t have the agility or the ability to match it in the corners. But it will wow you every time you twist the throttle with any urgency, and it will make the scenery go backwards very, very quickly.
The takeaway is this; the 2021 Busa will melt your brain, a phenomenally rapid and thrilling machine to accelerate through the gears as fast as you dare. It will make you wonder if there are roads wide and speed camera-free enough to enjoy it on, and that is the classic hypersports-tourer problem – bikes like these don’t make much sense in an environment with so much surveillance. But bikes like these don’t need to make sense: if they did we’d all be riding around on 50bhp Honda CB500s.
If you’re a dog owner it’s your duty to let the beast off the leash occasionally to let it go off and do animal things – the same applies if you’re a Busa owner. How much will your nerve hold out?
You know when you return home from a really fast thrash and you sit in silence, brain frazzled, still in your leathers thinking “that was… nuts”? Yeah, that.
Thanks to Wheels Motorcycles in Peterborough for the loan of the bike.
The 2021 Suzuki Hayabusa is on sale now for £16,499