Suzuki’s Hayabusa gets a plush makeover

The 2021 bike is an improvement over its predecessor in almost every manner — power, performance and style

The Hayabusa is not a bike that is easily forgotten and there are things on the new one that quickly stood out. For one, Suzuki says it now gets revised suspension tuning; while this does not sound like much, in reality, the new bike feels more sleek , and this has a big effect on our roads.

The suspension has a lovely plush feel on the highway, but the bike can also swallow up bad roads in a rather unexpected manner. You do have to be mindful of the 125mm of ground clearance and protecting the rims, but this bike can be ridden on pretty much any road you point it at.

Of course, this is not what this monumental motorcycle is about at all, and the original Busa was designed with only one thing in mind — speed. Now, at this point, the keyboard warriors out there will be cracking their knuckles in anticipation of moaning about how the new Busa has less power and is therefore a lesser motorcycle.

While some ridiculous new power figure would have been great to brag about, Suzuki decided to take a more measured and well thought out approach here.

This engine displaces the same 1,340cc as before, but it has been heavily reworked with new pistons, connecting rods, and camshafts, among other things. As part of the update, the motor has lost 7hp, taking the total down to a (still mental) 190hp and 150Nm of torque. Despite this, Suzuki says this is actually a faster accelerating Hayabusa than before because the loss in top-end power is made up for with even stronger low and mid-range performance.

The bike is still electronically limited to 299kph, so there is no change in the official top speed, but what really makes the Hayabusa special is its incredible mid-range performance — you just don’t need to rev this bike out. On almost all litre-class superbikes that scream to 14,000rpm or 15,000rpm, the fun only starts upwards of 6,000rpm, but with the Busa, you can stay below 5,000rpm all day long and still travel at a brisk pace.

However, if you do take it up to the 11,000rpm redline, be prepared for life-changing levels of acceleration to match the wild 200-plus horsepower superbikes. In fact, with its long, low and heavy nature, this bike puts power down more effectively and is less prone to pulling big wheelies under acceleration. I have no doubt that this is still one of the fastest accelerating road-legal bikes on the planet.

But the Busa is not single dimensional. This is one of the few superbikes that can also be quite mellow and enjoyable, even when cruising at a gentle speed, especially in the lower power mode. The engine sounds great, too, with a deep and snarling intake sound typical of big Suzuki inline-fours. While the engine is smooth, there are also some mild sensations to be felt in the handlebar, seat and foot pegs at different RPMs, all of which add to the sense of character.

Another reason for its appeal as a road bike is the riding position. The ergonomics are pretty sporty and committed. The bike is spacious and definitely kinder on the wrists than a track-focused superbike. Short riders will also love the 800mm seat height, but for six-footers, the tight distance between the foot pegs and the seat causes cramps after a few hours of riding.

Where the old bike offered ABS as the sole rider aid, the new machine has been bestowed with a brand-new electronics package. The Hayabusa now packs top-tier IMU-aided rider assists, including ten-level traction and wheelie control, as well as three-level engine brake control. As before, the bike has three power modes, but it now also gets three user-customisable riding modes. Additional features include three-stage launch control, cruise control, hill hold and a programmable speed limiter. There is also a new bi-directional quickshifter that works quite well but is a little clunky at lower RPMs. The bike also gets a new TFT display in the middle of its iconic five-pod instrument console and the snazzy lights at the front and rear are now full-LED.

While the electronics got a huge upgrade, Suzuki left the chassis and swingarm alone although, there is a new rear subframe. With the same chassis, it comes as no surprise that the Busa continues to be a rather amazing handler, despite its sheer, 266kg bulk. The international model weighs two kilos less, but government-mandated issues like the neatly executed saree guard and awful looking front number plate holder bring those two kilos back.

It definitely feels cumbersome at parking speeds, but once you pick up a little pace, the Busa is easy to ride and the turn-in on corner entry is surprisingly sharp for a bike this big. On its Bridgestone S22 tyres, the bike stays impressively composed at high corner speeds, but the luxurious suspension does start to feel a bit soft when you really push hard. However, it is adjustable at both ends, so you should be able to find a setup that suits your riding style.

One of the nicer upgrades are the new Stylema front brake calipers and 10mm larger front discs. With the old bike, there was a feeling that the brakes couldn’t keep up with the fearsome power, but these ones work far better, with strong, reassuring performance. Again, it won’t stop like your typical 1,000cc superbike because it weighs about 60kg more, but the Busa will slow down well enough!

Once at a standstill, be prepared for a never-ending barrage of camera phones being pointed at your bike. This is still one of the most striking bikes you will ever see, and the new sense of aggression brings a modern feel to the iconic silhouette. The rear end, with the accessory seat cowl, looks particularly handsome.

The stylish new mirrors look much nicer than before, but the view they offer isn’t good enough. The accelerator also feels quite heavy, which can get tiring, but the cruise control system helps out on long highway rides. Then there is the fact that your forearms will hit the fuel tank when the handlebar is at full lock. This reduces the sense of confidence while taking U-turns, which is quite important on a bike this big.

The 2021 bike comes across as an improvement over its predecessor in almost every manner. At ₹16.4 lakh (ex-showroom, India), it also costs about ₹2.7 lakh more than the old Busa, but the price is justified. With the death of the ZX-14R in most markets, the Hayabusa has no direct rivals on sale today, but is priced similarly to bikes like the Kawasaki ZX-10R and the Ducati Panigale V2.

It may no longer be the world’s fastest motorcycle, but the Suzuki Hayabusa exists in a unique realm of its own. This legend will certainly live on.

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