2021 Suzuki Hayabusa Road Test Review
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Here’s what makes this generation of the Hayabusa even more special
It literally needs no introduction. The Suzuki Hayabusa is easily recognised by nearly everyone you meet. The movie Dhoom certainly played a part in etching it in the collective memories of all Indians but for enthusiasts, the bike means so much more. It has been about blasting past the sound barrier, defying physics with its agility and overcoming a rather unpleasant design to gain a soft spot in our heart.
Does the new Busa then live up to the high standards its predecessors set? Does the drop in output affect its thirst for speed? Have its talons been clipped? Do the electronics make it sissy proof? Keep reading to know the answers.
- Personally, the previous-gen Hayabusa looked rather wide and ugly. It served a functional purpose of being as aerodynamically efficient as possible. This new one takes that same ethos and adds sharpness to the mix.
- It has completed its ugly duckling to white swan transformation. The front LED headlamp bears a striking resemblance to the older bike. Where it differs is the lowered beak and the triangulated slits through which it engulfs air.
- The design looks more homogenous, nothing outwardly or extra. Take the tail for example. Sure, its booty seems wider than Kim Kardashian’s, despite which it still feels more cohesive.
- Thankfully, the weird hump has been done away with to make way for a flatter and seamless cowl.
- I would also rather do away with the chrome accent on the fairing. It seems rather flashy and out of place. Given the choice, finishing it in Piano Black or Ivory White could have just made it more pleasing.
- On paper, Suzuki hasn’t changed the rider’s triangle by much. The bars are moved 12mm closer to the rider while the seat height has been lowered by 5mm, now rated at 800mm.
- Instead of making it easier on your body, this new posture actually puts a bit more strain. It isn’t extremely taxing and back-breaking like a litre-class sport bike. However, it isn’t a lounge experience either.
- It is more in a gaming mood, better suited for sport riding. While the aforementioned two tweaks certainly play their part, the new shape of the tank plays an even bigger and vital role here. You can straddle the bike well. The arms neatly tuck into forward recesses when you want to tuck-in and there’s a good platform to rest them as well while leaning over.
- At 266kg wet, it ain’t a piece of cake to ride around town or at slow speeds. It is more manageable than before though, thanks to the bars being closer and the revised engine tune.
- Overcoming gargantuan speed humps is no big task for the Busa. 125mm of ground clearance doesn’t instil much confidence. And yet, this beast manages to keep its belly clean all the time.
Engine & Performance
- Don’t let the spec sheet lead you into believing the old 1340cc inline four-potter on the new Hayabusa is any less freaky than before. Yes, power and torque figures now stand at 190PS and 150Nm instead of 197PS and 155Nm. What it doesn’t tell you is that the mid-range performance is significantly improved.
- Crack the whip and the Busa will have you doing mind-boggling speeds in no time. It launches off the line with no drama. In fact, we managed to launch both the current-gen as well as the previous-gen Busa at an air strip. In the damp conditions, the new Busa tore the old one to shreds in the run to 100kmph, 160kmph and in the quarter-mile distance.
- Top-end performance has taken a slight hit. It starts to show some restraint post 200/220kmph. We managed to get a higher top speed figure on the older Busa while using less tarmac as well.
- So, while the Busa cannot show its finesse to hunt down the hallowed 300kmph mark any more, it sort of compensates with performance that is equally as intoxicating and still usable in a wider range of scenarios.
- It will still run rings around the older bike on a race track. The surge of torque from revs as low as 2000rpm hooks you. In sixth gear, it is already doing 100kmph at roughly 3250rpm, which means you have around 6000 revolutions more at your disposal.
- What enamours you is the ease with which it trundles through crowded city streets. One can maintain 35kmph in top cog, which is fantastic for an engine of its size. The clutch does tend to be a bit heavy though, and so does the throttle occasionally.
- It does get three predetermined riding modes and three user-adjustable ones. The former has its own dedicated settings of throttle map, traction control, wheelie control and engine braking. Of the trio, we found the B mode to provide the best experience for all types of usage. The power delivery is not too quick, the traction control kicks in softly and there are no front-wheel-in-the-air shenanigans.
- Mode A is for the experienced rider. The response is sharper, there’s more leeway in the traction control system and power wheelies are possible. While you have to heed caution to your surroundings, it remains the most enjoyable mode to be on. Mode C is just too restrictive and kills the joy of the engine.
Ride & Handling
- Suzuki found it best to soldier on with the same twin-spar aluminium frame and swingarm. Again on paper, the 1480mm wheelbase and the 120/70-R17 / 190/50-R17 tyre sizes remain unchanged. What has crucially changed, and is the main reason why the new Busa has transformed into a superb handler, is the steering geometry. The rake has been sharpened from 24.2 degrees to 23 degrees, the trail has been reduced by 8mm to 90mm, and all this has made a world of a difference.
- The fluidity of the previous Busa has disappeared and in its stead comes a Hayabusa that is quick to steer and hunt down apexes. It isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed but it comes quite close nevertheless. It tips over instantly, stays composed when leaned over and powers out of corners with vigour.
- The new Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22s hold their own quite well. Even in the short wet spells that we encountered, the tyres never really broke a sweat. Even with the traction control settings dialled down, it put the power down with little to no wheelspin.
- Suzuki has kept it simple with the suspension, carrying over the same fully adjustable KYB hardware from the previous gen. The spring rates have been revised to lend it a supple ride. In the stock setting, the new Busa felt pliant over small road imperfections. The oscillations are well controlled, with no hint of any ‘wallowiness’.
- Much like the previous-gen Busa, the new Busa’s Achilles heel is also the brakes. Despite using the Brembo Stylema calipers and larger 330mm rotors, the braking performance is not similar to other sport bikes that we have experienced the setup on. The initial phase of braking is solid, the bite is fierce. The next stage is where we felt it could’ve been better as the lever feel is absent. Braking progression isn’t rapid as well.
There are two colours to opt from: Glass Sparkle Black/Candy Burnt Gold and Metallic Matte Sword Silver/Candy Daring Red. For the Indian market, Suzuki brought a handful of the Pearl Brilliant White/Metallic Matte Stellar Blue Hayabusas, which got sold out in a mere couple of hours. This special colour edition is unlikely to come soon.
The third-gen Suzuki Hayabusa is now treading a different path than its predecessors, one that is more sporty and less hyper-touring. Its glorious purpose has changed from making you want to go fast in a straight line to make you want to go fast everywhere. It wants to attack corners, it expects you to hustle, it demands you to stay vigilant. It masks its weight well and is even a good commuter.
Where it struggles is in lending you that comfort of a barcalounger while you are charging past 250kmph. Those who have fond memories of the previous gen will have me crucified but to me, the chase to find out its top speed seems a bit overrated, especially in 2021.
The deftness with which it carries out its business, I am sure that the legend of the Hayabusa will gain a plethora of younger fans. And judging by the way the bikes are flying off the shelves is a guarantee that the popularity of the bike will never wane.