THANK heavens for government regulators and road safety experts. If it weren’t for them, bikes like the new Suzuki Hayabusa would be dangerously fast.
Instead, the 2017 Hayabusa has the same perfectly tame, safety-conscious and responsible top speed as the 2016 model — a paltry 300kmh, instead of the 328kmh* the bike could reach if it weren’t fitted with a speed limiter.
What a relief. Imagine hitting a tree at 328kmh! Gosh, you could get hurt! But at 300kmh, you would presumably just plop down onto the soft grass and not hurt yourself at all.
Suzuki has released pics and specifications for the latest incarnation of the Hayabusa — frequently dubbed the fastest motorcycle on earth — and in the process reminded us of the nonsense that happens when the motoring industry starts to push the political limits of fastness.
The official Suzuki press release talks about the ‘Busa coming in two new colours this year, so we guess there’s not much new to report over 2016.
But, hey, who cares? Last year it was one of the greatest bikes ever built. This year it’s one of the greatest bikes ever built, and now available in Glass Sparkle Black or Pearl Blue.
There’s no shortage of silly-fast bikes out there, but the ‘Busa grabbed a critical and unassailable spot in motorcycle history 18 years ago when it became the first production motorcycle capable of exceeding 300kmh.
The word ‘Hayabusa’ is Japanese for ‘peregrine falcon’, the world’s fastest bird that dives at up to 325kmh and preys on blackbirds. No doubt Suzuki’s marketing team liked the blackbird diet, given that the Honda Super Blackbird was the world’s fastest bike until the Hayabusa knocked it off it’s perch.
Breaking the 300kmh barrier sparked a global outbreak of fear back in ’99, as regulators, safety experts and other killjoy hand-wringers predicted the end of life as we know it. If Suzuki had topped 300, Kawasaki and Honda would undoubtedly respond by building bikes that would go even faster, right? Oh no!
European regulators talked of banning the importation of bikes that went too fast, leading to a gentlemen’s agreement between manufacturers to limit all bikes from 2000 onwards to a top speed of 300kmh, leaving the 312kmh Hayabusa of 1999 as the fastest over-the-counter production bike in history and, unless things change, the fastest ever. (The limit is a nonsense, of course, because the limiter can be removed or fiddled, letting the bike off its leash and gallop to its true top speed.)
The manufacturers have (supposedly, anyway) continued to honour the 300kmh gentleman’s agreement of 1999, but that hasn’t stopped them pursuing horsepower. The Ducati 1299 Panigale has crashed through the 200 horsepower mark (by 4hp), perhaps risking another 1999-style outbreak of fear. For comparison’s sake, the ’99 Hayabusa was only (only?) good for 173hp, while The Bike Shed Times‘ company car — a 1988 Porsche 911 (in Minerva Blue) — produces 231 horses, which is plenty for us, just quietly.
Of course, the Hayabusa is more than a drag-strip rocketship. It’s a wonderful sports bike, quite capable of acting as an in-town commuter, open highway tourer, back-roads blaster, or racetrack demon. The asking price of around $21k is remarkable for the technology that’s gone into it, and while it is capable of time warp speed, such behaviour is neither compulsory nor necessary for high-performance motorcycling bliss.
Suzuki says the new Hayabusa is available now for $20,790, but we know there are a few ’15 and ’16 models in Perth bike shops that you should be able to get a bit cheaper.
But you won’t get Glass Sparkle Black or Pearl Blue.
* = ish
EDITOR’S NOTE: We have a 2008 Hayabusa for sale in our on-line bike shop. Check it out in ‘Bikes For Sale‘.
2017 SUZUKI HAYABUSA
Engine: 1340cc in-line 4-cylinder, 4-stroke, DOHC, liquid-cooled
Fuel System: Fuel Injection, 44mm SDTV
Transmission: 6-speed with slipper clutch
Front Suspension: 43mm KYB inverted diamond-like coated (DLC) forks with adjustable compression, rebound and spring preload
Rear Suspension: Link type, KYB with adjustable compression, rebound and spring preload
Front Tyre: 120/70ZR17, Bridgestone BT015F
Rear Tyre: 190/50ZR17, Bridgestone BT015R
Front Brake: Brembo Monobloc radial-mount 4-piston calipers, dual 310mm floating discs with ABS
Rear Brake: Tokico single-piston caliper, 260mm disc with ABS
Seat height: 805mm
Fuel Capacity: 21.0L
Wet Weight: 266kg (all fluids)
Colours: Pearl Blue & Glass Sparkle Black
Warranty: Two-year unlimited Km’s