So you've got Hayabusa fever, but you want to buy a used one. This is where I was a month ago. I saw a beautiful GSX1300R Hayabusa at a nearby dealer and thought... could that be my only motorcycle?
Can I daily a Hayabusa? Is it good at low speed, not just 300 km/h? Does it have good wind protection? Is it safe?
Here's what I found out — and I'm putting it all down for you in my guide to buying a used Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa.
In this guide...
- A general overview of the Suzuki Hayabusa
- A model history of the Hayabusa — how it changed over the years
- Riding the Hayabusa — Can you daily it?
- Is the Hayabusa too fast?
- A comparison of the Suzuki Hayabusa vs the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R
- Common issues with the Hayabusa
- Which Hayabusa to Buy
Hope you enjoy the guide.
General overview of the Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa
I won't rehash all the history of the Hayabusa. But here it is very briefly: The Hababusa took the crown as the fastest production bike in history before everyone agreed to limit top speeds to 299 km/h. There are other, faster bikes, but the Hayabusa won the race before the rules were changed.
In the late 1990s, the Honda Blackbird was the fastest production motorcycle at the time. Suzuki decided to take this crown by in 1999 releasing teh GSX1300R Hayabusa — which is Japanese (隼 in Kanji or ハヤブサ/はやぶさ) for "Peregrine Falcon", by the way, an animal that hunts and kills blackbirds.
The Honda Blackbird, with a claimed 120kW at the crank and aerodynamic design, had a top speed of 287 km/h (176 mph). The first-generation Suzuki Hayabusa had a top speed of 312 km/h (194 mph), and easily took the crown for the fastest production motorcycle.
Then, in 1999, Japanese motorcycle manufacturers though "this is ridiculous. Nobody should be riding that fast." And so they came to a professional agreement to limit the top speed of production motorcycles to 299 km/h (186 mph).
So later motorcycles never cleared 299 km/h; but the Hayabusa had already taken the crown as the fastest production motorbike. Even though the later-released Kawasaki ZX-14R (and other litre-class racing motorcycles) have more power and unrestricted may well be the fastest motorcycles, they never got a chance to prove it.
Model history of the Suzuki Hayabusa
The Suzuki Hayabusa has only been revised twice in its 20+ years of production history.
The first 1999 Suzuki Hayabusa had a 1299cc engine. It had a liquid-cooled, inline-4, fuel-injected engine that produced a claimed 129 kW (173 hp).
It's hard to find an early Hayabusa that hasn't been thrashed or modified to hell. See below for common modifications. But basically an early Hayabusa will almost definitely be high kilometres, have been wheelied by one or more of its owners, and might have extensive modifications like paint jobs, turbochargers, or extensions (for drag racing).
So unless you find one kept meticulously in a garage by a collector (and you want to pay the premium for that), let's look at Gen 2 Hayabusas as a start.
The first revision to the Hayabusa was in 2007, for the 2008 model year, known as a Gen 2 Hayabusa.
The changes to the Gen 2 Hayabusa included
- A minor restyling of the bodywalk
- Fine-tuning of the engine's head and pistons, increasing stroke to 65mm (from 63mm), overall displacement to 1,340cc (from 1,299 cc) and compression to 12.5:1 (from 11:1), thus increasing power to 197 hp at the crank (up from 173 hp). This included lighter pistons and rods.
- Modifications to the valves and exhaust to suit the engine changes
- Upgraded suspension to 43mm Kayaba inverted fork with diamond-like carbon coating, and a Kayaba rear shock — both fully adjustable
- Higher windscreen
- Interlocking gauge faces with a digital speedometer
- Tokico radial brake calipers
- Steering damper
- Larger radiator and dual cooling fans
- Overall dry weight of 222 kg; 2kg more than the earlier generation
In 2013, Suzuki made minor updates to teh Gen 2 Hayabusa, adding
- ABS as standard (not available before)
- Brembo brakes (replacing the Tokico brakes of the 2008-2012 version)
The 2013 version remains current to today, 2020, with only styling changes like colours.
I'm one of those nerds who thinks ABS is a good thing, always. I've read anectodal stories about how some people think not having ABS is what saved their life because they could skid around something, but I'm not at that level of ninjutsu. So if you're with me and like ABS (and Brembos), then I'd say buy a 2013+ Hayabusa and just focus on maintenance history and what colour you like, and you'll get a great bike. The only benefit of buying a new one is a warranty — and I can almost guarantee you won't need it.
Riding the Hayabusa — Can you daily it?
A Hayabusa is a "hyperbike". It's extreme. It goes really, really fast. Well it can, anyway.
So is it ridiculous to ride as a day-to-day rider? Is it really a "sports tourer" as people claim? Can you daily a Hayabusa?
This was the question that was on my mind when I was considering buying the Hayabusa. I wondered how it would be around roudabouts, commuting, on the highway, for short jaunts to the shops, and on dirt roads.
The surprising thing to me is that the Hayabusa can do damn near everything. Spoiler alert — the only place I'd feel nervous about taking it would be on dirt roads. Because they tend to come up a lot in Australia, I decided against the Hayabusa for that reason.
Around town, at 40-70 km/h, the Hayabusa is very easy to ride. I've previously ridden a Ducati 1098S as a daily rider, and that was a terrible choice (although it was awesome). Apart from being uncomfortable (highly subjective, anyway), it gets hot, doesn't like going slow, has very aggressive throttle response, eats tyres for every meal of the day, and is just loud.
I was looking for a bike that would have as much soul as my Ducati 1098S, but which wouldn't be all those things. And the Hayabusa, surprisingly, was it.
I found that going around gentle 60 km/h corners and roundabouts was fun on the Hayabusa. A lot of other riders and reviewers have said that the Hayabusa is easy to handle for the weight. Well, I found it easy to handle, end of sentence. It leant easily. I never felt I had to push it hard.
The comfort of the Hayabusa is hard to overstate. If you prefer a sporty position, then the Hayabusa is incredibly comfortable. Riding it was a bit like putting on a high-quality glove. It just fit. I know that again, this is subjective, but enough people have found the Hayabusa comfortable that I don't think it's controversial.
The engine of the Hayabusa is incredibly versatile. It's definitely designed to take you to high speeds but it's also OK going at low speeds. The motor never lugged — it was just lusciously smooth and full of torque. Because of the broad torque curve, I never felt like I was in the wrong gear; just that I could potentially be in a better gear.
So I enjoyed riding the Hayabusa as a commuter. What else?
The Hayabusa is decent on the highway without being amazing. At 100-120 km/h, it purrs along and doesn't necessarily urge you to go faster. But the thing is, it can, and sometimes you just want to try...
The Hayabusa lacks a lot of electronics that come with throttle-by-wire systems, like cruise control, for example. So riding the Hayabusa is an exercise in restraint. I'd have to be happy with going at the speed limit.
But is the Hayabusa too fast?
There's a certain cadre of person who says "I don't trust myself with a litrebike" or "you could never get the most out of the Hayabusa on a public road".
The latter is true. But it's true of pretty much any vehicle, motorcycle or car. You could drive a Toyota Corolla at north of 150 km/h and fling it around corners; it has way more traction than most people realise.
It's also, obviously, true of many sports cars like the BMW M series, Audi sports cars, or Porsche Boxters that all manner of dentists and doctors use as their daily vehicles.
Even a humble Suzuki SV650 can get to 100 km/h in less than 4 seconds if you're skilled with the shifter. But I doubt many people do that on a regular basis.
So what's "getting the most out of your motorcycle"? For me it's riding it in all the places I want to ride it without feeling like something about it — the power delivery, the comfort, or the features — are holding me back.
When you wind on the throttle on a Suzuki Hayabusa, it's not like it will suddenly do a backflip and crush your spine. Far from it. Remember, the Hayabusa weighs over 250 kg and has a relatively long wheelbase.
Even without traction control, it's hard to break traction on the Hayabusa without doing it deliberately (e.g. holding down the brake, dumping the clutch, or cornering at high speed).
No, the feeling of winding on the throttle is simply "Faster... faster... faster..." without ever feeling like it'll stop.
On my rides, I don't exceed 160 km/h (and I rarely get up there) — so around half the top speed of the 'Busa. I don't need to go fast in a straight line. I just need to hit the limiter once or twice and I'm happy.
But I do really enjoy using the throttle at about half or three-quarters on a freeway on-ramp and getting that rush of acceleration.
As you can see from the above torque curve, a lot of torque is available from down low. From 2,000 rpm, you get more torque than you get anywhere on a Triumph Scrambler 900, which isn't a fast bike but which is definitely a torquey one.
There's a fat plateau of torque all the way up to 5,000 rpm, after which it bounces up by a good 25%. That rush of torque between 6,000 and 9,000 rpm — exceeding 100 ft-lbs — makes the Hayabusa quite sportbike-like, even though it's not as high-revving.
It's important to note that even though the Hayabusa is fast, there are definitely more extreme bikes out there in terms of raw acceleration. When you go throttle-on on a v-twin superbike from Aprilia or Ducati, it's like a thousand machine guns blazing in unison. Babababababam!!! And you're catapulted forwards with rockets behind you. The Busa isn't like that! It's more like an executive jet that has unrelenting forward urgency, but without delivering the power in a manic way.
It's also nice to not have to wring the neck of a motorbike to have it go the way you want. When I ride a 300cc or under motorbike, I'm regularly pinning the throttle. I mean, I enjoy that, but I hate feeling like I've hit the limit. I really like being in 5th or 6th gear and just rolling on to warp-drive past the cars around me.
So no. The Hayabusa is not too fast, if you like to have a lot of power just a twist of the wrist away.
Electronics on the Hayabusa — a tad old-fashioned...
I know the Hayabusa has ABS, but in 2020 what's more remarkable is the number of things that the Hayabusa does not have — especially when other motorcycles from the same brand (e.g. the 2020 Suzuki Katana or V-Strom 1000) have them.
Things that it's surprising the Hayabusa does not have include
- ❌ Traction control — the Hayabusa has "ride modes", but they limit power delivery rather than sensing loss of traction
- ❌ Lean-angle sensing ABS and traction control, a.k.a. cornering ABS (see my list of motorcycles with cornering ABS)
- ❌ Cruise control — there's no ride by wire (nor manual cruise control), leaving you to go aftermarket
- ❌ Heated grips, even as an option (I feel this isn't asking for too much on a sporty tourer), though you can go aftermarket
- ❌ Dynamic suspension — something the other 2020 motorcycles tend to have
People who like the Hayabusa tend to like it for the absense of these things, for a "purer" motorcycling experience. But for me, that's marketing spin. I think it's just an excuse to say "I like the Hayabusa". Which is OK.
Because taken further, a "purer" motorcycle would have carburettor, manual points, and a kickstarter. Definitely much less power. Maybe fewer wheels.
But there's nothing wrong with saying "the Hayabusa is awesome and I want one"; you don't need an excuse to like it (or hate it).
For me, I can't help but look at the ZX-14R and wish that the Hayabusa had some of the electronics it features. Though even the ZX-14R is lacking, in the final analysis — it doesn't have cruise control or cornering ABS.
Speaking of which...
What's the better motorcycle — the Kawasaki ZX-14R or the Suzuki Hayabusa?
This could be a whole article by itself.
Firstly, if you've committed to one of these bikes, then you've already committed to a 250+kg bike with way too much horsepower, something designed to much down the miles at high speed without batting an eyelid.
If you've decided that much, then the specs won't vary much between the two motorcycles. Yes, you could probably fling the ZX-14R down the straight a hair faster than the Hayabusa, thanks to its higher horsepower and traction control.
But they're still both extremely fast.
You'd choose the Suzuki Hayabusa over the Kawasaki ZX-14R for...
- Brand name recognition. Tell someone who vaguely knows about motorcycles that you ride a Hayabusa, and they'll know what you mean in the same way that they'll know about an R1, a Ducati, or a Harley. They won't know what a ZX-14R is; it was always known as the the "Hayabusa killer".
- Iconic (not "better") design. The design of the Hayabusa was wind tunnel first, aesthetics second. But it does look better to some people.
- Customisability. The Hayabusa shares so many components with the first generaiton, and so little has changed over the years, that it's really easy to find aftermarket components for it. It's a favourite among customisers.
- Simplicity. You might prefer a motorbike with less technology. That does mean there's less that can go wrong, and overall it's a bit easier to work on.
- Buying new. The Hayabusa is still available new in some markets, like in the US and in Australia (not in Europe). The ZX-14R has been discontinued and it seems like the H2 range of motorcycles has taken its place.
And you'd choose the Kawasaki ZX-14R over the Suzuki Hayabusa for...
- Horsepower (and performance). In sheer numbers, the ZX-14R has peak power of 155 kW (208 hp), whereas the latest model Hayabusa has peak power of 146 kW (194 hp).
- Electronics. 2012+ Kawasaki ZX-14Rs have traction control and ride modes (not just power modes, as the Hayabusa has).
- Design. It's subjective, and many just hate the Hayabusa's design. If you hate the 'Busa, but love the concept, then the ZX-14R is your best alternative.
You'd choose either the ZX-14R or the Hayabusa, and not go wrong, if you prioritise comfort (subjective between the two), speed (they're both fast as hell), or road presence (they both have a lot), and if you don't need cruise control or cornering ABS.
A lot of people simply choose the best used example of either they can find.
Common issues with the Suzuki Hayabusa
One of the wonderful things about the Hayabusa is that it's such an old, established platform, that very little goes wrong with it.
I mean, it's so reliable that it's a platform for modifications like throwing turbochargers onto it. To be comfortable that a turbocharger isn't going to blow up your bike, you would have to be really confident!
It's not to say they don't have faults or never break down. But there are no gremlins lying underneath the surface waiting to bite, unlike a lot of other motorcycles out there (looking at you, Ducati).
Here are a few common issues with Hayabusas that I find in the forums.
- Hard starting — Early Hayabusas (mostly Gen 1 models) are hard to start. Assuming you've checked most things like wiring and relays, and that you're using the correct fuel (some say 95 RON is best, rather than 98), then many people on forums say the grounding wire on the starter motor is usually to blame — replace it with a new one. Or just a bad battery.
- Blown clutches and gears — this is really something you should watch out for in a used Hayabusa. It's not that the clutches and gears had problems; it's that people flog these motorcycles and so one gear might be broken and you might never find it withou ta test ride.
Aside from that, I don't see anything I don't see with any other motorcycle. Some people complain about starter clutches, but that's common to every motorcycle out there.
Which Hayabusa to buy? And what to look for in a used Hayabusa?
If you're going to buy a Gen 1, buy 03+. There were changes to the ECU that made them run a lot better.
But I'd suggest buying a Gen 2 Hayabusa — 2013+ with ABS. These are effectively the same as the new ones, even in 2020.
Do not buy a 2020 one unless you're desperate to buy new with a full warranty. Apart from the tech not having updated, if Suzuki does decide to update the tech, yours will suddenly drop in value.
Just find one with
- Low miles
- Stock condition (not even an aftermarket exhaust!)
- Good paint
If you have those done, you're golden.