Every now and then a motorcycle comes along that rewrites the rules.
In big road bike terms, that happened in the late 1960s when Honda launched the four-cylinder 750/4, effectively killing off the British bike industry. It happened again in the 1980s when Suzuki built the GSX-R750, the first race-bike replica for the street. And then again, in the 1990s, Honda gave us the Fireblade and sports bikes were changed forever.
Suzuki's other history-making moment came in 1999 when a bike called the Hayabusa hit the streets. With aerodynamic styling and a fuel-injected 1300cc engine, the GSX1300R (to give it its other name) swept everything else into the gutter. With a top speed of more than 300km/h and ferocious acceleration, the Hayabusa was not a bike to be treated carelessly. But for blasting between points on a map, it was the instant king of the kids. Still is.
On The Road
If the thought of throwing a leg over a bike with around 175 horsepower scares you, that's probably a good thing. Because without the right amount of respect shown to it, the Suzuki has the potential to turn the world upside-down. Literally.
The power is smooth and delivered progressively, but because there's so darn much of it, you need to be very mindful that you're sitting on a potential unguided missile. A second-generation Hayabusa was launched in 2006 with - you guessed it - even more power (now 190). It was so urgent, Suzuki had to fit three different ignition maps (switchable on the handlebars) to tame the power and enable the thing to be ridden in the wet.
Handling is secure thanks to a long wheelbase and quality components and the brakes are up to the job. But towering above all else is that mighty engine. You have been warned.
What to look for when buying a used Suzuki Hayabusa
The good news is that you don't have to worry about buying a Hayabusa that's been thrashed. And that's simply because anybody who ever tried to thrash one probably wound up in hospital and the bike in a skip. Mind you, plenty of people found that out the hard way, so your first check should be for crash damage. At least most Hayabusas were insured, so any repairs should have been carried out properly. For reasons known only to those who run asylums, some people even modified their Hayabusas, but we'd be wary of those. And let's face it, if you think a Busa needs more grunt, we don't want to buy a secondhand bike from you.
Years: 1999 - current
Engine size: 1300cc
Fuel system: Efi
Standard transmission: 6-speed
The Final Verdict
+ Enormous performance and speed
+ Quality handling via classy chassis
+ Big brakes
- Bit weird looking at first
- Not for beginners