The hieroglyph writ large on the side of the predatory-looking machine’s fairing says it all. The symbol is in Kanji, and the Japanese character is pronounced “hayabusa,” meaning “strong and fast.” Translating from the Japanese, the word actually means the peregrine falcon—the world’s fastest bird. During its spectacular dive for prey from around a mile high, the peregrine flies at over 200 mph as it screams silently out of the sky toward its prey.Naming this Suzuki model “Hayabusa” is about as apt as is possible. Born into greatness in 1999, the original Suzuki Hayabusa was a ground-breaking machine that quickly assumed the King of Speed crown. It features futuristic, highly aerodynamic looks that helped propel the Hayabusa to a stratospheric top speed that knocked on the door of 200 miles per hour, despite its somewhat modest (by today’s standards) 161 peak horsepower output.
The intervening 21 years or so saw Suzuki increase the Hayabusa’s displacement and engine power output. The aftermarket embraced the inline-4 ‘screamer’ motor to create many beasts that have ruled dragstrips around the world. The iconic Hayabusa has developed a huge, and passionately loyal, following.Suzuki updated the Hayabusa in 2008, and I attended the launch at the appropriately fast Road America racetrack. The second-gen Hayabusa acquitted itself amazingly well; for a machine around 80 pounds heavier than a superbike, the Hayabusa handled around Road America’s corners as confidently as it launched itself down the straights.Having said that, moto-technology has evolved dramatically in the last decade. With the evolution to this third-generation Hayabusa—a 2022 model—Suzuki has comprehensively and impressively upgraded the entire machine, while wisely avoiding mucking around with—and possibly ruining—its heart.The styling is driven by Suzuki’s relentless determination to make this motorcycle as slippery through the air as possible. Motorcycles are tall and skinny, making them aerodynamically very inefficient. The new Hayabusa’s grips are a half-inch closer to the rider, making for a noticeably more relaxed and upright riding position. However, the added rider comfort makes it more challenging from an aero perspective; it required months of wind-tunnel testing to keep the new Hayabusa’s wind coefficient to the same level as the previous version.That might sound like a minimal achievement, but to create that more comfortable riding position, yet still retain the amazing lack of drag, took a mammoth effort. Fortunately, Suzuki now has its own wind tunnel outside the factory in Hamamatsu. The engineers spent months trying to eliminate as much of that pesky drag as they could reasonably expect on a motorcycle that still has to function and remain street legal.Tiny incremental gains add up, and, fortunately, the Japanese culture is detailed and precise; there’s a palpable joy in Japan for making things perfectly. There is simply no better country on the globe to bring that mindset to building a motorcycle such as the Hayabusa, where every single tiny element is looked at and improved—even if just by a little bit.Suzuki engineers were ruthless in their quest for efficiency; for example, there are no protruding turn signals—they’re entirely built into the bodywork. The mirrors also came under intense scrutiny. Finally, the all-new, very different shape still works beautifully, despite the minimalism and aerodynamic efficiency.The back of the Hayabusa is just as spectacular, with a wide, sculpted rear end, and a purposeful-looking aero spoiler running underneath the lights. Its contrasting color to the main body makes it stand out. It ties in perfectly with the color-matched element that swoops under and around the vertically stacked multi-LED headlight.In addition, Suzuki stylists have added some really nice detail visual touches to the motorcycle, including a bold, chrome edging strip down the side of the fairing, and a peregrine-esque feather motif embedded into the side sections between the gas tank and the seat. The rest of the styling is handled with accented sections and small detail touches that become apparent upon close inspection. The attention to detail is fantastic, and the result is spectacular. The 2022 Suzuki Hayabusa turns heads, for sure.Suzuki motorcycles’ build quality is generally very good, and Hayabusa has definitely stepped things up a notch or two. The paint is deep and lustrous, and happily unadorned by excessive graphics. All the lighting around the bike is now LED, and the general styling is elegant and simple. This machine exudes sophistication and premium quality.Once you get beneath the bodywork, the heartbeat of 2022 Suzuki Hayabusa is familiar. There are more than 550 new parts on the motorcycle, and a large percentage of those are within the motor. The engineers, after more than a year of discussion and experimenting with different layouts, displacements, and even forced-induction systems, ultimately decided to stay with the existing successful size and architecture—an inline-4 motor with the ‘screamer’ firing order, the same across-the-frame layout, and retaining the 1340cc displacement.The newly refined motor feels smoother to me, and reworked engine internals help the motor feel as though it spins up faster. Euro 5 emissions are a brutal standard if you’re a performance engine manufacturer, yet Suzuki has managed to comply. That feat comes at the small price of dropping peak output by six horsepower and 3.7 ft-lbs of torque. However, as mentioned, those are peak numbers and don’t affect the mid-range—which is where the motor actually lives during street riding.Peak horsepower braggarts will predictably piss and moan about this ‘travesty’. However, Suzuki’s loyalty to the aftermarket will likely be appreciated, as there is no change in displacement or addition of forced induction. Additionally, the engineers have kept the Hayabusa’s weight at a svelte 582 pounds at the curb, which is reasonable for a motorcycle in the hyperbike class.In the real world of actual riding, peak numbers mean almost nothing; the key to riding quickly is to have stonking—yet well-managed—horsepower in the lower and middle part of the rev range. Suzuki’s reworking and refining of the Hayabusa motor has moved most of the torque output into the midrange, resulting in a dramatically higher output within that range than previously.The end result is a much quicker riding motorcycle with a breathtaking surge in the middle of the powerband that will stretch your arms and whiten your knuckles. The 2022 Suzuki Hayabusa is simply never even close to being short of power. The luxury of carrying a nice tall gear and still having more than enough oomph to accelerate as hard as you need is very addicting.Adding to this motorcycle’s premium quality feel is a six-speed gearbox with a lever-action that is second-to-none. The two-level clutchless shift assistant works flawlessly and allows for what feel like almost seamless gear changes.The new Hayabusa chassis is slightly lighter than before, thanks to a redesigned sub-frame. The new KYB fork and shock are fully adjustable and much better than what was on offer in 2008. Suzuki set up the suspension to feel plush, yet it is also firm enough to encourage the Hayabusa’s surprisingly nimble handling.Riding a relatively heavy, substantial-feeling sport machine, I was delighted to experience the quick turn-in at the first few corners I encountered. While the previous Hayabusa was never ponderous, this new iteration turns with alacrity; I could push deep into corners and then turn the bike quickly and smoothly across to each apex. The motorcycle went exactly where I aimed it. Faster corners were a joy, and the Hayabusa’s long wheelbase makes for a very stable machine in long sweepers.On the local Malibu roads, I encountered some gravel in corners, and changing lines was never a problem—the 2022 Suzuki Hayabusa simply wanted to comply with any instruction I gave. Neutral and stable, yet quick and precise, are not mutually exclusive with this machine. It feels purposeful and powerful—a dominant road warrior with a towering presence that filled me with confidence.Brembo Stylema brake calipers clamp down on larger 320mm rotors, and they are rider-controlled at the lever by a Nissin master pump. The brakes are exemplary, with tons of feel at the lever and more than enough power. Several times, I chirped the front tire when doing hard stops, and over ridges and bumps, I occasionally felt the ABS kick in just a little as the brakes brought the Hayabusa’s speed down. The brakes are semi-linked. The front brake lever adds some rear braking, enhancing the Hayabusa’s impressive stability under hard braking. However, using the brake pedal does not add front braking.All of this mechanical excellence is managed by Suzuki’s electronics suite. I am very used to using most of it, as it’s almost the same as fitted to my personal GSX-R1000R. Hayabusa now features Launch Control, which will be welcomed by straight-line rocketeers. There are three levels of take-off to choose from. Level 1 is set for take-off at 4000 rpm, 2 allows 6000 rpm, and level 3 permits an 8000 rpm blastoff, if you’re a seasoned lights launcher.Another feature is the Hill Hold Control system that holds the Hayabusa in place when it is stopped on an incline. The system automatically engages the rear brake for 30 seconds once the motorcycle comes to a stop facing uphill, even after the rider releases the brake lever or pedal. Hill Hold Control can be disengaged either by quickly squeezing the front brake lever twice or when the rider starts accelerating to pull away from a standing start. An “H” mark on the instrument cluster shows when the system is engaged, and flashes when the system disengages.The data streaming from a six-axis IMU (pitch, roll, and yaw) feeds Suzuki’s new SDMS-ɑ system. SDMS-ɑ incorporates power delivery aggression levels set to the factory default, as well as ten levels of traction control (plus off), both front- and rear-wheel lift mitigation, three levels of engine braking, and Suzuki’s Motion Track ABS, which senses the Hayabusa’s attitude (pitch forward or back, and lean angle) and calculates the level of anti-lock intervention accordingly. Unusually, the three standard power modes all provide full engine power, though the level of aggression is changed considerably and includes the varying default levels of other controls.Predictably, A mode has the most aggressive delivery and least electronic aid intervention. C is for slippery conditions where the power is delivered least aggressively, and aid parameters are most invasive. B mode is the happy medium.I ran the 2022 Suzuki Hayabusa in A mode for a while. However, most of the roads I was riding were tight and twisty, requiring real finessing at the twistgrip. I ended up preferring mode B, with its gentler response at smaller throttle openings. In addition to the factory-set modes, there are also two customizable Rider modes, where any and all permutations can be set by the individual. I found the factory defaults to be pretty good, so I didn’t play around within the personalized modes, though it’s nice to know the option is there.Cruise control now comes on the Hayabusa. That is welcomed when you consider the mile-churning capability of this beast. Suzuki has also added a user-set speed-limiter; that’s certainly a first on any offering from this brand. It can be overridden by simply grabbing a handful. I presume some folk will find it useful, perhaps in pit lane on track day, but the hooligan in me scoffs at it.The large instrument pod inside the cockpit has a traditional layout that shows everything at a glance. The large analog rev counter is on the left and the speedometer on the right; both old school and readable. I personally prefer the modern numerical speed readout, but each to his own. Certainly, the large dual-clock layout is visually more attractive.The speedometer and tachometer flank a TFT panel that can display multiple functions accessed by the left handlebar toggle switch. This panel displays either the current SDMS-ɑ settings, or an active data display that can show lean angle, front and rear brake pressure, rate of vehicle acceleration or deceleration, and the current twistgrip position. The panel can also show the time, gear position, odometer, dual trip meter, ambient air temperature, instantaneous fuel consumption, fuel range, trip time, average fuel consumption, and battery voltage, as desired. Other LED lights on the pod display the usual indicator and warning lights. There is also an LED engine coolant temperature indicator light in the upper right corner and a fuel indicator light in the upper left corner.The 2022 Suzuki Hayabusa is a substantial, premium-quality machine that showcases the company’s attention to detail and ability to create an exquisitely crafted product. A luxury motorcycle does not have to be soft or bloated; luxury can just as equally mean finely tuned, highly reactive elegance. In achieving the latter with this bike, Suzuki has taken the hard edges off the beast and evolved the Hayabusa into a highly sophisticated motorcycle with an astonishing road presence.Photography by Kevin WingRIDING STYLE
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.