Did I really miss that brake marker at over 160 mph on the 3/4-mile front straight at Utah Motorsports Campus?Yep. The marker, a red flag sticking out of an orange cone, is out of sight. My index and middle fingers are pulling the brake lever forcefully as my mind tries to focus. The rear of the 582-pound hypersport is dancing under near weightlessness from the hard braking.The new Brembo Stylema calipers did their work, slowing this Japanese beast just enough to turn and not explore the off-road capabilities of the 2022 Suzuki Hayabusa at turn one.
“Breathe in,” I remind myself, returning to a sort of mindful meditation as I keep the throttle steady through turn 2.I haven’t gone this fast—or grabbed the brakes this hard—in a long, long time. That’s because it’s not often you want to take a Suzuki Hayabusa to a road racing circuit—well, the previous two generations, that is.Those motorcycles were designed to cater to straight-line speeds and a cult of riders who enjoyed gawking about 190+ horsepower and a unique style that only the Hayabusa can deliver.The third-generation Hayabusa, released as a 2022 model, retains that signature attitude. With this edition, that hypersport vantage point is a bit more refined and undoubtedly capable of other forms of riding, thanks to modern technology.This is a motorcycle that is as capable on a road circuit as a drag strip. The refinements also cater to comfortable street riding and sport touring, courtesy of slightly tweaked ergonomics and refined power.Ultimate Motorcycling President Arthur Coldwells reviewed the street capabilities of the 2022 Hayabusa two months ago, so I’ll focus this review on the all-out power and handling characteristics of this bike at Utah Motorsports Campus. I did ride about 40 miles on the twisty mountainous roads outside Salt Lake City.On the street, the bike brings me back to my earlier days around the turn of the century when I toured on bigger sportbikes, and that’s exactly what the Hayabusa feels like on the track—a big ole sportbike from the ’90s that can go the distance, but with extreme smoothness and safety due to the updated electronics that bring the Hayabusa into the 2020s. It’s worth noting that the Suzuki has more than 550 new parts, with most of them within the engine. And what an engine it is.
Refined Hayabusa Engine
Hayabusa is the Japanese word for the peregrine falcon—the world’s fastest bird because it flies over 200 mph when diving for its prey.The name is perfect for this model. It became one of the leading hyperbikes as it went up against others, such as the Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird and the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-11, which was later replaced by the Hayabusa’s ultimate rivals over the years, the ZX-12R in 2000 and the ZX-14R in 2006.This attribution demands respect, and the soul of this machine provides much respect—and then some.Due to a total rebuild on the 1340cc powerplant, Suzuki has achieved a much smoother and stronger low-to-mid range power output. Credit goes to the multiple tweaks over the former engine, including a revamped intake system, revised cam timing, new valve springs, new pistons, and a redesigned exhaust that helps the Busa achieve Euro 5 compliance.The result is 188 horsepower at 9700 rpm, and 111 ft/lbs of torque at 7000 rpm. Hayabusa purists may complain about the peak horses dropping seven from the previous generation, but the motorcycle feels faster.I rode both the first and second generations, and those bikes felt like they would uncontrollably rip your arms off when heading to WOT in any gear. The power delivery of the 2022 Hayabusa, combined with the upgraded electronics such as traction and wheelie control, allows you to screw it on without fear of getting ejected from the 31.5-inch-high seat.And screw it on I did, throughout my four sessions at Utah Motorsports Campus, formerly called Miller Motorsports Park. I rode the 3.02-mile Outer Course. It provided enough straightaway space to get this motorcycle to do its proper high-speed thing—the 2022 Hayabusa weighs more than 120 pounds than the average superbike.Due to its obvious plumpness, the Hayabusa takes some extra leg and midsection muscle to handle (I’m still burning!). On the straights, the exhilaration is worth every morsel of tiring muscles, especially on the front straight where I revved through fifth gear while tucked behind the windscreen.The silence is unbelievable when you’re at full stick and your helmet’s chin guard is slapping the top of the tank while in full tuck. Once you see your braking marker—something you must pay attention to on a bike of this caliber—and you lift your head, the noise and comfort go from 100 to zero, as the turbulence knocks your head back quickly.This engine delivers linear power across the rpm range, and it revs quickly for its 1340cc displacement. When I heard about the revised Hayabusa, I thought Suzuki would go all turbo and compete with the Kawasaki H2.Suzuki listened to its fans and kept a naturally aspirated engine. Smart move, Suzuki. This motor needs nothing more regarding power delivery. Although peak power is down, not many will notice the difference.
Two of my loves for Suzuki GSX-R sportbikes are predictable steering—due to the twin-spar chassis/KYB suspension setups—and smooth shifting. The former Hayabusas all had smooth shifting, and the third generation continues this tradition. It gets better, though, because Suzuki added a quickshifter for clutchless up and down gear changes.I never missed a shift, and only used the clutch to get the bike moving and when coming to a stop. Regardless of rpm, from below 1000 to 9000 rpm, the transmission shifted without hesitation. Although the gearbox ratios are street-oriented, the engine’s broad torque band allowed me to become lazy on the track. I short-shifted through the flowing sections of the circuit, letting the motor climb to the rev limiter before getting hard on the brakes.I wanted oh so badly to see sixth gear on that back straight, but I couldn’t get the drive out of the final corner to reach sixth. Maybe that was a good thing.
Smarter Electronics Increase Safety
To control the delivery of the massive power to the ground, Suzuki uses its SIRS (Suzuki Intelligent Riding System)—and it works flawlessly.This system, which utilizes a six-axis IMU, offers:
Three power modes: Active, Basic, and Comfort (A and B at full power)
Traction control at lean angle (10 levels, plus off)
Wheelie control (10 levels, plus off)
Engine braking control (three levels, plus off)
Quickshifter (clutchless up/down shifting, two levels of response)
On the street, mode B is a favorite. The softer throttle response tames the hefty beast. I’d imagine mode C would be perfect for a passenger, and A is the only one for the track.The A-mode response is crisp, yet soft enough during mid-throttle to remain on the perfect line. When cranked wide open, it’s snappy enough to allow the quick-revving engine to hit 9000 rpm.I used traction control on 1 for the track day, which saved me a few times at a serious lean angle on the invisible rear chicane. There’s absolutely no need to switch off TC, unless you want to chuck a nearly 600-pound bike across a track once your brain doesn’t match your wrist, or vice versa. The differences between settings 2 through 5 are subtle, so I didn’t play with anything over 5. Save that for the street.Speaking of lean angle, the 2022 Hayabusa’s dash allows you to see what your steepest lean angle was. I saw 50 degrees when I checked during the final session. A few of the former racers were seeing 59 degrees on the track. Cycle World’s Don Canet, who raced on the Valvoline Suzuki Endurance Team years back, was scraping lower fairings, proving the bike can handle serious madness.I also kept wheelie control and engine braking control on 1 throughout my track day; both were the perfect settings. A word or ten on wheelie control—I have zero clues why there are 10 settings. You can’t wheelie in setting 1.Actually, you have to shut off wheelie control and traction control to do a proper wheelie. Setting 1 allows you to pin it—the front floats but doesn’t wheelie as you would think. Settings 2 through 10 all felt the same.Other electronics include launch control (three levels), speed limiter (to set maximum speed), Low RPM Assist (to prevent stalling when taking off from a stop too casually), cruise control, and a Hill Hold Control System. Except for the launch control, the others target increasing safety and comfort on the street.Launch control is fun to play with, though it takes some psychological rethinking of launches because you don’t have to modulate the throttle. Keep it wide open and feather the clutch, and Suzuki claims quicker reaction times on the dragstrip (undeniably fun when dragging at red lights, also, but I didn’t say that).After holding down the start button when the motor running and in gear, you initiate the system and toggle with the left handlebar control one of three selections. The first launch the bike at 4000 rpm, the second at 6000 rpm, and the third at 8000 rpm. I tested all three on the track’s front straightaway, and the motor sounded much cooler than the launch felt.I did some traditional launches and felt much faster. However, none of them were timed. Regardless, for my debut test on the Busa, the sound of the launch control at 8000 rpm far exceeds a quicker reaction time emotionally.Hold on, because once you shift into second gear, the launch control’s electronics turn off and you’re back to arm-weakening fun.
Much Improved Hayabusa Handling
Although the Hayabusa is a hefty machine, it tracks exceptionally well at speed. When I first sat on the bike and took it off the kickstand, I was planning for a miserable day. However, once you get rolling, the weight disappears nicely. The faster you go, the easier the bike is to handle and turn—and it’s more stable!The reason for the stability and easy handling is the 50/50 weight distribution, though most superbikes are weighted frontwards more for sharper handling. Also, the generous 58.3-inch wheelbase assists stability.The unchanged twin-spar frame combines with updated fully adjustable KYB suspension, which helps improve the handling tremendously over the previous generations.The 2022 Hayabusa was set up slightly stiffer for the track session, so I didn’t need to change a thing. The front fork provided a planted and stable feeling all day, with enough feel to understand the level of traction in the front tires. As per the rear, it’s also typical KYB united with twin-spar frame goodness. Just like the GSX-R lineup, this type of suspension and chassis setup never disappoints.While this is no GSX-R, you can have just as much fun on the track, with a bit more work on your part.Suzuki wisely uses Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 rubber (120/70; 190/50) on the new Hayabusa—tires I tested at the Jerez MotoGP circuit in Spain. The S22s are a favorite of mine, and I run them consistently on two of my personal sportbikes. I expected the tires to wear quickly due to the weight and heavy front braking at the end of the straights, but the tires didn’t lose any bit throughout the day, and that was at 40.5 psi, front and rear!
Bigger Bite from Brakes
With this much power comes a serious demand for braking. Suzuki has always used Brembo monoblocs on the previous Hayabusas, and the stopping power was adequate. On the 2022, braking is vastly improved in both stopping power and feels due to Brembo Stylema calipers and 320mm discs rather than the old 310s.I won’t lie. I didn’t feel that glorious rush of fear as I did when I missed my braking marking and had to put all my 160+ mph slowing faith into the brakes. The rear shook beautifully as the bike decelerated, and the feel at the lever was positive, from intense slowing to releasing small amounts of pressure as I trail braked to the apex of turn one.I’m also a huge fan of using the rear brake on the track and street, mostly mid-corner, to help tighten lines or slow the speeds. The 260mm rear disc squeezed by a single-piston Nissin caliper provided a bit too much grasp for me, though that is easily adjustable for my riding style.While the front brake lever is linked to the rear brake (a bit of pressure is applied to the rear to keep the chassis stable under braking), the rear brake pedal operates independently. This independent functioning helps me fully use the rear brake to keep the chassis settled as needed.As for the ABS, it’s on the top-end of the spectrum, regardless of lean angle or hill grade. I experimented with grabbing extra front brakes mid-corner—ABS intervened without notice, keeping the chassis settled. This, like the TC, can save much pain from high-siding such a monstrous machine on the racetrack.
Big Old Sportbike Comfort
Comfort has improved due to grips that are a half-inch closer to the rider. The 2022 Suzuki Hayabusa feels like an oversized ’90s sportbike, and presents no comfort issues on the track. As for the street, the story was different. I gauge comfort by whether or not my right hip goes numb—I have a rod and some trauma in my right femur and hip. Unfortunately, my right hip did go numb. A bit more room between the seat and the rearsets would help this tremendously.Although this engine produces 188 horsepower, heat dissipates optimally. It did not affect me during my track sessions with the temperature in the mid-80s.Vibrations are non-existence. Suzuki did add rubber mounting to the handlebar, which reduces buzz at the grips. The overall package is buzz-free, even at the top of the rpm range.
Updated Classic Hayabusa Looks
One look and the Hayabusa screams, well, Hayabusa. You can immediately tell that it’s a Hayabusa due to the sharp but large fairing styling. The rear did slim down a bit, which is immediately noticeable next to a previous generation model.The redesigned fairing slices the wind at triple-digits, just as its predecessors did among the previous generations. You feel zero drag when pinned and fully tucked on the straights and, as I mentioned, the noise is low behind the windscreen. The engineers spent much time refining the aerodynamics, and that time was well worth it—tuck in and slice the wind.My favorite part of the styling, especially on the track, is the redesigned gauges that classic analog looks. The huge tachometer and speedometer clocks have actual numbers and a needle, though speed only shows up to 180 mph instead of 200 mph.The new TFT-enhanced panel gives you an active look at what you’re doing—very cool. A circular graphic shows how much throttle, brakes, or lean is occurring in real-time. This adds to the appeal of riding, although it can get you in trouble if you’re chasing specific data, such as how much lean or brake pressure is used during trail braking.Concluding ThoughtsOut of the nearly 25 or so Hayabusa owners I have met, not one used the full abilities of the machine. They’d either be filling up for fuel at a local Sheetz or standing around some bike show discussing the latest bling on their Busas—not my crowd.However, my impression of this crowd changed when I heard sales. The Hayabusa is a cult favorite from coast to coast. To date, Suzuki claims it has sold over 200,000 Hayabusas worldwide since the model was introduced in 1999, with half of those sold in the United States. Some of those guys may not be carving the backroads at spirited speeds like the sportbike crowd, but they sure are buying lots of bikes and supporting the best industry on this planet.Of course, I rode the first and second generations, and the intense power always superseded my somewhat negative emotional take on the “bling Busa.”The third generation further alleviates those emotions towards the bike, especially because now it’s a perfectly capable track-day bike—for those in shape.The 2022 Suzuki Hayabusa should come with a diversity disclaimer for demanded use in prioritized order—drag strip, hypersport street riding, sport touring, and the occasional track day. And, of course, no extended swingarms and bling, please.RIDING STYLE
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly Podcast—Motos and Friends.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
This week’s Podcast is brought to you by Yamaha motorcycles. Discover how the YZF-R7 provides the perfect balance of rider comfort and true supersport performance by checking it out at YamahaMotorsports.com, or see it for yourself at your local dealer.
This week’s episode features Senior Editor Nic de Sena’s impressions of the beautiful new Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST that is loosely based around the original FXRT Sport Glide from the 1980s. Hailing from The Golden State, these cult-status performance machines became known as West Coast style, with sportier suspension, increased horsepower, and niceties including creature comforts such as a tidy fairing and sporty luggage.
In past episodes you might have heard us mention my best friend, Daniel Schoenewald, and in the second segment I chat with him about some of the really special machines in his 170 or so—and growing—motorcycle collection. He’s always said to me that he doesn’t consider himself the owner, merely the curator of the motorcycles for the next generation.
Yet Daniel is not just a collector, but I can attest a really skilled rider. His bikes are not trailer queens, they’re ridden, and they’re ridden pretty hard. Actually, we have had many, many memorable rides on pretty much all of the machines in the collection at one time or another.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!