THE SUZUKI HAYABUSA
Cycle World|Issue 4 - 2020
Suzuki said the first Hayabusa invented a new category called Ultimate Sport. We said, “Yeah, right,”…until we rode it.
MARK HOYER
The Hayabusa made you consider things you’d never considered before. Take the definition of “corner.” We all know what that means, right? We find them on winding back roads, or at intersections with other roads. But is there really a corner on the freeway or interstate? No, you say? The 1999 Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa said yes. Let me explain. At the 1998 press launch for the 1,298cc copper-and-gold beast, it seemed impossible that Suzuki wanted us to spend an entire day at Circuit de Catalunya in Spain, followed by a day of “touring” on the road. Further to this, we even had a track session in the morning before our, um, tour. This was a 550-pound missile sent to kill the Honda CBR1100XX Blackbird and crush the previous king of speed, the Kawasaki ZX-11. It wasn’t a racer replica built to win some crazy (nonexistent) 1,300cc road race championship.

Yet there we were. And it was amazing what this bike did on this Spanish Grand Prix racetrack, lap after lap, with only a mildly spongy front brake lever to show for its remarkable speed and not insubstantial weight. Well, that and fairing sides and engine covers that scraped on the tarmac, particularly in the long, right-hand turn 3, where this bike demonstrated stability on the edge of the tire that belied all its might and girth. No one at the launch could believe what we were getting away with. Draft passes as we dipped into fifth gear down the long front straight. The Hayabusa ripped through fifth gear like most bikes did third.

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