THE WIND ASSAULTS YOU AT 250KMPH. THAT gentle breeze that was tickling my bald head in the pits just five minutes earlier had turned into a frenzied gale-storm that tore at my leathers, the top of my helmet and anything else that dared peek out from behind the Hayabusa. It was deafening inside that helmet. Not just loud, but chaotic. Minor gusts would get magnified a hundredfold and double down on their violence. You think it can’t get worse but then the speedo climbs further. 260. 270. 280kmph. I may as well have been standing in a hurricane.
No amount of driving fast cars can prepare you for the sensations you get on a fast motorcycle. You’re exposed. Completely. The engine is screaming to the redline right under your chest. The blacktop is racing past inches away from your feet. The railings built to protect you from careening off the track don’t look friendly anymore. A few low flying birds that were on a perpetual kamikaze mission suddenly seem a lot deadlier. One mistake would have catastrophic consequences. But you don’t have time to think about consequences when you’re nearing 300kmph. Because you’re too busy fighting yourself. After millennia of evolution, peak human performance is 44kmph — Usain Bolt did something of the sort in 2009. To force the body to deal with over five times that speed out of the blue, while being fully exposed to the elements triggers all sorts of involuntary responses. Fight-or-flight instincts kick in. The body tenses up. Your grip gets tighter. Your eyes start scanning for danger. None of them recommended when you’re on a motorcycle. So you’re fighting yourself, relaxing that grip on the ’bars and forcing your eyes to look as far ahead as they can.
THE SUZUKI HAYABUSA IS A LEGEND. BORN OUT OF a need to go faster than everything else on the road, Suzuki developed what it called the GSX1300R Hayabusa in 1999. It blew minds back then. Two decades later, it continues to. The changes have been incremental — Gen 2 came in 2008 and the engine was enlarged to 1340cc. 2013 brought a mild update with better brakes and ABS. And that’s it. The Hayabusa remained so, an ode to speed written in the language of motorcycles, until it was discontinued in 2018. But 2021 has given us Gen 3. Possibly the most comprehensive overhaul to the Hayabusa in the 20 years since it first landed, and yet the spec sheet will fool you into thinking otherwise.
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