When Suzuki’s Hayabusa debuted in 1999, it inspired controversy for two aspects that would go on to become iconic: its controversial aerodynamic styling and its ability to open a giant can of whup-ass on anything else on the showroom floor.
After word got out about its 9-second abilities down the quarter-mile and its 190-plus-mph top speed, its “Eye-Abuse-Er” nickname became less prevalent. Soon the Busa was seen by some groups as the hottest thing on the street, and the mighty falcon became one of the primary canvases on which to polish frames and bolt on big-tire kits to up the bike’s badass-ness.
Now nine years on (and with a manufacturers’ agreement to limit top speeds to a laughably sedate 186 mph), the Busa was hit on the chin in 2006 by the Kawasaki ZX-14. The Kawi proved to be quicker and more powerful but also smoother and more comfortable. Regardless, the Busa remained as popular as ever and was unmatched for its street cred. Fearing a “New Coke”-type backlash, Suzuki engineers didn’t want to stray too far from the original Busa concept in this new redesign you see here. It’s still unmistakably a Hayabusa even if every fairing panel has been remolded. And it’s not much different underneath, either.
While it’s the new skin that first grabs your attention, it’s the unholy monster motor underneath that has earned the Hayabusa its veneration. Potent and durable, it has been the inspiration for a closer relationship with god among those who have twisted its throttle to the stop. For ’08, this legendary lump has received a 2mm longer stroke to yield 1340cc instead of the old bike’s 1299cc. New forged pistons are lighter and stronger and produce a 1.5-point increase in compression ratio to 12.5:1. Also forged is the crank, as it attaches to new chro-moly rods that are now shot-peened for added strength. Cam chain adjustment is now accomplished hydraulically, which also helps reduce mechanical noise.
Up top are 16 new titanium valves that save 14.1 grams on each intake and 11.7 grams on each exhaust for a significant weight loss in this critical area, allowing the replacement of double valve springs with lighter single springs. Valve sizes remain the same, but a new camshaft now forces greater lift on both the intake and exhaust poppets and has revised timing. It’s all fed by a pair of double-barreled 44mm throttle bodies. They use a version of Suzuki’s Dual Throttle Valve system that has a secondary throttle valve mounted above the primary that’s controlled by the bike’s electronic brain to maintain the ideal velocity of the intake charge based on rpm, throttle opening and gear position.
Controlled by a new high-powered Engine Control Unit, Suzuki says that the Busa has the company’s “most powerful, most advanced digital fuel-injection and engine management system.” Another important task of the ECU is controlling the different parameters of Suzuki’s Drive Mode System. Like the GSX-R1000 and ’08 Gixxer 600/750, the Busa has a handlebar-mounted switch to set the power mode into three available positions. It produces full power in mode A, the default setting, while mode B has a bit of the power edge clipped off. Mode C might be an asset in the rain, but it neuters all the excitement out of the muscular motor.
'Suzuki claims the new bike cranks out 194 horsepower at the crankshaft'
How muscular, you might ask? Suzuki claims the new bike cranks out 194 horsepower at the crankshaft, a 21-horse (12.1%) improvement. Torque is boosted 8.5% to 114 ft-lbs. The old 1299cc engine produced about 160 ponies at the rear wheel, so we expect this new one to spit out around 175 horsepower on a rear-wheel dyno.
“The new 2008 Haybusa is just so freakin’ fast it is unreal,” relates Neale Bayly from his experience at the press launch. “Accelerating off the corners with a quiet whoosh from the twin pipes like it had been shot out of a Howitzer, it feels like some sort of macabre video game flicking through some of Road America’s tighter sections. It starts making lots of power early, and by the time the needle is past five grand all hell is letting loose. It pulls without a break until the rev limiter kicks in with a bang somewhere around 11 grand.”
Bayly also told us that the response from the high-tech fuel-injection system is flawless, aided by injectors with fine-atomizing 12-hole squirters instead of the previous four. “Giving superb throttle response from very low in the rev range all the way till the rev limiter kicked in, the system was faultless. One area that can cause problems with fuel-injection systems is at lower rpm on small throttle openings, but this was not the case with the big Suzuki.”
At the dragstrip, journalists struggled to break the 10-second barrier, but Jordan Motorsports Racer Aaron Yates was able to just nip into the 9-second bracket. We expect an epic duel between this uprated Busa and the more powerful 2008 ZX-14 for the honor of quarter-mile champ. Out on Road America, the new Busa handles a lot like the old Busa with extra power. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering that the bike’s twin-spar aluminum frame is nearly identical to previous, so we’ve got the same 23.4-degree rake and short 3.7 inches (93mm) of trail. A revised swingarm shortens the wheelbase a scant 5mm to 58.3 inches and features an additional strengthening rib for less flex.
“Don’t expect to go diving up the inside of any supersport bikes at a track day,” says Bayly, “but do perfect your passing wave as you cream them coming off the turns. Not that any of this should be surprising when you consider the bike weighs in around 500 pounds full of fuel, it is just a good idea to remind yourself of these facts before all that horsepower lets you get carried away.”
The old Busa’s most glaring shortcoming was the performance from its old-tech six-piston front brakes that were barely up to the task of slowing this earth-bound missile. We’re happy to report that Suzuki has now fitted up-to-date radial-mounted four-piston calipers to the magic Bus. They bite on 10mm-smaller 310mm discs that have a half-mil extra thickness (5.5mm) to handle the heat. Bayly tells us they are a major improvement.
Also aiding heavy braking is the new slipper clutch that Bayly says it quite effective. The clutch also has the Suzuki Clutch Assist System that increases the amount of force on the clutch plates without using stiffer clutch springs. The clutch also features a new friction material for better feedback at the engagement point. In addition, the width of a few transmission gearsets were revised and the upper three gears are sprayed with oil for reduced wear and quieter operation.
As for the Hayabusa’s new clothes, we’ll leave the aesthetic judgments to you. Aerodynamic efficiency, something the old Busa had over the more powerful ZX-14, is optimized with a wider fairing and a 15mm-taller windscreen to better shelter its rider. The body panel joints are now smoother and have no exposed fasteners, and the top of the fuel tank is lower to allow a tighter full tuck. The tailsection has an enlarged speed hump that will stir some commotion on the message boards, and it also sports integrated turnsignals that are said to “evoke a jet engine motif.” Front turn indicators are nestled into the edges of the air intakes in the nose.
'The clutch also has the Suzuki Clutch Assist System that increases the amount of force on the clutch plates without using stiffer clutch springs.'
Also sure to be controversial is the Busa’s new exhaust system. The triangular muffler canisters on the 4-into 2-into-1-into-2 arrangement look ungainly but are a product of more stringent emissions standards. A catalytic converter is placed where the four head pipes meet under the engine.
“Listening to the sound of Aaron Yates and the new Suzuki Hayabusa going past a few feet from pit wall at close to 190 mph, I just couldn’t believe how quiet the bike was,” Bayly relates. “Almost knocking me off the wall, the sound of the windblast was actually louder than the exhaust.”
In the unrestricted environment of a racetrack, the burlier Busa doesn’t fail to thrill, allowing full use of its mega power. “With walls and fences everywhere, and the big fairing allowing me to get right under the airflow, the view across the clocks was surreal,” says Bayly. “The closeness of the walls greatly exaggerated the already intense speed, and every time you crank the throttle the track just seems to come at you in fast forward. The power is seamless and oh so abundant.”
So, depending on how you think about streetbikes, perhaps Suzuki’s claim of the new Hayabusa as “the ultimate sportbike for the road” has some merit. For some, it’s just too heavy and too powerful, but for others, this invigorated Busa is exactly what they’re looking for. We’ll give Bayly the last word.
“As the first significant overhaul to the all-conquering Japanese bird since 1999, the new 2008 Haybusa is everything the old one was and more. Faster, better handling, and with stronger brakes, the performance element is not going to disappoint. Looking sharper and more modern, without losing its distinct appearance, Busa lovers are not going to be unhappy either.
“And for the rebel without a clue, who thinks their V-Twin’s 67 horsepower and a set of loud pipes makes them a Bad Ass, well they are still going to hate the big, ugly lump of plastic as it goes by them at close to the speed of sound.”
Specifications: 2008 Suzuki Hayabusa
Engine Configuration 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-cylinder
Engine Displacement 1340cc
Compression Ratio 12.5:1
Valves Per Cylinder: 4
Bore x Stroke: 81.0 mm x 65.0 mm
Valve Angle From Vertical IN: 14 degrees, EX: 14 degrees
Valve Train Type: Bucket tappets, chain cam drive
Intake Valve Diameter: 33.0 mm
Exhaust Valve Diameter: 27.5 mm
Intake Valve Maximum Lift: 9.0mm
Exhaust Valve Maximum Lift: 8.6mm
Intake Valve Timing
Open: BTDC 43°
Close: ATDC 58°
Exhaust Valve Timing
Open BTDC: 62°
Close ATDC: 24°
Fuel Delivery System: Fuel Injection 12-holes; 44 mm throttle bodies
Air Filter Type: Paper
Ignition System: Fully transistorized
Lubrication System: Wet sump
Oil Change 3100cc
With Filter Change 3300cc
Fuel Capacity: 21L (5.5 US gal.) for E03 / 20L (5.3 US gal.) for E33
Transmission Type: 6-speed, constant mesh
Clutch Type: Wet multi-plate, manual
Clutch Actuation System: Hydraulic
Clutch Spring Type: Coil
Number of Clutch Springs: 6
Number of Clutch Plates: 10 Drive; 9 Driven
Primary Drive: Gear
Primary Drive Gear Teeth: 83 / 52
Final Drive Sprocket Gear Teeth: 43 / 18
Transmission Gear Teeth
1st: 34 / 13
2nd: 31 / 16
3rd: 29 / 19
4th: 27 / 21
5th: 25 / 22
6th: 24 / 23
Frame Design (Material): Twin-spar (aluminum alloy)
Rake / Trail: 23.4 degrees / 93 mm
Wheelbase: 1,480 mm (58.3 in.)
Seat Height: 805 mm (31.7 in.)
Front Suspension Type: Inverted telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Front Suspension Adjustment: Compression and Rebound damping, Spring Preload
Rear Suspension Type: Link type, coil-spring, oil damped
Rear Suspension Adjustment: Compression and Rebound damping, Spring Preload
Front brake: Radial mount, 4-piston calipers, 310 mm dual disc brake
Rear Brake: 1-piston caliper, 260 mm disc brake
Front Wheel Travel: 120 mm (4.7 in.)
Rear Wheel Travel: 140 mm (5.5 in.)
Front Wheel: 17 M/C x MT3.50, cast aluminum alloy
Rear Wheel: 17 M/C x MT6.00, cast aluminum alloy
Front Tire: 120/70ZR17M/C (58W)
Rear Tire: 190/50ZR17M/C (73W)
Dry Weight: 220 kg (485 lbs), 221 kg (487) CA. Spec
Overall Length: 2,190 mm (86.2 in.)
Overall Width: 735 mm (28.9 in.)
Overall Height: 1,165 mm (45.9 in.)
Ground Clearance: 120 mm (4.7 in.)