Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa (2013 - now) expert review

12 July 2013
Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa (2013 - now) expert review - Bike Trader UK  

Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa (2013 - now) expert review

 

By Roland Brown. Photos by Jason Critchell

 

£11,299

 

VERDICT 3.5 out of 5
“The only change to the Hayabusa after five years is its uprated and ABS-equipped Brembo brake system. But despite being undeniably dated, Suzuki’s super-fast four is still a capable all-rounder that’s also competitively priced.”

 

PROS
Iconic look is as distinctive as ever
Powerful and unbreakable engine
Good handling and stopping ability

 

CONS
No longer the fastest bike on the block
Lacks rivals’ electronic sophistication
The ABS can be disabled by accident

 

PERFORMANCE
The days when the Hayabusa was unquestionably the world’s fastest bike are long gone but the unchanged combination of beaky, aerodynamically efficient styling and 1340cc, 194bhp four-cylinder engine means it’s still seriously rapid. The long list of tuned ’Busa-powered record breakers confirms it’s a massively strong motor too, even when tuned. In standard form the Hayabusa’s top speed is electronically limited to 186mph (300km/h). And it gets to that speed quickly and is effortlessly capable of sitting at licence-shredding speeds until low fuel light or police road block intervenes. And it’s still dynamite away from the lights, despatching the standing quarter mile in around ten seconds at over 140mph, even without the extra-long accessory swing-arm that the bike’s many US owners seem to favour. The Hayabusa remains popular as a streetbike partly due to its broad spread of torque, docile low-rev delivery and efficient gearchange. Its continued lack of traction control is a drawback, given the amount of power available. Suzuki’s S-DMS drive mode selector doesn’t add much, merely making the motor seem flat in its restrictive modes, rather than improving response at lower revs.
Our rating: 3.5 out of 5

 

 

RIDE AND HANDLING
Chassis performance is mostly unchanged from the previous model, so there’s no fancy electronic adjustability here. But at least the ’Busa has always handled respectably well. With a fuelled-up weight of over 260kg and a wheelbase of 1480mm, it’s too heavy and long to compete with super-sports bikes in the bends. But its multi-adjustable KYB suspension gives a reasonably plush ride while having enough control for aggressive cornering. The one aspect of its chassis performance that has been changed is its stopping ability. Four-piston Brembo Monobloc front calipers replace the previous Tokico set-up and incorporate ABS for the first time. A bike this fast certainly needs top quality brakes and the Monoblocs have heaps of power along with good lever control. The ABS works pretty well too, and is certainly worth having, although it isn’t as refined as the best systems and an experienced rider can stop slightly harder on a dry surface. The Hayabusa’s ABS system does have one curious flaw: a slow-speed wheelie away from the line can result in the system deactivating completely, with no warning apart from a small yellow light in the speedometer. Provided the rider is aware of the risk (as I wasn’t on the launch at Bruntingthorpe airstrip, where I locked the front wheel at high speed and nearly crashed) it shouldn’t cause a problem but it’s a design fault that Suzuki surely need to rectify urgently.
Our rating: 3 out of 5

 

 

 

 

VALUE
The Hayabusa is a perfect example of the way that in recent years Suzuki have opted out of expensive research and development, instead making minor changes and trying to compete by keeping prices low. At £11,299 (or an extra £100 for the new yellow colour option) the ’Busa is relatively cheap for an open-class sports-tourer, so could seem good value if you don’t mind its dated spec and lack of fancy features. But Kawasaki’s ZZR1400, to take one obvious rival, is more powerful as well as far more sophisticated and only £400 more expensive.
Our rating: 3.5 out of 5

 

 

RUNNING COSTS
You don’t buy a bike like the Hayabusa if you’re worried about running costs. Its ageing engine is designed primarily for horsepower not fuel economy (though you could get 40mpg if you don’t get carried away), and the grunty Hayabusa will eat rear tyres just as enthusiastically as its winged namesake, the Japanese peregrine falcon, apparently devours blackbirds. At least owners can be content that there’s no engine in all motorcycling as proven under severe abuse as Suzuki’s beefy 16-valve unit.
Our rating: 3 out of 5

 

 

PRACTICALITY
The Hayabusa has always occupied a slightly vague two-wheeled territory, sitting somewhere between sports bikes and tourers without quite being a full-blown sports-tourer itself. It’s reasonably roomy and comfortable, its 21-litre tank gives a respectable range of over 150 miles and it’s happy enough in most situations from country lanes to motorways. But it lacks the easily adjustable screen and suspension, purpose-designed luggage or even shaft drive that would take it to the next level.
Our rating: 3.5 out of 5

 

 

 

LOOKS
There has possibly never been a more “Marmite” bike than the Hayabusa, whose uniquely aerodynamic and hook-nosed styling was much criticised on the original model’s launch back in 1999 - but has much to do with the ’Busa becoming not merely popular but a cult machine, especially in the States. Suzuki wisely responded by making the 2008 update similar but swoopier, almost a caricature of the original; and now by leaving it untouched again. As the Hayabusa’s many fans might say: if you like it, great. If you don’t, buy something else.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

 

 

RELIABILITY
One benefit of leaving a bike almost untouched for five years is that a manufacturer has had plenty of time to sort out any reliability issues. Not that the Hayabusa had any significant ones, as its motor in particular became renowned for bulletproof reliability even when tuned to give more than twice its already huge standard power output. But it’s ironic that the one feature Suzuki have changed on this 2013 model, the ABS brake system, should malfunction in such a potentially serious way, by turning itself off when the bike pulls a wheelie from a standstill (as 194bhp bikes sometimes do). Sort it out soon, please, Suzuki.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

 

 

ACCESSORIES
The Hayabusa is one of the most accessorised bikes of all time, especially in the States where a ’Busa is not worth a glance unless it’s blinged-up with supercharger, super-long swing-arm, fancy paint and a pillion wearing a thong. Suzuki’s official list is more down to earth, including a taller screen and gel seat as well as soft luggage, cosmetic frame protectors and the like, plus a pair of Yoshimura carbon cans for almost £1700. Strange that after all these years there’s no dedicated hard luggage.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

 

 

WHY BUY?
“The Hayabusa is no longer the world’s fastest bike but its unique name and shape mean it still has plenty of cred. Even this latest model is low-tech by modern standards but it’s quick, fairly versatile, handles well and doesn’t cost the earth.”
Our rating: 4 out of 5

 

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