| ||KAWASAKI ||SUZUKI |
| ||ZX-14 ||GSX1300R |
|MSRP ||$11,699 ($11,999 in Metallic Flat Spark Black) ||$11,999 |
|ENGINE || Liquid-cooled, transverse, 4-stroke four ||Liquid-cooled, transverse, 4-stroke four |
|Type ||1352cc ||1340cc |
|Displacement ||84 x 61mm ||81 x 65mm |
|Bore x stroke ||DFI with subthrottle valves and 1 injector/cyl., 44mm throttle bodies ||SDTV EFI with dual throttle valves and 2 injectors/cyl., 44mm throttle bodies |
|Front suspension ||43mm inverted cartridge fork, 4.6 in. travel ||43mm inverted cartridge fork, 4.7 in. travel |
|Rear suspension ||Single shock absorber, 4.8 in. travel ||Single shock absorber, 5.5 in. travel |
|Front tire ||120/70ZR-17 Bridgestone BT-014F L ||120/70ZR-17 Bridgestone BT-015F M |
|Rear tire ||190/50ZR-17 Bridgestone BT-014R L ||190/50ZR-17 Bridgestone BT-015R M |
|Rake/trail ||23 deg./3.7 in. (94mm) ||23.4 deg./3.7 in. (93mm) |
|Wheelbase ||57.5 in. (1461mm) ||58.3 in. (1480mm) |
|Weight ||567 lb. (257kg) wet; 532 lb. (241kg) dry ||583 lb. (264kg) wet; 550 lb. (249kg) dry |
|Fuel consumption ||25 to 32 mpg, 29 mpg avg. ||30 to 34 mpg, 33 mpg avg. |
Won't let us take his picture anymore for some reason
Commitment is what these bikes are all about. Governed at 186 mph? Governed by the pilot's right hand is more like it! Back when the top dogs of streetbikes had stupid-fast motors, those bullets lacked the chassis and brakes that could've helped when the road got sideways at Mach 1. Poor handling was a personal governor on those bikes.
This is where the duel between these two battleships makes all the difference. The Kawasaki's engine-management system shines down low, and it has a user-friendly transmission. This, coupled with well-incorporated styling (especially in silver trim), makes the Kawasaki the looker this year. The binders of the ZX -14 work like a beautiful woman stopping traffic. These are the highlights, but it takes more than that to win me over. The Kawi's chassis is stiff and protests on initial turn-in, and this makes for precarious mid-corner transitions. I believe that a good set of rubber would help this issue, but as it stands it's a deal-breaker.
The Suzuki is clearly a more well-rounded package and offers the necessary confidence. The chassis, suspension and motor on the Hayabusa work as a single unit. It may require a bit more work when scrolling through the gears, and the brakes could be better considering the horses they are responsible for taming, but the bottom line is the new GSX1300R is refinement at its best in this class. Think Shelby Cobra 427 circa 1965, on steroids and with current technology. Suzuki owns the class because it handles the everyday adversities with composure, but there's definitely a Kawasaki wheel in its peripheral.
Like, Totally Digging His New Look
I have a feeling that with these two bikes it doesn't matter what we say. People will buy one or the other based on how they'll look standing next to it at bike night or how easily a stretched swingarm and 300-series tire can be fitted-not on performance. If I were going to buy one of these bikes it wouldn't be to show off in a parking lot or ride in the twisties. For me the Hayabusa and ZX-14 are for getting from point A to point B-in a straight line-as quickly as possible. Everything else is just gravy.
With that simple criterion in mind either bike will suffice, but the Kawasaki's silky-smooth engine and comfortable ergos make it my pick for the type of riding I would use it for. I know the Hayabusa is a better overall package, but how good do you need it to be? Is two horsepower on top of 170 really an advantage? Is getting through a turn one mph faster all that important when a 600 or literbike will go through it five or even 10 mph quicker? When I need to get to point B in a hurry I'd rather get there comfortably on the Kawasaki than a few microseconds earlier on the Suzuki.