Like the firmer front end, the Hayabusa's fully adjustable single-shock rear suspension features stiffer internal settings to handle the heartier cornering abilities resulting from additional power and grippier tires. The KYB shock is activated by a swingarm that's similar in shape and design to the old bike's but also more rigid, again due to the new bike's sportier handling and greater g-loading capability. In place of the old bike's torque-link rear brake assembly is a lighter and simpler Tokico slide-pin caliper squeezing a larger rotor-260mm vs. 240mm-from above rather than below. It's a much cleaner look from the right side.
See? A thoroughly nastier engine and chassis back up the new, more aggressive look. Now, about that new look...
More than just swoopy plastic and bright colorsThe impetus behind the new 'Busa's styling is pretty simple, and supported wholly by the Hayabusa customers Suzuki researchers met with: Don't stray too far from home.
To that end, U.S. styling tastes figured heavily into the details, including '60s nostalgia, art deco and hot-rod custom auto influences, especially in the shape of the tail section. "These are familiar to U.S. riders," one stylist told me.
Aside from offering better wind and weather protection, Suzuki stylists took the vast 'Busa-custom market into consideration when designing and finalizing the 'Busa shape. Thus the fairing's lack of exterior fasteners, the broad expanses of smooth, non-edged ABS (for paint), etc. There's more attention to detail, too. Surface treatments and various luxury items such as the shaped key-all reflect a large dose of detail and thought.
In the flesh, the new 'Busa is attractive and powerful-looking in a way many full-coverage, plastic-fantastic sportbikes aren't. My response to first laying eyes on the thing during our initial meeting was, "Whoa!" It was definitely a Hayabusa, but stronger-looking, more muscular and a bit more retro-but also quite similar in overall shape.
What's more, the fit and finish of the bike I was exposed to all week seemed exceptionally high, and although this was a pre-production machine, Suzuki has clearly paid more attention here. "We thought a lot about the customer," product-planning chief Norihiro Suzuki told me. "This is our flagship model, after all, and so it must have a luxury feel, must be top-of-the-line."
The Final Cut
Why the new-gen 'Busa will be every bit the success the old one isPut it all together-loads of customer research, smart design, beautifully aggressive styling, typical Suzuki engineering and what looks to be class-leading power-and you're left with two thoughts: One, that Suzuki's new-generation GSX1300R is destined to make the Hayabusa nameplate even more legendary; and two, that you'd very much like to buy one (and pssst!...can you get me a deal, please?)!
A hint to this positive outcome (the first bit, not the second) comes from the design, engineering and test team members themselves, all of whom seem exceptionally jacked about this motorcycle. "People inside Suzuki are very excited," Norihiro Suzuki told me with a laugh, "especially the test riders. They want to buy the bike for themselves!" I got a confirming nod from test rider Naka-san when I related the story a day later on the test track.
And in the end, this is a key point. These testing and R&D folks know that a good many enthusiasts worldwide-and especially in the U.S.-might look at the new-generation Hayabusa and conclude from a glance that it's really not that much different than the old bike. After all, the two look pretty similar, and as stated here the engine and frame have been carried over from old bike to new. But the men and women who actually designed, built and tested the new 'Busa-who know exactly what went into this project and how much better it is from a functional and design standpoint-know this is a thoroughly new motorcycle.
Suzuki is simply savvy enough to know that its core Hayabusa customer-the thousands who've already voted for the bike with cold, hard cash-will appreciate the evolutionary approach and embrace the new bike just as they have the original.
Time will surely tell the tale. But from what I learned in Japan, I'd put my money on the Suzuki folks getting this one right.