The Hayabusa - An American Icon




Trout

Registered
I'm bored at work, so maybe just a quick mid-February essay on the iconic status of the Hayabusa...

There is no Hall Of Fame for American Icons, but I suppose if there were, the Hayabusa would either be in the Hall already, or on the ballot this year. Would you vote her in?

In the world of motorcycles, there are a few models with name recognition outside of our special interest group, you know, like the Gold Wing. A couple of years ago, my nephew was sitting through a university economics class. He didn't tell me the context, but the professor mentioned the Suzuki Hayabusa. My nephew leaned over to his classmate and said proudly: "my uncle rides one of those." They both knew exactly what it was, as did most of the class.

What does it take to become an icon? There are plenty out there... Levis 501's, The Fender Stratocaster, The Apple Mac, etc.

I'm often entertained by products that constantly compare themselves to the "icon", whatever it may be. "The Ford Fusion beats Camry and Accord in these 3 pointless areas", for example. In our world of motorcycles, compared to the Hayabusa, there are bikes that are faster, lighter, more comfortable, better handling, better looking (highly subjective), cheaper, whatever. It doesn't matter. The Hayabusa seems to be the bar by which others are judged. I'm fine with that. I don't care that the S1000RR and the ZX-14 have eclipsed the capabilities of the Busa. If you are in mixed company and mention "S1000RR", you may get some blank stares.

It's always fun to be on the road and pull into a gas station or motel parking lot and see people come over and strike up a conversation about the Hayabusa. It's even more entertaining to see my riding partner try to get focus shifted to whatever he is riding. My Hayabusa is a people magnet. On one trip a few years ago, I remember he was riding a K1200R. On paper, his bike was just as capable as mine... but no cigar. He couldn't even get anyone to take a look. All conversation was about the big Suzuki.

Not long after I bought the bike, I was at a gas station near home. A rough biker dude pulled in on his shovel, put down the kickstand, and looked my way. He was wearing colors of some kind, and really fit the stereotypical definition of a one percenter. I was uncomfortable. After a long stare, he walked my way. I wasn't sure if I should pump gas or walk inside. Looking at the bike, he simply stated (spelling changed): "That's a bad ace mother forker". We chatted for a brief minute, and he had to tell me about his friends cousin that had one of those, etc., etc.

The Hayabusa has been in production for 17 years. There has only ever been one major model change. Many see this as a con rather than a pro, but the fact is that the model has endured the test of time. Many believe that the body style is dated, but I believe that the body style is timeless, and not trendy. It's a work of art. It has endured, regardless of personal opinion.

Unlike the Ninja, another recognizable name, Suzuki very wisely never turned the Hayabusa into a family of bikes to try to make a buck off the name. There is no Hayabusa 250. There is never discussion about the merits of the Hayabusa 883 vs the Hayabusa 1200. They didn't even tack another 100 cc on to the displacement every other year and call it redesigned like some makers have done. It just is simply the Hayabusa GSX1300R and always has been. It stands on it's own. No excuses, no justification, no apologies.

I may have my facts wrong here, and my memory is not that great, but I did read a story over a decade ago about a young man from California who set out on an adventure to look up an old flame in Texas. The trip was made on some old Yamaha road bike. He struck out on the girl, but made it home with a new passion for touring the back roads via motorcycle. He chronicled his motorcycle "upgrades" and quickly ended up on the Hayabusa. Pashnit... did I miss anything here? Is this story still available on the web anywhere? It was a good read, and very influential.

At the time that I read that exciting story, I think I was riding a 1984 Shadow 500. I knew in my heart that I would one day own a Hayabusa. I had to get here in a roundabout way, trying out the Harley lifestyle and the BMW lifestyle along the way, but I did finally arrive. I'm riding the icon, and I wouldn't trade it.
 

fallenarch

THE SLOW RIDER
Registered
Excellent read buddy. To me the reasons the Hayabusa is a legend are two:

1. It changed everything.
2. It was a far better design than anyone knew in 1999.

:thumbsup:
 

Dscahill

Registered
While its true the body hasnt changed much, this is because it has been designed, sculpted and molded for max aerodynamic performance, and makes no appologies about it. The looks may not be for everyone, and its rather like owning a killer whale, only a few have them, but the 5 year old in all of us wants one. For the power, prestige, and joy it brings.

You didnt mention the bike being very capable in terms of upgrades and modifications as well with many bikes churing out well over their stock figures day in and day out.

The hayabusa would have my vote!

-D
 

dadofthree

Seasoned Beef
Donating Member
Registered
I love the part where they lean in and look at the dash and stand up shaking their head :laugh: I always park her where I can see her when I'm out.
 

mattymatt716

Registered
Wow. Good write-up. Makes me proud of my 04!

I had the same thing happen with a guy who came up to me while on my bike (he on his). I wasn't sure if he was going to steal my bike, make me his woman, or what. It was a great conversation.

I finished reading your post wanting to read more.
 

Max Speed

Registered
The first two years of the Hayabusa 1999 and 2000 came stock with 220mph speedometers. They were not speed governed and stock would top out at 194mph. They are still to this day the fastest of stock mass produced motorcycles.. (I said stock off the show room floor) In 2001 the speedometers only would read to 185 mph.
In 2008 the first major change in the Busa came that you talked about, but the Busa did in fact for the first time gained a family member. The same motor 1340cc Busa motor with only slight changes in the intake runners and valve size. The so called naked Busa the B King was released in America and was only sold for one year. Most people did not like the radical looks of the bike (mufflers) and sales were poor, the economy also took a nose dive that year. Because of that the bike only was imported to the US for the one year. I own both a 2000 Busa red and silver and the Black on black B King, I love both bikes.
Just a little more info for you to add to a very good report
 

E Zurcher

Registered
I agree the Hayabusa is an icon. It is however, a Japanese icon in America and many other countries for that matter. May be appropriate to call it a Iconic Motorcycle.

Corvette, Harley Davidson, Jack Daniels, Joe Montana...........= Merica!

Nice write up though!
 

umairhashmi

Registered
As much as I loved my 2006 model and all the attention I got thanks to it I have to admit I don't like it how Suzuki likes selling their outdated bike simply based on the name when other companies spends millions in R&D to update their bikes regularly. I think at this point in time people buy a 2015 (which is a 2008 unfortunately) simply because of the name. I was pondering about this and after comparing the 2015 Busa to the 2015 ZX14 it was obvious to me that the Kawi is simply the BETTER bike in almost every way I could think of. I understand we all want to be brand loyal but sometimes you have to look past the logos in order to make an unbiased decision.

Think of it like comparing a Rolex to a Breitling. I think the Breitling is a much better watch because they hold better time. Have nicer and newer designs but people will buy the Rolex simply because its a status symbol.
 

nosbig

Registered
As much as I loved my 2006 model and all the attention I got thanks to it I have to admit I don't like it how Suzuki likes selling their outdated bike simply based on the name when other companies spends millions in R&D to update their bikes regularly. I think at this point in time people buy a 2015 (which is a 2008 unfortunately) simply because of the name. I was pondering about this and after comparing the 2015 Busa to the 2015 ZX14 it was obvious to me that the Kawi is simply the BETTER bike in almost every way I could think of. I understand we all want to be brand loyal but sometimes you have to look past the logos in order to make an unbiased decision.

Think of it like comparing a Rolex to a Breitling. I think the Breitling is a much better watch because they hold better time. Have nicer and newer designs but people will buy the Rolex simply because its a status symbol.
I agree the has many more bells but IMHO they are ugly. Would I like an updated busa? Yes, but I do not want a bike that has built to save me from myself? No. You like to compare things, let me give you an example. Compare the new Mustang with all the traction control, auot transmission, and what ever else they have to help you drive the car. To a 1970 chevelle with a 454 and 4 speed transmission. Personaly I will have more fun driving the old car that makes the driver do all the work. Everyone is different and lets face it are a good enough rider that you can get every bit of the power that either bike has to offer. I am not.
 

umairhashmi

Registered
I agree the has many more bells but IMHO they are ugly. Would I like an updated busa? Yes, but I do not want a bike that has built to save me from myself? No. You like to compare things, let me give you an example. Compare the new Mustang with all the traction control, auot transmission, and what ever else they have to help you drive the car. To a 1970 chevelle with a 454 and 4 speed transmission. Personaly I will have more fun driving the old car that makes the driver do all the work. Everyone is different and lets face it are a good enough rider that you can get every bit of the power that either bike has to offer. I am not.
I don't think anyone on this board is even capable of riding the first gen busa to its full limits. However I would rather give my money to a company that is making an effort to keep up with the times and updating their products. You don't want a first gen IPhone vs an IPhone 6 even though the first did everything you needed it to do. Things change and its human nature to think about the good ol days but in reality those good ol days weren't all that better. Your 70s Chevelle overheated, wasn't reliable and didn't go 10k between oil changes like a 2015 Stang GT does and it certainly didn't make 435 horsepower completely stock (not to mention the safety features, ABS, traction control and all the other stuff the 2015 Stang will give you). The only reason Suzuki gets away with this is because people are willing to buy their outdated motorcycle simple because of that Hayabusa logo.
 

1busa

Registered
Then why don't you go trade your busa in for the puke green 14r and join a Cow forum if you can't stand it anymore !!?? Geeez..... There's dozens of threads on here talking @ great lengths about what's wrong with the busa and what it's lacking. Finally there's a positive thread giving the Busa some praise and you wanna muck it up with the same ole chit :deadhorse:
 

fallenarch

THE SLOW RIDER
Registered
I don't think anyone on this board is even capable of riding the first gen busa to its full limits. However I would rather give my money to a company that is making an effort to keep up with the times and updating their products. You don't want a first gen IPhone vs an IPhone 6 even though the first did everything you needed it to do. Things change and its human nature to think about the good ol days but in reality those good ol days weren't all that better. Your 70s Chevelle overheated, wasn't reliable and didn't go 10k between oil changes like a 2015 Stang GT does and it certainly didn't make 435 horsepower completely stock (not to mention the safety features, ABS, traction control and all the other stuff the 2015 Stang will give you). The only reason Suzuki gets away with this is because people are willing to buy their outdated motorcycle simple because of that Hayabusa logo.
I didn't read this entire thread so maybe this is already been posted but the reason the Busa has lasted so long is because it was a really forward thinking design. Even though it's faster now and has more stuff, the ZX-14R still doesn't have the Busa's riding position or sporting focus. The difference is and always has been that while the ZX-14 can also do crazy things the Busa was made to do them. Suzuki still stands alone as being willing to sell a missle that doesn't have a bench seat so it can be more practical at normal speeds. It can be argued that in most hands, the busa is still as good as any bike at what it does, and adding a bunch of electronics would only make the Busa have to go to the shop for everything instead of getting spread out on happy owner's driveways on weekends.


It would be awesome to see another world beater with all the bells and whistles from Suzuki, but Suzuki has not embraced the electronics world on any of their bikes. I believe Suzuki believes that if you build a fundamentally balanced motorcycle, that's more than enough for anything but a competitive track. Whatever your feelings are on that position, it remains a fact that if you show up to a track day on a Gixxer, you are going to have fun and be competitive. Of course Suzuki's financial woes didn't help things, but even when you dream it's hard to imagine a better bike for Gen 3 beyond a little more power and ABS/TC. We may ultimately realize that the reason there isn't a new Busa is because there just isn't the technology to make it significantly better as an OEM offering.
 



Latest Bikes

Forum statistics

Threads
172,882
Messages
3,093,124
Members
47,701
Latest member
Nickadimas1986
Top