Builders of high performance cars have been comparing their machines to spirited animals for years. At Ferrari it’s the prancing horse, at Lamborghini, it’s the raging bull, and at Dodge of course it s the Viper. Motorcycle builders, on the other hand, have likened their speediest mounts to everything from ninjas to hurricanes. But when naming their latest hyper-bike, Suzuki surprisingly settled on a name from the animal kingdom, albeit a very obscure one. But at the rate it’s going, it’ll soon be a household word.

That word is Hayabusa . The name actually of a breed of Japanese falcons known for its ability to dive at speeds approaching 200 miles-per-hour.

Since its introduction a little more than a year ago, the Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa has taken the motorcycle world by storm. Designed for ultimate street performance, it has astounded both press and public alike, generating a slew of rave reviews and industry awards. To find out if it was really that good, we sought out the best in the west, the editors of Cycle World magazine, to help us with the proof. California’s Carlsbad Raceway was the venue of choice, where road test editor Don Canet demonstrated just how fast is fast.

Launched hard off the line, the Hayabusa hit 60 in only 2.6 seconds! And smashed through the 1/4 mile in a mere 9.8 seconds at 145.8 miles-per-hour! Figures bested only by the incredible result of Cycle World’s top speed test, 194 miles-per-hour! We were impressed!

And, its performance is even more easily understood, when you learn that the Hayabusa boasts a claimed dry weight of only 473 pounds, yet on Cycle World’s dyno, pumped out a stunning 160 horsepower. And what’s all that power feel like?

DON CANET:“You’ve seen Star Trek where they go into warp drive? That’s what it’s like. You pin the throttle and run it through the gears, and the scenery blurs, you tuck in tight behind the windscreen, and you get up to 150-plus, and the buffeting starts to rock your head around a little bit. You know you’re moving.”

But for all its speed, the Hayabusa can actually be a remarkably docile road bike for everyday riding. As we found out while exploring its character on twisting arid roads south of Los Angeles. It felt smaller and more agile than its 84.3-inch length and 58.5-inch wheelbase led us to expect. And that superb balance, coupled with what may be Suzuki’s most refined powertrain ever, a surprisingly smooth ride, and a very comfortable riding position, made this a machine that even a beginner could ride all day, as long as they controlled their throttle hand. This despite the fact that much of the Hayabusa’s design is related to that of the championship-winning GSX-R750 superbike. A machine well known for its demanding character.

The Hayabusa’s powerplant is 1299cc liquid-cooled, dual-overhead-cam 4-cylinder. The most potent street bike engine in the Suzuki lineup! Period! It’s fed by an electronically-controlled fuel injection system, which uses four big 46mm throttle bodies to squeeze maximum fuel into each cylinder. While the air that it’s mixed with comes by way of a sophisticated ram air system.

That potent drivetrain rides in a beefy twin-spar aluminum frame, which is in turn suspended on fully-adjustable 43-millimeter inverted forks up front, and link-type single shock suspension in the rear. And stopped by beefy 320-millimeter twin discs up front, gripped by 6-piston calipers. And a single disc/two-piston setup in the rear. All wrapped in unmistakable bodywork, that looks like something out of the science fiction film, “Alien.” But there’s a very definite function to this unique form.

MARK REESE:“The ram air and the placement of the intake ducts for the ram air system became the most critical part with the fuel injection system or the fueling system on the bike. Because they needed to place those ducts at the highest dynamic pressure point on the front of the bike. And that is why it looks the way it does, with more of a vertical style headlight and more of a pointed shape in front.”

A shape that has quickly become synonymous with speed and performance. And would you believe value, as well? Base price for the GSX1300R Hayabusa is only $10,799! That’s peanuts for performance that bests some of the world’s great supercars from Porsche and even Ferrari!

The Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa is a quantum, light speed leap forward in production street bike performance. And presents a formidable challenge to any other company focused on pushing the edge of the production bike envelope. Because the Hayabusa is so much more than just another fast motorcycle. Cycle World’s Don Canet put it best:

DON CANET:“Well, you know, every time a bike like this comes out we think, that’s it. The engineers are probably capable of pushing it further, but we don’t think that the government’s gonna allow it. And a couple of years down the road, another bike comes along that raises the bar. And that’s what Suzuki’s done. The thing is, they didn’t raise it by a few inches. They raised it by a mile.”


  • Engine: Liquid-cooled Dohc 4-Cylinder
  • Displacement: 1299cc
  • Horsepoewer: 160
  • 0-60 MPH: 2.6 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 9.8 Seconds @ 145.8 MPH