Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Representing the 99%!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Suzuki Hayabusa: A Motorcycle of Great Social Impact By Mikael Wheeler

2017 Suzuki Hayabusa (GSX1300R)
Pic © CarAndBike
The Suzuki Hayabusa also known as the GSX1300R or ‘Busa has been on the market for over sixteen years. Obviously, with the rapid growth of technology Suzuki have made adjustments to keep it up to date. Such as rebuilding the engine back in 2008 and refreshing its appearance to stay fashionable. Suzuki, a Japanese automotive company first introduced the Busa at the 1998 Paris show (Motor Cyclist, 2009). This motorcycle socially impacted the motorcycle community in numerous ways. It has become an icon to many for delivering such power and speed. The bike itself could reach speeds of up to 187.5 mph (Colker, 1999). It was built for speed from tip to tail and managed to reach such high speeds through its aerodynamic assets. “This machine was obviously shaped, not by stylists, but by aerodynamicists.” (Motor Cyclist, 2009). The Hayabusa was different because of its aerodynamic properties, some people loved it and some didn’t. Actually, at first its unfamiliar looks didn’t convince everybody (Motor Cyclist, 2009). Was it just a Japanese gimmick? The question was quickly answered. They had just launched what has now become a historical motorcycle. Many people didn’t know the meaning of “Hayabusa”. It turns out that “Hayabusa” is Japanese for “Peregrine falcon” (Colker, 1999), the fastest falcon in the world.


2017 Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa - 
Acceleration 0 - 300km/h & Exhaust Sound & Start Up

The ‘Busa has had as prodigious influence on the motorcycle racing population. It was built for speed, so why not race with it? It was fantastic at it and has accomplished many achievements over the years. Repeatedly, people have broken world records with it. Moreover, the Hayabusa had an impact on the customization community. The combination of exclusivity and speed made it fetching to potential customers. More specifically, sport bike customizers were charmed by it (Motor Cyclist, 2009). Keeping in mind it’s uniqueness people would start making a few general modification. Leading the whole idea to an extreme. Ranging from three wheeled ‘Busas, to chopper ‘Busas and even to quad Hayabusas. Additionally, the Hayabusa was surprisingly comfortable for a sportbike. Once again, the idea of a comfortable sports bike was totally new. It resulted in an even broader consumer market. The Suzuki Hayabusa, unlike many others, has affected the motorcyclist community immensely. 

Revolutionary Speed


Pic © Suzuki
This icon of a motorcycle had a great influence on the motorcycle world. One of the most common and expected reasons was for its speed. It had unconceivable power, which allowed for mind-blowing acceleration. The ‘Busa was the first motorcycle ever to exceed 300 km/h (Visor Down, 2013), making this bike an interesting one for people looking to feel the adrenaline rushing through their veins. Sport bike fanatics crave the experience of going at relentless speeds. Feeling the wind punching their chests and sensing the g-force a superbike can offer. The Hayabusa certainly provided that feeling, as Moss reports, “You’ll find riding the Suzuki is an incredible experience” (Colker, 1999). Once riders hop on the ‘Busa, the world changes not only metaphorically but also literally. The ‘Busa doesn’t simply change the world; it makes the way you see the world change, as Moss explains, “The rest of the world blurs” (Colker, 1999).


This bike wasn’t just fast; it was designed for excelling in straight-line top speeds and acceleration. In order to reach such high speeds a few characteristics were necessary. First of all, power, and if one thing’s for sure it’s that this bike delivered. With around 175 hp and nearly 105 lb/ft, back in 1999 this bike could go from zero to sixty miles per hour in approximately 2.7 seconds (Bikez, n.d.). Back then nothing could compare, not even a car. Even to this day; not very many cars or bikes can overtake a Suzuki Hayabusa. People were impressed by its performance, which is why this motorcycle’s popularity grew so fast. It isn’t much of a surprise either; whatever goes fast catches people’s attention. People seem to love owning one of the most rapid vehicles and when it’s less than twenty gran it becomes even more appealing. Another essential feature to this motorcycle’s success was its aerodynamics. It has become famous for its ability to cut through air and give great performance out of it (Suzuki, 2015). Making this bike as stable as a bike could get, as Colker (1999) says, “Even at what we considered high speeds, there was not a trace of wobble”. The fact that this bike could keep such stability when running at high speeds gave its riders pronounced confidence.

Pic © Suzuki
However, with such engineering came consequences. The looks of the Hayabusa were somewhat peculiar. Colker (1999) states that the shape of the Hayabusa resulted “in an appearance that riders seem to love or hate”. The look of the Hayabusa was avant-garde and something definitely never seen before. It had smooth edges were great for the motorcycles aerodynamics. In order for Suzuki to engineer such an aerodynamic motorcycle they did extensive wind tunnel testing to find the ideal shape (Colker, 1999). It resulted in something that is still to this day a unique look. Which isn’t all bad, considering the fact that many seek attention. 

Peregrine Diving for the Kill
Pic © Tsang (2011)
It isn’t a coincidence that the Suzuki Hayabusa was named after the Peregrine falcon, the fastest animal on earth. The ‘Busa, just like the peregrine falcon can claim to be among the fastest in their domain. Tsang (2011) explains, “the speed of the falcon reaches values of 242 mph”, making the peregrine falcon an exceptionally hard animal to outfly. This bird has meticulous properties, which allow it to gain speed very quickly. When the bird is diving it places its wings close to its body with its head pushed back (Tsang, 2011). This diving technique allows the bird to be very aerodynamic. Just like the Hayabusa, the peregrine falcon’s key to reaching such astonishing speeds is its aerodynamic properties. Also, when looking close enough much resemblance can be establish between the ‘Busa and the falcon. More precisely when the bird is diving. It shares the same round appeal and the headlight of the Hayabusa looks similar to the falcon’s beak.

World Records


John Noonan s Hayabusa - 2007 Bonneville Speed Trials
Pic © Motorcycle USA
With such high-end specs out of the factory it makes it hard for racing addicts not to turn towards the Hayabusa. However, staying stock in that universe isn’t much of an option. Even with such impressive specs riders have to take it to the next level and build turbocharged and nitro powered ‘Busas if they want to excel in the racing community. Expectedly, the Hayabusa’s name has been frequently heard when talking about racing and beating world records. Racing is another reason why the GSX-1300R has become so popular, so quickly. One racer, Bill Warner is known for his exceptional devotion to motorcycle racing. He has tried and succeeded several times in beating the world motorcycle land speed record. “Warner, a mild-mannered tropical fish farmer and marine biologist during the workweek, turns into a mad scientist on race weekends.” (Press release, 2010). Among the multitude of other bikes the Hayabusa, alone fascinated him; he had the pleasure of creating the fastest ‘Busa possible. Back in 2010, Warner beat the world motorcycle landspeed record with his 650hp, 314 ft-lbs Suzuki Hayabusa. He reached a remarkable speed of 278.6 mph beating the previous record by 5.3 mph (Press release, 2010). Unfortunately for him, Warner had an accident three years later while trying to beat his previous record and “Mr. Warner, though conscious after the crash, died a short time later in a hospital in Caribou, Me.” (Slotnik, 2013). 

Pic © Tibu (2012)
While the ‘Busa brought great pleasure to many, it also brought death to some. It isn’t a toy and shouldn’t be used as one either. Racing with the Hayabusa is without a doubt an experience but if used recklessly it can turn horrible, especially if drivers ride the bike as if they were on a racetrack. Besides, it isn’t something rare. Many motorists act like they’re invincible, going through freeway traffic at alarming speeds. In 2012, a driver was racing his Hayabusa on a two-way road going easily 300 km/h when the motorcycle was hit head-on by a massive truck. Tibu (2012) writes, “The aftermath of this crash looks shocking, with parts of the bike scattered across hundreds of meters along the road so badly, that one can hardly recognize a motorcycle any longer”. It shows how serious the consequences on society this motorcycle can occasionally have. Not only is it dangerous for riders to race, but when it comes down to street racing, the danger riders have the pleasure to propagate extends to all road users. Though many of them don’t have the appropriate skills to drive in such a manner, they don’t acknowledge it. Tibu (2012) states that “insufficient skills always ends up in the graveyard”.

Customization


Pic © SSB Staff (2009)
The ‘Busa created numerous new communities in the motorcycle world. Not only did it take great part in breaking new world records, and racing but it also managed to enhance creativity. Suzuki (2015) writes that they “developed a machine so unique that it instantly attracted a devoted following around the world”.  The GSX-1300R was a distinctive creation by itself, but it seems that people wanted to make it even more unique. The Hayabusa really pushed motorcycle modification to the next level. People were motivated to customize their motorcycles and build something that would stand out (SSB Staff, 2009). Nick Dagostino explains, “I hate being in the mainstream; I always want to have something different from the rest.” (SSb Staff, 2009). Having a unique Hayabusa gave riders a sense of differentiation from the rest of the world. Everybody wants to have a purpose or have a chance to stand out and each person has their own way of doing so, for some, the ‘Busa might have been the solution. In order for Dagostino to be unalike, he decided to build himself a three-wheeled Hayabusa. His bike wasn’t simply attributed by its three wheels; everything around it was modified as well. He had “Chromed the gas tank, polished everything else, lowered the bike, stretch it 7 inches” (SSB, 2009). According to the picture he also changed the exhaust, the handlebars and even the registration plate. The bike had a whole new paint job, with flashy colours and a beautiful design for the individual purpose of being different. Nowadays, pictures of custom Hayabusa’s are scattered everywhere across the Internet. Some can be seen with neon lights all around, and some with four wheels. Many customizers have made the Hayabusa a creation of their own, and in some cases they’ve managed to make them mesmerizing. This two-wheeled vehicle has changed the way people see motorcycles. Cycle world (2007) writes, “It’s hard to think of another Japanese sportbike that has inspired as many people as the Hayabusa”. The Hayabusa has revolutionized much of the motorcycle customization community, as Cycle world (2007) explains, “With so much power and that unique styling, it’s a natural for customizers”. 

Comfort


Ranked as one of the 10 best motorcycles for carrying a passenger by Ride Apart!
The Suzuki Hayabusa is renown for its super sport trait. It is known to be nowadays one of the fastest production motorcycles. However, “nobody foresaw just how refined and how all-around streetable it would be.” (Motor Cyclist, 2009). The ‘Busa wasn’t like other sport bikes; it was actually comfortable and smooth to ride. It managed to combine two totally different families. Performing just as well in racing situations than touring situations. It was comfortable all around. Macdonald (2013) writes, “The seating position manages to be sporty and comfortable”. Actually, the Hayabusa was so restful that people could easily endure riding the motorcycle for extended periods of time. Many would go through an entire day of driving without feeling the discomfort a Yamaha R1 for example, would provide them. Macdonald (2013) describes how motorists “were surprised how comfortable the riding position was and how little fatigue was felt after spending … 7 hours on the bike”. It’s astonishing to see how this motorcycle prospered in being so many things at once, which is probably part of the reason why this motorcycle has become an icon to world. People like the idea of purchasing something that can be used for various reasons and in various situations. The Hayabusa acts in the way consumers want it to, it can be the powerful machine it’s renowned for or it can be a touring bike. Which is why some use it as a sport touring motorcycle (Macdonald, 2013). 

Conclusion


Pic © Suzuki Canada
The Suzuki Hayabusa has had a fascinating history. It has influenced and reformed many aspects of the motorcycle industry.  It first stunned its audience by reaching as-to-then unseen top speeds, and arm tearing acceleration. However, even with such brute force this machine managed to remain a comfortable one. The Hayabusa had loads of potential and with the help of many motivated drivers managed to beat world land speed records. However, with such capabilities this motorcycle led to recklessness and unsafe racing, which of course had its consequences. In order to reach such high speeds, engineers made great innovations in terms of aerodynamics. The motorcycle had a singular shape, which resembled the peregrine falcon an animal known for being the fastest on Earth. Actually, the bike’s name was derived from that exact bird. As mentioned earlier the ‘Busa’s aesthetics were special, and with such appearances the bike attracted a new consumer, the sport bike customizer. They personalized the Hayabusa in crazy ways. With one goal in mind, owning a unique ‘Busa.  After all, this bike hasn’t finished shaping and reshaping the motorcycle community since rumor has it, the new generation of the ‘Busa will be coming out in the next few years.

References


Bill Warner, Who Set Speed Record on Motorcycle, Dies at 44. (2013). The New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/18/sports/bill-warner-set-speed-record-on-motorcycle-dies-at-44.html?_r=1.  

Cool and Crazy Custom Suzuki Hayabusa Motorcycles. (2007). Retrieved March 2, 2016, from http://www.cycleworld.com/2007/06/28/cool-and-crazy-custom-busas-first-look/.  

Custom 2003 Suzuki Hayabusa – Tripl3 Threat. (2009). Retrieved March 8, 2016, from http://www.superstreetbike.com/custom-2003-suzuki-hayabusa-tripl3-threat.  

Hayabusa. (2015). Suzuki. Retrieved March 8, 2016, from https://www.suzuki.ca/en/2015-hayabusa.  

Hayabusa Crashes head-on at Top Speed. (2012). Auto Evolution. Retrieved March 2, 2016, from http://www.autoevolution.com/news/hayabusa-crashes-head-on-at-top-speed-video-50521.html.  

RideApart Review: 2013 Suzuki Hayabusa. (2013). Ride Apart. Retrieved March 11, 2016, from https://rideapart.com/articles/ride-apart-review-2013-suzuki-hayabusa.  

Suzuki Hayabusa: It’s So Fast It Blurs the imagination. (1999). Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 5, 2016, from http://articles.latimes.com/1999/mar/25/news/hw-20672.  

Suzuki GSX 1300 R Hayabusa 1999. (n.d.). Bikez. Retrieved February 29, 2016, from http://www.bikez.com/motorcycles/suzuki_gsx_1300_r_hayabusa_1999.php.  

Top 10 fastest production motorcycles from 10 decades. (2013). Retrieved March 8, 2016, from http://www.visordown.com/motorcycle-top-10s/top-10-fastest-production-motorcycles-from-10-decades/22715.html.  

The fastest animal on Earth “The Peregrine Falcon”. (2011). BU Blogs. Retrieved March 11, 2016, from http://blogs.bu.edu/biolocomotion/2011/10/07/the-fastest-animal-on-earth-the-peregrine-falcon/.  
The Suzuki Hayabusa – Deep Impact. (2009). Motor Cyclist. Retrieved February 5, 2016, from http://www.motorcyclistonline.com/suzuki-hayabusa-motorcycles-deep-impact.

Wild Brothers Racing Suzuki Hayabusa goes 278.6 mph At The Texas Mile. (2010). Road Racing World. Retrieved March 11, 2016, from http://www.roadracingworld.com/news/wild-brothers-racing-suzuki-hayabusa-goes-2786-mph-at-the-texas-mile/.  

About The Author


Mikael Wheeler studied at Champlain College Lennoxville located in Quebec, Canada. Suzuki Hayabusa: A Motorcycle of Great Social Impact  was written as part of a class project for Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Studies in the Department of Humanities.

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