15 Jun,2013

2008 Suzuki Hayabusa: Now It’s Serious

How do you improve upon a bike that has already taken the custom and drag bike world by storm and created a cult like following in the process? Very carefully and strategically. And that’s exactly what the engineering and design team of the 2008 Suzuki Hayabusa did when they revamped this modern-day legend. Given the popularity of the Hayabusa in the United States, the new model had to have the same flavor and style as the original as to not turn away loyal disciples.

What better way to accomplish this than to listen directly to custom builders and current “Busa” owners themselves? With this in mind, Koji Yoshiura, Lead Designer of the current and 2008 model, assembled a team of designers and researchers and jetted off to the States to hear first hand what the custom ‘Busa scene had to say. Suzuki’s world press launch consisted of time on a drag strip, street riding, and a circuit track. On the drag strip, the Hayabusa performed as expected. As a matter of fact, beyond expectations as it was remarkably smooth and effortless to clock a respectable 10.4 quarter mile with a speed of approximately 145 mph. My time, however, is admittedly a far cry from Aaron Yates’ (of Jordan Suzuki) blistering time of 9.4 seconds or Jason Britton’s (of Super Bikes and Team No Limit) time of 15 seconds…on one wheel!

This feedback had a direct impact on the final styling and design as seen in the flowing lines and new muscular appearance. Continuing with this level of outreach, Suzuki invited the Chi-town chapter of the #1 Stunnas (one of the largest motorcycle clubs in the country) to display their custom ‘Busas during the kick off of the 2008 Hayabusa world press launch. Once again, reiterating their commitment of being in tune with their customers.

On the street, the ‘Busa provided a comfortable ride given its extensive wind-tunnel testing resulting in a windshield that stands 15 millimeters higher for improved aerodynamics. Would-be passengers will also find the ride more comfortable with the new lower seat height.

Also new for 2008 is the introduction of the Suzuki Drive Mode Selector (S-DMS) system. This allows riders to select from A, B, or C modes for optimal performance and riding levels with A mode being equivalent to that little red button you’ve always been warned not to touch unless you know what you’re doing. The S-DMS is a mechanism of providing experienced riders with various modes to match a given environment or situation to increase the riding experience.

We’re all familiar with the Hayabusas’ legendary straight-line performance, so to showcase Suzuki’s goal in creating the ultimate sport bike, one of the fastest if not the fastest road track in the country was selected – Road America in Elkhart Wisconsin. This four-mile fourteen-turn serpent offers sweeping corners, elevation changes, blind corners, tight twisties, and a launch pad of a straightaway. It’s not completely unordinary to see a Hayabusa at your local circuit track-day, but you’re more likely to see Bobby Brown in the front pew of Sunday Service given the Busa’s reputation for the drag strip. Once again, however, the new Hayabusa lived up to its creator’s goal. For a bike of this size (485 pounds) it is surprisingly agile and the increased braking power was very much welcomed as each corner appeared almost instantaneously. I had the fortune to fully experience (and appreciate) the improved braking as I was coming into corner 12 too hot. Gripping on the brakes, I experienced a bit of exhilarating rear wiggle (which was to be expected) but never felt out of control. I regained my line, rolled on the throttle and shot of turn 12 faster than Jay Z’s comeback from retirement.

Pricing is set at $11,999 with three available color schemes, Orange/Black, Black/Gray, Blue/Black. For more on the 2008 Hayabusa visit www.suzuki.com for more details.


Written by: Leon L. Brittain
Motorcycle Journalist and photographer