2013 Suzuki Hayabusa GSX-R1300: FIRST RIDE

Paul Carruthers | June 18, 2013

Photography by Enrico Pavia

If the Suzuki Hayabusa were a human, you would have to medicate it. It’s somewhat schizophrenic. And it’s definitely bi-polar.

You don’t have to look much farther than the speedometer to see what sort of motorcycle this is. For starters, you couldn’t fit a hummingbird’s pecker between the 5 mph increments on the analog speedo as it takes your eyes from 0 to 185 mph. And good luck figuring out just how fast you’re going and how to keep it there: Okay, I’m going 55; oops, I’m going 90… what the F? 120 mph. Whew, back to 65… or is that 62?

Best not to look. Just hold on and enjoy the ride. Just know that you’re probably not going as fast as it says; yet you’re definitely going faster than you should be.

Welcome to the Hayabusa. Same as it ever was. Big, comfy and extremely fast, i.e. a bit bi-polar.

The first Hayabusa was introduced to the world as a 1999 model – named after the Japanese peregrine falcon, a small hawk generally regarded as the world’s fastest flying bird. And it took our breath away – the bike, not the hawk – but who knew back then that it would turn into one of the company’s most popular models.

In 2003, the model took on some technical mods – most notably setting changes to the fuel-injection system and an upgraded ECU. In 2008 the Hayabusa got a complete makeover with new styling and a bump in capacity from 1299cc to the 1340cc it retains today.

For 2013, the Hayabusa has been further refined and gets ABS for the first time as well as Brembo monobloc brakes (it had Tokicos) up front – making it a clean sweep as all the Suzuki sportbikes now feature the monobloc Brembos. The diameter of the pistons is also bigger – from 32-30mm to 32 to 32mm – thus giving more force on the disc and increased initial bite. The ABS control unit is located under the fuel tank and below the air box and the system uses sensors on both wheels to detect locking.

You don’t have to be Chris Langan (the world’s smartest man… look it up) to realize that putting ABS on a bike like the GSX-R1300 makes a lot of sense. Let’s see: It’s really fast and it’s really heavy and it sometimes finds itself in the hands of those less skilled than Jorge Lorenzo. As for the negatives… well, fitting the ABS to the bike adds one or two pounds, according to Suzuki. Me thinks this is about the same as Oprah making one more trip to Dunkin’ Donuts. We ain’t gonna notice.

The other negative (or positive?) is that you also can’t go all hooligan on the brakes, locking up the rear and skidding to a stop to impress your buddies. But that will end up saving you some tire and there’s plenty of other ways on the Hayabusa to burn through the black things. So fret not.

Some of the more elite members of the motorcycling press were given the opportunity to sample the new ‘Busa in the mountains east of San Diego, California (yes, there are mountains there), including popular weekend sportbike hangout Palomar. Thus we had the chance to ride the newest Suzuki on wide-open roads, the tight and twisties of Palomar, and even a bit of freeway and city street riding in and around our home base in El Cajon.

And we even had two California Highway Patrolman with us for part of our ride. Oh the irony, but it was refreshing to watch the CHP pull over others for us and not vice versa.

There’s not many sportbikes that you’d want to do 190 miles on in a single day, but the Hayabusa is one such bike. As mentioned earlier, we rode the bikes in a variety of riding conditions on a hot day in the mountains, but came away none the worse for it. The Hayabusa remains as it was: Fast, comfortable and fairly nimble for a motorcycle that’s 86.2 inches long with a wheelbase of 58.3 inches and a weight of 586 pounds.

From a comfort standpoint, you won’t find a sportbike that’s cushier than this one. My only complaint is that it does feel a bit heavy at a stop, especially since it takes all 5-foot, 8-inches of me on my tippy toes to balance it. This is due more to the bike’s girth than its seat height of 31.7 inches, however. And it does weight 586 pounds. No matter how you slice it.

As for being fast… well, that’s a no-brainer. I watched the speedo in awe as it jumped from 20 mph to speeds our new CHP friends wouldn’t appreciate in the blink of an eye. Yes, it still takes your breath away. In fact it should come with SCUBA.

As for the new stuff: Well, the brakes work, though on a motorcycle like the Hayabusa you always wish you had a bit more stopping power. As predicted, the ABS comes in handy. I’m fairly certain I might not have made at least one of the tight corners on the run down from Palomar without the confidence that I could keep tugging on that brake lever without nary a worry. It will be a big help on this bike with fewer of them returning from the twisties on the back of a tow truck.

The newest incarnation of the Hayabusa comes in three color combinations and the price increase over last year’s model is just $100. The colors are as follows: Pearl Glacier White/Metallic Oort Gray and Glass Sparkle Black/Metallic Oort Gray ($14,399) and the Marble Daytona Yellow Special Edition for an extra $200 at $14,599.

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