Quantcast

The story behind the revamped 2008 Hayabusa

After nine years waiting, Suzuki unveiled their all-new Hayabusa in 2008. Promising 198bhp and the fastest acceleration of any production superbike, we spoke to the team of people who put it together

How fitting that Suzuki chose Rome as the venue to launch the 2008 Hayabusa - after all, neither were built in a day. Suzuki have made us wait a full nine years for an update on the original 173bhp 194mph heavyweight hypertourer. Time, and the official test launch in September (with the bikes in showrooms by October), will prove just how much better the new model is. But for now, we have this - a fancy model introduction in Italy.

And a curious do it was. Set in the Cinetta film studios ('Gangs of New York' among others) in downtown Roma, the Suzuki exec's threw smoke, fancy lights and probably a few mirrors in revealing, in the lightest sense possible, the new Hayabusa. We could look, but we couldn't touch. And if we asked - well, the answers were often pretty short. Nonetheless we thrust our tape recorder under the noses of the Hayabusa project leader Hiroshi Iio and the engine developer, Hiroyuki Iguchi, to seek out some hard facts.

So, Iio-San, for goodness sake, why nine years?

"We feel with the original Hayabusa that we achieved a package so complete - and the reaction to it has been so consistently strong - that there's been no need for an update before now.

"The update has come at this time because of such strong demand for this model, especially in America. The US market for the Hayabusa has been incredibly strong and in fact last year sales were one and a half times more than that of when we first launched in 1998. Our expectation is that there's an even bigger demand than that, and so the new model will open that up."

Iio-San didn't care to mention tightening emission regulations in the same breath, but it's also clear that the original 'Busa doesn't meet Euro 3, so here in Europe at least, legal necessity can also be viewed as a  prompt to the update.

That said, this is no knee jerk reaction. Iio-San confirmed the project team have put four years into the Hayabusa's development. 

Back in 1998 Suzuki's plan was simple: crush the competition with top speed, and bridge the handling divide between tourers and race replicas. They achieved both objectives with remarkable success, as global sales figures attest.

This time around the plan wasn't so clear cut. And any suggestions that the new Hayabusa is a repost to the Kawasaki ZZR1400 were quickly dismissed.

"The existence of the ZZR1400 had no influence on this project. Its performance was analysed while we developed the new Hayabusa, but it wasn't factored into our plans and its launch in no way changed the direction of our project. We have stayed true to the original Hayabusa concept. This is not a hypersports tourer, it's a supersport GT."

2008 Hayabusa pt.2

For all the rhetoric, at first glance you could be fooled into thinking the bike hasn't actually received that much of an update. Look closer, however, and you will see that although subtle the bike has had a complete re-design.

"There are elements of the original design in the new bike because the old model was so aerodynamically efficient. We got so close to the mark with the first model, that to redefine the shape entirely would be to move away from aerodynamic efficiency. Instead we concentrated on improving and smoothing out areas on the bodywork."

Looking over the new 'Busa we noted the screen is higher than the old one (by 15mm) and the fairing is slightly wider. The gaps between the panels are very tight too and the indicators are now moulded into the panels. You might also notice that there are no exposed fairing fasteners.

"In 1998 the standard was for stalk indicators, exposed fasteners and yes there were gaps in the panels. For the new model we have polished and perfected the original design. And updated it to meet modern expectations in motorcycle design."

The images do not do the bike justice, in the flesh it has an aggressive appeal that will have you signing the finance papers before you can say "look out hedge, here I come".

Talking of you, Iio-San and the team have thought long and hard about your physique.

"The least aerodynamic element in the design is the rider. Because his size and shape varies so much: big, small, etc. So to allow for this with the new Hayabusa we have remodeled the fairing around the rider's feet, knees and shoulders for a better fit."

And with a lower tank and a higher screen there will be better wind protection all round. 

The biggest change to the Hayabusa has been made underneath the panels, with a completely reworked, longer stroke motor and all-new fuel injection. The new motor's making a claimed 198bhp at the crank. That's an extra 25bhp.

The engine's designer is no lesser a man than Hiroyuki Iguchi, the man who led the engine design on the 1985 GSX-R750 motor.

"We've aimed to have class-leading power, from tickover right through to redline. I had in mind the orginal GSX-R buyer when I designed this motor. Back then he was 20-something. Now he'll be late 40s. I designed this motor for him, for his expectations today. I think the Hayabusa will excite and satisfy him now as much as the GSX-R did then. But you will have to wait until September to experience for yourself the fantastic performance of this machine."

So. in the summary it was designed to please the Americans. With power to excite the former GSX-R owner. Smooted to be slipperier than an extremely slippery thing. And not built to depose the ZZR1400. Oh no. Meet the 2008 Hayabusa, Suzuki's ZZR1400 beater to be.