Why a brand-new Suzuki Hayabusa in 2021 is so unnecessary… yet so very necessary

Why the heart has to win over the head again with the launch of a new Suzuki Hayabusa 22 years on from the record-obliterating original

When Suzuki announced it would be hosting its own ‘salon’ on February 5 in lieu of the Tokyo Motor Show, it quickly gave rise to speculation that it could be about to reveal something new. Not necessarily big, but at least something new.

Not that we would have been surprised if it turned out to be a low key celebration of its current range. Indeed, the original press release left us none the wiser as to what to expect, while the fact Suzuki’s last big launch was the V-Strom 1050 in 2019, we weren’t sure if that meant it was high time to bring something new to market or maintain its leisurely approach to model development. 

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We even wrote a feature about it on January 28 [Thursday] suggesting an electric Burgman scooter will probably appear, plus ‘maybe’ the new ‘650’ parallel twin platform to replace the ageing SV650 and V-Strom 650, which itself would have been significant enough.

However, we also speculated whether Suzuki could throw caution to the wind by revealing a new Hayabusa. But then given it has been some 22 years since the current model first made our eyes bulge, we were prepared to accept we were just popping it in there for s***s, giggles and Google.

And then less than 24 hours later it came. The teaser video.

Moody skies, a blurred rapidly moving silhouette, swooping camera angles, a speedometer climbing ever higher… the Suzuki Hayabusa is BACK! Not going to lie, we are excited. So much so a little bit of wee may have come out… (apologies for that visual)

Kudos to Suzuki for keeping this one a very closely guarded secret. In fact, we feel a bit bad now for suggesting Suzuki had been napping through 2020 as rival manufacturers launched all manner of new machinery. This is essentially Suzuki stealing the show by saving the best for last. Touche Suzuki, touche...

1999 all over again… or a fuss about nothing?

At least we assume this is the case because, truth is, we know precious little about what is about to be launched. This makes us both salivate over what treasures there are to be revealed and worry this ‘new’ Hayabusa is simply a refresh with a tweaked engine that meets Euro5 emissions standards. 

Even so, this remains big news. Indeed, the GSX-1300R Hayabusa - to give it its full title - is the hyper-granddaddy-sportsbike of the industry, one that wowed everyone when it was launched in 1999 boasting figures so eye-watering it transcended motorcycle press and garnered worldwide media attention in the big rags, while earning pride of place as a poster on children’s bedroom walls alongside the The Offspring, Backstreet Boys and, erm, S Club 7 (?).

Created as an effective bird flip to incoming measures to limit the top speed of motorcycles at a still lofty 186mph from the year 2000, in true Japanese-flavoured competitive style Suzuki and Kawasaki went head-to-head for the title of ‘fastest production motorcycle of the 20th century’ in the final moments of the 100th year. When the Kawasaki ZX-12R fell 4mph short of benchmark, the Hayabusa reigned supreme. Job done..

Twenty years on and the Hayabusa’s credentials are still something to behold. Indeed, rivals have come and gone boasting impressive performance but few have actually exceeded the Hayabusa’s once world record beating credentials of (an original claimed) 312km/h (194mph) and a skin stretching 0-60mph time of 2.47secs.

Then of course it was wrapped up in suitably ostentatious bodywork, which while not exactly pretty in bulbous if aerodynamic profile, is imposing and impactful enough to garner looks even before you fire up the attention-grabbing 173bhp 1300cc engine. Then again, it did become a usually distastefully excessive customisation darling, giving rise to the so-called ‘Busa Bros subset regularly humiliated on Reddit. 

Since then Suzuki has done very little to tweak the package beyond minor refinements. While this isn’t necessarily unusual for Suzuki given the longer-than-usual shelf life of its models, there is something pleasing about the Hayabusa’s ‘stuck in a time warp’ look and feel that just adds to the bonkers image it has, as though it was still wearing ‘pleather’ and necking a bottle of Hooch yet totally owning it

Do we need a new Suzuki Hayabusa in the year 2021?

So onto the Suzuki Hayabusa - let’s call it - 2.0. As we say, the pomp and fanfare of the teaser may betray what could be a fairly minor update but Suzuki hasn’t gone to this much effort to declare an updated Hayabusa before… though, in fairness, we were all still struggling our way through dial-up internet back in 1999.

It will be interesting to see how Suzuki has approached the engine and mechanicals in particular. Though technology has come a long way since 1999, manufacturers could be rather liberal during R&D of a new model back then given emissions concerns were the future’s problem, while insurance premiums and prices were considerably more reasonable in that they didn’t gobble up a disproportionate amount of your monthly income.

It means we would be surprised to see Suzuki boasting new World Record performance figures... If anything, the new Hayabusa could end up being slower. After all, we knew Suzuki was having to strangle some of the Hayabusa’s power anyway because of Euro5, though many assumed this would signal its death, rather than its rebirth.

Then again - as we say - technology has come a long, long way since then and the new Hayabusa is most likely going to be brimming with clever tech to stage manage the power and ensure a more pleasurable, yet still totally involving ride all at speeds so warp Suzuki has confidently - some would say 'smugly' - retained the a retro analogu speedometer because the oh-so-modern digital option just couldn't convey the same build-up of accelerated thrills.

As for the styling, we can just about tell from the teaser the Hayabusa will still be big, bulky and bulging enough to more heads than Margot Robbie... even if it probably won't be because it is more beautiful than she is.

[Unofficial render pictured]

Why the new Suzuki Hayabusa is the motorcycle we need in 2021

Launching a new Hayabusa in an age of dwindling sportsbike sales, spiralling running costs and stricter legislative regulations would be a ballsy clapback at ‘the man’ for any manufacturer, let alone one that has more recently carved a perhaps unintentional almost ‘white goods’ niche for modest, good value and reliable (ie. dependable but dull) motorcycling. 

Then again, it is exciting to see Suzuki honouring its racing heritage in the wake of its storming 2020 MotoGP World Championship title win, not least because the GSX-R1000 is now wedged between ageing gracefully and being largely forgotten.

It also invokes that aforementioned Japanese spirit of supplementing the sensible conformity of its profitable bread and butter models crafted in the boardroom with a bonkers, barely sense-making anime-inspired halo motorcycle that was (perhaps) first scribbled on a post-it note and created as part of a drunken bet that went too far because they refused to admit defeat. Or something like that, anyway.

We will reserve our final judgment for when we clasp eyes on it and scan the tech specs, but at a time when the head generally wins over the heart - at least compared to 1999 - the prospect of a new Hayabusa in 2021 is something to be celebrated if for nothing else than the fact Suzuki actually said ‘f**k it, let’s do this’ more than two decades after it originally made us go ‘f***ing hell’ in glee.

Roll on February 5th...

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