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The Heroes of 2020
By David Booth
It’s been a gestation period worthy of an elephant, a new version of Suzuki’s iconic Hayabusa rumoured, teased and, for fans of the world’s fastest motorcycle, anticipated for at least five years now.
So many leaked patents, mock-ups, and spy shots have made the rounds of the motorcycling press that a cottage industry sprung up just to manage the latest sighting of the dive-bombing — Hayabusa is the Japanese name for a peregrine falcon, which can hit up to 325 kilometres an hour in a vertical hunting dive — GSX1300R.
The biggest surprise is that the big Gixxer’s engine remains largely unchanged, the 1,340-cc inline-four sharing the previous model’s basic bore, stroke, and compression ratio stats, the rumours of a 1,440-cc version or even a supercharger variant proving as false as a trumped-up election. There’s still a whopping 187 horsepower available, even if that’s a little down on the previous generation’s 194 ponies, mainly — as we’ve all been warned — because the new bike needed to meet Europe’s new, more-stringent Euro5 emissions standards.
The 2022 version’s 110 pound-feet of torque is also down a smidge, but Suzuki does promise there’s a wider powerband, though for the life of me, I never ever heard anyone complain about the big ‘Busa’s paucity of mid-range grunt. Suzuki still lists the top speed as 299 kilometres per hour, but as anyone who’s ever ridden a Hayabusa in anger knows, that has more to do with calming regulators’ nerves than actually limiting speed.
The same familiarity applies to the basic chassis, which, though somewhat lightened, remains the familiar twin-spar aluminum jobbie of the original. Oh, the front brakes are a little larger, the rotors now measuring 320 millimetres in diameter — and the calipers some stylish and powerful Brembo Stylemas. But other than the details — the rear subframe is a little lighter — it’s all familiar territory. One minor detail that aging Suzuki fans of speed might appreciate, however, is that the handlebars are now some 12-mm closer to the rider; no more hunching over back-breaking clip-ons. Yeah!
What is all-new is the electronics package, now the most comprehensive in Suzuki’s lineup. Dubbed the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System, it includes an Inertial Measurement Unit powering a 10-stage traction control system; a wheelie control system with a similar number of settings (one presumes for different stages of crazed mono-wheeling); six different power modes (three preset and three customizable); a two-stage up and down quick shifter; three-stage engine brake control; three-stage launch control; cornering ABS; cruise control; hill-hold control; and even slope descent control to prevent the rear wheel lifting under heavy braking when traveling down a hill.
Phew! Perhaps most interesting is an active speed limit control — not a governor! — which lets the rider set a personalized top speed, lest the Hayabusa’s famous facility for exceeding speed limits not be in the spirit of stunting laws.
One thing we’re glad Suzuki didn’t futz with is the big bird’s styling. Immediately familiar, there have been some aerodynamic changes — again, think of a Japanese falcon diving at 200 miles per hour — that include an even slipperier front fairing and rear tail unit. But, other than some pretty snazzy paint jobs and even larger twin exhausts, Hayabusa enthusiasts will not feel slighted.
So, if you’ve got $22,399, drag racing’s favourite son has returned and will be in Suzuki dealerships across the country soon.
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