Unique Bikes & auction: Suzuki Hayabusa

By: Guy Allen, Unique Cars mag, Photography by: Suzuki, Shannons

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Suzuki's hero Speedster proves you can re-invent yourself

If your intention is to make a splash in the motorcycle sphere, one guaranteed way to do it is to set a new top-speed benchmark. That’s become increasingly difficult in a world with somewhat more conservative views on things like speed, but back in 1999 the ability of Suzuki’s Hayabusa to consistently bust the 300km/h mark was something to be celebrated. Briefly.

In what seemed like seconds later, the industry set an agreed top speed limit of 299 on new models.


Generations 3, 2 and 1 – more sophisticated electronics has been a major tech theme

Hayabusa is now in its third generation. In 2008 the second-gen boasted a lift in engine capacity from 1299 to 1340cc, with the power claim going from 130 to a hefty 147kW (197hp). It also eventually adopted ABS braking.

Move on to 2021 and the company made some courageous decisions. While everyone expected a big new number (engine size, power, or both) in fact the engine remained at the same capacity while power dropped a little to 140kW (188hp), though torque lifted from 139 to 150Nm. Oh, and the price jumped significantly to $28,190.


You can imagine the howling on social media. Trying to overcome the cacophony, the maker pointed out the bike was better finished than ever, was running a better chassis and far more sophisticated electronics, all of which added up to a quicker real world machine.

Of course, this is the risk when you develop a model line that’s effectively become a cult bike – people develop some passionate views that things like logic may never shift.


Perhaps a ride, then? I own a first-generation Hayabusa and have had a few rides on the second, so was more than a little curious to throw a leg over the new toy.

The first thing that hits you is the level of finish and presentation is several steps up from that of its predecessors. Little design ‘easter eggs’ are dotted around the machine and it’s clear someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make you feel good about it.


Meanwhile, it has a bunch of new features, such as cruise control and a two-way powershifter. That first feature alone would make me look at it in a different light.

The real story however is the layers of electronic wizardry partnered with an internal measurement unit that hosts layers of safety nets (for example ABS that’s cornering-friendly) and rider-assists. Plus, of course, it offers several levels of customisation.


So, is it still fast? Hell yes. And it’s easier to ride with a level of confidence the predecessors can’t match. Certainly deserving of the Hayabusa name. More at AllMoto.com.

| Unique Bikes: Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail

Auction block

Riders who have fancied a big Zed across the years may be appalled to learn this motorcycle is now 50 years old. Yup, half a century!


Code-named ‘New York Steak’ by Kawasaki when it was developing this monster, it was the company’s successful attempt to hurdle Honda’s mighty 750-Four, itself a market-changing design.

Like the Honda, it ran an air-cooled inline four powerplant but claimed a then heady 82hp. This first model is in the desirable ‘jaffa’ colours and was sold by Shannons for $45,000.

From Unique Cars #477, April 2023

More Unique Bikes:

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail + auction news

Triumph T160 + auction news

Suzuki Hayabusa + auction news


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