Motorbikes are synonymous with speed and freedom, and few represent that better than the Suzuki Hayabusa. This iconic motorbike secured its place as the fastest standard production bike of the 20th century, reaching a top speed of 194 mph. The vehicle has been praised for its all-round performance, uncompromising comfort, reliability and handling for the sake of a single function. We take a look at the history of this impressive vehicle.
The creation of a legend
In 1996, Suzuki’s rivalry with Honda was taken to a new level with the creation of the Honda CBR1100XX Blackbird. In 1999, Suzuki came up with a new bike and called it the Hayabusa, which is Japanese for peregrine falcon. There was also a mythical quality to the Hayabusa and that it was said to eat blackbirds. The peregrine falcon is the fastest bird in the world, able to reach a diving speed of 180 – 202 mph.
The Suzuki Hayabusa surpassed the Blackbird’s 178.5 mph to become the fastest bike in the world. The bike’s creation came during a time when there were fears over a European import ban. This lead to an agreement in 2000 between European and Japanese manufacturers to put a restriction on the top speed of their motorbikes. The restriction was placed at 186 mph. As the 1999 Hayabusa exceeded this speed, it makes the model even more valuable to collectors.
The first generation Hayabusa featured a 1299cc liquid-cooled, inline-4 engine and sophisticated aerodynamics. Its power gave the rider a diverse choice of gear selection.
Reflecting on the 1999 Hayabusa’s design, creator Koji Yoshiura said he wanted “to create a somewhat grotesque design and create a strong initial impact.” It wasn’t his intention to design the world’s fastest motorbike, but was a byproduct of “pursuing the best handling, acceleration, safety and power.”
A speed dispute
Even with the 2000 agreement between Europe and Japan, it didn’t stop there being a battle of speed. Kawasaki brought out the Ninja ZX-12R in an attempt to unseat the Hayabusa. Although the ZX-12R wasn’t successful, it’s interesting to think about what could have been if the restriction wasn’t in place. It didn’t stop both Suzuki and Kawasaki claiming to have the world’s fastest production motorbike.
In 2015, Kawasaki brought out the Ninja H2R, which produced a speed of between 206 – 299 mph. The Hayabusa might have been replaced for speed, but it has cemented itself as one of the greatest motorbikes of all time. It’s speed, handling and performance is one of a kind.
With the recent creation of the MTT 420 RR Turbine Superbike, it could only be a matter of time before the next generation of speed is unleashed.