RIDE REPORT: HAYABUSA 2008
Photos: Sundeep Gajjar (Sunny)
Text: KRISHNENDU KES aka KEN / Sunny (2nd Impression)
Text: KRISHNENDU KES aka KEN
As the flight touched down, I looked out of the window to roughly estimate the speed at which it was landing. Speed has always fascinated us humans. And ever since the evolution of the brain and the invention of the wheel there has been a constant endeavour to go faster than before. And the means to do that are varied… I prefer the internal combustion kind. More specifically, the kinds with two wheels.
When I had first ridden the Blackbird given to me for a test ride for a couple of hours, I had gone around doing 70 kilometres and I did not want to get off. Have not ridden any Hyper bike since. Until recently.
I was waiting with the R1 absentmindedly looking at the dust accumulating on the console when this bike, fleet-footedly “landed” right next to me. The 2008 Hayabusa in Black!
It was humongous. It looked an animal of prey ready to pounce. It was ready to play dirty. It looked like the bad boy of motorcycles. The big bully. My R1 looked like an apology of a motorcycle; barely a scooter at best, next to this unruly monster. And I realized one thing… Size does matter!
I pushed in the key and turned her on. The console came alive. The tachometer did not do a swing check. All the needles whirred back and forth at an incredible speed, as if saying out aloud, “I am faster than you can imagine!”
I thumbed the starter. There was no growl of an inline Jap four. I twisted the wrist. The Tacho shot up. But there was no demoniacal roar. Just a whispering purr as the Tach settled down. I settled down into the cockpit, depressed the clutch, engaged gear and glided out on to the open roads. She breathed in heavily and easily through the large scoops as I moved up the rev-range and the engine sounded like a mild pleasant whistle, ambling through the country at a 195 km/h on 4th gear. I had close to 200 thoroughbreds under my command between my legs.
Surprisingly, the bike is extremely well-behaved unlike its younger sibling, the Gixer1000 that behaves like a young ruffian. Rolling along gently at 40 on 6th, I loaded the engine and pushed the rev up with a sudden opening of the throttle and she was totally game for it without the hint of a groan. The needles started climbing. At nearly 150 she started rearing her head up gently and soon she started going ballistic. I braked hard as I started running out of road. I am used to my 6 pistons and a lighter vehicle. Comparatively the braking seemed a trifle sluggish. But I guess that is just a question of time and getting used to.
When I ride a bike, I have a couple of exercises that I like trying out. Going round and round a roundabout to see how much I can push myself and the bike. Since I am a bad leaner, bender, corner-carver myself, the easier I can do it on a bike, the better I rate it. I took the Busa to an empty mean gripping roundabout to try and throw her down as much as I could. Another surprise… no need to throw her down, she will easily take the corner on her own. This is coming from a person who thinks that at slow speeds, the R1 is definitely one of the most ergonomic handlers in the category upwards of 600CC. Yes, I am a Yamaha fan, but here I am sitting writing about the extraordinary qualities of the Busa handling. Normally one does not talk about Hyperbike flickability. The Blackbird was NOT nimble. It was huge, heavy and clumsy. I would not take it to Chandni Chowk. The Busa took the roundabout with aplomb. I turned circles around it.
My second exercise was to try Ring Road traffic during rush hours. Again I feel that the R1 ergonomics in the middle of traffic among the litre class is a bench mark and I am NOT the only one saying this. But when I took the ’08 Busa in the middle of South Extension with the DTC buses trying to vie for space and the nineteen to the dozen other small-medium-big and obscene cars beating each other down, the Busa easily slalomed through traffic making short work of its seemingly huge build and I felt it to be as nimble as a Karizma in traffic with a bit more usable power in reserve.
Now let us come to the drawbacks. Biggest drawback being the heating factor. Like all Hyperbikes, (though I have not tested the ZZR1400) the Busa too heats up pretty fast in traffic and if the weather gods are not on your side, you would end up having singed thighs and calves. It does fit into a narrow DDA garage where I park my R1 with as much ease or difficulty as the R1 with a bit more calories burnt and better thighs developed owing to its heavier weight. A stationary Busa is imposing and not easy to maneouvre. And aesthetically, if you are not a hefty person, you might end up looking like a fly. The Busa demands a certain build.
My verdict: ease of ride, nimble in heavy traffic, imposing looks, the ’08 Busa attracts more attention than Cameron Diaz in a one piece bikini, very very fast, fatigue free riding, easy to read bold console, suspension is less stiff and more comfortable than the usual litre class, aggressive riding stance, extremely smooth and silent under the hood… a bike you will NOT regret owning and keeping.
Missing link: Have not yet ridden it in the hills, to really check how easily it takes corner after corner for a hundred kilometres. Have not tried out the three modes though “they” say that it is clearly effective.
I immensely liked this machine. If I had the moolah, she would be standing in my garage right now.
Sunny's 1st Impression
My First Impression on the Busa (Thanks to Archistar for the recovery)
For a change it feels good to be around a hyperbike, knowing that it will soon be making its way into India and into your local showroom. Whether there are tarmac roads just outside the place is none of our concern.
I was always fascinated by the Hayabusa, before the nation got bedazzled by it in the movie Dhoom. Somehow the ‘eye-abuser’ tag did not really work with me.
The first time I saw the Hayabusa was a Delhi afternoon. It was probably a 2003 Hayabusa and it was BIG. Yes, the first look in 2005 lent that expression.
After three years, a first look at the recently changed 2008 model again gives the same impression – its still BIG, no it’s a little bigger. The bike already has incredible cult status in India. Many people on the streets will say its a Hayabusa - the only requirement being fat rears and a big bike. So the next time someone calls your R1 a Busa, dont go all mad on him, ya?
So today was, again, a rain and gloomy day. Add to this, we had hundreds of onlookers. Cars and bikes stopping to take photos from their phone, asking about the price and what not! It almost seemed the bike was being given away for free on the road - free gaping for all that is! So this was power of the Hayabusa, even as it stood still.
I have never ridden a Busa till now, but from what I know, it decimates any other thing locomoting on wheels. The 2008 Orange/Black Busa in front of me, was the first time in 8 years that saw any change in this hyperbike. Since its launch in 1999 it has created maniacs with oversized egos on the road and new records on the track (and on freeways the world over). And yes, it is justified, the motor which lurks beneath this faintly blobly plastic has a demon which can only be exorcised at insane speeds. And this is the same demon which lends that sense of invincibility and godly power in it's rider. In all probability if you happen to know a guy who goes by a name of DragKing in a group or underground racing in the west, he probably owns a genetically enhanced version of this monster with insanely long swingarm and a rear fatter than a super obese elephant.
The 2008 Orange/Black combination looked superb under the setting orange sun. I personally think that the new design is a lot better than the old Busa, old being just a year ago. Suzuki were rightly apprehensive in changing the cult package lest they mess up it's mysterious yet obvious charisma. They were clever enough not to make the 916<-->999 Ducati mistake.
The power of the new Busa is up by more than 10% to 196bhp at the crank out of a 1340CC mill. Despite this stupendous power the bike is unbelievably silent.
Suzuki India is due to launch the Busa at around 12 Lacs in September 2008. This will truly create a new segment in India, like it did in back in 1999 in the rest of the world - 'Ultimate Sport'.
And then the trustworthy Delhi police will have to upgrade from Bajaj Pulsars to something with a little more punch...
Thanks to Manoj for the bike.