Cheap speed Suzuki Hayabusa buying guide
Is the speed demon still worth your hard-earned?
What we said then
“You need to prepare yourself mentally. If you’re not feeling bright and sharp, leave it at home – your brain won’t cope otherwise. The acceleration is so strong it makes many other bikes feel lame. Even in top gear at 140mph, cracking the throttle open brings the sort of surge that you’d get out of a Fireblade at 80mph in fourth! You won’t believe how fast the speedo needle flies around the dial. When you thrash the Hayabusa the rest of the world blurs.”
But what is it like now?
There is no question that the Busa is still the king of speed, or more accurately, acceleration. Even now, this beautifully turned out 18,000-mile original example (for sale privately for £5500) has lost none of its pace, and will catapult you away from the lights quicker and easier than any of the current crop of superbikes.
The UK launch of the Hayabusa is a memory that has stuck firmly in my mind. It was held at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in the winter of 1999, and the two-mile runway was one of the only places long enough to max the Busa out. Using sophisticated on-board datalogging equipment, we spent the best part of a day trying to reach the landmark 200mph we all thought it was capable of, but it never exceeded 186mph. But what it did do time and time again was accelerate through the quarter mile in the low 10-second bracket. Easy.
All this nostalgia came to the forefront when riding this 18-yearold example, as it had lost none of its speed and ease of use. The engine feels grunty and really eager, and the carbs provide near faultlessly smooth fuelling. It’s clear this bike has lost none of the 155bhp and 93ftlb torque it was born with.
Meanwhile, the riding position allows you to stretch out and enjoy the ride, the suspension still managing to insulate the rider from the road’s imperfections in spite of the Busa’s 250kg mass.
Any obvious faults?
As Suzuki’s flagship model, Busa build quality is and always has been top notch, so despite its age and mileage this example is in excellent condition.
Or worthwhile extras?
Although the six-pot calipers look awesome, the reality is they lack the outright power you’d expect, even with the aftermarket steel lines fitted. You can get better feel and stopping power by fitting performance brake pads.
The standard screen is a bit low, which is why many owners fit a double bubble screen like this one. It’s effective and looks the part, although would be slightly better looking if it were clear.
The stock exhaust works well, as it allows the engine to make huge power and torque with the minimum of noise. There are some superb aftermarket systems available to choose from if you want a fruitier exhaust note, and potentially more power from the engine. Any new system would require an appointment at your local dyno operator to optimise the fuelling.
As a future classic the 1999 Busa definitely has potential, so buy a nice standard bike and it could prove a modest investment. Original bikes came in black, black and red, and this copper and salmon scheme – which has become synonymous with the 1999 model and is the colour to go for. But if you just want an experience like no other, for £5500 you simply aren’t going to get anything than can rival the big Suzuki.
MCN February 10, 1999
Buy now: the bike used in this test is for sale for £5500. Call 07867 557610
For classic cred this is the colour to go for