Common Tread

Next-gen Hayabusa rumors: What's Suzuki planning?

Feb 27, 2018

Bigger engine? Turbos? New tech? 'Busa rumors are running wild. 

The Hayabusa, also known as the GSX1300R, turns 20 in less than a year. How’s Suzuki going to celebrate?

Suzuki debuted its flagship lumpy fast thing as a 1999 model, and it soon became a legend in its own time. The looks have always been a bit polarizing (the Suzuki “Eye-Abuse-er”), but the aesthetics are hard to see anyway at full tilt. Since the GSX1300R’s inception, it has been many things to many people: speed freak steeds, hypertourers, stretched and slammed customs, engine donors for car projects, turbo face-melters, and even the choice of perfectly reasonable madmen who keep them stock.

Suzuki hasn’t totally neglected the magic Bus over the last two decades. An update in 2008 brought more power and new bodywork, but that was 10 years ago.  Sure, it’s still the fastest top-speed Suzuki in the showroom, but the Hayabusa’s “bird of prey” identity is fading. Honda’s Blackbirds are long gone and modern predators like the Kawasaki H2 or ZX-14R now bring serious tech to the top of the power food chain. Even liter-class sport bikes are catching up.

Of all the ‘Busas, I like the 1999 “melting creamsicle” best. 1999 Suzuki Hayabusa. Suzuki photo.

The upcoming 20th anniversary of the Hayabusa provides a perfect opportunity for Suzuki to revamp its “ultimate sport bike.” Not only can they restore their claim to bragging rights, but they’ll also secure the future for one of the most recognizable models in motorcycling. Rumors about a bigger, better ‘Busa have been floating around for ages, but 2019 looks to be the real deal. Suzuki can’t sell the current Hayabusa in 2019 in Europe, since it doesn’t meet EURO 4 emissions standards. So what’s Suzuki planning?

Rumor 1: The ’Busa gets bigger

The 2018 Hayabusa packs a 1,340 cc inline-four (up from the original’s 1,299 cc). As the adage goes, there’s no replacement for displacement, so Suzuki might just up the cube count to something like 1,440 cc. That’s ZX-14R territory. Hayabusa modders frequently take their engines that high and beyond with Suzuki’s existing design. The engine could be further upgraded with the GSX-R1000R’s variable valve timing for an added edge on the competition.

APE Race parts
An aftermarket 1,441 cc kit from A.P.E. Race Parts. A.P.E. Race Parts photo.

Rumor 2: The ’Busa gets turbocharged

Plenty of riders, apparently bored with the fastest bike they could buy, have added turbochargers to their Hayabusas. It just so happens that Suzuki also has an interest in turbos, seen here in their 2015 XE7 concept engine. 

Suzuki XE7 engine
An eight-valve, DOHC twin with a teeny turbo. 2015 Suzuki XE7 Concept Engine. Suzuki photo.

It's unlikely that Suzuki would stuff a middleweight parallel twin in their biggest sport bike, even with a turbo, but the XE7 shows that Suzuki is experimenting with turbocharging motorcycles (after finally forgetting the sad XN85). After Kawasaki’s success with supercharging the H2, Suzuki might want a piece of the action. And what better bike to re-launch their turbo dreams than the Hayabusa? The halo bike needs more than a light refresh to carry the third generation back into the limelight, and boost would only add to the Hayabusa’s reputation as a speed king. Forced induction could also help Suzuki stay one step ahead of tightening emissions regulations. I’m betting Suzuki will consider increasing displacement before adding a turbo, though the opportunity to create the "Haya-boosta" is awfully tempting.

Rumor 3: The ’Busa gets smart

This barely qualifies as a rumor in my mind. The Hayabusa is lagging in tech, especially for a flagship. Besides, it wouldn’t hurt to add some rider aids to the Last-Millennium Falcon. Semi-automatic shifting is rumored to make its way onboard, as assisted shifting becomes increasingly common on big-bore machines. If Suzuki intends to go another 10 years without serious updates, I’d look for semi-active suspension as well. Traction control should finally make an appearance, as well as an IMU and cornering ABS. A TFT dash, or at least LED lighting, would complete the transformation.

This Japanese magazine shows what the next Hayabusa could look like. Team-BHP Forum photo.

Of all the Japanese OEMs, Suzuki took the worst hit from the last recession. And with almost nothing new for the 2018 model year, a new 2019 20th anniversary Hayabusa could be just the model the company needs to make everyone forget all those overdue updates.