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Thread: Review 2008 GEN II Hayabusa

  1. #1
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    Review 2008 GEN II Hayabusa

    Six months and 6000kms from purchase I have got around to writing a review of the Generation II Hayabusa and of my decision to select this motorcycle as replacement of a 2007 Speed Triple.

    It wasn’t initially my intention to buy a Hayabusa. I had been considering replacing the Speed Triple with a bike with a fairing and the Sprint ST1050 seemed to be a sensible choice. Wind protection was my reason for changing the Speed Triple although if I hadn’t changed to a different bike I would have upgraded the Speed Triple to the new model with the new look, steel tank and improved brakes.

    In August 2007 I test rode a Triumph Sprint courtesy of Wellington Motorcycles. My conclusions were, as described in other reviews, a sound all round package. It was competent at round town and open road speeds with a smooth, powerful and flexible motor. Although it did have a clunky gear change and, more wind buffeting than I expected at 100kph. However, lingering questions were, is it too good and without character, is it boring? The Sprint is definitely a better bike than the SV1000S and so it should be at almost twice the price.

    During September 2007 I reconsidered what I wanted in a bike and identified a few options. Of consideration was naked or faired – I had considered that riding a naked would moderate my speed. At the time someone suggested a Hayabusa would be a good match for what I wanted as replacement for the SV1000s. However, after reading numerous reviews, blogs and forums I ruled out this bike as just too powerful. I had also considered a Blackbird following feedback posted on my requirements for a motorcycle. The Blackbird is also a powerful bike but not as brutal and arguably more refined than a Hayabusa. Owners of the blackbird spoke highly of the bike. The price at the time being $5k less than the Sprint made it an attractive option.

    At the end of September 2007 I purchased a new Speed Triple and a year later still loved this bike. Then in November 2008 I did the Capital 1000k cruise and decided during this ride that I needed a bike with a fairing. By now most of my rides were long distance day rides and some of the group rides were faster than comfortable on a bike without a fairing.

    At the end of November I took test rides on a Tiger and Sprint. At this stage I was only considering a Triumph triple. My conclusion from the test rides was: I wouldn't buy a Tiger, I may buy a Sprint and the Speed Triple is an exciting ride. (Review is posted here.) As summer was approaching I decided to stick with the Speed Triple until the new Sprint arrived in the New Year.

    In late January 2009 I got a confirmed cost to trade the Speed Triple on a 2009 Sprint ST with ABS. However, after window shopping at Wellington Motorcycles, I was also considering a GenII Hayabusa and had been persuaded to take a test ride. Sales pitch was “ride it and you will buy it”. I had been told the same outcome would result in a ride of the B King – which I have yet to ride.

    The Hayabusa is an imposing beast and I was concerned that its power would be difficult to manage. To my immediate surprise the bike was easy to ride with smooth power delivery from take off to town and then motorway speeds. In almost any gear it was smooth and pulled smoothly – although in the short test ride I didn't push it past 4000rpm.

    My initial thoughts from the test ride on the Hayabusa were:
    • A smooth flow of power regardless of gear or revs – note I didn’t go past 4000rpm.
    • Smooth over rough areas of road - I found myself lifting off the seat in preparation for the jar when crossing railway lines and road repairs when there was no need. Excellent suspension and much smoother over rough stuff than the Speed Triple
    • Wind protection is good - no buffeting on the helmet but some direct wind pressure
    • Great instrument panel and good to look at while riding
    • Very different riding position - bit of weight on the hands and tension in lower back.
    • It quickly increases in speed but is also easy to ride slowly.
    • Slower to turn than the S3 - is actually heavy to steer and needs firm input to the bar.
    • Acceleration in 2nd from 40kph is amazing - this bike has serious power ready to be tapped.
    • Heat from the motor on the legs is irritating - it was a hot day and the ride involved some slow riding.
    • I liked the power map selection and found the lowest power setting "C" made for a relaxing ride in slow traffic.
    At first I was a bit concerned about the riding position, steering and power. By the end of the ride those concerns had lessened.

    The cost to trade on the Hayabusa settled the decision; the best bike and best financial decision was to go with the Hayabusa. This Hayabusa was a demo with 319kms on the clock and Pete from Wellington Motorcycles had bedded the motor in with a run to Martinborough – Pete’s review is here. I took delivery of the Hayabusa on Monday 26 January 2009.

    Since then a number of people have questioned my choice of bike and possibly my sanity. That is why this is as much a review of why I bought a Hayabusa as a review of the bike.

    In choosing the Hayabusa I was filling a sport touring requirement. In other reviews of the Hayabusa comments have followed from sports bike riders on its slow steering compared to sports bikes. That is accepted and if I had wanted a sports bike I would possibly be riding a GSXR750. Likewise if my rides were predominately touring a touring bike may have been considered, although the Hayabusa is the choice for many long distance riders.

    So what about the new model Hayabusa? In 2008 the model was significantly updated. Bugs from past models are gone and the new model may well be near to perfection of the line. The restyled body and exhausts add emphasis to the design characteristics of the earlier Hayabusa.

    The engine displacement has been increased to 1340cc, compression ratio increased from 11.0 to 12.5:1 and numerous other changes result in a new motor. A new fuel injection and engine management system is reported to provide seamless throttle response.

    Fully adjustable suspension front and rear, upgraded shock and front forks and the swing arm is strengthened. Brakes are now radial mounted.

    The instrumentation has lost the fuel use computer and gained a gear indicator and power map display. A three way switch on the right handlebar provides on-the-go change from A to B to C power modes. There is a significant difference between the modes and they offer a safety feature that is not fully appreciated. In B and C modes the throttle is softened, requiring more throttle for acceleration and slower response. Overall power is down in B and C modes but this is not apparent at cruising speed on the open road.

    Before leaving my driveway I switch to C mode. This reduces the risk of loss of control from bumping the throttle as I exit the driveway on cold tyres and turn down what is often a wet road. When I enter the motorway, two kilometres away, the power mode is switched back to A. I switch to B mode when riding in the rain and C mode provides a smooth throttle when riding in slow or stop start traffic.

    When in A mode it doesn’t matter what gear you are in, a hand full of throttle will launch the bike past any speed limit faster than you can say “lost my licence”. Full throttle in 2nd or 3rd gear is very scary, it pulls hard from 4000rpm, and at 6000rpm is on song with an intoxicating intake roar, at 7000rpm the rate of acceleration is increasing so fast the brain cannot manage the inputs from its body (noise, G force, stretching arms, horizon disappearing) and the fast moving revolution needle. I had watched Youtube videos of the Hayabusa under acceleration but it was not until I was on the bike that I could appreciate how rapid the bike is. It took a number of runs to get the timing of upward gear changes near the peak power zone at 10500rpm and redline at 11000rpm. This bike is terrifyingly fast. Now I understand its potential I will revert to my nana riding style and seldom will I see anything much over 6000rpm on the clock.

    Over the last six months and six thousand kilometers I have not regretted the decision to buy a Hayabusa. Although I wish I could have kept the Speed Triple. What I do miss with the Speed Triple is the opportunity to have a thrash through at least three gears on exiting a corner or entering a motorway. The Speed Triple throttle provided a lot of fun, whereas to do the same on the Hayabusa is scary and delivers excessive terminal speeds. So I take it easy on the Hayabusa and appreciate it for its all round capabilities.

    So what are the pros and cons of the Hayabusa? Firstly and as covered in every review and road test written, the Hayabusa is fast – very fast. There are many other positive attributes including; smooth easy clutch, slick gearbox which operates well on clutch less changes, smooth and faultless fuelling at any revs and throttle opening, stable on straights and corners and powerful albeit a little wooden feeling brakes. The seat is just okay and could be improved with better gel as the backside gets numb by the end of a long days ride. Rear tyre wear is a negative and even with my easy riding it looks like I will be unlikely to get 8000 kilometres out of the rear. The overall quality and finish of the chassis, body work, forks and fittings, instrumentation and paint is high.

    The fairing and screen provides sufficient protection from the elements. I find it interesting how different riders judge the protection provided by a screen. A full touring bike with an adjustable screen can isolate the rider from any wind pressure, providing protection from wind and rain at low to high speeds. The Hayabusa screen gives no protection to the upper body at low speed (0 – 50kph) and I like the feel of that wind. Once the speed increases the wind pressure reduces and stays somewhat constant so at 90 there is little wind and no change in that wind pressure with a doubling of speed. At all speeds there is no buffeting and this is what I loved about the Speed Triple; riding in clean air. It is also one of the factors that put me off the Sprint and Tiger where buffeting from the screen was worse than putting up with the pressure of 100kph + wind.

    The bike is quiet with those big mufflers doing too good a job. I cannot hear the exhausts when riding and it is only the intake noise under hard throttle that gives any indication of what the motor is doing. Hence the benefit of the gear change indicator to remind one that 6th gear at 100 is probably more economical than the 3rd or 4th currently engaged. Short shifting is part of the mix to riding this bike.

    So what is this bike like on the longer runs? It is easy to ride, comfortable, economical and warm. That last point may seem a little odd but I can report that I rode from Havelock North to Taupo in freezing temperatures and over the mountain ice was forming on the visor yet the body was warm. The package of screen, heated grips and warmth from the engine countered the chilling air. It is economical on fuel and the tank provides an easy 300km range between fills.

    My Hayabusa is fitted with a Ventura rack system with interchangeable sport rack and pack rack. The pack rack works well with an RJ Bag for touring and on day rides I use the sport rack with a Ventura sport bag. A power outlet is wired to the front of the tank to power a radar detector secreted inside a small tank bag. The space in the tank bag and rear sport bag is sufficient for day ride essentials and more. Oxford heated grips and a Scott oiler were fitted during the 6000kms service.

    The Hayabusa could be considered as two bikes. Using up to 6000rpm it is a powerful and very competent sports touring bike. Over 6000rpm you have a beast which few will be able to master. The Hayabusa power is not necessary but it is nice to know it is there – just in case.
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  2. #2
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    Nice write up.

    I had an 02 Hayabusa before and I can sympathise with your fascination on these beautiful creatures.

    If it were to have a backrest for the passenger (for the missus), I might have enjoyed touring on it more and kept it longer. In the end I spent my time soloing most of the time and swapped it for a Fireblade instead.

    But I still miss it and would love to have one again, if only for a second bike.
    Elite Fight Club - Proudly promoting common sense and safe riding since 2024
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  3. #3
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    Great write up, Dennis.... and your bike LOOKS awesome, too!
    Member, sem fiddy appreciation society


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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinned View Post
    ................
    OMG. You must be bored to have written such a great book on this Super bike.
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  5. #5
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    Cool write they sure sound like a fun bike,power power and more power

    I need to test ride one one day..
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by one fast tl1ooo View Post
    OMG. You must be bored to have written such a great book on this Super bike.
    Bored and unable to ride for a while. I had a major op on 20 August and am at home recovering so had time to gather my thoughts. I would much rather be out riding than writing but riding is out of the question for at least a couple of weeks. The bike needs a clean and polish so I may attend to that.
    Here for the ride.

  7. #7
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    Kiwirider magazine (Jan 2010) have a road test of the Hayabusa and sum up "this is probably the best road-bike I've tested". Test riders from other mags are not as positive with a Bike magazine (Dec 2009) tester preferring the ZZR1400. Overall the Hayabusa is a good fit for me and I am in no hurry to change.

    Nice day and time for a ride.
    Here for the ride.

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