Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Why choose a Hayabusa?

This is one of those questions that typically comes from those who've never ridden one. Or worse, from a non-rider.

Well for me, after starting on a typical learner bike, the trusty GN250 back in 1984, there have been quite a few bikes. Now I've ridden (or test ridden) a number of different styles over the years, never been a true fan of cruisers whether they're from Japan or the USA. Without listing them all, it's been a fairly stable trend of starting off with the GN250, then venturing up and down the ranks (cc wise) as and when the situation suited it. One of the bikes that spring to mind was an unfaired CBX550, maybe it sticks in my mind for the many clicks I covered on it, or for the spectacular fashion with which it poked a rod out of the block at speed in an attempt at bike plus rider self destruction.

Nothing to prove - it's one of those things I quietly say to myself when confronted with a situation which could easily go pear shaped if the next choice I make is the wrong one. Some of this might be down to my profession requiring a degree of risk aversion, but also the benefit of experience providing a calming experience in the face of a challenge to have a go by another road user. One of the definite downsides of owning/riding a Busa is that there seem to be plenty of boy racers/riders who see the bike itself as an invitation to a race. Damn Youtube videos... Not unique to the Busa of course, but this aspect in itself is mildly annoying at times.

The selection process that led me to my current bike was slightly odd. I'd been on my previous bike (GSX750F) longer than usual (average being maybe 3 years) and the what's next thought had been floating around. With thoughts back to an XJ900 that I'd had briefly some years back, I sketched a list which read ST1300, FJR and Concours. The first two seemed a little outdated and the Concours I just couldn't get happy on, afterwards I realised some of the behaviour I was unhappy with was just down to the 190/50 rear tyre making the bike reluctant to crank into a corner...but anyway. Looked a little closer at the ZX14 and the Hayabusa. Both bikes could be accused of being ego boosters, and more than a little insane in the wrong hands. What both had in spades was easily useable power/torque and thus the ability to cover distance, at pace and in relative comfort.

I ended up picking the 2013 Busa when the update was announced. Ok, Brembo brakes and ABS hardly make this an up to date bike when compared to the current litre bikes, but it suited my way of riding. Two and a bit years later and I'm not at all unhappy with the choice. The only irony in now owning a sweet bike, is the circumstances have yet again changed and I'm riding less than ever before. Maybe 10,000 clicks per year. Who knows what the new year will bring though.

Very few actually. No changes to engine/exhaust, well there's almost 200 hp so that'll have to do huh? Hate loud pipes anyway. Scottoiler to look after chain and sprockets. Double bubble screen by Godiva, ok strictly speaking not a double bubble but a touring screen. GPS speedo. GPS locater, which helps keep the wife informed of my whereabouts should the unthinkable happen. I ride a lot on my own, so this is a practical addition, albeit somewhat macabre in intent. Wired for radar detector, almost a must have for a career driver. Hot grips obviously. Ventura pack setup which seems quite practical. Synthetic engine oil seems a no brainer, keeping the change intervals the same.
Tyres is where I've deviated from standard. The stock 190/50 rear makes the bike feel a bit odd when cranking into a corner, so going to a 190/55 has made it more agile in that regard. The reluctant tip in is now mostly gone and the handling feels more neutral or natural, whilst still keeping in mind it's a hefty bike to start with. Was initially thinking of modifying the seat, but a couple of C1KC rides later I've shelved that desire.

Any thoughts of what bike next? Well yeah, the new FJR1300 looks like a useful update and it offers features that appeal. But for now, the bike I think of as my mistress is doing just fine thanks.

Funny how quickly an air filter gets grubby. No surprise that the bike feels a little more lively after receiving a nice clean filter...


  1. Good post Rob! Your thought processes are identical to when I bought the Blackbird. Both are the sort of bikes which say "nothing to prove". I'm also taking your experience and advice with respect to tyre profile when the OEM 50's get replaced in the coming weeks.

    1. Cheers Geoff, it's an interesting learning curve. If only one could go back to being 21 again, but take a lifetime of experience back in the process...