2022 Suzuki Hayabusa

Text: John M. Flores • Photography: Kevin Wing

When the original Suzuki Hayabusa was introduced in 1999, it was the fastest kid on the block and wasn’t shy about it—remember those “Ultimate Predator” ads? But times have changed and we now have touring bikes making more than 150 hp, 1,000cc sportbikes pushing 200 hp, the supercharged Kawasaki H2, and adventure bikes driving sport-touring bikes toward extinction.

So, when the 2022 Hayabusa was announced, Suzuki took some heat for not producing a 9,000-hp, 50-pound missile. Many wanted the new ‘Busa to reclaim that Ultimate Predator title, but instead we are getting what appears to be an evolution, not the full send. Where does the new Hayabusa fit in the new pecking order?

 

What’s New for ‘22?

What exactly has Suzuki changed in the 2022 Hayabusa? At the press intro, they flashed a slide of the engine internals with yellow highlights on the new and updated parts. Nearly everything—camshafts, valve springs, pistons, connecting rods, crankshaft, clutch—except for the engine casings themselves was yellow. Suzuki says that they explored a variety of engine configurations (including forced air induction) and decided to refine the formula instead of rewriting it. By doing so, Suzuki hopes to retain the strong aftermarket support for the bike.

That’s been the overall theme of this model—thoughtful refinements and improvements, not wholesale changes. The seating position is similar to the outgoing model, but the clip-ons are 12mm closer to the rider. The dash continues to use traditional round dials, but there’s a TFT/LCD display squeezed into the center. The iconic twin-stacked headlights are still there, but now they’re LEDs. And so on.

The bodywork is all new (and it may be the handsomest, least bulbous Hayabusa yet) but it’s clearly an evolution of the ‘Busa look—those twin-stacked headlights are flanked by air intakes, leading to a curvaceous fairing. But the new ‘Busa looks like it spent the winter at the gym and has come back a little more toned and cut. With each color choice (Glass Sparkle Black, Metallic Matte Sword Silver, Pearl Brilliant White) comes a secondary color (Candy Burnt Gold, Candy Daring Red, Metallic Matte Stellar Blue) that peeks out of the air intake/exhaust and seat/tail. It’s a neat layered visual effect.

The biggest news of the new ‘Busa are the rider aids. Suzuki threw a panoply of acronyms at us—Suzuki Intelligent Ride System (SIRS), Suzuki Drive Mode Selector Alpha (SDMS-a), Traction Control (TC), Launch Control (LC), Motion Track ABS (MT-ABS), and so forth. They all serve the purpose of helping riders get the most out of the bike’s capabilities.

 

On the Road

Suzuki tells us that after the stretched-swingarm crowd (for drag racing and showing up at bike nights), sport-touring riders are the second largest buyer of Hayabusas (Mike Brooke won the 2021 Iron Butt Rally on a Hayabusa). So, when penning my intro, I had RoadRUNNER’s sport-touring readers in mind. But after years of riding fashionable adventure-touring bikes, the first time I swung my leg over the ‘Busa, I comically positioned my feet ahead of my hips and missed the footpegs. While not a sportbike, the footpegs are properly positioned for aggressive sport-touring—high for maximum ground clearance and rearward for an active seating position. Once I got used to it, the position was comfortable all day, but your knees may be different. The reach to the bar was classic sport-touring too, with clip-ons above the top triple clamp.

On the twisting canyon roads east of Salt Lake City with plenty of tight turns, 180-degree bends, and short straights, the Hayabusa acquitted itself quite well, leaning into turns predictably and confidently with just a touch of countersteering and a press of the outside knee into the tank. The motor was turbine-like in its power delivery. Suzuki claims a flatter mid-range torque curve and I have no reason to doubt them. When the road opened up, the bike built thrust effortlessly and was as smooth as butter. On more than one occasion, I looked down at the speedo and saw a number much higher than I perceived. Braking for the next turn was equally predictable and confident, without the excessive nose dive to which long-travel adventure-touring bikes are susceptible.

For the sport-touring rider, the only piece of luggage that Suzuki offers is a quick-release tank bag, but luggage hooks are cleverly integrated into the tail. As with the first two generations, Suzuki relies upon the aftermarket to fill the gap. The 2022 Hayabusa also features cruise control (with an active speed limiter) and optional heated grips.

 

On the Track

The Hayabusa’s natural habitat is a track that’s about a quarter mile long and straight. So, I initially thought that Utah Motorsports Campus’ roughly three-mile outer loop was going to put the bike out of its element. I was a little out of my element too—years away from my last trackday—and this could have been a recipe for disaster. The bike has more power than I have courage or skill, but the rider aids kept me earthbound.

The power on the front straight was addictive, howling and accelerating all the way to the Turn 1 braking zone. On corner exits, the TC light on the dashboard would flash in direct proportion to my ham-fistedness; had I been on a first or second-generation Hayabusa, I most surely would have highsided clear into Nevada. But there were two places where I could really feel each of the bike’s 582 pounds. At the end of the front straight, where you were braking from high speeds into a sharp left, the front tire (Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22) started squirming under the braking forces. And in the left-right-left chicane at the top of the circuit (Attitude 1-3), the bike took effort to swing from one side to the other. Elsewhere, the ‘Busa was heavy but not ponderous, and exceedingly stable in long fast sweepers.

At the end of the trackday, we took turns sampling the new LC system, which works by setting a temporary rev limit below redline (low, medium, and high, essentially), and then twisting the throttle wide open. With the bike managing revs, you can concentrate on clutch control. On my third launch (at the highest rev setting), I flubbed it and dumped the clutch like a noob. Did the new ‘Busa wheelie out of my meager control or, worse yet, loop it? Nope. The bike surged forward and saved me from myself.

 

Closing Thoughts

So who is the new 2022 Hayabusa for? The bike, like its 200,000 owners, has matured in the last 20 years. It’s still thrilling, but now with a layer of digital assistants to keep the rubber side down. They are adjustable to a degree, so if you are after a “raw” experience, you can turn the aids down (note that it’s throttle-by-wire, though). If you’re a sport-touring enthusiast who lives more than 200 miles from the nearest apex, if you just don’t connect with the adventure-touring bike aesthetic, or if you’re a sport-touring rider to the core, then the 2022 Hayabusa may be your next locomotive.