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The Hayabusa’s abundance of

power at any engine speed made

the Hayabusa easier to ride by giving

the rider a greater choice of gear

selection for a given speed and

stunning acceleration.

The ram air ducts at the front of the

drooping, rounded

nose squeezed

frontal area away

from the headlight,

and this, along

with the need for a

narrow frontal

area, necessitated

a stacked

headlight and high

beam behind a

single lens.

Moreover, the

need to reduce

the extreme drag encountered at

high speeds determined the

Hayabusa’s entire bulbous, and

much-criticized, bodywork design.

Koblenz remarked, “non-traditional

styling generates the main

controversy of the Hayabusa,

When viewed through the

eyes of those who judged its

beauty on the basis of its

functionality, or given a little

time to get used to it, the

bike’s looks did find admirers.

The striking two-tone copper/

silver paint scheme was

similarly loved by some and

hated by others, but was

successful if the intent of an

all-new, flagship product is to make a

bold statement. So while it was called

ugly by some in the press, this

aerodynamic shape was key to the

Hayabusa’s ability to reach record-

setting speeds.

Fairing decal of the Japanese

character, peregrine falcon.

Reflecting in 2009 on the initial

design, the creator of the Hayabusa’s

look, Suzuki’s Koji Yoshirua, said that

the intent in 1999 was, “to create a

somewhat grotesque design and

create a strong initial impact... The

mission was to create a total new

styling that will not be out of date

within few years, and a styling that

will be the ‘Face’ of Suzuki.” Yoshirua

also said that the goal was not to

achieve the status of fastest

production motorcycle, which in

early stages was slated to be only 900

to 1,100 cc (55 to 67 cu in), but that,

“as a consequence of, pursuing the

best handling, acceleration, safety,

power, riding ability, original styling,

etc., for the good of the customers, it

became the ‘Fastest production


Rumors and then pre-release

announcements of much greater

power in Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-12R in

2000, clearly attempting to unseat

Suzuki and regain lucrative bragging

rights, the speed war appeared to be

escalating. There were growing fears

of carnage and mayhem from

motorcycles getting outrageously

faster every year, and there was talk

of regulating hyper sport

motorcycles, or banning their import

to Europe.

The response was a so-called



between the

Japanese and


manufacturers to

electronically limit

the speed of their

motorcycles to 300

km/h (186 mph).

The informal

agreement went

fully into effect for

the 2001 model

year. So for 2001

models, and those since, the

question of which bike was fastest

could only be answered by

tampering with the speed limiting

system, meaning that it was no

longer a contest between stock,

production motorcycles,

absolving the manufacturer

of blame and letting those

not quite as fast avoid losing

face. Both Kawasaki and

Suzuki would claim, at least

technically, to have the

world’s fastest production


After the inclusion of the

speed limiting system in

2001, the Hayabusa

remained substantially the same

through the 2007 model year. An

exception was a response to the

problem of the aluminum rear

subframe on 1999 and 2000 models

breaking when the bike may have

been overloaded with a passenger

and luggage, and/or stressed by an

aftermarket exhaust modification, so

2001 and later Hayabusas had a steel

instead of aluminum rear subframe,

adding 10 lb (4.5 kg).