Hayabusa by now is such a provocative name instantly recognised with speed. Its ten years now since 1998 when the bike was unveiled for the first time. 2008 is once again a year for speed and the Hayabusa does not disappoint. Suzuki even offers a naked version now and we’re not sure which one we’d rather keep!
Words: Tor Sagen/Photography: Martin Leyfield and Tor Sagen
Both bikes now feature the 1340cc torque laden in-line four. They are both easy to be enthusiastic about and that’s not always the case for Japanese metal! In the seat of either two there’s never any doubt that you are controlling extraordinary and pure muscle!
I spent nearly two weeks on the B-King first and on my first motorway journey I simply had to stop to have an extra look at this fantastic piece of machinery before continuing the journey home. In the seat I feel in control over this massive lump of compact metal with oomph out of this world. The B-King is a naked superstar with an extremely addictive torque curve.
The first impression is overwhelming and filled with a lot more endorphins even than the firm’s own GSX-R1000 which by any means is no slouch.
Then in the seat of the mighty new Hayabusa there are similar feelings over the engine, but the Hayabusa has been made for a different purpose than the B-King. Here it’s the shear outright horsepower driven speed monster that awakens. More horsepower in the top end allows for a motorcycle that accelerates at a rate that must be felt to be believed. The Hayabusa is a much more sport biased package, but still comfortable.
Already after my first few miles on the 08 ‘Busa I feel that it’s a better and more versatile road bike than any of the GSX-R’s. There are no doubts in my mind, it’s the massive torque output that makes both Suzuki’s 1340’s such a joy to ride.
Out on the B roads I have a constant feeling that I can’t utilize the Hayabusa’s full potential, but riding the torque laden midrange is still exhilarating enough. A couple of the days I was out in the English country side I was caught out by torrential rain showers. Out of all of Suzuki’s sport models, the Hayabusa is the one where the mode switch selector really comes in handy more often on the roads.
You really don’t want to make any “throttle” mistakes when out in foul weather conditions on the big ‘Busa. So B or C mode it is then that controls the massive torque output.
On The B-King I didn’t encounter the same weather, but I spent lots of time on my favourite B-roads. It’s a blast and rarely have I ridden a motorcycle where my arms are stretched as much by the force of acceleration. The wide upright handlebars put you in control, but the front is still very stable. Steering is a wee bit heavy actually, but the faster I went the better it felt.
There’s plenty of sporting capability also in the big king.
The Hayabusa on the other hand has more of a forward riding position. You would have thought that a 193 horsepower motorcycle would be a bit wheelie prone, but not the Hayabusa as it retains its composure in true drag racer fashion. No problem getting the beast up on one should you wish to though. This goes pretty much for the B-King as well as the chassis is almost identical.
Suzuki have not altered the torque curve too much on the B-King either, just a little bit more a little bit earlier and less power on top as a result.
They are both very stable at high speed as you would expect, but really on the B-King I was suffering badly when trying the high speed capabilities for too long at a time. The thing on a naked is that you really feel the acceleration and speed more on your body. The Hayabusa features one of the most comprehensive fairings available on the market and it’s almost quiet behind the windscreen compared to the B-King that’s got nothing.
On UK’s windy motorways the Hayabusa suffered a bit from side wind from time to time. Just look at the side fairing on the Hayabusa and you’ll understand why. At times I felt that particularly the rear end was being pushed sideways a bit so that I had to compensate on the steering. It put me off a bit from any high speed antics that day at least.
Whilst riding the B-King on the same motorways there’s none of these symptoms and it’s only your own physical neck and arm strength that prohibits you. It’s a strange feeling riding the B-King on the motorway actually as you feel you’re sat on this highly potent tight lump of metal just pushing you forward at a relentless never ending pace. The Hayabusa strangely enough feels much more conventional despite the fact that it’s a faster motorcycle.
The B-King can’t do anything that the Hayabusa can’t, apart from give you a completely different riding experience. I’m not sure which one I prefer as they are so different, but I guess I’m leaning towards the whole experience on the B-King. Perhaps I should start referring to the King as the B-road King. -Because back on those B-roads I felt more likely to use more of the potential from that great engine.
There are a couple of crucial differences apart from the lack of fairing on the B-King. The B-King features a grip friendly 200mm rear tyre whilst the Hayabusa features a more lean friendly 190. And despite being a naked version with none of that comprehensive fairing, the B-King weighs in at a claimed 15 kilos more than the Hayabusa.
The Hayabusa with its more powerful top end also features a 21 litre fuel tank whilst the B-King has to settle for a smaller 16.5 litre one. The Hayabusa’s comprehensive instrument panel also had to give way for a stylish and smaller digital unit on the B-King. Riding in the dark the blue back light looks just as cool as the red on the Hayabusa. Seat height is the same 805mm on both.
The Hayabusa with its more horsepower on top version of the 1340cc engine are thus the more practical of the two.
When a motorcycle features as much raw power as these two gents, then you need very good stoppers too. So the brakes are the latest Tokico radial mounted four pot callipers. Both the Hayabusa and B-King have such stable front ends that full confidence in the front end is achieved quickly and particularly with braking forces in mind. Suspension both front and back is fully adjustable both front and back on both bikes.
It is nice actually to finally see a top spec naked out of the crate from Suzuki. All too often nakeds equal budget bikes from Japan, but not the B-King. Here in old Blighty the B-King actually carries a recommended retail price at one pound Sterling more than the Hayabusa.
The B-King isn’t more value for money as such compared to the Hayabusa, but there is something there that makes me gravitate again towards the B-King.
These two heavyweights from Suzuki really are two of the most special motorcycles on the market. Suzuki knows how to create exciting motorcycles and deserves some honour for bringing the B-King out to the market. I guess you could say the same about the Hayabusa, but during the past 10 years we have gotten used to its quirky looks and mind blowing top speed. All I can say about the Hayabusa is that the 2008 version really represents a very decent upgrade from previous years.
That 1340cc engine that sits in both bikes are solely responsible for getting me hooked on them both, but I think I’d choose the B-King myself for the extra exhilaration at not so exciting speeds.
Stable chassis and good suspension
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