Swing a leg aboard the Hayabusa’s big, supportive saddle, and you’ll find large analog gauges just ahead of you– save a digital gear indicator and trip computer (just as it’s been since 2008)– and a forward reaching, but relatively relaxed riding position. The big four-cylinder engine fires up with a whine, and slight throttle inputs reveal tractable, effortless power delivery, which goes hand in hand with the relatively easy clutch, intuitive shifter, and forgiving ergonomics.
But twist that throttle slightly harder, and the Hayabusa’s absolutely bonkers side explodes out of the woodwork. It’s not just the low-end torque, or the mid-range pull, or how the tachometer just keeps shooting relentlessly towards the 11,000 rpm, but rather how the expanse of that powerband is covered with such ferocity.
A three-mode selectable throttle is set via a toggle switch on the right grip (just like the GSX-R600 and GSX-R1000), though it’s hard for most red-blooded riders to consciously deny the full, 100 percent setting when available. Regardless, if wet weather or rider fatigue drives you to pick a neutered setting, you still won’t have any trouble with merging into traffic or outpacing most cars and bikes from stoplights.
Acceleration covers a strange gamut of brutal G-forces wrapped in buttery smooth power delivery. Similarly polished is the ride, which manages to soak up bumps that would rattle a traditional sportbike. Though it can’t be tossed into corners like a Gixxer or flicked around like a Honda CBBR1000RR, the Hayabusa’s self-claimed sportbike status should also be checked against its relatively heavy weight and ride-optimized suspension. It handles just fine on flowing roads, but don’t expect a whole lot of responsiveness on more technical stretches.
Oh, and how about those new anti-lock brakes? Well, not surprisingly, it’s fairly easy to trigger rear wheel ABS and a whole lot harder to instigate the front. There’s a perceptible pulse when the computer kicks in, but the system works efficiently enough to make it feel like it’s not getting in the way of rider enjoyment, or worse, lengthening stopping distances enough to make you wish you didn’t have ABS. Incidentally, the system cannot be switched off.