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February 2023
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The Hayabusa journeys, part 2: Why get a 1300cc black and blue bike?

As some may or may not know, I had tried a Hayabusa back in 2008 as the restriction came off my license. I had no intention of going from my 650 Bandit to a 1300 “supersport” bike in 2008 but I also had been largely stuck with the Bandit until my restriction came off and was keen to see what was out there.  A friend had suggested it when I admired his – I quite liked the looks of the busa, but the power seemed too much – who could need that in an everyday bike?

From 125 (April 2006) to Hayabusa (Sep 2009)

my bikes

Most of my riding, especially for business trips, involves motorway riding and then doing the last 5-25 miles through a variety of roads. This makes fairing more than a luxury, keeping the wind off you keeps you awake and much more alert in the seat.  The Hayabusa cuts through the air like a knife through butter and its weight feels confidence inspiring in the highest of wind.

The ability to carry luggage is really useful, whether it’s smart suits for a presentation or an evening dress for a formal dinner or running shoes to complete the final pieces of set up. Then there’s the event material, whether handouts or memory sticks, the merchandise needs to look the business and you still need to be able to find a cheap parking space. Working in my old job, a motorbike capable of doing all that was essential.  Plus, there’s the daily commute over the Orwell Bridge.

Which meant that when my Bandit was written off (a tragic tale and not at all gory) I booked test rides of Blackbirds and K1300Ss expecting to have a very grown up bike in my garage before too long. Or maybe even one of the new touring 1250 Bandits.  All of these bikes are beautiful packages: easy to use, comfortable and good tank ranges.

When it came down to it, I couldn’t get a test ride on a Blackbird from Lings, the Fireblade was not a good ride in town, the K1300S lacked a good gearbox and the Bandit would take 6-8 weeks to deliver.

That, and Suzuki have a cracking bike in the GSX1300RR. I don’t use the power switch very often, and it really does shift, but the gear box is to die for and the balance is sublime.  The bike is a gent in town and a hooligan on the straight: it’s a long bike which still daunts me on some corners which is completely psychological, the bike is more than capable.

The riding position for me is very close to perfect – the distance from neck to base of spine makes the bike feel like it was made for me and given it’s 15kg heavier than the 650 Bandit (dry), that means a lot.  I can flat foot it too.

On the order, I had heated grips and a Scottoiler and crash bungs. I’ve fitted the wiring for the sat nav. I have a rack with a top box on as standard and detachable panniers and I bought the double bubble screen last summer, to cut down on noise and buffeting. Since September 09 I have put 11,000 miles on the clock (I know, shockingly little).

It does prefer high octane fuel, but on a summer’s day, keeping away from major towns (stop start is not good for fuel econ) I can get more than 200 from the 21 litre tank without being overly careful.  The mirrors are not great, the blind spot if the mirrors are set up correctly is huge and I do change them for a longer stint in town. I have to say, it means I need to check my blind spot much more frequently than I did on the bandit.

I do pay attention to my speed, and sometimes I do forget I’m not on the bandit any more.  So far, the brakes have brought me back to a more appropriate speed very well, keeping the balance in check.  While on the racing track in Folembray, I did miss a corner in the pouring rain, but I didn’t high or low side it, and if I’d kept my confidence up, and just coasted, I may have kept the bike upright.  As it was, we had a very soft landing in some mud when I pulled the brakes in hard: only my pride was dented.  I lack confidence when pushing it around and take care when parking.  I need more practice 🙂

The bike is heavy: if you foul up a slow manoeuvre, there is very little you can do.  But we came in 2nd on the slow riding race we took part in, one of the few to complete the course.

I might have bought the VFR 1200 if it had been available in September 2009.  Then again, I can ride my Hayabusa for 7 hours in a day, empty the bike of luggage, have a cup of tea and think, I could do that again 🙂

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