If you want to party like you remember 1999, this might be your perfect time to get aboard the ‘busa.
Suzuki is introducing a 25th anniversary Hayabusa as a 2024 model to mark what is arguably the most recognizable and distinctive sport bike of our time. (And that got me thinking about another landmark sport bike that just turned 25 will little fanfare, but more on that later.) Suzuki just updated the Hayabusa for the 2022 model year, so there’s nothing really new mechanically about the 25th anniversary model. It’s an appearance package, really. So that means if you want to know about the last round of updates, go read our story from two years ago, and if you want to know how the Hayabusa works now that it’s 25 years into its run, read Zack’s review from March and watch his Daily Rider episode embedded in that article.
By now, probably everyone knows the origin of the name. Hayabusa is the Japanese name for the peregrine falcon, the fastest bird on the planet. In the late 1990s, Honda introduced its fast and smooth CBR1100XX and it was nicknamed the blackbird, so Suzuki came out with the larger and ultimately faster Hayabusa. Suzuki clearly wanted to be the predator and make Honda’s blackbird the prey.
The Hayabusa won a loyal following. Suzuki says nearly 300,000 Hayabusas have been sold and owners have taken them everywhere from the drag strip to long-distance touring. The bike has only had two revamps during its 25-year run, and its lines (or better said, curves) are still designed for slipping through the wind, like a peregrine falcon folding up its wings in a high-speed dive toward its prey.
For the anniversary model, Suzuki revived a Glass Blaze Orange and Glass Sparkle Black color combination from the past. Naturally, the Hayabusa Kanji logo is featured prominently, not just on the fairing, but also etched onto some of the drive chain plates. There’s an anniversary badge on the tank and logos on the exhausts.
Suzuki has not yet announced pricing on the anniversary model. For the ‘busa bros out there who feel no other motorcycle is quite the same, this may be the one to have to display allegiance.
While the Hayabusa is undeniably a landmark sport bike, this 25th anniversary started me thinking about another bike that isn’t getting the 25th treatment.
25 years of the R1, too
This year is the 25th anniversary of the Yamaha YZF-R1, but Yamaha has been quite low-key about it. The company is marking the 25th year of the R1 at its Yamaha Riding Experience event at Mugello, Italy, later this month. Yamaha issued a YZF-R1 in 2022 with a special paint scheme to mark 60 years of grand prix racing, and while it’s still offered in Europe, it’s not currently available in the United States. And there’s no 25th celebration here.
The R1 is not as distinctive as the Hayabusa, but I’d argue it’s just as significant. It essentially launched the modern-day liter-class sport bike category. When the R1 came out, Honda and Kawasaki were making 900s and Suzuki was still focused on its GSX-R750. The R1 came in lighter and more powerful than its 900 cc competition. It included innovations such as a stacked gearbox that allowed it to be about the size of the 600s of the era but with full liter-bike power. Other manufacturers followed Yamaha’s example and today they all have a 1,000 cc sport bike as their high-performance flagships and the class is the highest level of roadracing.
It turns out that the late 1990s, when we weren’t worrying about FAA air controllers’ screens going blank at midnight on Jan. 1, 2000, or weren’t broke from overpaying for inflated internet stocks, was a good time in some ways, such as performance motorcycles. 25 years of hindsight is a useful thing.