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Suzuki Hayabusa

How much is too much?

(from the Travels with Guido series MT249 Sept 2011, loaded May 2020)

by Guy 'Guido' Allen, pic by Lou Martin

It's a question of power

It started a few weeks ago when I happened to have a quick chat with Phil Tainton. He’s the evil genius who builds Suzuki Australia’s race bikes and the man who assembled Hannibal the Hayabusa. The latter, a black and purple 2003 model that looks suspiciously like a flying bruise, lurks in the depths of the shed waiting to be hauled out on a sunny day to make lots of angry noises.

Tainton swapped the pistons, reground the cams and did all sorts of other things to it, bumping its rear wheel horsepower from a mere 164 to its current 208.9 – which equates to something over 220 at the crank.

I did once ring him, not long after he’d completed the task, to ask if it would be worth boring it out. After explaining that it would be possible, if a little complex since the cylinders would need to be recoated, he fired back with, “You’re a glutton, aren’t you?” Ouch.

It seems, however, that I’m not the only one. During our most recent chat he revealed that he’s in the throes of developing a second-gen ’Busa and is aiming for 300 horses at the back tyre again without resorting to turbos. After the talk, muggins found himself quietly sitting back, wondering what it would cost to get a second one built…

Really, this is ridiculous. Using what Hannibal has is damn near impossible, without regular access to a racetrack.

Something which took my mind off the problem (it doesn’t take a lot, when you have the mental focus of a grasshopper) was a Rocket III Roadster I recently borrowed from Triumph – look for the video below, from our YouTube channel. Now there’s a motorcycle that understands the importance of excess – all 2.3 litres of it. Although it ‘only’ has 146 horses, the torque figure is sufficient to haul a plough.

In case you haven’t ridden one, its specialty is launching from a standing start, which it does in such a way that you’re in serious peril of dislocating both your arms, which is going to make pulling it up again a little tricky.

As happens when you’re riding something that is so technically and visually over the top that it even gets the attention of the general public, I ended up being cross-examined by a ‘civilian’. What is it? How fast does it go? How big is the engine?

The answers become more and more ludicrous as you progress and, eventually, they look at you pondering whether they should run away and call the idiot-trapping squad. But before they do, they summon up the courage for one final probe: “Do you really need all that?”

“No,” I admit, and summoning up my most winning smile (which probably looks more like a shark warming up its dentures), and finish with, “But it’s great fun.” They back away, avoiding eye contact.
Okay, so who has lost the plot here – me or them?


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