Fast motorcycles are easy to come by these days. A 600 or 650cc sport or naked-bike from any motorcycle brand can out accelerate most of the cars available in Thailand. These, mind you, are entry level sportbikes. Spend a more money and you have access to motorcycles than can challenge the latest and greatest of the hypercar world for a fraction of the cost.
Kawasaki Thailand will sell you the 2016 Ninja ZX-14R ABS green missile for 939,000 THB that is one of the fastest things on two wheels. Despite that, it's also a strangely friendly and even inviting motorcycle unlike the fearsome Ducati Diavel we also rode recently. So good is the new Kawasaki ZX-14R that it's almost easy to forget the motorcycle that birthed this segment of madness, the very motorcycle the Kawasaki ZX-14R was conceived to defeat.
The legendary but gently ageing Suzuki Hayabusa. And then Suzuki pulled the most pleasant surprise by announcing that the Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300RA would be sold for 850,000 THB. To be fair the moment Kawasaki Thailand also has the previous model of the Ninja ZX-14R available for 895,000 THB. Time to put on my brave face, there's a comparison brewing, and it's going to be a fast one! I'm genuinely at a bit of a loss as to how I'm supposed to compare two superstars like these. So I'll stick to the tired and tested formula – let's start with the way they look. Both follow a similar format with freight train long wheelbases and ginormous, all-encompassing bodywork but they take a different styling routes. The Suzuki Hayabusa is the less appealing one to my eyes but at the same time it's the most recognized and revered hyper-sportbike in the motorcycle world.
Where the Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300RA attempts to cheat the wind with its egg-like profile the Kawasaki ZX-14R takes a more sophisticated looking approach. Once you get over the menacing grin on its face you'll notice several aerodynamic aiding touches like the vanes on the mirror stalks and front fender or the huge slashes in the bodywork that better manage airflow around the fairing at warp speeds. Both the Suzuki Hayabusa and Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R have long massive dual exhausts, especially the Kawasaki that look like it's packing a pair of afterburners. The least flattering angle on both are the fat, squat tails bu again, the Kawasaki is just a hint better looking to my eyes.
And that's the end of the subjective bit of this story because the rest boils down to the brutally objective truth. Both these motorcycles are incredibly, shockingly, even frighteningly fast and I would be a fool to tell you that one is inferior because it is 'slower'. The truth is that they are soi overwhelmingly fast that I cannot confidently say which is faster despite having ridden both over a whole day.
The numbers would suggest that the 210 horsepower Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R with its 13 horses and 7Nm torque advantage over the Suzuki Hayabusa should be faster. The Kawasaki feels faster as it launches easier.
Knowing that traction control was lurking in the background encouraged to launch it just a little bit harder than the Suzuki. However, even more amazing than the sheer acceleration is how calmly these motorcycles carry massively illegal speeds and how willing they are to go even faster. 220Km/h on either feels so placid it's almost as if the motorcycle is bored and taunting you to twist the throttle further. A lethal game that's all too easy to get sucked into…
Thankfully, both throttles have a long travel, making it tougher to get in a situation where you had to sneeze, only to wake up in the ICU two days later. The Kawasaki has a silky smooth action from closed to open while the Suzuki Hayabusa has quite an abrupt opening, making harder to be smooth with the throttle. Both offer riding modes, the Kawasaki ZX-14R keeps it simple with Full and Low that drops power to about 75 percent. The Suzuki Hayabusa offers three modes. C is a lower power mode, B offers nearly full power but in a more linear curve with milder throttle response while A is the full 197 horsepower madness. While the Suzuki offers an extra riding mode the Kawasaki responds with its three-stage traction control system, something the Suzuki Hayabusa could use on Thai slippery roads..
The Suzuki Hayabusa feels the more visceral of the two. It has a louder, more exciting intake growl, typical of a Suzuki inline four. There's also a mild vibration that creeps in at 3,500rpm but disappears above 5,500rpm. In comparison, the Kawasaki ZX-14R is single malt smooth the entire time and feels a just a bit more linear in its power delivery.
The only complaint I have with their performance is that both motorcycles are too quiet. I generally hate boisterously loud pipes – they're great for on-lookers but get drony and irritating on long riders. However, such fast motorcycles need to announce their arrival with a little more assertion. Even in heavy traffic, people simply don't hear either motorcycle unless you constantly keep twisting the throttle, which let's be honest, makes you a bit of an arse. An aftermarket slip on with the silencers left inside would definitely improve things.Tag: KawasakiNinjaZX-14RSuzukiGSX1300RHayabusa1300cc1400ccHyper-SportInline-FourABSHorsepowerPerformanceSpeedDangerous