Since the 1990s, sportbikes have brought something to the motorcycle industry that is all their own. The sheer speed and incredible power to weight ratio is the name of the game and neither of these beasts is playing around. Not recommended for the inexperienced rider, the Hayabusa and the ZX-14r are motorcycles designed to maneuver long stretches of pavement in knowledgeable hands at top speeds.
Both the Suzuki Hayabusa and the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14r have reputations preceding them. They are iconic touring machines that make good use of trickle down technology from Moto GP. Some of the fastest motorcycles in production, these two are historic rivals.
I’ll admit –– I might have a slight bias toward the Hayabusa because my husband set a land speed record on one at the Bonneville salt flats in Utah. I also love that a bird of prey is its mascot. But the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14r is in its own way a great example of speed-hungry engineering.
The Suzuki Hayabusa
In 1999 the Suzuki Hayabusa hit the sport bike scene. Named for the fastest bird in the world, Hayabusa is the Japanese word for a peregrine falcon. These birds of prey also eat blackbirds and one of the Busa’s biggest competitors was the now-retired Honda Blackbird.
Today, the Hayabusa is still outstanding in its class, one of the fastest bikes sold, and it’s praised for a comfortable ride. The 2020 Suzuki Hayabusa boasts a generous wide wheelbase with smooth and simple drivability –– and a maximum speed of 186 mph. It comes in two colors: candy daring red and daring gray paint.
With a starting price of $14,799, the Busa is also pretty affordable. This sportbike features an inline four-cylinder liquid-cooled 1,340cc engine. It reaches 197 horsepower, 114 pound-feeet of torque, and 593 pounds of curb weight. The Suzuki Hayabusa is created for smooth operation at speed and rides hard enough for even the most skilled riders to have a lot of fun with. But the Kawasaki is a strong contender.
The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14r
The ZX-14r is serious competition for the Suzuki Hayabusa. Famed for being the first factory sportbike to surpass 150 miles per hour since classics like the HDR Vincent Black Shadow had clocked such speeds on the salt flats in the 1940s, the Ninja ZX-14r came onto the scene doing 159 mph in 1989––according to Cycle World. This bike definitely holds its own with the Hayabusa. In fact, it actually goes faster.
It has arguably been the better bike since the 2012 release saw massive upgrades. The Kawasaki bike comes in either metallic diablo black or golden blazed green. It’s a little more expensive starting at $14,999, but some might argue that you get what you pay for.
The 2020 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14r touts a tremendous top speed of 189 mph. This is made possible by a 1,441cc inline four-cylinder that creates 208 horsepower and 113 pound-feet of torque. This touring bike is made for speed and durability. Its curb weight of 593 pounds is powered by engineering that also benefits some from Moto GP.
Though the Kawasaki may lack in terms of the more luxurious feeling offered by the Suzuki Hayabusa, it can go a few more miles per hour faster due to a slightly larger displacement. As far as these bikes go, they are pretty neck and neck and it’s obvious why they appeal to such devoted fans.
Which is the superior sportbike?
Each of these touring sportbikes boast high quality and smart mechanics. For a bike you plan to spend as much time with as a long distance road warrior like one of these, you’ll want to choose carefully. The Hayabusa comes at a better price, has a smoother suspension contributing to better ride comfort, in addition to ample power and an expert handle. The ZX-14r, for the most part, just has those extra miles per hour in its wheelhouse –– maybe it really isn’t worth the extra cash.
Regardless of top speeds or a bit of an edge where power is concerned, the Hayabusa will always remain a favorite. Loyal fans love this motorcycle, but the ZX-14r has definitely gained its own following. Depending on a few small details, buyers join with one side or the other.