Supercharged GSX1300R “SuperBusa” from TTS Performance x Kar Design…
Back in ’99, the original Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa hit the motorcycling world like a cruise missile, claiming the coveted title of the world’s fastest production motorcycle. The ‘Busa beat the Honda Blackbird by 10 mph and spurred the infamous “Gentlemen’s Agreement” among the manufacturers to limit their future bikes to 300 km/h (186 mph), fearing an outbreak of 200-mph street racing, import bans, and government intervention:
“This was a crucial moment in history because this battle could have led to a restriction directly from the government. Just try to imagine this like a war between motorcycle producers pushing the speed limits further and further. They realized that they had to pull the brake before the government would take action.” –Gasolirium
Fast forward to 2021, and the Hayabusa finally got a long-awaited revamp — the first since 2008! Unfortunately, the third-gen ‘Busa disappointed many speed freaks and GSX1300R devotees:
“We’ll say the quiet part out loud: the new ‘Busa’s peak crank horsepower of 187.75 hp is 6.65 hp less than the previous generation’s output.” –Motorcycle.com
Yes, Suzuki continues to honor the Gentlemen’s Agreement, so more horsepower wasn’t strictly necessary. And yes, the new bike had to pass Euro 5 compliance. And yes, there are plenty of updates to the engine, electronics, and aerodynamics, including a new super-slippery drag coefficient. But…such practicalities pale before the maximalist allure of the old ‘Busa — a bike that recalled the words of Hunter S. Thompson:
“Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba…. “
Fortunately for those whose dreams move at 200+ mph, there are tuners and visionaries taking the Hayabusa to the next level. One of the best known is Richard Albans of the UK’s TTS Performance, who’s been supercharging Hayabusas and other two-wheeled machines for decades:
“With the latest gen 3 being a disappointment for many riders, he thought he’d build one of those too, but with a twist. The plan was to make it look as good as it went.”
To help in that task, Richard Albans of TTS Performance enlisted one of the world’s top designers, Kar Lee, who’s worked at publications such as Bike, Performance Bikes, Practical Sportbikes, and even Sideburn.
“These days I’m a motorcycle concept artist / visualiser for magazines, websites, private individuals, and custom bike builders. Basically, if you have an idea in your head but could really do with seeing it visualised for whatever reason, I can help!”
Though the bike is still being developed, it’s making a staggering 382 bhp and 191 ft-lb of torque at the moment — double the horsepower of the stock Hayabusa! Here’s a recent dynograph:
Highlights include the C30-94 Rotrex supercharger — mounted on the LH side as opposed to the right on previous Busas — along with a 6082 alloy plenum chamber and intercooler, carbon fiber tank, lightweight Rotobox carbon fiber wheels, single-sided swingarm, functional winglets, and a trick paint job courtesy of Paint-Tec Refinishing. Says Kar:
“We’re right at the forefront of this as this is the only supercharged gen 3 on the planet we’re aware of.”
The plan is to build a limited run of 40 SuperBusas starting in spring of 2023. For those lucky few, the SuperBusa offers something of an alternate reality — a 4th-gen Busa built the way it should’ve been built. For Kar Lee, who’s had the opportunity to ride some of the world’s most potent motorcycles, the experience is suitably surreal…
“Imagine a giant hand pushing against your face with constant pressure and it just presses harder and harder. It’s insanely, ridiculously powerful, but not in a violent way…. I once read that if you’re doing 175mph past a static GATSO camera it doesn’t have time to get the second flash off…”
Below, we talk to Kar about the development of the SuperBusa, with action shots courtesy of Davy Lewis.
Supercharged Suzuki SuperBusa: Designer Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Kar Lee, based in Peterborough, UK. I’ve been involved in the motorcycle industry since 1995, responsible for designing magazines Bike, RiDE, and Performance Bikes over that decade. As a freelancer I was Practical Sportsbikes and also Sideburn magazines’ art editor for a few years. These days I’m a motorcycle concept artist / visualiser for magazines, websites, private individuals, and custom bike builders. Basically, if you have an idea in your head but could really do with seeing it visualised for whatever reason, I can help!
I ride a GSX-R1000 K6, an Aprilia Tuono V4, and a 1983 YammaGamma hybrid (Suzuki RG250 Gamma with Yamaha RD350 YPVS engine).
• Where did the idea come from for the SuperBusa?
Richard Albans at TTS has been supercharging all things two wheels for decades and has successfully built many gen 1 and gen 2 Busas over the years for customers. With the latest gen 3 being a disappointment for many riders, he thought he’d build one of those too, but with a twist. The plan was to make it look as good as it went.
• How did you come together with TTS Performance to make it a reality?
Richard reached out to me — he’d seen my concepts for years in various magazines and websites and wondered if I could help out. He knew he could make the bike perform better, but he also wanted it to look differently too, so people knew straight away that the bike was not your average Busa. It was going to have winglets, lightweight wheels, a single-sided swingarm, and some cool paint. We came up with the name SuperBusa – it seemed like an obvious option – and it stuck.
The bike is still being developed but so far it’s making 382 bhp and 191 ft-lb. It’s been tested multiple times on the drag strip as well as on the dyno and we’re pleased with how it’s coming together. There are many, many custom-made parts on this bike from the carbon fibre tank vents to the alloy plenum chamber and lots in between.
As well as a hefty performance upgrade, the bike will also get improvements in the chassis department to help manage that power, with suspension and further brake mods to come – at the moment the front discs are 10mm larger but we have more planned. The other tweak is the exhaust outlet, which will be flush fit as on the visuals. The plan is to build a limited run of 40 SuperBusas and we’re already open to take deposits on them with the first production bike to be available by Spring 2023.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?
I’ve been lucky enough to ride a lot of bikes over the years from the exotic 200-bhp MV Agusta F41000 312 to torque monsters like the Rocket 3, but nothing as outrageously powerful as this. It’s a strange, almost electric bike drive in the way the power stays linear all the way up to silly speeds in a relentless fashion. Take a typical superbike power delivery with an obvious, noticeable step up in power somewhere in the second half of the rev range — it’d be like a punch in the face.
The SuperBusa in comparison is different; imagine a giant hand pushing against your face with constant pressure and it just presses harder and harder. It’s insanely, ridiculously powerful, but not in a violent way. Suzuki’s electronics package makes this bike accessible and allows you to use the power however you like.
On a wide runway, it’s super stable at speed and the wings certainly feel like they’re having an effect with the bike’s front end planted at all times. Surreally you get little sensation of speed as there are so few reference points to compare when there’s no traffic or buildings around, and the screen is really effective at creating a cocoon to tuck into.
On the road is a completely different story. Twisting the throttle with any sort of enthusiasm surges you past cars that are already at the speed limit. I once read that if you’re doing 175mph past a static GATSO camera it doesn’t have time to get the second flash off…
• Was there anything done during the development / build that you are particularly proud of?
Richard will probably say something like the much easier install of the Rotrex supercharger – now mounted on the left-hand side as opposed to the right on previous Busas, which reduces fitment time by days, or the evolution of the winglet design (we’re currently on the second version, the final version will be smaller and made of carbon).
Finally being able to unlock the ECU was something we’d waited a long time for too — we’re right at the forefront of this as this is the only supercharged gen 3 on the planet we’re aware of. As for me, I’m pleased the bike looks great with almost any design I stick on it; it’s a huge, but nicely-proportioned canvas that’s a joy to come up with schemes for.
• Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
Motorcycle News for their patience.
Paint-Tec Refinishing for the outstanding paint job.
Follow the Builder
Action pics: Davy Lewis