Motorcycles: Totally Radbusa

<< Back to Robb Report, January 2004
  • James Hesketh

A turn of the key prompts the Radbusa to flaunt all of its flair: The digital display on the motorcycle’s dash flashes through its pre-ride diagnostics; the tank-mounted GPS indicates my location in the desert east of Los Angeles; and the exhaust expels the sweet scent of spent racing fuel, not the ordinary gasoline on which other machines subsist. With a gentle toe tap, I drop the bike into gear and glance down at the twin video screens on the dash to catch the sight of the traffic—captured by a rear-mounted camera—as it instantly recedes.

 

For all of its bells and whistles, however, the Radbusa’s most appealing feature is its aerodynamic excellence. This is what transforms the stock Suzuki Hayabusa into an elegant, streamlined machine capable of achieving speeds of 225 mph.

Motorcycles are notorious for their inability to resist wind drag. A 160 hp engine can propel a bike to almost 190 mph, but to gain an additional 10 mph, you may need another 65 horses. The 478-pound, 148 hp Hayabusa is the world’s fastest production motorcycle, but owners seeking even more speed have added—sometimes at the risk of sacrificing their warranties—turbochargers and nitrous oxide systems to increase the bikes’ capabilities to nearly 250 mph. But speed is only one measure of a true track bike’s performance. It must also be able to navigate sharp curves, accelerate into high triple digits as it comes out of these curves and onto the straightaways, and then quickly throttle down as it enters the next low-gear turn. All this acceleration and deceleration occurs hundreds of times during a race, a feat that a bike with only a bulked-up engine usually cannot accomplish.


Rad Greaves is the owner of Team Hayabusa, a professional racing team, and creator of the Radbusa. He initially left the Suzuki’s engine untouched and focused exclusively on improving the bike’s aerodynamic performance. Greaves, a former Superbike racer, regularly tested a stock Hayabusa at the wind tunnels of Roush Industries, the Michigan company that also builds NASCAR machines. After spending almost $250,000 on wind-tunnel testing and bodywork development, Greaves completed a design that lightened the Hayabusa’s carbon-fiber body by 40 pounds and reduced drag by 10 percent. He lowered the seat and reshaped the tail section, giving the bike a 10 mph boost before he even touched the 1,299cc engine. Once Greaves increased the power plant to 1,500cc and added special racing components, his Radbusa could hit 225 mph on a straight-line run.

For $55,000, Greaves can supply a Radbusa 1300, an aerodynamically improved machine that retains the Hayabusa’s stock engine and warranty. The top-of-the-line Radbusa, which costs $80,000, features the 1,500cc engine. Purchase of the Radbusa also gives owners access to Elf Racing fuel and lubricants, the same $20-per-gallon elixir used by professional Superbike riders.

From my current location, Las Vegas is just over 200 miles away. The Radbusa could complete the leg in less than an hour, but I am not looking to gamble—with either my money or my license. Besides, having spent a day on the Radbusa, I have already hit the jackpot.

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