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Made you look, made you stare

Published: 26 May 2000

Updated: 19 November 2014

THE family of Mexicans sitting to my left in their old Ford pick-up are just plain staring. In fact, from the look on their faces you would think I had just pulled a gun on them.

The bloke to my right is literally hanging out of the window of his Honda sports car. " Damn! That’s what I call a streetbike, " he drawls as we line up at a red traffic light on the Santa Ana Boulevard in southern California.

Their reactions are exactly what I am rapidly coming to expect the shimmering naked form of the Two Brothers Racing Hayabusa. In the time it had taken me to ride a mile I had received more attention than Leo Blair on his noughth birthday. In fact I’d even attracted the attention of the local heat. Yes the gun-toting black-and-white cruising variety. From the minute I spotted car 57, my riding became absolutely text book… they were following at a discreet distance – all of 10 feet off my back wheel.

As the sweat trickled across my brow and down my cheek I was just waiting for the amassed ranks of blue and red lights to light up like an encounter of the third kind. But no. As I pulled into a petrol station they just cruised on by, staring, like everybody else. And who can blame them?

From the moment I set eyes on this beast I found it hard to take them off it. It looked mean and nasty sitting with its rear wheel raised off the deck on its race stand. From it’s hung-out-in-the-breeze headlamp to the kicked-up-in-the-sky twin carbon-Kevlar silencers. It draws the eye like " Pammy and Tommy " draw punters to websites.

But the Two Brothers Racing Hayabusa has become such a show-stopper by not much more than stripping off body work and adding a fancy exhaust system. They could have saved themselves a lot of cash by starting with a crashed Hayabusa, but no. The firm was looking for perfection so only a new, straight-out-of-the-crate Busa would do. Off came the fairing and the mounting bracketry, the rear seat unit and sub-frame, tail light and the exhaust system. Even the paint from the fuel tank was stripped off.

A hand made pre-production exhaust system was contorted to pass the spent gases into the exquisite cans. A billet machined mounting bracket holds them in a neat handcuff grasp.

The new layout mimics the standard four-into-one into-two pattern but to a somewhat different ending. A tiny rear number plate sits suspended below the rear cans with a tiny rear tail light. The Hayabusa’s stock seat was stripped to its base and lengthened until it fitted neatly on the new back end. Showroom Hayabusas don’t stretch even the shortest inside leg too far but the Two Brothers Racing custom seat with thin padding brings your feet a few centimetres closer to terra firma. Gone are the standard handlebars – a set of neat two-piece lightweight Two Brothers billet items straight out of the parts book now provide a home for the switchgear.

Two Brothers’ Craig Erion then decided to junk the stocker’s potent Tokico six-piston-caliper 320mm disc brakes for a set of PFM 320mm discs with billet alloy six-potters and steel braided lines. Little items like small alloy catch bottles and custom stainless steel braided radiator hoses were fitted to replace the standard factory parts, too.

Motor mods? Now this is one area that the usual Two Brothers-built bikes go overboard on. But on this stripped-naked Hayabusa, all they did was strip it down and rebuild it to make sure everything was just so. In the process they have dumped 40kg (88lb) of the Hayabusa’s original 215kg (474lb). The result is a 163bhp superbike which only weighs 175kg (385 lb). There are 750s with more weight than that!

Sitting astride the bike you feel the weight loss instantly. Feet flat on the deck, all you feel is the weight of the motor low down. You have to look to check there is a chassis there at all!

Fire the Hayabusa up and the harmonics of the twin cans send pulses through the arid atmosphere. Resisting the urge to rev the bike is futile. The noise from the tipped-up cans sends genetic alarm bells ringing, as if there’s some kind of prehistoric danger lurking. You can’t see it but the hairs on the back of your neck know it’s there.

Heading up to the freeway you become incredibly aware of the instant celebrity status this bike confers. By now, all I want to do is disappear up some twisty back roads and have a little fun on this bare naked Busa. Luckily Erion knows just the road.

First we must take a short blast down the Santa Ana freeway (with the attending rubber-necking). I bimble along just above legal freeway speeds and cars are running alongside me. People are waving, cheering and shouting out of the windows! In the short freeway run I reckon it causes more neck strains than most doctors see in a year.

At last the exit signs take me to the twisty canyon roads of the Ortega Highway. It is filled with short straights and swooping turns ending up at the weekend biker’s haunt of the Lookout Roadhouse.

A standard showroom Hayabusa would revel in the swoops and dives. Its smooth power transition would show some of the best superbikes a thing or two round here. So when it came to opening up the Two Brothers special I had a pretty good idea of what to expect – I thought. But a standard Hayabusa can’t prepare you for this.

This thing is nasty. With the weight chopped off, the 1300cc motor spins the rear tyre up as soon as you pull the trigger. God only knows how you would keep this thing in rear tyres. It has your synapses firing faster than a shark attack. Your brain boils with the effort of keeping things under control.

It steers incredibly quick. Point it in any direction, put the power on and you just want to dive it into the turns. And with serious torque, the bike pulls harder than a U.S sailor on Bangkok shore leave.

You don’t even notice that the Hayabusa’s ram-air system is no longer in effect. The frame cut outs where the ducting tubes had been are still visible, left empty with their ends still leading into the air box.

First, second, third as you struggle to stop the front defying Newton you start to tap into what this madness all means. Sensitive throttle control is vital. Ignore the warning of the tyre breaking loose and you’ll get the biggest kick in the pants since the farmer caught you with his daughter.

When its time to chop off some of the mph, the immense power of the PFM brakes offers the same kind of overkill. As with the throttle it’s a case of gently Bentley.

The ground clearance is immense. You only drag a standard GSX1300R when you push really hard, and even then only on the grippy surface of a track.

The Two Brothers special has shorter foot pegs. The first thing to grind on the road would be the engine covers. If that happens, you know it’s going to hurt.

With the light starting to fade and the thought of the rush hour L.A. traffic we head back towards Two Brothers’ HQ. Trundling along I realise how rough the concrete road surfaces are in California. The thinly padded seat transmits every shock wave up my spine. After a day on this thing I feel like I’ve been picked up and shaken by the ankle by a bull elephant. But the experience has been so intense, I hadn’t noticed the pain until now.

Two Brothers’ next project? Well I did notice a neat looking Suzuki DR-Z400 in the process of being made a super-moto. We can only guess what it’ll end up looking like.

You’ll have to order from the States if you want to buy this bike, but many of the parts can be bought in the UK. Two Brothers Racing’s bits are available through Carbon Tek on: 01420-85585.

TWO BROTHERS SUZUKI HAYABUSA

Cost: £9500

Availability: Two Brothers Racing 001-714-550-6070

SPECIFICATION

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 1298cc (81mm x 63mm) 16v dohc four-stroke inline four. Fuel injection. 6 gears.

Chassis: Aluminium twin-spar

Front suspension: 43mm inverted forks, adjustments for pre-load, compression and rebound damping

Rear suspension: Single shock with rising-rate linkage, adjustments for pre-load, compression and rebound damping

Tyres: Bridgestone BT56J ; 120/70 x ZR17 front, Avon Azaro AV36; 190/50 x ZR17 rear

Brakes: PFM; 2 x 320mm front discs with 6-piston PFM calipers, 240mm Tokico rear disc with 2-piston caliper

PERFORMANCE

Power 163.1bhp @ 9600rpm

Torque 101.2ftIb @ 7000rpm

Weight/power to weight ratio: 175kg (385lb), 0.93bhp/kg

Acceleration/standing 1/4-mile/terminal speed: 10s, 142mph (est)

Top speed: 180mph (est)

Geometry (Rake, trail, wheelbase): 24.2°, 9.7cm, 148.5cm

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