Hayabusa Overscreen by Ben Bowser
I went through a phase of not being fussed about my weekly MCN read, but, I’m back into it now. It represents great research for me. Picking up on the ‘buzz’ in the market place is helpful guidance when deciding what should be on our new projects list at Pyramid. It’s a duck-shoot, a guessing game which a company like Pyramid needs to participate in if we’re to bring fresh and interesting accessories to the market and stay in business!
Sometimes we get it majorly wrong though! It was Mr Hughes letter in MCN 26th Sept page 50 about lack of protection on a Hayabuse that set me thinking about a past innovation from the Pyramid development stable that I thought was marvellous at the time though in fact it made no progress at all in the market.
When did the Hayabusa first come out? Was it ’99? Anyway back then I had a call from a guy who was complaining about the same lack of upper body protection offered by Suzuki’s Hayabusa and keen for us to take a look at the problem. He rode up from London to Lincolnshire the next day, if memory serves me. This guy was old school. Wearing white one piece race leathers, which looked like they had seen plenty of action. I judged he bought the Hayabusa for one reason – because it was the fastest thing available! He had fitted the double bubble screen which had made no noticeable difference to his riding comfort.
At this point you need to consider just what the challenge was for Suzuki engineers back in the late 90’s. The 200 mph barrier for a standard road bike was going to be cracked by somebody, and Suzuki decided it was going to be them! Every new bike needs to create an impression – make a statement at launch. The Hayabusa did the job perfectly – the first 200 mph bike available now ‘at your local Suzuki Dealer’. The problem with extreme speed is it requires extreme power (the graph rising exponentially as the speed increases) and it was a struggle to achieve that power in a practical road going package, even with a high revving four cylinder 1300cc Suzuki ‘Mill’.
The other end of the equation, that of wind resistance, had to be addressed. Anything other than the smallest possible frontal area would just be too much drag to allow the bike and rider to punch through 200mph worth of air. Whilst the size and layout of the engine front wheel etc dictated the lower faring dimensions the upper fairing could be trimmed down to slimmer proportions to aid the cause of minimum drag. The next bit was easy, for the Japanese – find a small brave person, dress him (or her) in a slippery one-piece suit and nail it! Run it at 200mph plus average in both directions, cancelling out wind assistance, and claim the glory. That diminutive test rider would have been right on the tank and that Suzuki would have been running on the best possible fuel in the best possible atmospheric conditions.
Anyway, back to our man from London. He’s not happy with the double bubble screen. I remember standing there as he sat on his bike, a one off white paint job to match his leathers, whilst he explained that the screen needed to be at least twice as high as the double bubble at its trailing edge. We could see that, within the confines of the standard screen aperture, this just could not be achieved. After several weeks diligent work (all our projects run in parallel with others going through the development department at the same time) we produced the ‘Over Screen’. You could call it a double, double bubble! But that would not do it justice. The new screen blade was longer and wider that the original screen, mounting directly on top of the fairing. From just above the head light the over screen formed a single, clean curvature to its trailing edge. It was indeed twice as high as the double bubble it sat above. This height compensated nicely for the ‘squashed flat’ Hayabusa top fairing and provided what would otherwise be classed as normal upper body protection. In addition, because it was sitting over the top of the original screen, a useful slot was produced providing an effective additional storage place between the two screens – we considered offering a tailored bag for use in this application.
Our man from London returned to collect his freebie and declared himself impressed. Not only did he now have the shoulder and head buffeting protection he wanted but also the unexpected bonus of better mpg. I believe he was claiming an additional 3-4 mpg on a run.
We sold 5 ‘over screens’ so my buyer told me this week – “the last one 2 years ago”! So that’s 12 years to sell 5 screens. Like I said earlier, new product development is like a ‘duck-shoot’, ‘you’ve just gotta keep pulling the trigger’.
- Ben Bowser
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