It was a little over a year ago when the rumors surfaced about a more powerful Suzuki Hayabusa being in the pipeline. Now hitting dealers, the reborn ’Busa packs larger, 1340cc brass knuckles, and this was going to be a threat at usurping the 2006 king-of-the-mountain 1352cc ZX-14. The ZX-14, introduced in early ’06, was a worthy competitor to the legendary Hayabusa. Its turbine-like motor out-muscled the Suzuki – no mean feat – and, as a whole, the big Ninja proved to be a smoother, more polished road burner.
In an effort to keep pace with the new threat from Team S, Kawasaki engineers have tweaked the ’08 ZX-14 to produce more power while meeting stringent Euro 3 emissions standards. Press materials state that Kawi engineers “were not willing to leave the door open to potential challengers,” a thinly veiled reference to the ’Busa. As a result, they’ve now delivered this mid-cycle freshening that we were recently able to sample on some twisty SoCal roads and at California Speedway’s dragstrip.