Hayabusa and Concours Sport Touring Comparison

One question I received was comparing the Hayabusa with the Concours. I have 132,000 miles on the Hayabusa so I’ve done some riding ๐Ÿ™‚ For the selection process which defines why I was looking, check this posting. This post is a during the ride comparison. Things I’m observing on the June Trip.

Big Note here. The Hayabusa is a Sport Bike. I’ve modified the bike to make it into a Sport-Touring bike. Trunk, saddlebags, modifications to the dash, suspension, etc. The Concours is intended to be a Sport-Touring bike. So it’s set up that way from the start.

Windscreen

I used the stock screen on the ‘busa for years as I’m generally hesitant to make changes (and spend money) on something that seems okay now. Rita had a Double Bubble screen on her Ninja 650 to help her. But when I rode it, my head was in the buffeting zone which made it very uncomfortable. I finally pulled the trigger and picked up a Double Bubble, partly because three other folks who ride ‘busa’s recommended it. But even after installing it, I didn’t see a benefit other than I could actually see the dash and instruments now ๐Ÿ™‚

On the Connie, it’s adjustable and I can absolutely see a benefit. Low is almost ‘busa feeling. A few inches up and the wind turbulence is just below neck level, perfect in 109F temps. Higher and my head is buffeted like it was on Rita’s but at the top and bend down a touch and I’m out of the wind for the most part. Enough so that I can lift my modular helmet and drink my soda or water from the CamelBak without having the helmet feeling like it was getting pulled off my head and of course no spray. And it’s not so large that it’s a barn door and the couple of times in the rain, I could tuck my knees in and duck down a little behind a full screen and barely get wet.

Standing

On the ‘busa I can stand up to stretch a little but I’m still a bit bent over. It’s not a full stand so you’re still bent at the waist and fully standing requires some contortions to make sure you can still see the road ๐Ÿ™‚

On the Connie, I can stand up straight and even do a Titanic. ๐Ÿ™‚ Very helpful when a quick stretch is needed.

Legroom

The Wednesday prior to the trip in June, my right knee swelled a bit and I still don’t know why. It was a little sore as well and had I not had the Connie, I would have canceled the trip. There’s no way I could have kept my knee bent at that angle for the 5,000 miles of the trip.

Back when I got the ‘busa and after getting on hayabusa.org and sport-touring.net, I got directed to Pashnit’s forum. One of the suggestions for a bit more leg room for us tall guys was to replace the stock pegs with GSXR pegs. It did make the pegs a bit more uncomfortable for longer trips so I eventually tried to add some slab steel. That wasn’t optimum but cutting and using epoxy I created heel rests that have stayed in place for the past 5 years or so.

The Connie has the leg room but has the stock pegs so the problems I had on the ‘busa exists on the Connie. It’s a bar across the bottom of the feet cutting off circulation. You have to keep moving around on the pegs. I need to figure out replacement pegs so I can gin up a new set of heel rests. I have the Canyon crash bars but I was having trouble attaching them so they’re still in the garage. I didn’t want to damage the Connie right before the trip.

Heat

Note that I have ridden the ‘busa in an Aerostich suit for 10 years or so before gaining enough weight that I couldn’t wear it anymore. The past couple of trips have been in jeans and one of my two riding jackets. This leaves my legs more exposed to heat thrown off by the bike. At one point I rode the ‘busa from a park in Boise to the other end of the park in just swim trunks as my gear was in the car. That was hot! Two years back the trip to GenCon was in jeans and my Joe Rocket jacket and that was hot as well so I suspect getting my weight back down or getting a new, size appropriate Aerostich suit will make a difference in future trips.

And don’t get me wrong, the Connie is hot on the legs when I have jeans on. On the June trip I had a heat rash on the top of my left foot which hadn’t happened on the ‘busa even at 120F when I was in Yuma Arizona.

Speaking of heat and Yuma! I’m using the same deer skin gloves as when I went through Yuma, and the Connie handlebars got Really Really got hot unlike the ‘busa. It felt like I had the heated grips on high! The palms of my hands were red purple on the two 109F days during the June trip.

Seating

The ‘busa stock seat is better for canyon riding. I’m able to slide left or right to get off the bike to have control of the bike in corners. Eventually the seat wore out. I even looked for a replacement stock seat but eventually picked up a Corbin seat. Still can slide off but a nicely scooped seat for increased comfort. I’ve had Corbin seats on my two previous bikes as well. Note that I wear bicycle shorts under my jeans and in the Aerostich suit for increaed comfort.

The Connie stock seat seems to be memory foam type as it gets hot when I’m sitting on it. It is foamy and soft but I think that’s a bad thing. One of the things I noticed is the seat would bend at the edges where my butt cheeks are, not providing full support in the way I expect. The Corbin is a very stiff seat so there’s no fall off at the edges. Plus the Connie seat keeps you in place. Moving around is difficult and when you sit, you stay where you sit unless you get up and move to a new spot. I’d constantly find myself just a little to the right on the seat (maybe my right cheek is bigger than my left ๐Ÿ™‚ ) but it causes unnecessary friction and makes it for a somewhat uncomfortable ride, just a little. In places, especially when it was hot and everything was sweating, it was even worse, to the point in Glacier National Park that I absolutely had to get off the bike!

It might be because I had jeans on but I can move around on the ‘busa without trouble when I’m just out in the canyons so I suspect a new seat is in order before the next long distance trip.

Speaking of the seats. Jeanne likes the extra room for her. There’s room for her even when I have the Camelbak on. She can lean back and doesn’t have that “hip thrown forward” position like on the ‘busa. The ‘busa is more fun though. You feel like you’re a part of the bike. This is similar to my feeling. On the ‘busa it’s like I’m an integral part of the bike. On the Harley I used to have, I felt like I was sitting on the bike. The Connie seems to be in between the two. Not quite a part of the bike, and you can feel the instability in the corners compared to the ‘busa.

Speed and Response

Of course the ‘busa is fast. I can get to about 73MPH in first gear. It’s meant to be fast. One of the reasons I started touring with it is at highway speeds in 6th gear, it’s running about 3,500 RPMs. Just about idling. The engine isn’t over taxed and will last a long time if maintained. I will note that at about 5,000 RPMs there’s a roughness, a vibration. It’s actually kind of nice because it tells me through my hands vs looking at the speedometer. “Whoops, I’m going a bit fast.”

The Connie does have some speed but of course as it’s tuned to be a sport-touring bike, it’s toned down from the Ninja Z14 it’s based off of. I noted that as long as the tachometer is at about 3,000 RPM, it’ll respond fine. Below that there’s some roughness and hesitation. And of course 6th is ‘Overdrive’ and intended to be used at highway speeds to conserve gas. Once I get it up in RPMs, it does respond quite well.

Mirrors

The ‘busa mirrors are useless if you’re a big guy like me. My elbows block any vision without leaning over or tucking in my elbows. I was looking for a mirror extender and found a few on line at the time (2004). Mostly small increments though. On hayabusa.org, a guy was selling 1″ extenders. They worked great, other than the bolts rusted. ๐Ÿ™‚ I replaced them with chrome ones and it’s good again.

On the Connie, you are sitting up a bit higher and the mirrors are set lower and wide. One thing is I can see both sitting up and if I’m laying on the tank bag resting. Something I can’t see out of on the ‘busa.

Vibration

When I got the ‘busa, it came with Helibars so the grips were up about 3/4″ and angled to be a bit more comfortable. Still they’re sort of narrow for a big guy like me. I’d find my hands, especially my left hand, on the end of the clipon over the bar end which could be a little uncomfortable. I’d also added Throttlemeister bar ends to give me throttle control on the highway. Set it and relax.

On the Connie, I also replaced the bar ends with Throttlemeisters but the angle of the handlebars are still a bit off for me. Enough that I had to make sure my hand was twisted a bit at the wrist, out just a little to be comfortable. I didn’t seem to migrate to the end of the bar though so the width might be just right. Note too that the Connie had a bit of vibration in the bars. It might be just because they’re tall vs the ‘busa which are clipons and less likely to vibrate.

I do still get a knot in the muscle of middle behind the right shoulder although it’s not quite as pronounced when riding on the Connie.

Instrumentation

On the ‘busa you have an A Trip, B Trip, and odometer, time, plus the standard gas, FI, oil light, and engine temp. I added an electronic accessories bar that added a voltmeter and “outside” temp gauge. That bailed after the 120F Yuma ride though ๐Ÿ™‚ I also added an accessories plug, heated grips with a switch on the dash, and heated gear (Gerbings) plugs

This stuff is all standard on the Connie. The real problem though is with the helmet and/or sunglasses, when the sun is ahead of you at all, the central LED panel is unreadable. Just a dark shadow. The visor on the helmet obscures it a bit as lifting it does make it a little more visible but still pretty grayed out. It’s nice to have the info on the panel but only good when the sun is behind you.

It is nice that the Connie is set up for extra instruments though. Even with my GoPro battery charger plugged in, the Voltmeter only went from 14.4 to 14.3. Nice alternator ๐Ÿ™‚

Suspension

One of the recommendations for the ‘busa was to replace the front stock suspension. When I took it to The Dragon, I had drag marks on the bottom of the bike’s plastic! After replacing them, the bike handled much better for me. Tight.

The Connie is set up a lot looser and is actually a nice ride especially for Jeanne. Bounces for the bumps but recovers quickly.

Maintenance

For the ‘busa, chain maintenance on the road was important! Regular cleaning and oil or wax to keep it in good shape. On one trip, I limped home the last couple of hundred miles with the chain slack almost to the belly plate. And chains don’t get slack everywhere, just in spots. Makes for an uncomfortable ride.

On the Connie, I just had to make sure oil and water were topped off. I’d replaced the black oil before the trip and other than upping the air in the tires, nothing had to be done on the entire trip.

Overall

The ‘busa would be my go-to bike for solo trips or solo rides. The Connie is something I’d ride to maintain familiarity and if Jeanne (or other passenger) were coming along. But the ‘busa is more fun to ride ๐Ÿ™‚

Amusingly the one thing I noted that I was a bit sad about. Touring on the ‘busa got attention. “Who would tour on a Sport Bike!?” But it worked just fine for 132,000 miles. With the Connie, it’s expected that I’ll have a lot of miles. Just one of a pack of folks who Sport Tour on a Sport-Touring bike. But it was one of the reasons I bought it. The infrastructure is there. For the ‘busa, if I got into trouble, I could be in further trouble because dealers where ever I was might not have what I needed to get moving again. With the Connie, I expect I’d have a better chance of a dealer having the parts I need to get back on the road. The ‘busa is bulletproof and never left me on the side of the road due to something breaking. But I have been stuck due to a flat tire and limped home a few times due to not being able to replace the chain. No fun and expensive.

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