Hyosung GT650R Review and Test Ride

The name Hyosung dates our memory back to the very first traces of sports biking in India. It was the 250cc Comet and Aquila duo then, it is the much larger 650cc GT650R and 678cc ST7 now which challenge to revive the Korean brand in India. The difference last time was that both the bikes were brought in limited numbers but this time it’s a no barrier, rejoice! BikeAdvice’s very own Saad Khan took both the bikes to a voyage which included open highways, congested traffic junctions and serene surroundings of Pune city to test the bikes potentials and to taste the promised adrenalin! Let us hear from Saad himself…

Ever since I rode the Comet one million years ago, I had big eyes set on the Hyosungs. And the day when I heard Garware is bringing them Home, I was mighty interested in their folio for this time. And boy did they not strike it with style! A follow up with them, a call or two and here I go flying on their monsters.

First things first; Hyosung-Garware have been immensely customer focused and the very talk we had revealed the same trait about them which I feel would win them the jackpot in all the times to come.

Coming back to the ride, I invited a fellow rider, Rohan Albal (remember the California Super School Article?) so that I can take both the bikes together and share each other’s experiences. Reached the Bhandarkar road showroom at 1, they had kept both the bikes absolutely ready for us and we started in 10 minutes. I took the GT650R first and Rohan the mighty ST7 which we swapped a couple of times in our approximate 3 hour ride of both the bikes.

Since in this edition we would keep our talks limited to the GT, we would drop the ST7 at least for the time being. The bike promises a lot of potential, more so because this is Hyosung’s second entry in India and it would want to quickly latch onto the growing spending power of an average Indian. So does the bike leave us impressed..? Let us try to find out…

Engine & Transmission

A glimpse at the stats reveal that the GT650R is powered by a 647cc 90 degree v-twin 4 stroke engine which uses liquid cooling to keep temperature under control. The DOHC mill produces 72.68 bhp of peak power and 60.9 Nm of maximum torque at 9000 and 7500 rpm respectively. Keeping with its racy dynamics, GT 650 uses an oversquare or a short stroke engine with 81.5 x 62mm bore x stroke dimensions. This 8 valve engine is mated to a 6 speed gearbox with the universal 1 down – 5 up pattern.

Enough of on-paper things, lets hit the road: Crank the starter button and the engine comes to life with a masculine and considerably rough tone. It doesn’t have that ‘humm’ of Inline 4s but is more of a crude v-twin (what was not so obvious about it now!) Engage the clutch, tap the toe to plonk it onto the first gear and here you go flying to places. The performance of the engine is really agile and spirited. The eagerness to move forward is one thing which impressed us.

Zipping through the busy streets of FC Road and Aundh, GT felt at ease. However, one thing which disappointed us was the not-so-zesty response when GT is taken towards into its powerband. Engine roughness and under refinement made itself precedential as soon as we hit the high(ish) revs of 7k or more. Into its redline of anything over 10k, GT turns into a vibrating ‘morning runner’.

I was wearing a thickish riding pant and even after that the engine heat had my legs in discomfort. That made me wonder what would happen to a normal jeans clad (even worse a knickers clad) GT rider who gets caught in the morning IT traffic of Hinjewadi.

Anyways, it’s a big engine and I had expected this. Rohan also made it clear that heat emitted by this GT is not as harsh as some other biggies he has ridden including his own FireBlade (now who asked him about a 175 bhp Fireblade!). One good thing about the cooling system that Hyosung has deployed is that the heat dissipates as soon as you hit open roads after those irritating road jams. All in all, if you do not plan to ride GT immensely in our traffic conditions, heat emission is definitely manageable.

GT feels in its comfort zone when ridden between 3.5k to 6k, not that this is its absolute powerband, but I would term that as ‘the most comfortable band’ where engine is also revving at will and the rpm is big enough to overtake any vehicle on the road. This zone also ensures least roughness and vibrations to be thrown open to the rider. One good thing about GT that impressed us was the torque built-up at lower-mid to mid rpms. It pulls up with ease even in lower gears without any unnecessary clatter.

However, we noticed two indifferent behaviors from the bike we were riding – One, the weird idling behavior of the bike; two, whenever we twisted the throttle hard there was a (very) slight jerk. We would attribute these two issues with a probable inconsistent fuel injection system that this bike employs which results in disproportionate power delivery. Apart from these two minor hitches, power delivery is linear and there is no unnecessary spike anywhere in the complete rev cycle.

Clutch, we found it to be slightly heavy and it became needy as time progressed. Coming to the gearbox: Till the GT was under normal temperatures, gearbox was pretty slick and we could hit back and forth with ease. Things did go a little effort-requiring when GT heated up especially during my speed runs. Not that I landed on false gears or something, just that the effort required increased. I would term the overall gear feel as ‘good’ and reasonably slick. Gear ratios are pretty well spaced and it doesn’t feel that one gear is intruding into the other or an unneeded fall back while down/up shifting.

Let me also clarify that the bikes we rode were pretty new and I would expect them to open up to smoother feel once the engines are properly run-in. Overall, the engine is pretty powerful and enthusiasts would like taking the bike for fear paced speed runs, however the overall engine quality and unnecessary clatter does leave us a little wanting for more and expect Hyosung to work on it especially the roughness part of it.

Engine & Transmission: 6.5/10

Styling Build And Design

A very casual look at the Korean would reveal that this bike was built with immense heart. The bulbous but rightly contoured full fairing, smartly stacked twin projectors, ribbed front console all lend an aggressive quotient to this bike. The humongous tank, huge upswept exhaust, tubular chassis, slim sportbike like split seats and a pointed tail ensure that no part feels out of place. The grab rails are apache like and pretty functional and huge tires enhance the racy dynamics of the bike.

A simple glance at the vertically stacked headlight reminds us of the Bajaj Pulsar 220 which was probably inspired from GT. The dummy scoops on either side of the headlamp however spoil the party and deteriorate the smoothly contoured fairing’s flow. The gigantic fuel tank has scathing lines flowing across and possesses a very well sculpted knee recess. Any rider of over 5’7 would feel absolutely tightly tucked on this bike.

Another good part about the tank is that it comes without much of fanfare (read graphics). ‘HYOSUNG’ in bold keeps the tank minimalistic and sober. However, the tanks height and visor are disproportionate ie the tank is placed slightly higher not allowing the rider to duck under that windshield completely when completely crouched. Also, we suggest all customers to get a zipper guard on the tank as soon as you buy this machine because even without ducking the natural stance of this bike would mean some Chinese notations at the heart of your tank. A slightly raised lift-up air craft type fuel cap and a warning note similar to Hero Honda’s form the top of the tank.

While the rear and side panel come in one piece but towards the tank connection it looks a little mismatched. However, it finishes fantastically well towards the pointed LED tail providing beautiful contours overall. Hyosung has provided a small keyhole between the seats which when opened provides the rider a small cubbyhole big enough to keep a few important papers. According to Hyosung maximum allowed space is 1 kg. Build quality is very good at some places, but needs attention at a few others. Paint quality on the black GT we rode was gleaming good.

Summing it up, styling and design is this bike’s forte and probably the biggest Unique Selling Point (USP) among its competitors. It looks full of attitude and this is what would win it customers.

Styling, Build & Design: 9/10

Handling Comfort And Braking

GT comes with trellis-type twin spar frame which is very robust and the suspension duties are performed by inverted telescopic shock ups at the front and a Progressive Linkage Hydraulic Mono Shock absorber (with adjustable preload) mounted on the rectangular swingarm. The 41mm front forks are adjustable for compression and rebound damping. Both the rubbers are 17 inchers – front being 120/60 & rear being a massive 160/60.

The GT we rode came shod with phenomenally grippy Bridgestone Battlax series of radial tubeless tires (both front and rear) and we hear they are constant throughout the GT series sold in India. Also noticed the ‘Made in Japan’ tag on the tires where the ST7 uses Korean made tires. Ninja 650R also uses ‘Made in Japan’ Bridgestone Battlax with very slight difference in specs. The braking duties are handed over to twin 300mm discs with 4 calipers at the front and a 270mm disc rotor with 2 calipers at the rear. GT650R is equipped with a side stand ignition interlock system which doesn’t allow the engine to come to power unless the clutch is pulled in. The idea is not to allow the bike to start in case the side stand is up.

As soon as you go astride the GT’s saddle you get an inherent feeling of absolute attitude with its forward biased aggressive riding stance. The rider-bike combo in a proper riding suit would look a killer machinery on Indian roads. And hence you have to give leverage to the comfort factor of the bike just like any other proper super sports/sports oriented bike. Your upper part of the belly (just) touches the tank as your hands stretch to reach out to the grab levers where your knee forms as acute an angle as possible while resting at the adjustable footpegs…all when your bums are not resting on a flowery bed. And things go more aggressive as you reduce the height of the rider. For the majority, I have listed an absolute position of out and out sporty riding posture and this is what GT650R offers – like it or you don’t!

After initial numbs and riding for 1 and half hour did not feel at discomfort but yes do not expect it to be a rosy paradise on two wheels either. The mirrors offer fantastic rear view and are picture perfect till 6k. After 6k things start deteriorating and become blurring as the engine crosses 7k rpm. Ride quality is pretty good and the suspension response pretty optimum (default settings). GT handled fantastically well on whatever we put it to.

Yes, its 215 kilograms of mass does make itself evident while taking sudden maneuvers but it was never unsettling at any time what so ever. Sudden brakes on speed brakers or otherwise did leave the bike absolutely composed – no swaying, no tantrums no nothing unwanted. A substantial part of the credit also goes to the Bridgestones which were as resilient to their task as anything could be.

Fortunately, I also got a chance to ride the bike in wet as well which allowed me to test battlax’s response in wet and may I tell you that they retain their posture and don’t skid around for solace. Rossying is also one thing which you can do on this bike in style considering the ease at which it corners. On the other hand, braking was a little spongy and GT could do with a slightly better bite from its braking system especially the rear. However they are fairly effective and make GT650R react to their whip. Just a wee bit more precise bite and we have them what we want. I could not verify the pillion comfort but the overall cushioning and dimensions of both the seats were perfect.

A lovely handler, comfortable if you are this kind; brakes need little improvement!

Handling, Comfort & Braking: 7.5/10

Electrical And Instrumentation

GT comes equipped with a neat and conventional bluish backlit semi digital console which comprise of a round analogue tachometer which is calibrated till 13k r/min and redlines at anything over 10.5k r/min. Towards the right of the tacho is housed the digital meter which is divided in 4 quadrants. The biggest space is occupied by the speedometer which displays speed in Km/h in big bold letters.

The temperature gauge and fuel gauge are placed in one quadrant with small one-over-other horizontal bars signaling the respective values. Ironically at the time we were feeling pant burning hot in congested traffic the temperature gauge was chilling at only 4-5 bars! The bottommost fuel gauge bar is thickest with the remaining in similar size and shape. The bottom right quadrant is occupied by the all important clock and the left bottom quadrant displays the odometer and the dual tripmeters’ readings.

The two small buttons placed just beside this small window keep the readings of the tripmeter and clock customizable. The remaining part of the console is formed by the regular tell tale lights which include the side indicators, high beam indicator, neutral indicator and the Fuel Injector failure lamp. The light of the speedometer could also be adjusted according to personal needs. The red lamp comes up when remaining fuel in the tank is approximately 3.4 liters.

Switchgear comprises of an engine kill switch, starter crank and hazard warning switch (all four side indicators would flash simultaneously) at the right and upper/dimmer lights (the lower projector is ON all the time), side indicators, Pass switch and horn towards the left. Switchgear formation is pretty similar to Bajaj Pulsars and similarly exhibit good quality. The horn felt like a mouse squeak (if et all they squeak!) from a gigantic elephant, however, we were told that it has been kept under 120 decibel to adhere to Indian guidelines. The levers are also adjustable, however I liked the default setting and decided to stick to it and not tinker around. I hope they are functionally good and help riders with varying sizes.

Electricals & Instrumentation: 7/10

Performance & Mileage

Riding a sportsbike and missing the mention of its performance would be like stealing prey from a Lions share! GT650R always felt eager to move forward in almost all gears till mid rpm band and getting it rolling doesn’t require any efforts. I could hit 84 kms on the speedo in first gear and 130 kmph in second. Second and third gears are considerably taller and have a lot of juice in their range. But that doesn’t take away any major time from its speed runs. The bike reaches 100 kmph from naught in approx 6 seconds and goes a long way from there.

The kind of track we rode the bike on allowed us to do a top whack of 160kmph (only) with at least 20 horses left unused! People have claimed to cross that 200kmph barrier and I would support the statement. Given a proper straight track and a bit of time and with the amount of juice left when we revved the engine, it has all the capability to cross the magical barrier of 200 kmph which we guess is one real heck of a figure to achieve for all kind of speed enthusiasts. Once again the amount of poise the bike had at speeds over 120kmph forces us to mention the trellis twin spar steel frame and its potency. The bike feels absolutely at ease with respect to the response from the chassis with no unwanted dwindling or dancing around. GT650R can cruise at a very potential cruising speed of 140kmph easily.

From casual 50kmph rides in 6th gear to sudden rev ups, the bike shows great enthusiasm in surging forward. One more important point which goes in favor of this bike is the manageable engine power on Indian kind of roads. Because of a liner power delivery, GT never go bonkers and break free taking the control away from the rider and yet it proves its point whenever it is commanded to do so. This, along with its conspicuous frame makes it one very practical big size motorcycle in India.

A 650cc 72bhp bike and you ask me ‘kitna deti hai?’ – typical Indian thought process! We did not measure the amount of fuel this bike consumes per liter. However, we were given the bike which showed absolute full on the console which dropped by 4 bars when we returned the bikes back to Garware. According to reports people have been able to get 20kmpl in return of every liter of fuel that goes into this bike – definitely good, I would say! Even considering 18kmpl on an average, GT650R, with a huge tank of 17 liters would manage at least 300 kms before calling it quits.

Performance & Mileage: 8/10

Variants & Price

Garware has made on offer a plethora of color variants for their flagship model here. GT650R is available in two options basically divided by the kind of color patterns they come in – Single Tone and Premium Dual Tone. In the Single Tone category they have the Ruby Red, Satin Black and White Glory whereas in the dual tone category they have Cherry & Black, Royal Sunrise and Pure Pelican.

Ironically, the single tones look better than the premium dual tone ones. Of all the colors, I liked the White Glory the maximum. It kind of reminds us about the majestic Suzuki Hayabusa.

And hey that’s not all, as their name suggest premium dual tones are priced at a premium of 15k on the exshowroom price in Pune. Following are the prices of GT650R variants in Pune.

  • GT650R Single Tone: Rs 4,85,000 (Ex showroom) & Rs 5,36,189 (On Road Pune)
  • GT650R Dual Tone: Rs 5,00,000 (Ex showroom) & Rs 5,52591 (On Road Pune)

Few Points To Note

Listed are a few points which I thought would add more to the test. Read on

  • For all those performance enthusiasts, Two Brothers performance exhaust approved for foreign markets by Hyosung. Might be in pipeline for India!
  • Hyosung in collaboration with Garware are bringing these bikes as CKDs currently with only a few things done in India like the mandatory saree guard, horn etc.
  • The JV has plans to localize components as much as they can to provide the bike an upfront price advantage.
  • GT650R is warranted for 2 years or 25000 kms with only 1 service free.
  • Their insurance coverage with TATA AIG provides 100% plastic/fiber coverage which would be immensely beneficial for us, Indians considering that the bike has got lot many plastic/fiber parts plus we Indians are neither very aptly built nor are accustomed to such heavy motorcycles weighing over 200kgs. I did not even talk about our road conditions and people’s road riding etiquettes!
  • Furthermore, you get absolutely ZERO depreciation for 2 claims in 1 year.
  • Every customer who buys GT650R gets a riders kit as a complement which includes – a cap, Vega off roader helmet, t-shirt, keychain and goggles; a nice little set of freebies.
  • The first service is scheduled within the regular 1000 kms with each subsequent service interval spacing 4000 kms.
  • Garware recommends only synthetic engine oil for GT650R with a change prescribed at every service. The oil capacity for this bike is 3.4 liters which would mean an approximate bill of 4-4.5k every service including oil change, regular tidbits and the labor charges.
  • Garware also offers a mobile servicing van along with 24 x 7 Emergency Services which include: round the clock breakdown support, onsite emergency repairs, battery jump start, fuel delivery, lost key support, transfer/towing, taxi drop facility.
  • Garware currently has dealers in Gurgaon, Delhi, Chandigarh, Pune, Mumbai, Goa, Ahmedabad, Indore and Chennai with Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata in pipeline.
  • According to people at Bhandarkar road Garware response has been pretty good for this bike since its launch and has infact improved after the launch of Ninja 650R. They also say they lost only a handful of bookings to Ninja but have gained more. They have received approx 60 bookings in a span of 2 months.
  • Waiting period for the bike depends upon the color a customer is interested in – a little more for dual-tones. On an average they project a customer to ride on his own GT650R in a span of 15-20 days, need we mention the competition!
  • They have a well appointed service center at Model Colony in Pune.
  • Maximum bookings for the red color and clearly what green is to Kawasaki, red is doing for Hyosung.
  • Hyosung also plans to launch the naked version GT650 by Diwali and the price point they are working on is in the range of 4 lakhs; music to ears!
  • Good news for people who loved the Comet and are looking at a Korean alternate to the current 250cc breed – Hyosung also plans to launch the GT250R by first half of next year (March-April 2012 is what they are considering currently)
  • Hyosung is open to provide test rides to enthusiasts who want to get the feel of what they are putting their money for, unlike Bajaj/Kawasaki.
  • Hyosung recommends SAE 10W40 engine oil for this bike.
  • Also recommended is the unleaded petrol with an octane rating of 91 or more
  • Total solution capacity for the bike is 1.6 liter out of which water and coolant should be used is a ratio of 50% each ie 800ml of both.

BikeAdvice Verdict

The Koreans proved themselves in electronics by triumphing the Japs (or at least giving them a run for their money) when it came to market share and technology. The Koreans are doing it big time in the 4 wheeler industry in India. And these are the same Koreans which were regarded pretty lowly not many years back. So does the new Korean (in hand) has the mettle to do it in the heavenly spanned two wheeler market in India?

If you ask me, definitely YES! Though Hyosung needs to improve on the engine vibration and more importantly fuelling bit on GT650R, but as a complete package it seems a very compelling buy also considering that V-twins are characterized by a bit of harshness. All along the road test, we were sought after, chased along, snapped with people crumpling in from all over and enquiring various questions about the bike. Now who doesn’t want this amount of limelight when they pay over 5 lakhs to own a motorcycle? GT650R definitely gives an impression of a bigger bike to the masses at least.

And let me assure you no other bike, including the renowned American style icons’ – Harley Davidson Superlow which might be considered in the similar price bracket guarantees so much of road attention. Indians have a strong penchant towards sports oriented faired bikes with those big bulldozer-like tires. So from 3 lakhs, going all the way to 10 lakhs, I could not find a true super sports bike which could serve likewise. All others which exist are either tourers/sport tourers, street machines or cruisers. And what we hit after that is not the sweet spot! According to my personal opinion a liter class is a big time overkill for an average Indian road. The insane power delivery these insatiable monsters produce are a sure death warrant on the kind of roads and riding sense we have. And then you cannot buy a 12-15 lakh bike only (and ONLY) to take it on a track (in either Chennai or Coimbatore) or ride it using only 5% of its power during its entire lifetime (or yours!)!

First, this is the most opportune segment for an enthusiast because of the tameable power characteristics along with the better affordability factor. Second, GT650R is probably the only bike in this segment out till now which fulfills the requirements of a true blue racing super sports/sports oriented bike prospect. Hyosung’s GT650R bears direct competition with Ninja 650R in the Indian market, not because they are 650cc bikes but more because these are the only two bikes in this segment and at similar prices. Ninja 650R is more of a sports tourer and not a full blown sports oriented bike which is why it would have its own set of customers. We will talk about both these bikes at some other point of time. Until the Japs decide to launch their sports series- Yamaha -the R6; Honda -the CBR600RR, Kawasaki -the ZX6R etc Hyosung’s GT650R remains the lone choice in this segment and a pretty competent one.

If you seek riding nirvana, style and a drool maal all at a relatively affordable price, Hyosung has an answer just for you. So what are you waiting for: MEN YOUR MACHINE IS HERE! Go. Fly!

Bikeadvice Verdict: 7/10

Good Bits

  • Bigger sportsbike looks and super sports like seating position
  • Controllable power delivery
  • Leech like grippy tires
  • Dual projectors
  • Immense road presence
  • Stable and robust frame
  • Least waiting period
  • Good color options
  • Customer friendly & customer oriented company

Bad Bits

  • Crude and under refined engine
  • Vibrations over 7-8k rpm
  • Erratic fuel delivery

– Saad Khan

P.S. High Resolution Images are Available Here