Hyosung re-enters the Indian two-wheeler market with its cruiser ST7
After a not-so-successful first innings through Kinetic motors in 2003, Hyosung is ready to re-enter the Indian two-wheeler market in a fresh collaboration with new two-wheeler entrant, Garware Motors, which is setting up shop in Wai, Maharashtra. The ST7 will be its second cruiser for India.
The ST7 sits low, dimensions are large like all other cruisers. At the front, a neat 13-spoke alloy wheel sits under a large mudguard that comes with subtle stripes. Above, a chrome bar mounts the motorcycle turn signal indicators. Wide, sweptback handlebars and smart circular mirrors give it the typical cruiser look. Decent quality switchgear is offered, including an engine kill and hazard warning. The ST7's chic machined alloy levers include reach adjustment for the front brake lever while soft palm grips enhance rider comfort. The ignition key sits under the steering, making it inconvenient to access location as commonly used by cruisers. A raised chrome platform on the ST7's expansive 17-litre fuel tank plays host to the bike's large, analogue speedometer reading up to 220kph, with mph figures also displayed. Underneath, a tiny digital screen displays fuel level, the odometer and twin trip readings.
The ST7 is laden with chrome all over. Other than its twin cylinders that come sheathed in black, much of the ST7's engine is finished in chrome, visible on the radiator shroud, cam covers, crankcases and elegantly curved dual silencers. A shiny belt drive guard borders on overkill.
Paint quality is impressive, although the Korean bike didn't quite feel as solidly put together, or offer the level of fit-finish and quality at par with a Honda, Yamaha or arch rival Harley-Davidson.
The four-stroke, liquid-cooled 678.2cc twin cylinder engine is set in a 90deg V layout. Double overhead camshafts operate eight valves and you also get fuel injection. Traditional cruiser engines flaunt long-stroke dimensions for brawny low and mid-range torque that is suited to lazy highway riding. However, the ST7's bore and stroke measure a short stroke 81.5 x 65mm which explains why max torque of 5.8kgm is only offered at a peaky 7000rpm. Again, max power of 61.7bhp is produced at 8000rpm.
Cruise-friendly tall gearing allows the big Korean to easily cross a speedo-indicated 60kph in first gear, with second good for up to 120kph. While the ST7 can trundle along comfortably at 130kph, top speed is in the region of 160kph. There's a good spread of torque and opening the throttle sends the bike charging forward with fierce gusto.
The ST7 uses 41mm front telescopic forks, a double cradle frame and twin shock absorbers with a rectangular swingarm as rear suspension.
The riding posture is just what you require and expect from a bike built to cover long distances. The wide handlebar is comfortable to reach into, while forward-set footpegs contribute further to the ST7's relaxed lounge-chair feel. On that note, the ST7's large, well padded riding saddle can comfortably seat well built riders.
The ST7 wheelbase is a lengthy 1690mm, and this big cruiser tips the scales at 244kg.
Thankfully, we didn't find the ST7 feeling unduly heavy around corners. It doesn't require too much effort to change direction on this bike, and you do feel comfortable enough in the twisties. Still, bulky dimensions and a 33deg rake do play spoilsport at low speeds, making the ST7 cumbersome to manoeuvre.
Good ride quality and straight-line stability are undoubtedly commendable. The ST7's Shinko brand tyres offer reasonable grip, though the fat 170/80 x 15-inch rear tyre does sometimes tend to lose traction quicker than expected under hard braking.
We expect the ST7 to deliver mileage in the region of 20-25kpl when ridden in Indian riding conditions.
Hyosung has packaged the ST7 well. However the on-road price at approximately Rs 6.5 lakh feels a bit steep. Two years back, this bike could have carved a niche in the cruiser segment but now with Harley-Davidson in India, things have changed. The Harley-Davidson range starts at Rs. 6,95,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi) for an XL 883L Sportster, with further price reductions imminent as soon as its upcoming Haryana assembly plant goes on stream in mid-2011. Potential customers will take a take a hard look at other cruisers before going in for a ST7. The bottom line is Garware Motors and Hyosung need to find a way to price the ST7 more aggressively, apart from setting up a really good aftersales network to support the customers they are expecting to cruise ST7-class.