In this new avatar, the Hyosung GT650N promises to be more of an everyday bike than before

At first glance, the GT650N benefits from its strong street presence and the large, macho-looking motorcycle is quite a head-turner wherever you go. There's a generous helping of dark black parts, with the lower half of the bike liberally smothered in this smart, contrasting shade including its alloy wheels, mudguards, engine bay, exposed frame and massive exhaust.

The family look is shared with its sibling, the GT650R, but the N replaces the vertically stacked headlights of that sportier bike with a tapered headlight, crowned by a set of aerodynamic and petite floating instruments. This modern console is comprehensive enough, displaying all essential information including a bold tachometer. However, it lacks finesse. Likewise, the rearview mirrors show off nice form but fail to impart clear rear vision. Hyosung would also have done well to provide the GT650N with better quality palm grips, levers and switches. At present, the push-to-cancel indicators demand far too much effort to operate and also lack good feel.

A voluminous, 17-litre fuel tank with smart indents and smoothly sculpted knee recess grooves sits over the motorcycle's exposed-frame twin tubes. And a split seat lends the GT a sporty air, providing a storage facility under the pillion. The tail section is similar to the 650R, with a pair of large, split grab handles.

The GT650N shares its engine platform with the GT650R — a Hyosung V-twin, four-stroke cycle engine with liquid cooling and a displacement of 647cc. It is a fuel-injected powerhouse with short stroke (81.5mm x 62mm) dimensions and a bank of eight-valve equipped cylinders set 90 degrees apart. Compression ratio is 11.5:1 and maximum claimed power output at the crankshaft is a healthy 72.6bhp at 9000rpm, with peak torque of 6.2kgm delivered at 7500rpm.

Packing a punch

On the positive side, the GT650N packs a punch mighty enough for even the best Indian roads, and you will never be left high and dry, asking for more power or performance. Low- and mid-range grunt are impressive, as expected from a V-twin and the GT650N zips from 0-100kph in a scant 4.65 seconds, still accelerating seamlessly as it clobbers the 160kph mark in 12.78sec. Top whack is pretty respectable too, the 650 running out of steam only over a true 200kph.

However, much of the excitement starts fading fast when you come to terms with the chinks in this bike's armour. The GT650N suffers — as does the GT650R — from a really heavy clutch that uncomfortably impinges riding pleasure from almost the moment you get off the starting blocks. The six-speed gearbox fails to shift with the positive and light feel typical of modern-day motorcycles. Worse still, the GT650N is plagued by a really disappointing fuel-injection system, due to which the bike idles erratically and outputs an under-par power delivery. Jerky throttle response is often experienced at low to mid-engine speeds and vibrations build up to go beyond acceptable levels when pushing this bike hard.

All this means Hyosung has much ground to cover before it can match any of its refined Japanese or European rivals.

The GT650N deploys a tube-type all-steel frame spine with trendy looking, adjustable upside-down telescopic forks in front, allied to a monoshock and rectangle-section swingarm at the back.

A big advantage, especially in Indian urban road conditions, is the more relaxed, comfortable and upright riding position that is absent on the sportier GT650R. However, despite that bonus, the GT650N's suspension and riding saddle fail to deliver adequate comfort. Ride quality feels too stiff, often allowing potholes and road undulations to attack the rider's spine, the seat padding leaving you sore and unhappy over even reasonably long-distance rides.

Straightline stability

Excellent Bridgestone tyres at both ends are standard kit, with good traction being a 650N forte. The GT650N provides good straightline stability but handling is still only average, calling upon heavier than expected inputs. Cornering manners are up to the job, provided you stick to riding over smooth road surfaces.

Twin hydraulic disc brakes up front and a single rear disc unit combine to provide solid anchorage for the quick GT650N. The bike performed well during our brake test session to stop from 100kph in 47.58 metres, and 15.73 metres, coming to a halt from 60kph.

Fuel economy should rank lower than crucial to GT650N buyers (Rs. 4,39,000 - ex-showroom, Delhi). However, having put this latest Hyosung through a thorough test, we know that it returns 18.4kpl in crowded city traffic, and 27.4kpl cruising at close to 100kph on the highway.