The Indian two-wheeler market is in a phase that explores performance motorcycles. But unfortunately, this segment is wildly untapped with a huge gap between the expensive, CBU motorcycles that come with all the hoopla and the locally manufactured entry-level performance bikes. The Hyosung GT650R, which is a product of the joint venture between Hyosung and Garware targets this vacant territory.

Design and engineering

The GT650R is aggressive and sporty, true to its ‘R' suffix. Look closer and you will spot styling cues from the Suzuki GSX-R family. The bike comes with an impressive, vertically-stacked headlight beneath its wide flyscreen. It has an edgy intake vents and shapely rear view mirrors. But the instruments panel looks dated — an analog tachometer sitting next to a digital speedometer, odometer, dual tripmeters, clock, temperature and fuel level indicator. Switchgear and palm grips could be better, while the adjustable brake and clutch levers do not adjust smoothly.

The GT650R's 17-litre fuel tank is cleanly finished, without the clutter of many logos or decals (the fairing flanks have a garish pair of GT650 stickers) and has functional knee-recesses. We did, however, note that the fuel tank is a touch too tall for a sportsbike, preventing the rider from properly tucking into a racing crouch behind the GT's flyscreen. The split seat is sportsbike typical and there's a tiny storage cubby below the pillion seat, with space enough to hold the bike's papers. A LED tail-light, behind the contoured tailpiece and two-piece grab handle, is a nice touch. Six-spoke alloy wheels, a fat rear tyre, exposed drive chain and large, sporty exhaust canister all give the GT650R a purposeful attitude.

Engine and performance

The GT650R employs a Hyosung-built, four-stroke, liquid-cooled engine that displaces 647cc. It's a V-twin powerplant, cylinders set 90 degrees apart, deploying dual overhead camshafts with four valves for each cylinder head. Bore and stroke measure a short-stroke 81.5 x 62mm. Peak power developed is 72.6bhp at 9000rpm while maximum torque output is 6.2kgm at 7250rpm.

Thumb the starter and this Korean sportsbike cranks to life with a loud and not very impressive exhaust note. The clutch is unduly heavy and stresses the rider's wrist almost immediately. The GT uses a six-speed gearbox, shifting in a one-down, five-up pattern. Gear ratios are well-spaced, the GT not calling for excess shifting while overtaking, but the gearshift quality is unsatisfactory.

The bike idles erratically, the revs often settling only as high as 3000rpm. Which brings us to a major letdown — the fuel injection system suffers from problems that result in a far from smooth power delivery. On the whole, this Hyosung engine is down on refinement, sending harsh vibrations upward to the rider as the revs rise. Given its short-stroke dimensions, we expected the GT650R to provide a peaky power output but this bike boasts a potent mid-range. The GT650R feels best ridden without it being pushed too hard. It runs well on a highway but heats up when in traffic, a problem that Indian weather and vehicle-choked streets will surely aggravate.

On its acceleration test, this sportsbike zipped from zero to 60kph in 2.49 seconds, passing 100kph in 5.15sec. The GT650R was still going strong at 150kph, and can go on to hit a top whack of over 200kph.

Ride and handling

The Hyosung motorcycle uses a tubular steel frame, upside-down telescopic forks adjustable for compression and rebound, plus a monoshock adjustable for preload at the rear that mounts onto a rectangular steel swingarm.

Yes, the GT is a sportsbike which is why the riding position is unashamedly sporty, with a radical lean into its clip-on handlebars. This, however, makes it ill suited for daily use.

A big positive on the bike is the really sticky Bridgestone tyres that provide leech-like traction. It's slightly heavy turning into and committing to corners, but nice and planted once you are going through them. Straightline stability is good and the GT maintains a reassuring composure even over 140kph.

Fuel economy

Most GT650R buyers will not expect stellar fuel economy from their motorcycle. The sportsbike managed to cover 20.4km on a litre of fuel when in the city, while it returned 24.3kpl zipping down the highway and cruising in top gear at close to 100kph.

The dynamic and sporty looking GT650R seem to lack a quality feel. Hyosung and Garware need to get rid of some major rough edges on their flagship model for India. The price tag (Ex-showroom Rs. 5,00,000-estimated) doesn't help its cause either. At present, the Korean sportsbike will go unchallenged, but only until Bajaj and Kawasaki launch the exciting 650cc Ninja in India.

Keywords: Hyosung GT650R