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Riding the boom

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With a competent sports bike GT650R, the Korea-based Hyosung will soon start its second innings in India

K orean two-wheeler major Hyosung couldn't taste success in its first outing in India, but is now going to start its second innings, hand-in-hand with the Garware Group. Will this new partnership help Hyosung succeed?

You get a favourable early impression while walking up to a GT650R. This faired-in sports bike has loads of presence, looking compact with hints of Suzuki's GSX line-up apparent from some quarters. Equipment levels are high, and the GT has neatly stacked headlights, a broad visor that protects you when riding fast, and several machined alloy bits. We liked the bike's aggressive-looking twin intake spouts. You look at a bold digital speedometer and analogue rev counter, apart from the usual warning lights.

The GT650R has a neatly sculpted 17-litre tank and the fairing packs a plethora of smartly placed cuts and creases. We liked the tail-light as well with its smoothly contoured fairing and solid-feeling alloy grab bars. Six-spoke alloys, a massive, purposeful-looking silencer canister and an exposed chain add to the sporty aura of this Korean GT.

Build quality has certainly improved over the Comet and Aquila but these two bikes were launched a while back, and the GT650R still isn't as well finished as we would have liked. The GT650R deserved better attention to detail, with parts including the steering head and instruments panel looking ordinary, and a touch too dull for a racy sports bike. It does, however, get upmarket adjustable rider pegs. The GT650R comes with a four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC and V-twin format engine. Fuel injection is stock kit, although the bike didn't feel as quick as we expected whenever the throttle gates were opened. This apart, a peak power output of 72.6bhp at 9000rpm feels respectable, the bike pulling well from as low as 3000rpm, through a really meaty mid-range once spinning over 4000rpm. Maximum torque is 6.2kgm surging through at 7250rpm.

The GT650R doesn't enjoy being revved hard unlike most sportsbikes, with top-end power accompanied with way too much buzz at the bars and the engine losing composure. This motorcycle likes relaxed driving.

The GT650R has a six-speed gearbox, shifting in the one-down and five-up pattern. Although we found that the heavy clutch engagement could improve, we would like to reserve judgment on gearshift feel till such time as we get astride for a longer ride.

The GT650R comes with a sturdy steel frame and its slim riding saddle offers more comfort than your eyes will let on. The suspension is pretty much up there with the best on paper, inverted telescopic forks in front with compression and rebound damping adjustment, plus a single, pre-load adjustable monoshock with linkage and rectangular swingarm at rear.

The GT650R we rode came shod with excellent Bridgestone rubber that offered a high level of traction and inspired a confident feel throughout our experience. While ride quality was closer to plush than harsh on our test bike, we found the GT650R a tad slow to turn-in. It takes effort to make quick directional changes, the GT feeling heavy, but also stable and well-balanced through the corners.

Straight-line stability is excellent, even when flirting with high speeds. The brakes felt just about adequate, if perhaps a little lacking for bite during our short stint on the GT, with twin 300mm discs working in front and a single 230mm disc brake system at the rear.

The GT650R is a competent motorcycle, but is still far from many refined motorcycles already available in India.

Yes, the Indian bike market is on a roll and there is this opportunity to ride the boom but ours is also a tricky, quality-conscious market that's no cakewalk to master.

Hyosung needs to polish up the rough edges, apart from ensuring their flagship model is launched in India with a better price advantage than has so far been indicated — Rs. 4,80,000, estimated on-road, on sale March 2011.

RISHAD COOPER

Six-spoke alloys, a massive silencer canister and an exposed chain add to the sporty aura of this Korean GT.

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