Selling two-wheelers can be a lucrative business in India. That is why we can see so many two-wheeler manufacturers making a beeline and fighting their way into this arena. The Korean two-wheeler major Hyosung tested these waters a few years before, and believes there’s no time like now to commence its second innings, hand-in-hand with the Garware Group. The sporty GT650R aims to make waves on our shores. Will it 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 well 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 quality of the palm grips and switches is decent, although we can’t say the same for the bike’s adjustable levers, which somehow didn’t adjust with a smooth, positive feel.
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 is ahead of what Indians knew on the Hyosung Comet and Aquila, but that’s been a while now, 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 only so-so, and a touch too dull for a racy sports bike like this. It does, however, get upmarket adjustable rider pegs.
The GT650R comes with a four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC and V-twin format engine. Both cylinders sit 90 degrees apart, while each head houses four valves. Fuel injection is stock kit, although we found the GT650R surprisingly lacked the crisp, light throttle response expected from such a bike, instead suffering an irritating delay each time the throttle was cracked open for power. 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 is a motorcycle that likes being ridden without the rider cracking the whip. 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 riding position borders on out-and-out sports, with quite an uncomfortable lean down into the handlebars — genuine clip-ons that clamp onto the forks — that felt just short of as radical as a supersports motorcycle. The GT650R we rode came shod with excellent Bridgestone rubber, which 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.
There’s no doubt that the GT650R is a competent motorcycle, but it’s still not a refined, stupendous or supremely talented motorcycle as are fast becoming commonplace here. 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. The GT650R has its fair share of rough edges, which Garware and Hyosung need to polish up, apart from ensuring their flagship model is launched in India with a better price advantage than has so far been indicated. It’s this that will hold the key to the GT650R earning itself a healthy measure of success in India.