DSK Hyosung GV650 Aquila Pro and GT650R Review
The DSK Hyosung GT650R Review and GV650 Aquila Pro Review: Tale of 2 Brothers
Text & Photos: Sunil Gupta/ Sunilg & Sundeep Gajjar/ Sunny
If you are an Indian and love motorcycles, this is perhaps the best time to be here. We are sitting at a point when a revolution is about to begin. In fact, it has already begun. All the motorcycle manufacturers that have ruled the world but have ignored us (or were forced to ignore us) are lined up at our doorsteps to sell us whatever they can. Just a few years ago, we had a few commuters in the name of motorcycles and fewer 150/180s for the enthusiasts among the crowd. But now, if you have money to spend, you’ll be left confused with the options ahead of you. Yet there exists a large gap between the quarter litre and full blown litre class (and above) machines. This is the area where the options are few and the potential is huge.
A few years ago, the now defunct Garware Motors along with S&T Motors from Korea had tried to fill this void with the launch of the GT650R and the ST7. They were successful to some extent thanks to nonexistence of any competition at that time, though Bajaj/Kawasaki spoiled their party by launching the Ninja 650R right before the launch of Hyosung bikes with a price tag that was mouth-watering. Yet, thanks to the classy robust looks of their bikes, they managed to sell quite a few units despite the brand Hyosung’s relatively low penetration in the Indian market and more so the hearts & minds of the Indian buyers, compared to other Japanese brands. Unfortunately, their sales were further hampered by the quality issues in the bikes that started cropping up quite regularly. This was a huge blow to the reputation of a company that was still trying to find its base in a sensitive market like ours. However, one must give credit to them for not being discouraged. Instead they seem to be quite steady, however shaken, on their path to be reckoned as a serious player. But since Garware handed over the controls of the company to the Maharashtra based DSK group, you can see a whole lot of energy and aggression. The new company, DSK Hyosung, announced its presence with the launch of the GT250R just a few months earlier. This bike too has a huge potential provided that they bring the cost down significantly. They promise that they will, once their Indian manufacturing plant is ready.
And now there is something more coming up from the stable of the DSK Hyosung which we believe has a huge potential to bring the company back on track. The company has added the Hyosung GV650 Aquilla Pro cruiser to its portfolio, which will be sold alongside the ST7. Also the GT650R is going to get a facelift in its 2013 avatar when it comes up with a fresh dual tone paint scheme and new decals along with a remapped ECU and some other cosmetic changes.
We got an exclusive chance to test ride the GV650 and the 2013 GT650R in Pune right before its official launch in Mumbai on January 16, 2013. Here’s our take on what we think about these bikes. First we meet the GV650 Aquila (Eagle, in Latin) Pro.
Engine & Performance: Sitting at the heart of Hyosung GV650P is a fuel-injected, liquid cooled, 647 cc, 4 stroke, 2 cylinder, DOHC engine that pumps out a healthy power output of 74 BHP at 9000 RPM and 62 nm of torque at 7500 RPM. The power is delivered to the rear wheel with the help of a belt drive and 5-speed gearbox. This engine as we all know is based on the Suzuki’s SV650 engine which is a time tested machine as this is basically the same engine that has been powering most of the Hyosung bikes. This engine can push the GV650P to achieve a claimed top speed of 195 KMPH. The bike that we had for the test already had around 2000 Km on its odo and felt super smooth and eager to rev across the rev range without any signs of stress whatsoever, even when being pushed hard. There were some vibrations felt in the higher revs, but nothing that should put off a potential buyer. There was sufficient low end torque to keep the momentum, without having to shift regularly, even in heavy traffic. The gear shifts were smooth and positive, without any hint of false neutrals or ‘notchiness’ whatsoever. The exhaust note is a very typical growl of a V-twin, though slightly on the smoother side.
Looks and styling: In the looks & styling department, the GV650P will give you full bang for your buck. There is a liberal dose of finish black paint with just the right mix of chrome on the exhaust pipe, tank scoops, headlight and other body parts. The low slung body and the metal pipes running along the entire length of the fuel tank remind you very much of the Harley-Davidson V-rod, yet it is able to maintain its originality and uniqueness thanks to the jumbo-sized fully chrome exhaust pipe and the fully chrome chiselled tank scoops that have EFI written over them. Sitting atop the meaty inverted telescopic forks is the round, reflector type headlamp unit with a ring of chrome. Then we have a compact fully digital white backlit console, minus a tachometer. The switch gear plastic quality leaves nothing to be desired. The Aquila Pro would be available in 3 colours: Shadow Black, Lava Red and Phantom Silver.
Handling, Ride Quality and Comfort: The cruisers are never known for their handling and manoeuvrability. In fact, this is precisely the reason a lot of people don’t like cruisers. However, sitting astride the GV650 we realize that all cruisers are not lazy! This bike really surprised us with its ability to move around and cutting through the traffic even in peak traffic hours in a city like Pune. Though it has its limitations and must be ridden like a cruiser. We had many instances of unintentional footpeg scraping riding on the Ghats in Pune whenever we tried to take a tighter line. You cannot really hope to sweep the corners or sneak through the non-existent gap between cars. In fact, the farthest point of the front tyre is far away from the rider; you have to be as careful as if driving a hatchback.
The sitting posture, as with any other cruiser, would require the rider to be sitting upright with the legs fully stretched to reach the forward set gear shifter and the rear brake pedal. The taller riders would really feel at home sitting on the bike, though even at about five and a half feet I didn’t find myself trying too hard to reach the footpegs. The seat is comfy and plush and big enough to accommodate the rear of even the widest among us. Also, it comes with the backrest for the pillion rider for added safety and comfort.
The Aquila Pro also stops as reassuringly as it goes from standstill to 60 or 100. The brakes have a nice progressive feel and the twin disks at the front and the single disk at the rear do the needful really well without giving you those ‘oh-shit’ moments.
Overall: The DSK Hyosung GV650 Aquila Pro really has everything that should make it sell. For those with a bit over half a million rupees in their pocket and looking for something other than an HD or the Ninja 650 or who can’t wait for the Triumph to open their shop in India, it is a good option. It looks good, it rides even better, and at 4.99 lacs ex-showroom Delhi, makes it very attractive. But getting a good bike with good price tag probably is just the job half done. The harder part is to win the confidence of the buyers and that can only be done through a robust and effective service network and the right kind of marketing. And whatever we have known of Mr. Shirish Kulkarni, the Managing Director of the DSK Hyosung group, he seems to be damn serious about making it work. Here’s wishing all the best to DSK Hyosung. Hope they’ll keep making their bikes better.
The 2013 GT650R
Hyosung does know a bit or two about making fantastic looking bikes. The new 2013 GT650R is no exception. In an era where ‘smaller is better’ in fast bikes, they seem to stick with the ‘big is bold’ mantra, and seem to get away with it, both sides pleased.
Let’s face it; the GT650R is a poor man’s superbike.
In looks it is not confused at all. It knows that is it made to impress the young crowd. It is flashy, got loads of plastic at the right places and that huge exhaust reminds me fondly of the ZX12R, which was one of the first big bikes I ever laid my eyes on. The eyes follow it’s very decisive muscular lines smoothly. The change in the 2013 version is the front headlight assembly, which is tapered and the upper fairing seems to have gone through some CAD updates giving it a more contemporary look. Other than that the instrument cluster has got an orange LCD in lieu of the white one. I also think the stickering on the 2013 GT650R has been done very tastefully.
Overall, this bike can hold its own, as far as looks go, along with the big players in the industry.
It sounds good with its beefy exhaust and the roar of the V-twin only gets better in the higher revs. With a few options now being available from manufacturers like Two Brothers, Scorpion and Venom you can treat the guys behind you, to a great soundtrack!
The GT650R mill boasts of enough power to almost propel it to the double century mark. On the speedo you can see around 210 kmph crouched. It produces 73 HP @ 9000 RPM and around 6 Kgm of torque @ 7200 rpm. The earlier issues of the power delivery glitches have been sorted out, but not completely. This issue is not present in Aquila GV650 at all since it uses a different FI unit altogether. However, this does not really spoil the overall ride quality too much.
Handling and Braking
The handling, though not top notch, is good enough for some fast track days and mountain cornering. The brakes do feel a little spongy but they do the job, although I could do with a little more bite and feedback, especially from the front. Handling has also gotten a little better thanks to the new Japanese KYB (Kayaba) front USD shock absorbers and the new Bridgestone stickier tyres (compared to the previous Shinkos).
Though it is not a major update but the bike is definitely a little better. I would love to see it getting lighter and punchier along with a 1000CC version (though the company has denied any interest in a litre class).
The Older GT650R
Bajaj Discover 100T Review and Ride Report
Just six months after the double whammy of Pulsar 200 NS & Discover 125 ST, Bajaj is ready to shake up the fortunes at the bottom of the pyramid with its latest bike, the Discover 100 T. The Discover 100 T stands out like the proverbial cat amongst the 100 cc pigeons. It has just the right amount of bulk and chiseled cuts, which give it the quintessential feeling of “majbooti” that is quite rare in this segment. No wonder then that the Discover 125 ST is flying out of the showrooms.
Photos: Gourab Das (MG)
Not only the Discover 100 T look good but it is also well made. It backs up its perception of durability with excellent fit and finish. Details like 100 T’s chrome lined instrument console, aluminum foot-pegs and intricate alloys give it a premium feel. It has a wide, long and well padded seat coupled to slightly lower handlebars giving it a comfortable, upright seating position, only grouse being that the knee recesses could’ve been a little bit more accommodating.
The Discover 100 T is the first 100 cc motorcycle to get a 4-valve, dual-spark head, which has made the engine remarkably unconstrained and free revving compared to the old Discover 100’s unit. Being the lowest displacement engine here, coupled to a 5-speed ‘box, having slightly taller gear ratios has given it a clear advantage in the fuel efficiency stakes, but it doesn’t have the low-end thrust of its 110 cc competitors. However, it has a decent mid-range as evident from its tractability from low speeds in higher gears as well as its ability to cruise comfortably at 80 kph. It also has excellent top-end punch as evident from its triple digit top speed, although the engine does sound harsh in the upper reaches of the rev range. Overall refinement is better than the 4-valve mill of the Discover 125 ST, which itself was an improvement over the 4-valve mill of the Pulsar 135 LS. The combustion noise is well controlled, but there’s a peculiar clatter audible every time you give it some gas. The gearbox is fairly smooth, though it could have done with more feel and longer throw, while the clutch feels a bit heavy to operate.
The Discover 100 T has by far the best chassis-suspension setup in its segment, and the absence of the 125 ST’s monoshock is never felt on the move. It is softly sprung and well damped giving it a remarkably pliant ride quality and at the same time it also has the longest wheelbase and highest kerb weight in class giving it class-leading stability on the highways. Handling too could have been class-leading if only it had wider, softer compound tyres and had ditched that ribbed tread pattern for the front wheel. An optional disc brake too would have been splendid, not only to rein in the additional performance but also as a long-term policy to democratize its proven superiority over drums, in the larger interest of improving road safety.
Now that you have a brief idea about Bajaj’s latest offering, let’s find out how it stacks up against its fierce competitors, the Honda Dream Yuga/Hero Passion X Pro siblings & the Suzuki Hayate.
Design & Engineering (Discover 100 T – 9, Honda Dream Yuga – 7, Passion X Pro – 7, Suzuki Hayate – 5)
The Dream Yuga in stark contrast to the Discover 100 T sticks to a conventional shape and simple lines of the Honda Shine. While the Discover 100 T looks like a good amalgamation of different design elements, the Dream Yuga looks like one seamless unit. The Passion X Pro with its tall, narrow headlamp, small tank extensions and slim, plain side panels, looks svelte but very similar to the Passion Pro, in spite of having entirely different underpinnings. The Hayate, looks dated not just compared to the Discover 100 T but also compared to age-old designs of the Shine (Dream Yuga) & Passion. All thanks to the rustic design of its big, un-painted side panels, the fenders, the blinkers, the exhaust and even the design of the decals, the tank and the bikini fairing being it’s only saving grace.
Both the Passion X Pro & especially the Dream Yuga have excellent build quality. The Dream Yuga’s twin pod instrument console though dated is well finished and easy to read. The X Pro’s semi-digital rectangular console is a novelty in this segment, but has no added functionality over an analog console, while the Hayate’s console not only looks dated but also incredibly cheap. Sadly, none of them sport a tacho, which frankly is worth way more than the little cost saving achieved by excluding it.
The Dream Yuga and the Passion X Pro both have straight, flat tanks with no knee recesses, which make them feel puny especially the X Pro due to its slender tank. The Hayate has excellent ergonomics. Its stubby tank has perfectly shaped knee recesses and a comfortable seat. However, the handlebar could have been a little lower.
Performance & Refinement (Discover 100 T – 9, Dream Yuga – 10, Passion X Pro – 9, Hayate – 6)
The Dream Yuga and the Passion X Pro share the same gem-of-a-powertrain. The engine is a remarkably refined unit, which revs freely and sweetly through the rev range and even sounds sporty, if a bit buzzy at the top. It has excellent low-end and mid-range performance as well as a decent top-end. It is coupled to a smooth, tactile gearbox with 4 well matched gear ratios coupled to a featherweight, progressive clutch. Only the most enthusiastic of the riders will feel the absence of the 5th cog. In many ways the Dream Yuga’s engine gearbox combo is even better than the Shine’s, which isn’t as eager to rev, as relaxed to cruise or as fuel efficient. Whatever little tinkering that Hero has done to the Dream Yuga’s engine for that additional 0.2 PS power output has only resulted in a slightly lower refinement rather than any tangible gains in performance. The Hayate’s engine has a strong low-end, but it is lazy to pick up revs and does not have the lively top-end performance of its competitors. It goes about its business very silently but has a rather tinny exhaust note. It has a smooth shifting ‘box with short ratios which coupled to it reluctance to rev makes it feel constricted, while its excessive engine braking makes matters worse.
It’s high time that all the bikes in this segment made a transition to the 1-down 3/4-up shift pattern, which is a global standard. It enhances rider safety by minimizing the risk of a rider accidentally shifting into neutral mid-corner and losing control of the bike.
Dynamics (Discover 100 T – 7, Dream Yuga – 6, Passion X Pro – 6, Hayate – 4)
The Dream Yuga is sprung slightly on the stiffer side which can be felt while riding over the bumps and ruts. Honda has given it a longer wheelbase over the Twister and Shine, giving it good enough stability on the highway in spite of its light kerb weight. The Passion X Pro shares the same platform but has adopted a slightly shorter wheelbase, softer suspension setup and a segment first, 90 mm rear tyre. Ride quality feels slightly better than the Dream Yuga but still not quite in the league of the Discover 100 T. Handling of both the bikes can be described as good enough for the segment and sub-par overall as the humble chassis suspension setups employed by these, or for that matter any commuter bike in the country are not really the last word in rigidity and mechanical grip. This is a serious and often unsaid issue with all the four bikes present here. While riding along on the highway, following a lorry at 70 kph, none of these bikes’ engines lack the power to overtake the lorry in front. But all of them lack the requisite road holding and braking capability to handle panic braking at that speed, if something like a stray animal or a crater full of gravel were to suddenly appear in their path.
The X Pro is also the only bike of the bunch to offer an optional front disc brake. The Hayate disappoints in dynamics, thanks to its antique tubular swing-arm and a lackluster chassis suspension setup. The front end feels too light even without a pillion on board while the soft springs fail to inspire any confidence in the turns, even those encountered during slow speed commuting in city confines.
Pricing and Features (Discover 100 T – 8, Dream Yuga – 7, Passion X Pro – 8, Hayate – 9)
The Discover 100 T retails for Rs. 56,500 (On-road, Pune) and is available in a single variant loaded with a lot of standard kit like alloy wheels, electric start, DC headlamp and a maintenance free battery. The Dream Yuga’s only variant that comes with an electric start is equipped with alloy wheels and tubeless tyres and costs Rs. 58,200. The drum brake variant of the Passion X Pro with electric start, alloy wheels, tubeless tyres retails for Rs. 58,000. Opt for a disc and the cost goes up to Rs. 60,200, which is well worth the upgrade. The Hayate is a whopping 7-10k cheaper than the other three with its one and only variant equipped with alloy wheels and electric start retailing for Rs. 49,000.
The Hayate is comprehensively outclassed in this group, but then don’t forget that it at least got shortlisted for this comparison for being better than similarly priced rivals like the Splendor +/Pro/NXG, Passion Pro, Discover 100, CD-Deluxe etc.
The Discover 100 T presents a tempting alternative to plain-jane Honda & Hero twins. It’s got the style, the speed, the dynamics and also the economics going for it. The Yuga & the X Pro hold just one ace in their hand, the engine. The creamy refinement, the sheer tractability, the sweet exhaust note, the surprising sportiness & the gutsy performance needs to be experienced to be believed. It puts all arguments to rest, like for example this one.
Overall (Discover 100 T – 32, Dream Yuga – 30, Passion X Pro – 30, Hayate – 24)
A special thanks to Puneet for helping us out in the photoshoot
Mahindra Pantero Review
Text & Photos: Sunil Gupta/ Sunilg
Mahindra 2 Wheeler’s entry into the two wheeler market was an explosive one, thanks to the one motorcycle they put on display, Mojo, along with the Stallio that actually went on sale. But as the dust from that explosion started to settle, it became apparent that explosion, wouldn’t cause any damage to the sales of the existing players. In fact, a few months down the line M2W had to remove the Stallio from the market, due to some issues that were damaging the company’s reputation as a potential serious player. Since then the company has been relying solely on its scooters (Rodeo and Duro) to defend its territories and gain further ground in the market.
Forced by the flak they faced over Stallio, Mahindra 2 Wheelers seems to have been working hard. There have been consistent efforts at their end to stage a comeback, and while everyone guessed that they would make their comeback with the launch of Mojo, M2W decided to play it safe and re-enter the segment that has the largest volumes. This past weekend, they unveiled 2 of their new motorcycles in front of a select group of media in Pune. While everyone was aware of the first one – the 110 cc Pantero, they surprised us with the unveiling of another bike in the commuter segment – The Centuro.
The Centuro has a lot of ‘first-in-its-class’ features. The Centuro is being powered by the same 110 cc MCI-5 (micro chip ignited 5-curve) engine that is fitted on the Pantero. As per them, this entirely new engine has been developed by Mahindra 2-Wheelers at their new R&D house in Pune in just 18 months. Though we did not ride the Centuro, we were told that what differentiates the Centuro riding experience from the Pantero, is the way the engine has been tuned. The Centuro seems to have been tuned for a more ‘peppy’ riding experience, without compromising much on the fuel economy. The Centuro delivers 8.5 BHP @ 7500 RPM and 8.5 Nm @ 5500 rpm. Feature wise, the Centuro comes fitted with a Central-Locking Anti-Theft system with engine immobiliser and a remote 128 bit encrypted Flip Key – A feature that we have not seen in bikes till now. It also has “Find Me Lamps” feature that will makes the turn indicators blink simultaneously at the touch of a button on the remote, making it easier to find the bike in a crowded parking lot. There is also a fully-digital console, with an inbuilt service indicator and Distance To Empty Fuel calculator, that should come handy in day-to-day riding. There are also bright LED tail and pilot lamps. Mahindra calls these pilot lamps “Guide Lamps” as they remain on for 7 seconds during the night time even after you take out the key and turn off the engine, which would keep your way illuminated to make easier for you to find your way in the darkness. Styling wise, the Centuro wore a more solid and robust look than the Pantero. It has been fitted with a pair of golden bars under the tank, which would remind you of the Mojo. It also claims to have the category-best ground-clearance of 173 mm with a seat height of 800 mm and maintenance free battery.
Pantero First Ride report & Impressions:
Engine & Performance: As said earlier, the Pantero is powered by Mahindra’s all new 110-cc MCI-5 engine, which delivers a peak power output of 8.5 BHP at 7500 RPM. It also gives an ARAI certified fuel average of 79.4 KMPL. This bike has been benchmarked against the category-bestseller Passion Pro from Hero and gives a 0-60 KMPH timing of 8.85 seconds against Passion Pro’s 9.17 seconds (as per Mahindra). For an 110cc motor, the engine did feel responsive and eager. There is reasonable low end torque too. Even with 2 heavy riders and a steep incline, the bike didn’t disappoint, though you have to keep the expectations realistic and not ask for too much out of 8.5 BHP. The Pantero did well in the initial rev range; however, once you go past the 6K RPM mark, the engine starts showing signs of stress and you start feeling a lot of vibrations. Though there were no false neutrals or clinks, we didn’t find the gearbox to be the smoothest.
Please note that the above graphs/pictures have been taken from the official presentation slide that was shown to us at the time of unveiling.
Styling: The Pantero has been given very contemporary looks, which won’t make it stand out in the crowd, but won’t leave you with much to desire. It has got a very sleek styling, with a bikini fairing upfront and LED pilot lamps. The tail lamp also has been fitted with LEDs. The overall styling of the Pantero is not very different from its predecessor, the Stallio; however, it now dons a set of new vibrant graphics to make it stand out from the Stallio. The Pantero is available in 4 colour schemes: Fiery Red, Sterling Silver, Blazing Black and Cool Black. The engine, exhaust pipe and alloys have been given an all-black treatment. The exhaust pipe comes with a chrome-plated heat shield. The compact looking tank has a 12 L capacity and has an aircraft type tank lid. There is also a plastic tank protector, running along the entire length of the tank, to protect the tank from scratches from your belt buckle and/or the zip of your jacket. At the rear, the LED tail lamp and the black rear grab rails, along with the clear-lens turn indicators give it a fresh look.
The Pantero will be available in following 4 different variants:
T1: Self Start, alloy wheels, digital speedometer
T2: Self Start, alloy wheels, analog speedometer
T3: Kick Start, alloy wheels, analog speedometer
T4: Kick start, spoke wheels, analog speedometer.
The one we rode was the T1 variant with the fully digital console that has been taken straight from their scooter, Rodeo. The console backlight color is orange and it has digital tachometer, fuel gauge, clock, odometer and trip meter along with the digital speedometer.
Handling & Ride Comfort: Mahindra believes that handling and manoeuvrability is the USP of this bike. They had even put up a slalom track for all the test riders, to test its maneuverability. The Pantero did feel sleek and easy to maneuver, taking all the quick turns with ease, which should make it fun to ride in city traffic conditions. The basic suspension setup of telescopic upfront and twin shock absorbers at the rear does its job with aplomb and left us impressed with the comfort it provided even off-road, with more than 150 kg payload on board. The comfortable seat just added to the overall ride quality.
The Pantero has a seat length of 774 mm, which makes it the longest seat in its class. This should be an advantage for the riders & pillions with a heavy build. Particularly in rural areas where you find people riding three-up.
On the brakes front, the Pantero comes with the drum brakes on front and rear, which is good enough for coming to halt from moderate speeds in reasonable time. However, we do feel there should’ve been a disk brake variant for added safety. The drum brakes just won’t cut in case of real urgency.
Overall: The Pantero is quite a commendable effort from Mahindra to re-enter the motorcycle market. Especially if you consider that they accepted their mistake by recalling the Stallio from the market. It has everything that the competition is offering in this category. It is a huge improvement over the Stallio. There don’t seem to be any serious problems with the product that would put a potential buyer off of.
However, we must add, this market is already full of products that look the same and offer similar features, and they command the consumers’ trust because they have been there in the market for many years now. To pull these consumers towards it, Mahindra really needs to price it sensibly as that would be the deciding factor for most customers.