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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