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xBhp Reviews and compares the Kawasaki Ninja 650R with the Hyosung GT 650R.
Photos & Text: Sundeep Gajjar (Sunny)
Options make men happy, and they make them sad too…
There was a study that was conducted amongst two groups of people. The first group was given two types of cell phones to choose from, with some great exclusive features in each; the second was made content with just one. After a few days, a study was conducted to measure the happiness quotient of both the groups. The first group was overall much more sad than the second one. It was clear enough as to why – the people in the first group had a very high tendency to think what if they had chosen the ‘other’ phone.
As options for the Indian motorcyclist also increase in the Indian market, they are forced to think twice or more about the decisions they take. More time is spent on research. More window-shopping is done. Everything makes for the classic undecided shopper’s dilemma.
Gone are the days when someone who wanted to have a ‘sports bike’ could walk into the showroom and ride away with the chic CBZ without much ado. And certainly gone are those days when someone who wanted to be a ‘bad-ass on the road’ didn’t have to think further than the still super fun RX100.
Those were the happy-go-lucky unadulterated motorcycling days, unspoilt by choices. Fine and dandy.
But today, are these choices for real? Or is the Indian consumer too ignorant to see that it is not prudent to classify two bikes based on similar cubic capacities or even the price bracket they fall into?
The ‘fresh in the mind’ big comparo-mistake was to compare the race derived Ninja 250R and the touring master CBR250R. We did so too (see xBhp magazine June – July 2011 issue), but we told you straight up at the end of it – they are two different bikes and cannot be compared without skewing one’s perspective.
The latest pair in the spotlight to hit the Indian scene are the two middleweights – the Kawasaki Ninja 650R in its signature green and the blood red Hyosung GT650 in the bright red (and other color options as well).
The Kwacker has come to our shores under the aegis of the mighty Bajaj, while the Hyosung has been bought by a young (in motor vehicle segment), but big enough, company, Garware Motors.
The Green Goblin has nothing to prove and the red sportster is the classic underdog with a lot of promise. No battle has ever been equal. Neither will this be.
Should we compare the Ninja 650R and the Hyosung GT650R?
Yes and No.
Yes as these are the only two players in the middleweight motorcycle space in India as of this writing (June 2011).
No, if and only if we need to be politically correct. Because once again we have two very different bikes in the same specification space and they will anyways be compared because of the ‘consumer choice dilemma’.
For the sake of brevity we will now use N650R and GT650R for the Ninja 650R and the Hyosung GT650R respectively.
Can the N650R and GT650R be compared at all?
Apples and Oranges cannot be, but Red and Green Apples can certainly be.
Both the bikes share a lot of similarities and yet possess entirely different characteristics and applications off the shelf. But either can be tweaked to match the other. Let us start with the most obvious and primary,
This one is very close, the Ninja ( at 4.57 lacs ES Delhi) is a tad cheaper than the Hyosung (at 4.75 lacs ES Delhi ). The Hyosung just crosses over the 5 lacs mark on road while the Ninja stays under that.
Our comments to the manufacturers:
Great job done there Bajaj, keep it at that price point! We hope the bigger Kwackers are reasonably priced as well.
And kudos to Garware to bring on the Hyosungs first despite knowing that the bigger players might be having something on the anvil in this category. The price is terrific for the Hyosung as well considering what it is sold at in countries like Australia (9000 AUD approx, which is 4,27,000 INR minimum) and with the exorbitant import Indian duties to boot. But Garware, just try and get that on road price below 5 for that all psychological advantage. Rest is all good!
A Very subjective issue. Both the bike’s signature colors are sporty and striking. The green is unmistakably Ninja and the red of the GT with its 999ish vertically stacked projector lamps lend it a ‘Ducatish’ look (and that’s a BIG complement). If you ask me, then the Ninja looks more radical than the GT650R from some angles while the GT looks like a proper super sports with its definitive lines, clip-ons and the faux front scoops.
Overall the fit and finish of the Ninja feels better up close, but the Hyosung is not far away from the Japs either.
The best style components of the Ninja
The stunning and large console
Side mounted mono shock
Dual wide lights
Some design cues are taken from the supersports ZX6R
The best style components of the Hyosung
Vertically stacked projector lamps
Proper super sports styling
The rear with the meaty flanked exhaust
The Hyosung takes my vote for the decided looks and color options available in India.
The Ninja’s good mid range torque and power is suited best for relaxed long distance touring .This is complemented by the upright handle bar lending the rider a very relaxed riding position. It will munch tarmac like no one’s business plus it will go off-road at will too.
The Hyosung is best suited for spirited sports riding, albeit . It’s little more powerful than the Ninja and the V-twin engine lends it some healthy torque throughout the tacho range. It is especially fantastic on curves, the huge tank lending the rider lot of surface to crouch on and direct the bike precisely in and out of corners. But make no mistake, it will blast through the city and highways as well like a hot knife through butter if the need be. However, if you want to tour long distances on this bike, spacers beneath those clip-ons will go in a long way negating the super sports position of the rider and taking some weight off the wrists. That will make it a lot more practical as a tourer. The engine of the Hyosung is similar to the trusted Suzuki SV650 engine which is practically bulletproof like the Ninjas.
I personally enjoyed the Hyosung much more than the Ninja on the curves and the Ninja was better on the highways (because of it’s more relaxed position). This combined with the sweet V-twin note emanating from underneath made it for a truly fantastic and involved experience.
In the braking department, the Hyosung felt little better than the Ninja, which could be because of the dual discs upfront as well as due to the meaty upside down forks.
In terms of rideability, both bikes are almost similar with the Hyosung taking my top marks by a hair’s breadth because of its more focused nature. Serious tourers will have to make a few changes mentioned above to make the Hyosung a more potent tool for the same.
After you buy
There are some products like the iPhone which are worthy of buying just because of the rich add-on universe they command from third party manufacturers.
The Ninja has a plethora of options to customize your bike – windscreens, levers, exhausts and more.
The Hyosung, which is relatively young, also has decent after-market options available with companies like Leo Vince and Two Brothers taking serious interest in them and the commercial success all over the world but in all probability the Ninja will score over the Hyosung in this department if you like to have more customized options available post buying.
VFM – Value For Money
I started with Cost and I will end with VFM. The two most important factors in deciding who will be your soulmate for the trips to come.
This is a tough one as VFM is as subjective as much as the cost is objective.
However instead of taking one’s perspective and applications as a yardstick we will stick to the old school notion of measuring how much one gets for how much money.
Ignoring what we have been always saying about these two bikes – they are in two different segments and cannot be fairly compared, we can evaluate each as follows:
For 4.57 lacs ES for the Ninja you get:
The Kawasaki and Ninja brand, a great tourer off the shelf and a great service network
For 4.75 lacs ES for the GT650R you get:
A complete BIG sports bike, decided looks, sweet sounding mill, a very capable engine.
Both the bikes will eat miles as no one’s business and both can be set up for either touring or track with minor mods.
The only way you will get a definitive answer which no comparison or review will ever have is to book yourself a test ride of both the bikes and decide for yourself…*
*Last we checked the N650R wasn’t available for test rides yet, while you can get one on a GT650R in Delhi, Goa, Bangalore and Pune with more cities being added.
And as for me, I already have a fantastic Ninja 250R in my garage, so I went ahead and booked a blood red GT650R for myself (and going with the trend these days I am posting the booking receipt of the same below !)