Hyosung GT250R review
Eight years ago the Hyosung Comet was naked, squirming behind glass walls from all the attention and was mostly available, with very few takers. It had the looks and was well-endowed going by the standards of that era, but it was possibly a bit too early for its times.
Since then, the market for performance bikes has grown and matured from ‘embarrassing’ to ‘class-leading’. Hyosung too has had bigger and more powerful additions.
Now, in an attempt at wooing buyers who are looking to buy a performance bike but have a leaner wallet, Hyosung has brought back the Comet in a new form. The new Comet is now also called the GT250R and is being outfitted by new owners, actually two of them, one after another in quick succession.
Can the new Comet manage to take on the existing, already popular Japanese champs in the quarter-litre category? To find out I headed up to Pune and slipped into the Garware….er…sorry DSK Hyosung showroom to pick up the test bike. The first point that struck me is how much of its looks the GT250R shares with its bigger and older sibling the GT650R.
Set next to each other, there are very few overall design differences. Even in terms of dimensions, there are very marginal differences, including a pinky finger wide difference in the wheelbase for the GT250R.
The same chunky body panels, the same large fairing and the same vertically stacked projector headlamp that we are all familiar with from the GT650R have been chosen for the GT250R too. I am sure a number of cycle parts and electricals have been carried forward too. It is not oversight or a call bereft of any strategy, but, the decision to retain the visual identity between the two bikes must have been made deliberately to ensure that the GT250R gets the street presence of a big bike.
In a sense, though, its beefy looks and build is also the reason for dampening its performance. Large body panels, chunky parts and the oversized fuel tank probably add to the bike’s weight. Yes, under the skin of the new Comet, the twin spar steel chassis is lighter than the GT650R’s, but not by very much. Overall, the wet kerb weight of the GT250R is about 190 kgs and that must be contributing to pulling down the performance of the bike.
Maybe Hyosung should have considered keeping the Comet naked and leveraged the weight savings.
Familiar, yet attractive
However, GT250R’s striking looks make it a sure shot head-turner. The test unit came in twin tone Black and Red livery. The 17-litre cold rolled carbon steel jump fuel tank with a fine paint job provides the introduction to the big boy image of the motorcycle.
Shaped nicely to provide the right recess area for the rider’s knees, unfortunately, the tank also contributes to getting the rider inevitably into an overly sporty riding posture.
Now, why should that be a negative? It wouldn’t be if the Comet was a true super sports bike, meant to be ridden like one and the track or open roads was its element de rigueur. Unfortunately, however, a lot of the buyers of the GT250R will be using it as their primary commuting bike and be sneaking long rides only occasionally.
And that is why the new Comet could end up giving them a stiff neck or a painful back if they are going to be stuck in slow moving city traffic.
After being stuck in peak hour outgoing traffic in Pune and riding slow in the rain, the effect of the bike’s heft was very evident on my back, though the initial slow-paced ride through a few bylanes felt comfortable. But, once I got out of the city and onto the highway, the bike drew me into a more committed riding posture and the speed and smooth tarmac automatically helped me ease up.
In terms of fit and finish quality, the new Comet left me with mixed feelings. There are good parts and then there are average parts. The machined and cast metal parts like the grab rail, the foot pegs etc were good, the split seats were good too, but the electricals and some of the other knobs and controls etc. were just about average for a bike in this class.
Overall ergonomics is still good and in issues like panel matching, consistency of fit, and build quality the bike matches the segment benchmarks.
I can’t say the same thing about the GT250R’s performance. The new comet’s engine is a 75-degree V-twin unit that is both air and liquid cooled. With a displacement of 249cc, the engine belts out a respectable peak power of 27.6 bhp at 10,000 rpm, a bit more than the Honda CBR 250R and a bit less than the Kawasaki Ninja 250R.
Compared to the other two, the Comet’s engine delivers peak power late in the rev band at about 10,000rpm. Like I have said before, I am sure that the weight of the bike is also a factor. But, essentially, the Comet feels a bit unhurried in the initial acceleration cycle, until the revs cross the 6,000-6,500 rpm level.
Power delivery is linear and available like a series of Big ‘Mahraja Macs’ at every 1,000 rpm stop.
The bike clocks a speed of 100 kmph within 10 seconds or so. But the mapping and the fuel injection system could both have been tweaked to improve the machine’s pickup.
The funny bit is that the V-twin engine’s peak torque of 22.07 Nm at 8,000 rpm is pretty much an exact match with the other two competing bikes. So, the amount of pulling power being sent to the rear wheel is effectively the same, at least by the book. Rated top speed is 140 kmph.
Racing up to touch speeds of over 120 kms is quite easy though with the GT250R’s quick shifting five-speed gearbox. Only you have to keep the engine at the sweet spot where the power is delivered in quick succession.
The quality of the ride in the new Comet is good on smooth tarmac, as is straight line stability. The 150/70 Shinko tyres shod on 17-inch alloy rims does provide good grip, but the entire dynamics of the bike don’t provide enough confidence to push the bike hard around corners. Rough patches leave the bike unsettled and it can get quite jarring to the rider and the pillion.
The suspension set up features upside-down telescopic forks in the front and a mono-shock absorber at the rear. Speeds breakers and potholes on city roads and heavy braking leave the front shocks lunging hard and there is quite a bit of bounce back. But, overall while the front forks seem to do a better job, the ride at the rear can get quite bouncy.
The GT250R’s brakes feel much better with 300 mm twin disks brakes in front and a 230 mm single disk brake on the rear.
‘Stares come standard’ could be the apt advertisement tagline for Hyosung GT250R, the latest offering for the country from the Korean motorcycle maker. It is not meant to be as capable as a serious sports bike and I am guessing that the need to keep its fuel efficiency attractive too might have affected its performance. But, that bit of a compromise does tilt the scales in favour of the competition that has the street cred and brand appeal going for them.
The new Hyosung Comet has been priced at Rs 2.75 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). That makes it a bit expensive too. But things could get interesting if the new owners decide to manufacture the bike in India and leverage the cost savings to come up with a killer price tag.
(This article was published on June 19, 2012)
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