Hyosung GT650R and ST7. Road test and review
Most of the biking enthusiasts have good memories of the brand Hyosung. This was the company that gave us the first real taste of a proper 250cc street bike as well as a cruiser – that was in the form of the Comet 250 and the Aquilla 250. The good news is that the Korean is now back on Indian roads and this time with Pune based Garware Motors and the better news comes in the form of their offerings which are bigger and better!
Garware Motors will be importing the bikes as CKD (complete knock down) kits and assembling the motorcycles at their assembly unit at Wai near Pune. We feel it has been a wise decision by Garware to get the bigger 650cc and 700cc models and not the smaller 250cc ones. We rode both the bikes extensively for a day in and around Pune and there is our take on these machines.
It had been a long tiring day for us. We had just returned from shooting the two big SUVs (Fortuner and Endeavour, featured elsewhere ) and yet the moment I saw the GT650R parked in front of me, I felt eager, energetic and looked forward to spending some quality time with it. Our test bike wore a black theme and certainly looked nice.
It certainly projects an effective sport bike image with an efficient windscreen topping dual superimposed headlamps reminiscent of the Ducati 999. Up front, the full fairing gets big air intakes and as you run your eyes towards the rear, you notice a slim saddle, streamlined passenger grips and a big exhaust pipe pointing skyward. The overall execution of the design is very good and certainly gives the bike immense road presence.
There are also hints of the Suzuki’s GSX line-up and several machined alloy bits lend an expensive feel. Six-spoke alloy wheels, exposed chain and a beautifully sculpted tank finish the package.
Swinging a leg over, the semi-digital speedometer console greets your eyes. The bike fits a full sized rider like me perfectly. Ergonomics are very good and inspite of the clip-on handle bars, I didn’t find it difficult to ride the bike in start stop traffic. Infact, it is quite easy to get into a comfortable riding stance once the speeds rise or once you hit your favourite set of mountain roads. A quick touch of the button gets the four-stroke liquid cooled DOHC V-twin engine to life.
This is a 650cc unit that belts out 72.6 Bhp of power at 9000rpm and a shade over 60Nm of torque.
Typical of any V-twin motor, the GT650R’s unit too isn’t a very smooth power-plant. If you aren’t used to such engines, the first experience with this bike can be a little disappointing. However, spend a day with the bike and you understand the engine better. The real deal lies in enjoying the surge of torque which in this case builds up from around 3000rpm.
Outright acceleration is very impressive though this comes at the cost of vibrations that start creeping in from the bars as well as the pegs. Further, I didn’t really enjoy the throttle response of the GT650R. The fuel injection set-up seems to be the culprit here. Even the smallest of throttle openings resulted in jerks.
Apart from this though, the GT650R will be a handy toll in the hands of the experienced and will be more than a capable bike for those upgrading from a small capacity machine.
Superbikes are often criticized for their comfort factor – actually the lack of it. In this case though, the GT feels spot on. This inspite of its relatively kerb weight of 215kilos. Managing the bike in city mess is a little task though once the traffic eases up, you can easily find your way through traffic. If you are one of those who live near a good set of mountain roads, the GT will further impress you with its abilities.
The suspension set-up is impressive – inverted telescopic forks in front with compression and rebound damping adjustment. The rear does with a single, pre-load adjustable monoshock with linkage and rectangular swing-arm.
All the little shortcomings in terms of engine harshness at high revs, not the best of fit and finish et al take a back seat when you consider the price. At roughly Rs 4.75 lakh, there is simply no competition. With the GT650R, Garware Motors has surely opened up a completely new segment in India.
It is a competent motorcycle, looks smashing, has a torquey motor and most importantly gives you the feel of riding a genuine large capacity machine.
If out and out serious sport bikes aren’t your taste, then the ST7 will surely delight you. For starters, the sculpted full fenders and shotgun exhaust helps make this bike palatable to American cruisers. The multi-spoke alloy wheels, oodles of chrome and a laid back styling make the ST7 one of the best looking cruisers in the budget market abroad.
In India, it simply has no competition but more that later. The ST7 is classily styled and has comparable styling cues to other cruisers as well. In true chopper fashion, the speedometer sits in the console housed in the fuel tank.
The 41mm front forks look beefy and have the front indicators sitting on either side of it.
Things are even better once you swing a leg over and perch yourself in the soft saddle. The pulled back handle bars and the forward set foot-pegs offer a very comfortable riding posture. You immediately get a feeling of ‘rightness’ that is often lacking from most of the other offerings in this range.
The fit and finish on the ST7 feels and look much better than the GT650R as well, right there with the best of cruiser offerings from other brands.
The moment you get the motor to life, a smile appears on your face. This engine, a slightly bigger unit that’s derived from the GT650R motor, is very smooth. Infact, inspite of being a V-twin, vibrations are very controlled and the engine feels in a world of its own, impressing the rider truly. Fuel injections seems to work almost perfectly well on the ST7, responding well to the rider’s inputs.
Infact, throttle response on the ST7 is more responsive and the punch from the motor in its low and mid-range is terrific. The light clutch also helps and the whole ride experience is fatigue free and enjoyable. Topping on the ice comes in the form of its grunty exhaust note.
The engine on the ST7 is slightly bigger than that of the GT650R. The 678cc motor puts out a decent power of 62PS and a torque of 63Nm. Ofcourse the unit has been tuned more for enjoyable mile munching than hitting the track on weekends and it shows. The ST7 has the ability to sit with ease at an indicated 130km/h with enough in reserve to overtaking high speed cagers.
The 5-speed transmission is smooth as well.
Even though the ST7 weighs in at 244kilos, it manages to hide it pretty well. Handling the bike in traffic doesn’t call for serious efforts and you are always eager to hit traffic free patches to really enjoy the bike. The suspension is tuned pretty nicely and soaks up bad sections with aplomb. By the time our photo-shoot got over, it has been well over six in the evening.
The sun was hiding fast into the horizon and the day had been a long one for us. Garware Motors’s farm house was roughly forty kilometres away and yet I was ready for lazy ride back. After a long time has a motorcycle impressed me so much. No matter how long the distance or how tired the rider is, the ST7 can help eat up the miles without a fuss.
There is hardly a thing of concern on this bike – it almost feels perfect!
At approximately Rs 5.5 lakh (ex-showroom) in many ways, it seems to make more sense than its direct rival, the Harley Davidson 883. For some, the ST7’s classic lines and tons of chrome will be an attraction. It also has a more powerful and refined motor and better ability to chew up distances.
Gone are the times when this Korean motorcycle maker was looked down upon. With the bikes like the ST7, Hyosung has shown who’s who of the industry where they stand today. And this ladies and gentlemen, is no small feat!
The ST7′s classy speedo!
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