In 1978 Hyosung Motors and Machinery, Ltd., was established in Korea for the purpose of designing and manufacturing motorcycles for the Asian market, and in 1979 Hyosung established a Technology Cooperation Agreement with Suzuki Motors of Japan. Since then Hyosung has been building its own brand of motorcycles primarily for various Asian markets, as well as building components, sub-assemblies and motorcycles for Suzuki. Hyosung later established a foothold in Europe, and soon after came a dual overhead cam 125cc motor for the Asian market, later followed by the emergence of a range of 250cc motorcycles exported throughout Asia and Europe. In 2004 an all-new Hyosung 650cc v-twin was introduced, which became the basis for four motorcycle models ranging from a cruiser to a sport bike. In 2005 Hyosung expanded its European operations, and established an American distribution network via an agreement with UM, a South American vehicle distributor with markets in both North and South America. In 2007 Hyosung\\\'s motorcycles and machinery divisions went their own separate ways, and the motorcycle division became S&T Motors, Ltd. Their web site can be found at: http://www.hisntmotors.com/abroad/index.asp and UM\\\'s web site is located at: http://www.umamerica.com/site/usa/index.html
S&T Motors is a little 379-employee Korean company that is taking on the best of the Japanese and European motorcycle manufacturers, and is beginning to do it with style and panache. Hyosung\\\'s next big development as mentioned on their web site will be the introduction of a 1000cc v-twin, which we here at 2WF hope will be a sport bike. The world needs another good V-twin sport bike, and our sources tell us that one is near. Rumor has it that early pre-production models are being evaluated by European regulatory agencies to see if they meet Euro standards. Hopefully later in 2008 we will hear some news.
This review is about one of the motorcycles in the 650cc product line, the GT650R Comet. In America the motorcycle has been re-branded by UM, and the GT650R is known as the UM V2S-650R. Since the 2WF European Editor tested a 2008 European Hyosung GT650R Comet with electronic fuel injection, we will stick with the GT650R designation in this article. According the the UM web site, the 2008 UM V2S-650R has 38mm Mikuni carburetors rather than electronic fuel injection, so UM may be offering the 2007 European model as the 2008 USA model. Maybe America will see EFI for 2009?
Because of the Suzuki Technology Exchange Agreement, and the fact that Hyosung has built SV650\\\'s for Suzuki under license, and due to the lack of good reliable information on the street about the GT650R, many people automatically make the assumption that the GT650R is nothing more than a Korean copy of the SV650. That is simply not true. The SV650 is a competitor to the Comet, not a sibling. It is not the intent of this review to make a direct comparison between the two bikes, this is not a shoot-out, but let\\\'s draw a few comparisons up front to dispel this copy myth. Then we will move on to a review of what is a unique motorcycle in its own right. After riding this motorcycle every day for an entire week, I managed to get a look at many of its secrets.
When designing the GT650R Hyosung chose a few of the same sub-supplier parts as Suzuki did for the SV650. For example the GT650R uses the same carburetor (or throttle body in the case of EFI) mounting bracket as the SV650. On the 2008 Hyosung, the electronic fuel injection unit is the same Mitsubishi unit as on the SV650 (more on that later.) There are other bits and pieces from other parts suppliers that are the same on both bikes, but that is no different than if Honda and Yamaha bought components from the same supplier. Upon any sort of casual or close inspection it becomes very obvious the GT650R is definitely not a SV650 copy.
The GT650R motor is an original Hyosung-designed and Hyosung-built motor. Both motorcycles have 90-degree V-Twins, but that is where the similarity stops. The SV650 has a 645cc, 70 HP motor, and the GT650R has a 647cc motor with 80 HP. The internal arrangements of the motors are completely different. SV650 has a spin on oil filter on the front of the motor, the GT650R has BOTH an internal oil filter under a cover on the right side of the motor, and an oil strainer on the bottom of the motor. On the right side of the Hyosung motor where the oil filter resides is where the water pump resides on the Suzuki. Not the same motor. Not a copy. Not even close.
The frames on the two bikes are completely different. The newest SV650 has a Japanese sport bike style box aluminum frame where the GT650R has an oval tube frame visually similar to the Triumph Speed Triple. Even the older SV650 frame, which did have a tubular section, is a different shape and is not the same frame as the Hyosung. The swingarms are completely different. The motorcycle is not a copy of anything, it is unique and original in its own right.
Walking around the bike prior to engine start the bike gives two very different visual impressions. From the front the Comet has vertically stacked headlights, and blunted nose lines similar to the 2008 Honda CBR1000RR front fairing profile, along with fake ram air intakes to give the bike an aggressive, modern, and pleasing look. The air intakes turn out to be a disappointment, though, because they are only very stylish holes in the fairing. They are not connected to anything. In fact if you look closely, you can look through the sexy black plastic grills and see the front forks.
From the rear, the bike looks like an early- to mid-1990\\\'s sport bike. The styling cues slightly hint of an older GSX-R600. The tail piece is thick and rounded and the tail light is large, with one large bulb in the center of a multi-faceted reflector much like many European and Asian autos. It is not an unpleasant appearance, but it has very different and perhaps more dated styling cues than the cutting edge front. Both ends are pleasing to look at, but I found myself wondering if the the two distinct visuals belong together. This is not an ugly motorcycle, quite the contrary, but I began to think that perhaps one person styled the front and someone else styled the rear, and somehow they managed to connect in the middle.
The plastics are as good as any Japanese machine. In fact, part-way through the test I had a small engine idle problem which necessitated removing the left side fairing lower to get at the idle adjustment screw. The fairing is installed with screws all the way around, and mounted on very well-designed fairing brackets that were as good as or better than any Japanese sport bike. There were NONE of those chintzy plastic (non) reusable push-in fairing pop-rivets the Japanese manufacturers are so fond of. I have always quickly replaced those plastic pop rivets with real screws and nuts on my Japanese sport bikes, but thankfully Hyosung has already done the work so we do not have to. The paint work on the plastic, and the decals for the graphics, were as perfect as I have seen on any bike. The only complaint I had with paint and body work was a bit of orange peel paint job on the fuel tank, in the area of the compound curves for the clip-on handlebar clearance. It was not bad, but it was not Honda-perfect either. The paint guy at the Hyosung factory needs a tiny bit more practice, but most people will not notice it. I checked out a few other Hyosungs, and most of them did not suffer from the problem, so maybe it was just an uncommon QC slip on the part of the factory.
The mirrors look a bit on the cheap side, and I had trouble with one of them for the first couple of days. The ball-and-socket joint is all plastic, and I think it is the wrong kind of plastic. It is too soft. The right side mirror kept moving out of adjustment, and there was no rhyme or reason to what direction it was going to go. On the plus side, the mirrors are a flattened diamond shape that provide a very effective rear view past your shoulder or elbow, when the mirrors stay in their designated position, of course. As I later discovered, maybe the mirrors just needed a break-in period. After two days the mirror finally began to behave and stayed firmly in position. In one or two of the very limited number of reviews I found on the internet, the authors complained of buzzy mirrors. Either the reviewers were not used to v-twins, or they got a bad set of mirrors, or Hyosung read their article and fixed the problem. Were the mirrors totally vibration free? No, silly, this is a v-twin. Were the mirrors acceptable? Absolutely. About the same as a Honda VTR or a Suzuki TL/R.
Short people rejoice! I measured the seat height at 780 mm, or 30.7 inches. This was with no one sitting on the bike. If the sag is set properly, the seat height should drop another inch or so with a rider on board, making this a 29.7 inch (754 mm) seat height. In addition, any reputable shop should be able to make different-sized dog bones for the rear shock mounting (see photo) to lower the bike a bit more, and the installation should take 15 minutes at most. There is plenty of space between the top of the rear tire and the underside of the rear fender to allow lowering, so this bike is a very good candidate for people with shorter legs. I was able to flat-foot this bike easily, and I am a short guy with a 30-inch inseam.
The instrument cluster has a round analog tachometer on the left with an LCD panel on the right. The LCD instruments include the speedometer, two trip meters, temperature guage, fuel gauge, and a clock. Hyosung provided an interesting feature that sounds great in concept, but was a bit lacking in practice. The LCD panel has four brightness settings. The problem was that the difference between full bright and full dim was minimal, making this feature interesting but not necessarily practical and useful in the real world.
There is underseat storage under the rear seat. That\\\'s the good news. The bad news is that the seat latch mechanism is mounted part-way over the hole, so anything larger than a small digital camera will be a challenge to fit in there. The rear seat is unlocked with the ignition key, and to remove the rider\\\'s seat to get at the battery one must pull the big red knob buried down in the front of the rear underseat storage area. It works, but if you have anything in the rear seat storage area, you have to take it out to reach the knob to unlatch the rider\\\'s seat. The rear seat has a braided nylon strap connecting it to the frame of the bike. The good news is that the seat stays attached to the bike when you unlock it. The bad news is that if the rear seat flies off at speed because you did not latch it properly, it stays attached to the bike and will blow around beating up the aft plastic, and possibly your derriere. If I owned a GT650R, removal of that strap would be my first owner modification. Replacing asphalt-scraped seat covers is cheaper than tail piece plastic and taillight lenses.
While we are under the seat, check out the electrical installations! The neatness and attention to detail is something other motorcycle manufacturers could take a lesson from. All of the electrical components are neatly installed, wires properly tied back, and the components are labeled as to what they are! One does not need the service manual to figure out which relay is the turn signal relay, it is clearly marked on the frame of the bike. Another wonderful attention to detail is the use of special waterproof connectors on critical items such as the fuel injection unit. I was beginning to wonder how they can sell this bike for such a good price.
Here is another quick comparison to the Suzuki SV650 to show how Hyosung has done better. On both bikes, up front by the steering head, a wire bundle passes by the front fairing mount bracket. Suzuki has had problems and warranty claims due to this wiring bundle chafing on the fairing bracket, causing electrical shorts. Hyosung has wrapped the wiring bundle with aircraft-style wire harness braiding designed to prevent this kind of chafing. It is a nice thoughtful touch and an obvious lesson learned.
The Comet provides, however, a set of contrasts. After looking at that wonderful braided wire harness cover I discovered a very curious installation. Right behind the right foot peg, mounted in the exhaust pipe, is the Lambda sensor for the electronic fuel injection system. (This is also known as an Oxygen sensor.) There are two things wrong with this location, aside from the dubious aesthetics. First, I got a bit nervous about moving my right foot around for fear of knocking the sensor with my boot. Lambda sensors are usually not cheap. I finally got the courage to wiggle my foot around, trying to see if I could in fact hit the sensor. I could not. I asked a few people with larger feet to try, and none of them could, but the larger the feet, the closer they got. If you have big feet, be aware of the sensor location and be careful until you figure this one out. Second, the wires to the lambda sensor were intertwined with the wires and brake lines for the rear brake. This bike has adjustable rearsets, so it would be possible to unscrew the rearsets, pull them out to move them to a new position, and in the process tear the lambda sensor wires off the sensor. Again, be careful.
Did I mention that this bike has adjustable rearsets? For our newbies, the phrase “adjustable rearsets” means adjustable rider foot peg position. It is possible to remove two screws and move the foot pegs to a new position, and there are three possible positions. On the right side, the entire rear brake lever assembly moves with the foot peg, so it is a simple matter of removing two screws, moving the foot peg/brake lever assembly to a new position, and re-installing the screws. On the left side, the rod from the foot shifter to the transmission will have to be adjusted after moving the foot peg, but it is a trivial task requiring two 10mm wrenches.
The passenger foot pegs are not as impressive. They are typical sport bike knees-in-the-chin and flash-your-(ahem) position, and there does not seem to be much you can do about it. Ride solo. It\\\'s more fun anyway.
I have to mention this next one because, well, it just bugged me. This bike has some wonderful features, but the clutch cable holder down there on the crankcase is definitely not one of them. It looks like someone snuck out to an airfield and stole one of those soft metal aircraft wire bundle holders that one can easily bend with one\\\'s fingers, complete with the cheap soft shiny black plastic tip cover, and used it to hold the Hyosung\\\'s clutch cable in place. To be perfectly honest, a simple piece of aluminum with a hole for a plastic zip tie would be more structurally sound. Have your dealer design and install something a bit more substantial. A clutch cable is too important to risk having it come loose and flop around.
As mentioned above, the frame is constructed of oval cross-section tubes. The visual effect is similar to a Triumph Speed Triple, just not quite as fanciful and boisterous. The welds are not works of art like on a Ducati frame, but they are smoothed out, painted, and do not give a bad impression.
The swingarm is a typical budget-bike functional understatement. It is not by any stretch of the imagination an Aprilia-style work of art suitable for polishing and mounting on a pedestal in an art museum, sans motorcycle. The swingarm is a basic painted box tube swingarm with practical and totally minimalist-looking chain adjusters. There is, however, one interesting feature that other manufacturer\\\'s could take a lesson from. This becomes so obvious after you see it that you will slap your forehead and get a stupid grin on your face thinking “That\\\'s so cool - why didn\\\'t I think of that?” Like many motorcycles the underside of the rear fender has a molded piece of plastic sticking down to stop some of the dirt from being thrown onto the rear shock. But Hyosung took this concept one step further and installed a matching plastic flap sticking UP from the swingarm, that completely blocks off the rest of the dirt path to the shock. The flap on the swingarm is offset a few millimeters forward so that as the swingarm moves up and down, the two plastic flaps overlap, sort of like a bulldog\\\'s under bite. Ingenious! No need for an after market hugger! If you are still inclined to purchase an after market hugger as a style statement, the two screw holes in the swingarm for mounting the stock plastic flap are available for hugger mounting.
A routine pre-ride check is the engine oil level. The engine has an oil sight glass but the bike has no center stand, requiring one to either put the bike up on a race stand to check the oil, or pull the bike up off the side stand and try to balance the bike at level while looking down at the sight glass. This is not the only bike on the market with this problem, but that is still not an excuse. All manufacturers should use a dipstick incorporated into the oil cap on a bike with no center stand. It is too easy to get distracted trying to read the sight glass while simultaneously holding up the bike, and accidentally let the bike go over center and drop. This bike will most likely appeal to riders new to the sport and to smaller riders, and they are the ones most likely to lose control and drop the bike under these circumstances. However, the Japanese manufacturers are just as guilty on this one. Dipstick or center stand, Hyosung. Pick one. Please.
So put the key in the ignition, turn it to on, and... what\\\'s that noise? It sounds like one of R2D2\\\'s cousins is busy down below pre-flighting something. Kewl... Ahhhh I get it – the fuel pump is pressurizing the system. The noise stops. Reach for the choke. Oops, this bike is fuel injected! No choke. Hit the start button. Immediate light off and... poka poka poka poka ... Oh yes, this is a V-twin, and there is absolutely no doubt about it. You can hear a gear whining down there somewhere, probably an alternator gear or something similar, and the overall effect is classic V-twin sports bike a la Honda VTR, Suzuki TL/R and SV1000, Aprilia RSV, etc. There is no Ducati dry clutch sound, but all the rest of the audio entertainment is certainly present. What a lovely sound coming from a muted but sensually upswept early-R1-style single exhaust... poka poka poka... This ain\\\'t no peaky-screechy hyper-nervous UJM.
A quick stab at the shifter reveals another minor but annoying design flaw. No, not the transmission, but the fairing lower! I do not have the biggest feet in the world, but instead of stepping on the shift lever my boot came down on a piece of plastic sticking back alongside the connecting rod between the shift lever and the shift shaft on the side of the motor! Who put that plastic there??? Note to self: keep your foot outboard a bit before you break the shiny new plastic. If I owned this bike, new owner modification number two would be to trim off some of that plastic before my clumsy foot cracked the entire fairing lower in my zeal to shift.
On the second try, with my foot moved out a bit, the gear shift gave a very satisfying and precise snick. Not a big BMW GS clumsy Teutonic frame shaking ka-CLUNK, but a very precise confidence-building “snick” exuding quality internal construction. Do the Swiss build motorcycle transmissions and secretly ship them to Korea? Easing out the clutch I rolled out of the Hyosung importer\\\'s parking lot and took off down the road for what I hoped would be a week\\\'s worth of good fun. After 40-some years of flying airplanes and riding motorcycles I have a small hearing loss, so I wear earplugs religiously to prevent any further hearing deterioration. However, for the sake of our loyal 2WF readers and journalistic accuracy, I made the ultimate personal sacrifice and deliberately left the earplugs out so that I could report on the GT650R\\\'s critical audio characteristics. This is, after all, a v-twin, and despite what people may say v-twins are purchased for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with torque curves. poka poka poka poka... The Hyosung did not disappoint.
I immediately noticed that the air intake is not muffled. Many reviewers have commented that much of the Suzuki GSX-R600\\\'s charm is the roar of the intake on acceleration, rather than the exhaust note. The Hyosung has a similar intake roar, coupled with a gutsy bass-frequency mini-thunder that comes out from what is still a Euro-3 certified exhaust. You will like the sound of this bike, it is legal, and it will not piss off the neighbors.
Something happily missing from the audio spectrum are bodywork noises. The Comet feels solid and quality-built, without any strange plastic buzzy noises or rattles from either end.
The electronic fuel injection system became the root of a three-day saga with a happy ending. When I first picked up the bike there were no flat spots in the mapping, and application of power post-apex was seamless. However, at very low speeds such as turning into a driveway or a parking lot, the fuel injection had a tiny bit of abruptness coming off closed throttle. It was not enough to send a beginner out of control and across the lawn, and after one or two times anyone at any skill level would master it. However, it was a negative point in what otherwise seemed to be a very well dialed-in fuel injection system. My only other complaint was that the motor was idling at 1700 RPM, which seemed a little high to me. So I went to the local Hyosung dealer, who knew I was out testing because I actually got one of HIS brand new 2008 bikes to try before it was to be delivered to him.
I described the problem, he listened to the bike and agreed that it did sound a bit too high. That presented us with another problem. There is no service documentation for the 2008 EFI system in Denmark yet, so we had no idea what the idle speed should be. Looking in a 2007 manual for a carburetted bike, we found an idle speed range specified as 1300 to 1500 RPM. So we set the idle at 1350 RPM. It seemed to run fine in the shop, I rode the one and a half miles home, and the dealer closed up shop and went home for the night. That was on a Saturday. On Sunday, I went for a ride with my local club, and it became a nightmare. The 1350 RPM idle speed was too low, the idle flopped around between 1350 and 1000 RPM, and every time I closed the throttle at low speed the motor just died. I spent the entire four-hour club ride doing weird tricks with my right hand trying to use the front brake and still keep the engine speed up when the clutch was pulled in.
On Monday I suffered through the commute to the office with the faulty idle speed, and on the way home I took the bike back in to the dealer. We threw the exhaust gas analyzer on the bike, which we had not done the first time around. At 1350 RPM the EGA readings showed the motor using about half the fuel one would expect. The problem was obvious: no fuel, no run. So the dealer brought out a special electronic box used to calibrate and set the EFI on the SV650. After all, the Hyosung uses the same Mitsubishi EFI unit, so we thought we had an easy solution. Between the dealer, his top mechanic, and myself we spent 30 minutes looking in every nook and cranny of the motorcycle for the connector to plug in the EFI programmer, and came up empty. This was the one time we wished the bike had been built like the SV650. So the three of us agreed that Hyosung will most likely have their own EFI programmer for dealers to purchase complete with a (surely expensive) special dealer test wiring harness to connect to the EFI.
Time for Plan B: we used the Exhaust Gas Analyzer to make a crude chart of the fuel injection map at various RPM\\\'s down near idle, and found that 1500 RPM seemed to be the bottom of the map, below which things went horribly lean in a hurry. We used 1550 RPM as our new best guess idle speed. I took the bike out and tested it, and it was flawless. Even my complaint about the EFI coming harshly off idle was no longer valid. So except for the mis-adjusted idle speed, Hyosung got the fuel injection almost 100% perfect the first time out, which is more than one can say about some of the other manufacturers. Perhaps Hyosung had set the idle speed properly at the factory, and as I ran in the brand-new motor the internal friction was reduced and the idle speed crept up. That\\\'s why there are 600 mile checks, I guess.
For those of you thinking after market exhaust, since the GT650R has the same Mitsubishi EFI unit as the SV650, DynoJet Research could conceivably come out with a Power Commander and maps for the Hyosung. (There is nothing on their web site for Hyosung at present.) Then again, the EFI version of the bike is apparently not yet available in the USA, so it is a moot point for the moment.
But let\\\'s get back to the test. The engine pulls with what seems to be linear torque characteristics all the way from 3500 RPM to its redline of 10500 RPM. At the risk of another Suzuki comparison, if you have ever ridden a Suzuki TL/R the little Hyosung will remind you of that that lovely high-revving v-twin motor, albeit a baby version. I did not feel a single hesitation or flat spot throughout the rev range, just pure strong pull all the way up. The electronic rev limiter comes on rather abruptly at 10500 RPM. There is no “gracefully fading over-rev range” so be ready to shift immediately before you go head first over the bars. I am just kidding, it\\\'s not that bad. Below 3500 RPM, the motor feels a tiny bit sluggish and reluctant to pull quite as hard, but it pulls without any significant complaint. Roll-on to overtake on the highway is very good. Where most 600\\\'s have to go down two gears to get in the power band to pass, the GT650R only needs to go down one, or none if you have a leisurely pass. It is easy to forget that this is only a 650cc motor. This is not a wild wheelie machine, but it does have good get up and go.
The initial quality “snick” going from neutral into first gear was repeated for all of the gears. Throughout the entire test I did not find any false neutrals, the transmission would shift easily without using the clutch if I was so inclined, and overall the transmission felt like a quality bit of workmanship. It just worked beautifully, like a transmission should.
The light switches came to my attention rather quickly. The turn signal switch needs to be dead center in order to push in and cancel properly. If it is not perfectly dead centered, it simply will not push in. It takes a little thumb fiddling and pressure to get the switch to properly center and cancel, but maybe this will wear in and become easier with time. It was no better after one week of riding, so then again maybe this is a design flaw that Hyosung should look at. It is not a big problem, just annoying and distracting.
USA bikes normally have no light switch for the headlight. When the ignition switch is on, the lights are on. European bikes have a thumb-activated light switch on the right hand grip with a parking light position and a headlight setting, like American bikes used to have. The version of the Hyosung I tested has a switch in that location, but it is not a headlight switch. The Comet\\\'s headlights turn on with the ignition switch USA-style. What looks like a headlight switch is actually the four-way flashers. When some cute young thing flashed her headlights at me, I assumed that she was reminding me to turn my headlights on. My response was to turn the four-way flashers on. Oops... Strange switch position. But since the lights were already on, do you think she was actually flashing to flirt with the handsome guy on that shiny red motorcycle?
Once I was out on the road and could settle into the normal seating position, and found it to be typical mid-range sport bike ergonomics. The seating position and lean angle are not as extreme as the new R6, which quite frankly I find to be ridiculous and discriminatory against short people with thick necks, but it is not as upright as a CBR600 F4i. A good comparison is the GSX-R600 or an older R6: somewhat aggressive, but not neck-wrenching extreme. There is just the right amount of weight on the hands, and the reach to the clip-ons is comfortable.
As you can see in the photos, the seats are separate. The rider\\\'s seat is comfortable and firm, and gives good support. On one of the days I rode the bike on a motorcycle club ride, and we did four hours of riding including everything from motorway to twisties. The seat was comfortable for the entire day. I have not sat on the pillion seat, but it looks like a typical sport bike minimally-upholstered butt pad that is probably not very comfortable after 20 minutes.
Like any v-twin sport bike, you can slightly feel the power pulses in the bars and the foot pegs. However, they are not unpleasant. Your hands and feet do not go to sleep like they do with the high-frequency buzz from inline fours. After the four hours of riding on the club ride I felt no discomfort from vibration.
The fairing offered good chest protection, and left my head in clear air. As a short person, I sometimes have trouble with the turbulent air coming off a sport bike windscreen impacting me right at the base of the helmet, causing a great deal of wind noise and pushing my head around. The Hyosung\\\'s windscreen was low enough to leave my head in clear air, and send the turbulence at and just over my shoulders, even at speeds above 100 mph.
Speaking of speeds, the speedometer reads high. At first I thought that I was feeling really comfortable on this bike right away because I was hitting some favorite corners at speeds approaching what I do on my own bike, and I did not feel like I was pushing hard. It seemed too easy, felt a little funny, and I began to get suspicious. Then one of those “Warning! Your speed is...” radar warning signs confirmed my suspicions. So I went home, got out the GPS, and did a speedometer calibration ride. It is way off. The speedo, not the GPS. In fact, I think this one is bad enough to be considered a semi-serious design flaw. The only redeeming feature is that you will never get a speeding ticket with this bike if you trust the speedo.
So at 70 mph (112 kph) indicated on the motorway/interstate, you are only actually doing 63 mph (101 kph) and risk getting run over from behind. I think Hyosung needs to step up to this one and fix it, especially since this bike has a digital LCD instrument cluster, so we are really only talking about software.
Past reviews of the Hyosung 650 lineup have had rather critical assessments of the brakes. The accusations and descriptions used words like “wooden”, and “no feedback”, and suggestions were made that Hyosung ought to be introduced to companies like Nissin or Brembo. Hyosung must have heard them, because although the brake calipers still appear to be “no name” calipers, the brakes worked well on this 2008 model. My only complaint was that I am used to steel braided brake lines and sintered metal pads on my own bike, so I am used to an initial hard bite and instant reaction with little effort. The Hyosung is typical of a bike that spends the first little bit of brake pressure to swell up the rubber brake lines, and then starts applying real pressure to the pads. I had to use more pressure on the lever than I am used to, but the brakes performed well. I was even able to do a stoppie. I am a habitual two-fingered braker (and two of our 2WF staffers are MSF Coaches who will no doubt chastise me for mentioning that), and that included a bit of two-fingered emergency braking to avoid a family of pheasants wandering across a blind apex. I simply never had any problems with the brakes. If I had to make a suggestion to Hyosung, I would suggest a caliper with a little bit larger piston diameter to reduce the required finger pressure.
I can safely say that the brakes are not dangerous, they work fine, they simply suffer from the same factory stock “rubber hose syndrome” that many budget bikes and a few more expensive bikes suffer from. As far as this bike is concerned, changing to steel lines and sintered metal pads is not necessary, and is more of a personal style choice regarding brake lever feel.
Before getting into the details of the suspension, let me make a few general comments. A new rider, or an intermediate to experienced rider who has no intentions of doing track days and canyon carving with this bike will find the stock suspension to be perfectly fine. The bike is stable, tracks well, takes the bumps without doing anything weird, and provides a feeling of solid confidence that belies the price of the bike. I pushed this bike over to some pretty aggressive lean angles, and there were no hidden frame or suspension surprises anywhere in the range. The bike is very flickable and nimble, even with a full fuel tank, and responds without complaint. I weigh 185 pounds (84 kg) and the ride is what I would call medium firmness. Not stiff, but not loose and bouncy either. Quite frankly I was expecting much worse, and the bike pleasantly surprised me. I was also a bit surprised about the flickability, because this bike is advertised as weighing 195 to 200 kilograms dry, which is around 430 pounds. It does not feel that heavy at all. Hyosung did an excellent job with mass centralization and keeping the center of gravity low. The bike has lighter weight multi-spoke wheels reminiscent of Honda VFR wheels rather than the big fat heavy three-spoke wheels currently in vogue, keeping the unsprung weight down. In its stock form, the bike handles well.
Now having said all that, if you are a weekend aggressive canyon carver, and ride in the “A” class on track days, a couple of things have to happen. If you are a newbie rider or a “B” or “C” class track day rider, ignore what I am about to say, and save your money.
The Comet has an interesting design approach to the front suspension. There are adjustments for the compression damping and the rebound damping, but you cannot adjust the spring preload. I have never seen this particular combination on a bike before, but if you think about it, this combination makes sense if you are trying to build a budget bike that will still appeal to more advanced riders. Once you dial in the right spring rate and preload on a bike, do you ever touch it again? No, most people don\\\'t. What do you mess with? The damping. So if you do not like the spring preload that comes in the Hyosung forks, take the front forks apart and install some sort of shims. If the spring rate bothers you, call up your friendly local after market spring provider, install some new springs tailored to you, and you will still have the stock damping adjusters for the minor tweaks. The front forks are the upside down type, and even under heavy braking and stoppie conditions I never felt a single wiggle or any chatter. How they did this in this price range is beyond me, but they did. The front forks on some bikes that cost twice as much do not perform as well.
Again for the aggressive canyon carvers and “A” class track day riders, a new rear shock is in order. The stock rear shock handles most everything reasonably well as long as you are not out deliberately approaching the ragged edge of disaster. I got into serious “pogo-stick mode” on a roller-coaster twisty road, things got a bit wiggly and exciting, but in all fairness to Hyosung I was pretty far out there and being a bit of a smart-aleck hooligan. If you are going to seriously push this bike, invest in a rear shock. Once you do that, you will be able to sneak up on some 600 super sport riders in the twisties and mess with \\\'em. For about half the price. But don\\\'t expect to stay with them on the straights unless they fumble a shift.
I did not take the bike down to Germany and try a high-speed test on the Autobahn, but I was a bit of a bad boy and snuck up on 200 kph, which is 125 mph. That was a GPS measured 200 kph, not speedo measured. The bike was perfectly stable and had more to give. I just cannot tell you how much more, although the advertising here in Europe says top speed is 219 kph, or 136 mph. The GT650R is a small bike, about the size of a CBR600RR or an R6, so it will feel light and a bit twitchy in windy conditions at high speed. But it is no worse than any other 600-class bike.
I measured the gas mileage over a two-day period that included my normal commute to my day job, plus the club ride that ranged from motorway speeds to playing in the twisties. The first tank of gas included the brief sneak peak at 200 kph (125 mph), and I got 18.5 kilometers per liter (43.4 miles per gallon.) On the second tank I measured 21.3 kilometers per liter (50.3 miles per gallon.) For our European readers, that is an average of 5.1 liters per 100 kilometers. I did not have enough time to do a maximum fuel economy test, but I am convinced that with a sensible rider who is easy on the throttle instead of a Two Wheel Freak, this motorcycle will reach 25 kilometers per liter (60 miles per gallon.) I was just having too much fun playing to be that sensible.
It is not possible to test the bike\\\'s reliability and one of the unknowns about Hyosung is, are they quality bikes? Will they last? I can only guess based upon past experience with similar design concepts from other manufacturers, and from what I can see the bike looks like a reasonable quality bike that should be reliable. It is definitely not a cheap chintzy copy of anything. The bikes have not been on the European and USA markets long, so there just isn\\\'t that much history from which to judge. There are a few tiny nitpicks like that minimal clutch cable holder, the dubious mirror quality, the turn signal innards, the lambda sensor location, but they all appear to be little things, most of which can be sorted out by any competent mechanic. Overall this motorcycle gives mostly positive signals with a few disappointing minor surprises thrown in, but in all fairness other manufacturers have been guilty of the same and only time will tell. As a data point, consider this: Germany, the home of BMW, is the largest European market for Hyosung. German Hyosung dealers have the factory\\\'s ear because the motorcycles sell so well there. In some places you see them selling Hyosung side by side with BMW. That ought to tell you something.
Although the GT650R does a respectable job in the twisties, it is not a 600 Super Sport killer. It is an entry-level budget sport bike that does a very credible job for a very reasonable price, and provides a great deal of fun in the process. Will it compete effectively against a SV650? I think it is initially at a slight disadvantage only due to the rear shock. Change that and you will have a SV650 killer. The Comet has 10 more horsepower. During the four-hour Sunday club ride, and despite my stupidity with idle speed adjustments, the GT650R hung with the likes of a GSX-R750, a Z-750, a GSX600, several FZ-6\\\'s and Bandits, and pretty much walked away from the sport-touring bikes like a ZZR 1400 and BMW K1200S in the twisties. This is not a motorcycle that anyone has to make excuses for. Commuting on this bike will be like commuting on any sport bike with sport bike ergonomics, and the gas mileage will be excellent. If you are willing to do long trips on a sport bike, this one is no worse than any other.
Would I buy one? Yes, I think so. What is going through my head is that I really really want to see the 1000cc v-twin first. The thought of riding something unusual and relatively unique appeals to me, especially if there is little to no risk of buying a money pit like some Italian bikes tend to be. The thought of kicking some Ducati\\\'s or Aprilia\\\'s butt on a track day with a “no name” bike is a bit of a tempting fantasy. Now after evaluating the 650, I am eager to see what the Hyosung 1000 will be like and I feel relatively sure that I would not be making a bad buying decision.
At the same time I am asking myself why I should wait for the 1000 when this GT650R is so much FUN! So yes, I just might seriously consider adding a GT650R to my motorcycle garage. To be perfectly honest I went into this review expecting a cheap chintzy motorcycle, primarily based upon British reviewer\\\'s opinions. I came away from this test suitably impressed with Hyosung, not so impressed with whiny British put-downs solely for the sake of finding something negative to say cleverly, and I would not hesitate to recommend a Hyosung as a serious alternative to the status quo. I can also say that the GT650R or one of its more upright siblings should be on any short person\\\'s short list (eewwww - terrible pun), and should get consideration from beginners due to its forgiving and capable v-twin motor and budget-friendly economics. A more experienced rider with a limited budget looking for fun on a unique motorcycle and a genuine conversation starter will get a big kick out of thrashing the Hyosung GT650R Comet / UM V2S-650R.
The Koreans have arrived. Don\\\'t be fooled by the price. It is perfectly OK to spend less, especially in today\\\'s economy.