“If you’re looking for that real sportbike feel, the Hyosung has it. Fork-level clip-ons p
Hyosung’s mini-missile is powered by an air/oil-cooled V-twin with four valves per cylinder and DOHC. The EFI logo on the tail was added in ’08 when injectors supplanted the previous carburetors, and last year saw the model receive a slimmer tail section with an LED brake light and a softer seat.
The GT250R is the big kid in this class. It is dimensionally identical to the Korean company’s 650cc sportbike, and weighs in at a hefty 414 lbs. wet. The 32.5-inch seat height limits entry to those standing taller than about 5-foot-5, but if you’re looking for that real sportbike feel, the Hyosung has it. A long reach to the fork-level clip-ons puts you in the archetypal attack position, but that means you carry a fair amount of weight on your wrists.
Gaps between fairing panels, a wrinkled seat cover and exposed electronics don’t stack up to the Japanese bikes’ fit and finish, but when it comes to creature comforts the Hyosung has the other bikes beat. The GT comes equipped with three-position adjustable rearsets, a reach-adjustable front brake lever, a brightness-adjustable digital dash, an inverted fork, dual front disc brakes and other features unheard-of on a $4000 motorcycle.
The Hyosung pulls smoothly and steadily toward its 10,500-rpm redline, with all of its 22.6 bhp unleashed at 10,250 rpm. It takes a strong hand to pull in the heavy clutch lever, and movement through the five-speed gearbox is less than precise, but more than one tester felt the V-twin had the most linear power delivery and the best character. And at an average 62 mpg, it’s the second most fuel-efficient mill here.
The engine does have a few quirks, however. Performance testing revealed that there is no rev limiter, and the clutch plates occasionally chattered and howled after shifting into neutral while coming to a stop. We also experienced a misfire off idle after prolonged freeway riding, although the issue went away after the bike cooled down. Prospective Hyosung owners had better be comfortable performing periodic maintenance themselves or prepare to fork over a lot of dough to a mechanic; the owner’s manual recommends changing the oil and filter and checking the valves every 2500 miles.
Although it has twice the front brakes of the Honda and Kawasaki, the Hyosung’s squishy lever takes double the effort and has practically no feel. Engine power is on par with the others, but the GT’s extra heft makes it slow to accelerate and turn. But the added weight and longer distance between axles translate to more stability at speed and in heavy crosswinds, which we experienced a lot during this test. Or maybe we just noticed them more?
The 70-mph freeway flow finds the Hyosung’s motor spinning at 7000 rpm, but pushing the bike up to its 100-mph indicated top speed seems to take forever. High rpm also brings on high-frequency vibrations, which are focused primarily in the handgrips, though the mirrors remain clear. And with a sizeable windshield, the GT250R offers the best protection of this group.
The Hyosung’s cockpit boasts a full-featured dash with all the bells and whistles, like va
Double the equipment doesn’t necessarily mean double the stopping power. The GT250R’s dual
While the Honda’s and Kawasaki’s engines are liquidcooled, the Hyosung’s two cylinders rel
Off the Record
Age: 30 Height: 5’5”
Weight: 130 lbs. Inseam: 30 in.
The Honda and Kawasaki felt fairly similar in size, weight and power. Between the two, the CBR’s engine was buzzier, and tended to tickle my feet. I preferred the V-twin rumble of the Hyosung, even if it’s a meager impersonation of my Ducati Monster. But the GT250R’s size, weight and stretched-out ergonomics had me cursing it within 15 minutes of getting on board. The Ninja seems to have the best of all elements: riding position, size, weight and looks. It’s been a top choice for so long for a reason!