Hyosung GT650R

Isnít it true that first impressions are the ones that last forever? Well with the Hyosong GT650R the first impressions are awesome!

The bike is a work of Korean genius. It is a sports bike styled to look like a proper superbike, with the horsepower to match. It is evident that Hyosong have stolen various styling ideas from different (Japanese) manufacturers, but to pin it on a specific brand is impossible. This is where the genius comes in. Hyosong have created a motorcycle truly unique and individual, unlike many other funny named Korean imports. It has the classic superbike aesthetics and feel, but is not a sleazy rip off of the machines they are mimicking.  

Hyosung's GT650 Comet handles well

All those racy curves, the sexy double stacked headlight (replicating a Ducati), upsidedown forks up front and a 650cc V-twin between your legs is enough to give you some serious goosebumps. Itís a crotch rocket that wonít hurt your pocket (well not too badly anyway), as the importers decided to retail the GT650R in a reasonably cheaper (than its competitors) price bracket. So now hopefully there is going to be some much needed competition between the Hyosong brand and its Japanese rivals Ė Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki and the like. Much needed competition because motorcycle prices at the moment are climbing that ridiculous hill of un-affordability. 

with the Vaal Dam wall as a backdrop

The 650cc DOHC 8 valve, V-twin power plant (made under license to Hyosong) is the exact replica of that found in the Suzuki SV650, so money hasnít been wasted on time-consuming development of a new Hyosong motor. This is why Hyosong motorcycles have managed to come into the country at a lower price. Unlike the GT250R, the 650R is water-cooled, thus making a lot more power and better fuel economy. Its own carburettor aspirates each cylinder, gravity fed from a 17-litre fuel tank, which provides great convenience on extended trips. The RPM range is wide, with decent power being produced after about 4000rpm and ranging right up to 10500 rpm where redline is reached. Maximum speed is just over 200 km/h, which is fairly decent for a 650cc twin.

went for breakfast at the Lake Avenue Inn in Deneysville

The petite double headlight is absolutely gorgeous. Behind it one finds the digital and analogue counters. The tachometer being analogue and speedometer with trip counters being digital with an adjustable (5settings) blue backlight. The backlighting was changed from an obtrusive orange (on earlier models) to a more user-friendly light blue.

works well as a commuter too

Comparing the GT650R to the GT250R is basically just a contrast of two engines with other minor alterations. One doesnít even feel the 37-kilogram difference between the bigger and smaller model. Riding position is comfortable and feels the same (as GT250) as both bikes share an almost identical frame, suspension layout and fuel tank. With that said the 650R is about twice as much fun and the increased (from 250cc) power is definitely more appreciated. The additional 400 cubic centimetres feels like almost double the power. The last change is the exhaust canister and 10 millimetre wider as well as taller tyres.

Words and photos by Dylan Slater


Second Opinion by Kenn Slater

The Hyosung GT650R, which weighs around 208 kilos, rides on 17-inch wheels, with 120/60 (front) and 160/60 (rear) ZR-rated tyres. The bike is fitted with a six-speed gearbox, adjustable monoshock at the back, USD forks, 300mm twin brake discs at the front (with radial-mount, four-piston calipers) and 230mm rear disc brake.

Proper fun was had the the mid-sized Korean V-Twin. Got to admit that I wasnít quite expecting this unknown, entry-level type of bike to be this satisfying, and yet, the GT650R was handling the corners like a proper small sport-tourer would.
The GT650Rís V-Twin power unit has its cylinders positioned at 90 degrees, sports liquid cooling, four valve DOHC heads and generally shows that Suzuki has indeed been mentoring the Korean set-up for a while. The family ties with the SV650 are indeed tight, even if those twin mills are not identical. Power-wise (at least on paper) itís nearly on even ground with the trusty SV650 and Kawasakiís 650 parallel-Twins.
Not a thing of great beauty, but not an offending sight either. Black frame tubes are the best bit. The frame, though not as impressive as the SVís alloy job, is a sturdy looking steel twin-spar affair where each spar is actually constructed from twin tubes with plenty of gusseting joints. Suspension is pretty much up to date, with an adjustable inverted fork up front, progressively linked mono on the rear, while the brakes are not last-generation stuff: floating twin-piston calipers, a similar setup to its Kawa and Suzi peers.
Moving on to the riding bit, our first Ks together while city riding was ...OK. I do find the GT650R a nice-fitting, small-to-medium-sized bike. The clip-ons might sit under the triple clamp, but that doesnít mean that the riding position is full repli-racer. Itís actually much more sport tourer than pure sport in nature Ė comfortable for me at least.

There are quite few flies in the ointment though. Notchy gear shifting and a slight off-idle hesitation make urban riding slightly more painful than it needs to be. The upper fork clamp is big enough to play soccer on.
Although I must admit that after a week of riding the GT650R, the urban manners of the thing improved. Felt like the gear shifting loosened up somewhat and made city riding much more pleasant.

The GT650R felt much better on the open road. As we headed out towards the Vaal dam and Deneysville, the sport-tour side of the Hyosung started to show. The engine has a satisfying pull from 3000 to 7500rpm, and in semi-fast touring mood, say through 100-120kph bends, it has a nice drive. It might not feel as smooth and buttery as the SV's or as revvy as Kawasaki's Ninja 650R, as a certain harshness is felt at times through the bars and pegs. On the straight bits, the not-so-low windscreen bubble deflects the air well and lets me trot at 140 quite undisturbed. Soon enough I found that the real ace up the GT650R's sleeve comes when things get really twisty. The GT turns out to be really flickable and tracks true when put down low on its side. Though its suspension might not be the most sophisticated on earth, it does nothing that requires me to shut off or slow down despite being the size I am. I found the 650 is a competent handler, even with its rudimentary suspension and porky weight.
The GT650R can be stretched to 9000rpm and a bit, but just doesn't feel like it enjoys this. Feel is okay, but weíd appreciate more outright power... please.

After the few days aboard the Comet we thought it was a pretty competent sport tourer that really handles and could be an interesting entry-level street bike. Itís no Desmosedici RR in terms of desirability, but the GT650Rís price should appeal to some budget-conscious riders.
Considering how Korean companies like Samsung and LG stepped up their game to become head-on competitors with the best Japan has to offer, don't be surprised if the same happens with Hyosung, and sooner than you might think.

words and pics by Kenn Slater




Hyosung GT 650R


Liquid-cooled, four stroke, 90į V twin, DOHC, 4 valve



Bore x Stroke

81.5 x 62 mm

Compression Ratio

10 : 1


2x 39mm carburettors

Max Power

79 hp  58.9 KW @ 9000 rpm

Max Torque

68 Nm @ 7500 rpm

Transmission  /  Drive

6 Speed  /  chain


Steel, double pipe

Front Suspension

41mm Oil upside down forks -120mm wheel travel

Rear Suspension

Swingarm - 100mm wheel travel.

Front Brakes

2x 300mm discs

Rear Brakes

Single 230mm disc

Front Tyre

120/60 -17

Rear Tyre

160/60 -17


191 kg

Fuel Capacity 

17 Litres

Standing ľ Mile  

13 sec

Seat Height

780 mm

Top Speed

204  kph


R49,950 Incl. VAT (as at August 2009)



a picture says a thousand words...

Photo by Kenn Slater


Thanks to Elza Thiart and the guys at Smith Power Equipment

for the ride on their lekker Hyosung GT650R

obviously we preferred the GT650R to the GT250R

bigger motor, more power and much faster.