Powered by a Vee-twin motor throwing heaps of torque at the rear wheel, does the new Hyosung GT250R from Korea pack in enough punch to challenge the might of its existing well-heeled 250cc rivals? We look for answers
While 2011 was a rather slow year with just three all-new motorcycles breaking cover, namely the Bajaj Boxer 150, the Hero Impulse and the Honda CBR250R, 2012 has witnessed an upbeat start with plenty of launches and more to come. The last couple of decades have witnessed action in the lower end of the Indian motorcycle spectrum, but now it seems that the larger capacity premium models are getting their due with the aspirational Indian buyer looking at motorcycles as more than just an economical mode of transport.
And while the pace of launches may not be as vibrant as in the lower segments, the 250cc class of motorcycles is certainly picking up pace rather quickly. With international players aiming to gain a foothold in the second largest motorcycle market in the world, the top-down strategy to establish one’s brand and then unleash the model line-up in a gradual manner seems to be working for many bike makers.
One of the newest entrants to adopt a top-down strategy in India has been Korean motorcycle maker Hyosung, whichhas found a partner in the resurrected Garware Motors to sell its range of premium models in the country. After giving us three middle-weight motorcycles, the sporty GT650R, the streetfighter GT650N and the cruiser ST7, Hyosung is now focusing on the quarter-litre space with its latest offering, the GT250R, a full-faired race replica motorcycle that is big on presence and is the only other multi-cylinder offering in its class alongside the revered Kawasaki Ninja 250R.
By big on presence we mean serious head-turning potential, especially in the new 2012 dual-tone livery. The smaller GT250R gets its wheelbase shortened by 10mm while the overall length, width and height remain identical to its elder sibling, the GT650R. Helping the rather full size dimensions of the GT250R, which are ideally found on 600cc machines, is the extremely athletic and muscular styling of the motorcycle.
While Honda’s CBR250R looks elegant and sophisticated befitting its sports tourer appeal, the Kawasaki Ninja 250R manages the fine balance of sporty yet dignified guise to appeal to everyone. On the other hand, the GT250R is out there and brashly honest about its race-ready disposition. Stack the three quarter-litre machines together and the Hyosung GT250R’s strapping build surely comes out as the most imposing further aided by its large proportions that are more suitable for a 600cc super-sport machine. Those looking for an all-out race replica machine in the 250cc class will certainly be very happy to be astride the Hyosung GT250R as it can certainly get the heads turning real quick.
Once astride, the sporty bearing of the GT250R gets far too demanding and far too quickly than expected and it sure needs a focused rider to be able to keep the rubber side down. The ergonomics on the GT250R demand that one be fully clued in on the machine. This is not your everyday 250cc street-bike that you can be happy trundling around the city at 40km/h. Not that the Hyosung can’t trundle, but it is just far too painful to be riding her at slow pace. Give her the stick on snaking mountain roads and she will reward you with plenty of jollies. The race-ready riding position syndrome of tucking in behind the fairing and the rev counter needle bouncing off redline is a dreamy picture that almost every biker has sketched at some point in his biking days. And the GT250R simply builds on it, though a bit waywardly, if we can call it that.
The reach to the handlebars is taxing, courtesy the oversized 17-litre fuel tank on the GT250R which compels the rider’s arms to go around the fuel tank rather than reach comfortably over the tank. The saddle is nice and firm asexpected from a sports machine while the rear-set footpegs are well placed and offer good accommodation even for tall riders. But, it is only a matter of time till the rider finds the sweet spot on the saddle to really enjoy the GT250R. As much as we question the bike’s city riding comfort, we certainly do vouch for its proficiency at corner carving as we found out on the snaking roads of Amby Valley near Lonavla.
Much like the bigger GT650R, the GT250R too comes loaded with impressive equipment and it makes a solid impression in the way the motorcycle tackles corners in a sure-footed and confident manner. A large part of the GT250R’s handling prowess can be attributed to the frame which is adept at handling the dynamic forces. While the GT650R employs a trellis frame, the GT250R uses a steel twin spar chassis and the weight savings are visible on the smaller GT as it weighs about 20kg less than the elder sibling despite identical dimensions and similar levels of equipment like beefy upside down (USD) front suspension and dual disc brakes up front.
On the rear is a single 5-step adjustable shock absorber unit fixed on to a sturdy and hefty box section swingarm that looks after the damping duties. Together with the advanced USD forks up front, the suspension components endow the GT250R with superior handling and stability mid-corner, although the ride quality tends to get a bit too stiff for Indian roads and hitting a bump at the higher spectrum of the speedometer will certainly not be a pleasurable experience.
It is easy to scare yourself silly on the GT250R with its forceful power delivery coupled with the extreme riding position that puts a lot of pressure on the rider’s wrist, especially going over bumps as the hyper-reactive upside down front suspension responds with an even violent rebound, many times leading to the feared tank-slapping behavioral trait of a motorcycle. But it is this stiffness and precise feel from the chassis coupled with the sporty ergonomics of the GT250R that reward the rider each time he attacks a corner.
The GT250R turns in into a corner with surprising agility without asking for too much initiation from the rider and then continues to carry chosen line with surety. But the sizable 188kg bulk of the motorcycle does come in the way when dealing with quick turning switchback corners. The boffins at Hyosung surely need to figure a way out to get rid of the extra bulk on the motorcycle in order to make it nimbler in order to truly enjoy the time spent on the saddle of the GT250R and to get the most out of the 249cc air-cooled 8-valve DOHC Vee-twin motor. Despite being an air-cooled motor helped by an oil-cooling system, the twin-cylinder Hyosung GT250R shows no signs of over-heating even within crowded cityscapes as it is with most large capacity motorcycles.
Pumping out 27PS of horses at 10,000rpm and 22Nm of torque available lowdown at 8,000rpm, the GT250R is a sufficient match for its rivals with regard to figures on paper but the manner in which the 27 horses are delivered by this Korean machine is far too different than how it is on the CBR or the Ninja. The gruff Vee-twin motor is rev-happy and provides a solid grunt throughout the rev range – though at the higher end of the rev range the motor feels a bit rough giving out a throaty groan.
But one major positive change on the GT250R in contrast to the larger GT650R is the vibe-free nature of the motorcycle even at high rpm. Even when the rev counter needle bounces off the redline at 10,500rpm, the engine is free of vibrations and there are no rattles coming through from the body panels but just a rowdy non-stop throw of power thrusting forth the GT250R with piles of energy.
As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the sparkling nature of the GT250R’s motor is evident in its performance with a 0-100km/h time of 8.33 seconds. Now that’s quick for a 250cc motorcycle weighing 188kg! Equalling its brisk acceleration, the GT250R also posted an impressive top speed of 149km/h, during which she showed remarkable vigour. The 5-speed gearbox employed on the GT250R does a fine job at speed but at lower speeds within the city it tends to be a little notchy and clunky during shifts but the shifts happen with surety and there is no false neutral nor missed gear. We wish that the potent engine was mated to a six-speed transmission for better top end as well as eradicating the stressed feel from the motor at high revs when shown the stick.
The stopping duties on the GT250R are looked after by two large 300mm hydraulic disc rotors with dual two-piston calipers on the front and a single 230mm hydraulic disc with a single two-piston caliper looking after the rear. While the brakes have sufficient bite, the feel coming to the levers is weak and it requires a lot of travel on the lever before the brakes actually start working.
And the delay in the actuation of brakes as well as the additional mass of the motorcycle impair the GT250R’s braking performance with the motorcycle taking 44.80 metres and 3.90 seconds to come to a halt from 80km/h. Despite being better equipped with twice the braking power that of its rivals, the weight as well as the choice of Shinko tyres is responsible for the lack of braking performance on the GT250R. We are certain that even with just better tyres the Hyosung will be far more proficient at stopping.
The tubeless Shinko tyres are not lousy or incompetent for high speed riding but they certainly lack accurate feedback from the road. They offer plenty of traction at all times but the confidence inspiring feel and surety is missing when you really need it, like when taking the energetic GT250R through a set of sweeping fast corners. These rather tiny yet significant matters are the ones that collectively complete the riding experience. The Hyosung GT250R does not have too many of these glitches and it does exceedingly well when it comes to rewarding the rider with jollies, especially those who are looking for a 250cc no-nonsense super-sports, race-focused machine.
This Korean quarter-litre machine is quick, agile and downright spirited with its power delivery. Replicating its elder sibling, the GT650R’s sprinting genes, the GT250R too does excel when it comes to outright performance and race bike-like handling. Couple that to the competitive pricing that the Garware-Hyosung tie-up will bring, around Rs 2.5 lakh (on-road, Pune) and the Hyosung GT250R makes a strong case as a value-for-money multi-cylinder sport motorcycle that offers excellent big bike feel and unrivalled street -presence for a small price.