It was way back in 2003 when I was aboard my humble Fiero F2 and I was blitzed by this mountain of chrome. It was so quick that all I could figure was that it was obviously quick judging by the way he blew past me and it sounded like nothing else in the Indian market. Luckily a red light upfront meant I could finally get to see what that flash of chrome was.
While I had heard about it, this was the first time I had laid my eyes on the Hyosung Aquila. 250cc, V-twin-oil cooled engine with 4 valves per cylinder with a whopping 26PS of power, it was the bike to have. A decade later, its back. With DSK as its associate, Hyosung is back with the Aquila name and this time promises to make an even deeper impact with its latest power cruiser. Related: Hyosung GV650 Aquila Pro & new GT650R Launched
Lean and Mean
Mention the word “cruiser” to most people and they’ll paint a picture of a heavyweight Harley. And as a result, out on the road be prepared to field a barrage of questions which will mostly be relating your Hyosung to a Harley. Now this isn’t the first cruiser from Hyosung. They already have the brilliant ST7. Then why the Aquila you ask? It’s pretty simple, it’s the same reason why Harley-Davidson has the Fat Boy and the Night Rod. While the ST7 is your typical laid back cruiser meant to ride the torque, the Aquila is the one with which you go after the sportbikes. And the sleek design says the same.
The first thing that you notice is that there is a good balance of chrome and blackened cycle parts. The Aquila doesn’t quite ‘Bling’ it on as the ST7 does and that’s a good thing. The chiseled tank nicely blends into the seat which then flows onto one of the best looking rears seen on a motorcycle. Adding the much needed muscle are the massive chrome shrouds and the big bazooka of a silencer that makes all the right noises. Quality of components look and feel impressive barring a couple of places like on the brake oil reservoir and the chrome bit on the otherwise nicely designed or rather chopped front mud guard.
The other thing that really catches your eye is the smartly executed instrument pod. Swathed in chrome, it looks quite neat giving the rider a clear view of all the information needed. The speedo dominates (there’s no tacho), and there’s also an engine temperature gauge, a fuel gauge, a clock, and a choice of two trip meters and an odometer. All this rounded off with the inverted forks and the meaty 180 section rear tyres gives the Aquila tremendous road presence and it is pretty much the cynosure of all eyes no matter where you take it.
Power to the Rider
Nestling between your legs is a 647 cc DOHC, water-cooled 90 degree V-twin. Pushing out 75 PS at a heady 9000 rpm and 62.1 Nm @ 7500 rpm, this isn’t your typical cruiser engine. Transferring all that power to the rear wheels via a belt is a 5-speed constant mesh gearbox.
Right then, time to hop on. The moment I sat on the bike, it instantly felt comfortable and accommodating. The seat itself is broad and comfy, and the ergos just felt right. I could stretch my legs out to the forward controls and the swept-back bars were an easy stretch away. Prodding the starter sees the V-twin whirr into life, and yes, it’s more of a whir than a rumble. The cable clutch is super light, and the gearbox selects first with a positive action, so far, so good.
A handful of revs sends the low-slung sled on its way, and in the first few meters it’s readily apparent that this is one very manageable, sorted, and easy-to-ride machine. The Aquila offers plenty of go on the road. With a strong bottom end and midrange, it surges away from a standing start with impressive pace, and the acceleration really doesn’t start to soften until you reach three-figure speeds. The 100 km/h barrier is broken in 6 seconds while 140 km/h comes up in 10.9 seconds flat. There’s plenty there to win the traffic-light GP and keep the cages where they belong, in your mirrors (safest place for them, I reckon!).
The engine is remarkably smooth too, with very little in the way of vibration until you reach roughly 100km/h, at which point the otherwise excellent mirrors start to blur a little. The vibes build from here with speed, and at 110km/h I did find the tingling coming through the footpegs a little irritating. The electronic fuel injection is prone to a hint of hesitation when making tiny throttle adjustments at lower (say, 60km/h and under) constant speeds.
This is fairly common in V-twins, and in the Aquila it’s not a significant enough issue to spoil the overall package. There is, however, plenty of urge on tap for overtaking at highway speeds. Going hard through the gears, the max I could manage was 182 km/h before I had to back off, but Hyosung claims the bike is easily capable of 195 km/h and I wouldn’t doubt those figures. The Ninja 650’s and the likes are going to have a difficult time dealing with this bruiser of a cruiser.
Does well, and not just in a straight line!
Being a cruiser, it’s a given that the Aquila will do well when the roads are straight, but then it’s the corners where most of its ilk lose the plot. This baby though, begs to differ. It can get along at a fair clip on a winding road, where it proved quite nimble. The grippy Bridgestone Battlax work wonders on the bikes handling. The tubular steel cradle chassis and suspension do a more than adequate job given the bike’s intended market, as do the brakes.
The rear is quite powerful if lacking a little in feel, and when using both the front and rear anchors together you can pull the bike up quickly and with confidence. An ABS option would be nice, a feature that is, after all, increasingly standard fare in motorcycling these days. Regardless, the Aquila came to a halt from 80-0 in just 2.54 seconds covering a distance of 30.23 metres. Quite impressive.
It’s a power cruiser means to scorch the streets and it weighs all of 240 kg making the above question quite irrelevant here. But this is the land of ‘fill it shut it, forget it’ bikes and a vehicle here is bought not by looking at it horsepower figures but rather its efficiency figures. The Aquila managed 15.5 kmpl in the city and 22 kmpl on the highways giving it an overall figure of 17 kmpl which is on the lesser side. With a 16 litre tank, the Aquila managed 272 km which means frequent fuel stops during those long rides. But then the Aquila is meant to plaster a smile on your face when you crack that throttle open and not by less frequent fuel stops and it excels where it matters.
Does it make the cut?
I'm not really the cruiser kind of guy, but I was pleasantly surprised by Hyosung’s GV650. It’s punchy and nicely constructed, and the power cruiser cosmetics are up there with its overall level of performance. But the best part of the Aquila is not its looks or smashing performance, it’s the price. At Rs. 4.99 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) it is not only one of the best, but also the least expensive cruiser money can buy. The closest is the Harley Super Low and the Iron 883 which will get you the brand, but are not anywhere close to the performance and oomph that this Korean can muster.
This Hyosung also makes an ideal alternative to the Kawasaki Ninja 650R in case you want the laid bike riding but aren’t willing to compromise on the performance. At that price to performance ratio, the Hyosung GV650 Aquila Pro definitely deserves its own slice of the action. Related: Hyosung GV650 Aquila Pro & new GT650R Launched