Back in the day, when Pulsars 150s felt quick and 180s blinding, there was but one bike that stood in the Kinetic showrooms that every young motorcyclist aspired to own. Styled like a Monster, it was sporting kit that most of us had seen as wallpapers on the computer – upside-down forks, a DOHC V-twin engine, fat rubber, a twin-spar frame – and for the first time, we had what the rest of the world was virtually taking for granted. The price tag seemed daunting, especially given the time and my unoccupied college wallet, but it wasn’t daunting enough to make you stop day-dreaming about the day when you’d thumb the starter on your own Hyosung Comet. Those days were charming, as every horsepower felt like ten. Wind the clock to 2012 and the Comet has completed its loop around the galaxy – explains its absence – and is now heading back towards us but the world’s a different place now. Does it stand out today as it did when it disappeared?
On paper, or shall we say, the computer screen, the Hyosung sounds like a fairly complete package – powerful, well-specced and good-looking, if a bit 2005. Sadly, this Korean dish is not unlike many fancy sounding dishes at a frou frou restaurant – the delightful literature and bright photographs could well make you salivate a bucket, but, alas, at the moment of truth, when you actually taste it, it’s a bit underwhelming. If you thought this was a GT650 powered by a 250cc motor, you wouldn’t be too far off target. It’s a fairly full-size motorcycle, in the way that Kim Kardashian is a…er, ahem…well-proportioned woman. Words like ‘petite’ and ‘lithe’ don’t apply here. It’s like the GT650R in terms of dimensions and, sadly, not too far off in terms of absolute girth either. But does it pack a punch?
Okay, visor down and throttle whacked open to a throttle stop that takes excessive twisting. The motor feels fairly flat in the lower half of the rev band, with fuel injection that’s lumpy around 3000 rpm (could be a one-off problem) and the real powerband hits 6000 rpm and north, where it delivers fairly satisfying acceleration, complete with a gruff V-twin soundtrack. Till 10,500 rpm, progress is swift and satisfying but there’s no real point in pinning it beyond that point all the way to the 11,500 cut-out because the power tails off. It might be more powerful than the competition but it lacks the punchiness or crispness the other motorcycles in its class display; the buzzy top-end doesn’t help matters either. It might even have comparable performance but it doesn’t feel like it. Just to gauge, we did a couple of second and third gear rolls-ons against an admittedly short-geared KTM Duke 200 but the way the KTM shoots into the distance away from the 250 isn’t good news. On the CBR250R or the Ninja 250R, the punchiness is thoroughly enjoyable but here, most of the times, this Korean twin feels a little underwhelming. It’s the fire that’s missing, though some of it is reclaimed if you really keep the motor on the boil or if you’re on the open highway, where it hit an indicated 147 kph. The real problem here is something our generation would relate to – flab.
Using components from its bigger cousins makes it feel like a fuller sportsbike – both in terms of looks and feel – but the flip side of the coin is that, at 188 kilos wet, it’s nearly 21 kg porkier than the CBR and 18 kg up on the Ninja. I won’t even mention the weight disadvantage over the KTM because it’s not strictly a true competitor (psst… 52 KILOS!). In a way, it’s too much motorcycle for too small a motor. It has affected performance but what does it do for the handling? Well, first off, Seoul’s obsession with hardcore ergos continues, with the GT250R’s properly committed riding position. The massive tank lends great support which, along with the low clip-ons and rearsets, makes time spent in the twisties enjoyable but sadly, that’s where the fun ends. The riding ergonomics are a bit too aggressive to be of any help while touring and in the city, it’s just overkill. Not to mention stressful on the back and the wrists. I mean, why? If you wanted to go RS250 on everyone, you would’ve cut weight drastically and worked on a bomb of a motor. Yes, we do want racy ergonomics but without it being altogether impractical.
After all, most of the buyers would intend to use it mostly in the city and occasionally on the highway and for that, this won’t do. Still, it’s fairly adept at the cornering bits, holding its line reasonably well over well-paved surfaces though the softer suspension set up does make the bike wallow on bumpy corners. Equipped with fat Shinko rubber at both ends, the tyres provide adequate grip but push them around corners and the rear tends to slide quite a bit, leading to some scary mid-corner moments. Thankfully, the rubber holds up to the braking forces provided by the capable twin-disc front braking setup and the rather remote-feeling rear disc.
It’s a fairly nice looking motorcycle, though there’s nothing new and different on offer from its 650cc-ed cousin. On the road, it does tend to attract quite a few eyeballs, probably down to the size and our obsession with full fairings, so posers needn’t worry. A few unique touches would’ve helped, though we do like the smart tail section, the vertically stacked headlamps, readable display, the wind protection provided by the fairing and the proper sportsbike running gear. Fit and finish levels still leave something to be desired – rough edges that need to be ironed out if Hyosung intends to sell it at the price they said they wanted to sell it at. They’re pricing it at Rs 2.75 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi and yes, it is a bit more than what we expected.
Rs 2-2.2 lakh is more like it. The deal is that the market has been spoilt by, first, the CBR250R’s pricing and later, the Duke 200. Agreed, it’s a twin and before the KTM came in, the equipment levels were right up there too but what it lacks is the certain cohesiveness and fluidity – not to forget brand value – which the motorcycles from that little country east of Korea do perfectly.
Here’s what we have to say – when you’re expected to charge close to ` 3 lakh (give or take) for a 250, your bike better be bloody good, so good in fact that it’s secretly worshipped deep inside your competitor’s R&D departments. The price factor aside, this Hyosung has got the looks, the full sportsbike feel, good cycle parts and adequate performance. But on the flip side of the coin, it’s too big a motorcycle for the motor, is taxing to ride every day, has power delivery that needs some tweaking and the build is getting there but isn’t there just yet. Traditionally, the prime selling point of Hyosung was the kickass value-for-money factor but we don’t see any of that here. Critically, it doesn’t know where it’s going – nor does it do any one single role perfectly. If it could commute or tour or go around a track in anger, and do those one or two roles effortlessly, it would’ve justified its place in the market. As with the GT650, all we need to do is to ask the GT250R to shed its attire. Politely, of course.