Hyosung had the basic formula right but now the execution is too. The GT650R was rather likeable, but we thought it was trying to be something different from what it ideally should work best as. Trying to be overtly sporty when in fact a 72.6 bhp 650cc V-twin should best
be deployed in a well-priced, all-purpose, streetable motorcycle that would be equally at home touring or commuting or just going for it in the twisties. The case is just made stronger for India. So, Garware-Hyosung listened, promptly sent a letter back to South Korea and months later, this arrived – the GT650N, the naked. So, is this what Garware-Hyosung should’ve launched in the first place?
On the whole, I would think yes. The changes aren’t extensive and yet, they’re critical in the man-machine interaction part. First things first, the fairings have come off to properly reveal more of the goods underneath. Like…ahem, any pretty young starlet desperate to make it big, then. There’s more of the 90-degree Korean V-twin and the trellis frame to be seen, which makes the motorcycle look rather fetching. It’s also lost a considerable 9 kg in the process.
Instead of the previous naked GT650’s Ducati-esque front-end, the headlamp now comes with minimal cladding without a fairing on top and though the plastic bits look a touch unfinished in terms of design, it doesn’t look bad on the whole. When looked upon in detail, the girls in our office couldn’t help but notice the plastic fairing’s resemblance to a scarf. You really don’t want to hear that when you’ve just spent a hatchback’s worth of money on a shiny new motorcycle. But anyways, hints of Ducati Monster and Suzuki SV650 slowly but surely start revealing themselves and that isn’t a bad thing, you know, even though the design isn’t exactly kosher. The clip-ons too have been replaced by flatter, wider handlebars that are much easier in terms of reach and are well-positioned. Having ridden the GT650R only a few months back, I can vouch for the vastly improved rider comfort. Middle-aged folk getting back into the motorcycling scene after years of not riding will certainly appreciate them no end.
Take it for a spin in the twisties and you instantly take a liking to it. The motor was always pretty torquey and responsive, packing in a hefty punch 5000rpm and north, but on the naked, the fun factor is certainly taken up a notch. The pace it provides with its modest-sounding power figure is more than enough to have truckloads of fun, even scare you once in a while rushing into a corner all too fast. The relaxed riding position and the bike disappearing beneath your helmet makes you feel as if you’re riding something lower down the motorcycle food chain.
Gun it in first and second and the front-end will refuse to be in touch with the tarmac below. Things remain controllable even then. For someone just starting out with big bikes, it’ll be hardly intimidating, easier to understand dynamically and become confident with. Cornering it, with the big tank for support and sticky Bridgestones, is both enjoyable and confidence inspiring. The lessened bulk doesn’t go unnoticed – it’s a good 9 kg after all – making the bike seem a tad more flickable and easier to turn-in. As with any naked motorcycle, the lack of a fairing has affected the aerodynamics, which, in turn, has affected the top-speed and high-speed cruising comfort. The top speed – claimed to be 219 kph on the GT650R variant – takes a slight hit and is down to a claimed 210 kph, still pretty respectable by any standards. And about the high-speed touring comfort bit – it’s not as big a deal as you might think. Think about it – when was the last time you were touring in India at 150+ kph for an hour, let alone a day? And anyways, if you toured that long, that fast, you’d have something different in your garage.
Like any good naked motorcycle, it eggs you on to just have fun, like all motorcycles should. If clip-ons and fairings stand for inch-precision and shedding ten-tenths, naked motorcycles stand for big wheelies, powering out of corners with a fistful of throttle and largely, fun with a spot of hooliganism involved. But it calms down when you need it to as well. Long-distance touring would actually be enjoyable perched on top of this 650.
Completing its all-round character is its in-town performance. It’s a doddle to ride in the city, hardly any more taxing than a 250cc motorcycle. The GT650R’s reach and riding posture is definitely taxing on the rider owing to the low clip-ons but here, it’s much more comforting. While dropping off this very motorcycle after our ride, I met a friend from college on the way and the GT was perfectly at home in traffic thicker than the Amazon jungle, puttering along with her Activa – no problems whatsoever. I even forgot I was on a 650cc motorcycle! Plus, the temperature gauge doesn’t lose its temper ever, so no more toasted shins.
The only downers in the deal are the hard seat, switchgear and meters which felt a little cheap and the ride which is a bit on the stiffer side. All in all, it’s a good fun motorcycle that, with a few simple changes, has expanded its capabilities. And here’s the best part, at Rs 4.39 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi, you save yourself half a lakh rupees in the process, over the dual-tone GT650R. Neat, innit? If it’s a fun, all-around middleweight motorcycle you’re looking at, this should definitely register as a strong blip on your buying radar.