When Kartik tested the GT650R for the December 2010 issue of BSM, he was all gaga over the 70-odd bhp of the Hyosung’s V-twin motor, and rightly so. The liquid-cooled V-twin motor had plenty of shove, would happily hurl you forward with the slightest twist of the right wrist and loved being on the boil all the time – all characteristics of a good sportsbike engine.
It was pouring when I got to the Hyosung dealership in Pune. Peak hour traffic didn’t help matters and the very thought of the ride back to where we were to shoot sent shudders through my spine. What’s funny is how people not too long ago moved to Pune from Mumbai to spend their days of retirement in relative peace and calm. I guess that now, they simply don’t get out of their houses, because getting around in this city is worse than Mumbai, and that is saying something.
Anyway, with chaos around me, I set out. And I half expected the ST7 to be lumpy and ride like a tub of lard in traffic. Surprisingly, this cruiser handles really well at low speeds and the far-out pegs aren’t that far out after all. Finally, a bike that a bloke of my dimensions can comfortably fit onto.
For a bike that displaces nearly 700cc, the ST7 feels feather light. The low-slung seat accentuates this, but then when you look closer, you realise why. With an ex-showroom price of just under ` 6 lakh, you really don’t expect chromed metal to be chromed plastic. There’s a lot of plastic that goes into the making of the ST7, but with the way the cruiser market goes, those are a whole load of aspects that go against the Hyosung.
The V-twin that powers the ST7 is virtually the same as the one that propels the GT, albeit overbored to displace 30cc more in the cruiser. But the sporty characteristics of the powerplant remain, and that is the sole bone of my contention. The ideal engine for a cruiser is one that is torquey, all of which should flow gradually at lower and mid-range revs. The ST7, however, is like a hyperactive kid on a sugar rush, with a constant urge to burst forward rather than pick up pace gingerly. The throttle response too, is like a toggle switch – either on or off. Forget about ambling along at 50 kph in top gear on the ST7.
On the all-out performance side of things, the ST7 won’t disappoint, with its 57 horses.A standstill to 60 kph blast takes about 3.2 seconds and the tonne arrives sooner than not. Hyosung claims a top whack of 176 kph.Hyosung would love to have you believe that the ST7 is a worthy contender to the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy. However, I think that the ST7 is more worthy of the H-D Iron instead. In terms of fit and finish, there’s no question about it – the Harley wins and how. But wait, I’m not done with the Hyosung just yet.
What the Sportster series lack is the way they ride. With their suspensions set up to cope with the near-faultless tarmac of western countries, the roads in India give the American steeds a huge culture shock. On the Harleys, even the slightest of our infamous potholes sends the thud straight through to your spine. But with the ST7, it’s a different story. You won’t even notice the small ditches, and the large ones will simply cause the Hyosung to compress its springs a wee bit and then it’s all over. ‘Plush’ is the term that comes to mind.
I think the styling of the ST7 will appeal to a lot of people. Personally though, I’m not a fan of the way the Hyosung holds up the air around it. To me, the headlight is too low for the gas tank and the tank itself is rather too scalloped for the boxy and deep valanced mudguards. But hey, this is my opinion, so don’t let it stop you from getting one.
Perhaps when Garware sat down with Hyosung to decide which bikes they should bring to India first, they didn’t really expect Harley-Davidson to unleash the Iron, and especially not at such a price – Rs 5.5 lakh ex-showroom, Delhi. From having an absolute monopoly, Hyosung has, with its ST7, suddenly found a more than able contender with the H-D. TheIron also comes with the hefty Harley brand along with it. Now, that’s going to be a tough one to beat.
Displacement: 678.2cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve, V-twin
Max power: 57.6 bhp@8000 rpm
Max torque: 5.81 kgm@7000 rpm
Type: Double-cradle, tubular frame
Brakes: 300 mm disc (f), 270 mm disc (r)
Suspension: 41 mm telescopic forks (f), dual shock absorbers (r)
Tyres: 120/80 R16 (f), 170/80 R15 (r)
L/W/H (mm): 2470/960/1135
Wheelbase: 1690 mm
Kerb weight: 244 kg
Ground clearance: 155 mm
Fuel tank: 18 litres
0-60 kph: 3.2 secs
0-100 kph: 6.32 secs
Top speed: 158 kph (claimed)
Price: Rs 5.69 LAKH