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Review: Hyosung Aquila 250
Driven April 2014
The year 2003 will always be remembered for the Indian cricket team’s defeat at the hands of the Aussies in the World Cup finals. The dream of lifting the World Cup trophy 20 years after the Kapil Dev-led team made history in 1983 was shattered. But it isn’t just this fateful evening that the year 2003 is associated with. True petrolheads will also remember it as the year India’s most expensive two-wheeler, the Aquila, made it to our shores with a staggering price tag of Rs 1.45 lakh.
Kinetic Engineering collaborated with Korea’s Hyosung Motors in 2003 and launched a 250cc cruiser in a market that wanted nothing more than commuters. This is when the 150cc segment was just beginning to evolve. It was considered a brave move by Kinetic, but with big bikes hard to find back then, it instantly managed to find buyers for its limited quota of 200 cruisers imported from Korea. And then, the Aquila went into oblivion.
Cut to February 2014, when its new partners, DSK Hyosung relaunched the baby Aquila at the Auto Expo, pricing it at Rs 2.69 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). It isn’t exactly cheap but the tables have turned now. From being the most expensive motorcycle in India, the Aquila 250 is now pegged as the most affordable V-twin currently on sale here. And this only goes to show how the Indian two-wheeler market has evolved over the past decade. Yet, there aren’t many entry-level cruisers, apart from the Bajaj Avenger and the Royal Enfield Thunderbird. So the Aquila 250 fills a valid void.
DSK Hyosung already sells the bigger-capacity Aquila Pro and it has been quite a surprising package. So expectations from the Aquila 250 were higher. And at first glance, the 250 manages to strike the right chord as far as styling goes. Although it looks smaller in length than the Pro, the 250 scores well on design. Acres of chrome all over the bike, round headlamp, twin-pod dials, two-piece seats with contrast stitching in red, chrome exhaust, oversize mud-guards and the simple-looking tail lamp all look the part.
Fit and finish is rather good too. What’s even better is the comfort and the relaxed riding experience. In typical cruiser fashion, you sit pretty low on a well-cushioned saddle with forward-set foot pegs and a wide handlebar to cling on to. The riding position is bang on and it doesn’t require you to unnecessarily stretch your limbs to reach for the brakes or gear lever. And with 179 kilos to take care of, the Aquila feels nimble around town and isn’t as painful as some of the bigger cruisers. Riding long distance is something this cruiser loves doing and it does this in comfort. However, the firm suspension results in a choppy ride on bumpy surfaces and that could be an area of worry. Also, at higher revs, vibrations are felt on the handlebar and foot pegs, but then, they shouldn’t be too big a concern.
What is, however, is the engine and gearbox, both lifted from the Hyosung’s GT250R sportsbike. Yes, its a sportsbike engine doing duty on a cruiser motorcycle and that’s where things start to going wrong for this otherwise an impressive motorcycle. Now, sportsbike engines are high-revving units that offer full boost at the top of the rev-range. A typical cruiser motor should ideally offer strong low-end grunt and pull cleanly from lower down the rev range, from any possible gear. The Aquila’s V-Twin motor does exactly the opposite. Firstly, it doesn’t sound anything close to what a twin-cylinder motor should, and then it lacks power once on the move. This motor needs to be revved to 6,000rpm to extract respectable power, and while it pulls all the way to 9,000rpm, there isn’t much juice left in the engine once you’re past the 6,500rpm mark.
Plus, the lack of torque is evident while cruising on the highway. If there’s a sudden need to accelerate, simply wringing the throttle won’t offer anything significant and it requires constant shifting of gears to stay in the meaty end of the powerband. Besides, the Aquila comes with a 5-speed gearbox, which is decent to operate. But a sixth gear would have made life much easier while cruising on the highway.
Even on the safety front, Hyosung offers the Aquila with a single disc upfront and only drum brakes at the rear, a combination that still does a decent job of keeping things under control in case of an emergency. However, ABS is sorely missed – on a bike priced at Rs 2.69 lakh, safety tech should be standard.
The Aquila 250 is a good attempt by Hyosung to give us our most affordable V-twin motorcycle. The designers have nailed it when it comes to style and comfort. Build quality and fit and finish are good too. But there
are flaws. The nature of the 249cc engine doesn’t match the cruising requirements of the bike. But despite the flaws, the Aquila is still decent value for money. All it needs is for Hyosung to put in an engine to match the cruiser’s good looks, and improve its dealer presence.
75’ V-Twin, 249cc, oil-cooled, 26.21bhp, 21.37Nm, EFI, 5M, 1,515mm wheelbase, 179kg, Rs 2.69 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Comfy, easy-to-ride head-turner. Engine is the only weak link, but still a decent product for the price.