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Driven: Hyosung GT 650N
Driven October 2011
Just when we though Hyosung was down and out with the Harley’s and the Kawasaki’s offering better value for motorcycles, they’ve gone ahead and traded another blow. This time the stripped down version of the GT 650R that was launched earlier this year. This one is called the GT 650N, no points for guessing why, and has all the goodness of the R with a good deal of muscle.
Naked bikes have always had an extra bit of charm attached to them possibly because of all the exposed muscle. There’s absolutely no effort made to disguise the fact that you are riding a big and powerful machine, which adds a great deal to the bike’s appeal. The fact that it has a 650cc, V-twin dishing out 72bhp with the ability to clock speeds in excess of 200kph sure give the GT 650N bragging rights as well.
Out on the road, this feels like the best Hyosung thus far. The upright riding position with the straight handle bar makes it very comfortable and the fact that the 82bhp flow smoothly to the rear wheel ensures that there aren’t any nasty surprises. Like the R, the N is equipped with a six-speed manual shifter as well and it is bloody smooth. Even the clutch action feels light and easy and shouldn’t particularly trouble you through traffic. It feels incredibly small and agile on the move despite the 196kg kerb weight and changes direction comfortably. Despite being dynamically able and the impressive numbers on paper, the 650N doesn’t feel scary fast and, moreover, the riding experience is marred by engine vibration. Bottom end refinement is acceptable, but as soon as you get into the fat midrange power band past 6000rpm the tingling from the engine become obtrusive and only worsens toward the top of the rev range making it unusable.
Ride quality is pretty firm with the front end being particularly rigid. For our ride the rear spring was notched half way down toward soft, but it still had a hard edge to it. It doesn’t feel too bad when you are traveling in a straight line but the bike does tend to hop around corners when the surface gets rough. Braking with the dual front discs and the single disc at the rear is pretty effective despite ABS not being offered on the bike.
At the end of the day, the GT 650N is a reasonable proposition. It’s well styled and built well, but the speedo console and the switchgear seem to have been borrowed from a much cheaper bike. The V-twin motor has the horsepower to show, but the fact that the engine suffers from an incredible amount of vibration dampens the experience a great deal. Ride and handling is also good but there’s nothing that really stands out and grabs your attention to become a serious contender. And the fact that it shares a similar space as the Ninja 650R makes its life even more difficult.