2011 Hyosung GT650 vs. Suzuki Gladius Shootout
650cc V-Twins from other mothers
Peak horsepower and torque figures of 60.9 hp at 8700 rpm and 39.9 ft-lb at 7300 rpm for the GT650 aren’t light years behind the Gladius’ 65.8 hp at 8500 rpm and 42.7 ft-lb at 7800 rpm, but a gap of some amount across the rev range always favors the Suzuki. And in the neighborhood of 6500 rpm the Gladius made approximately 20% more power. What’s significant here is that the advantage is right where it matters most: the midrange.
The dyno only supports with hard numbers what is easily felt in the saddle. The Suzuki, as Troy implied, brings years of refinement, while the Hyosung’s engine and EFI reveals that perhaps someone pulled it out of the oven a little early. The GT also emitted noticeably more vibration than the smooth Suzuki.
And while the Suzuki’s clutch engagement is buttery feeling and free of any hitches, the Hyosung’s clutch engages somewhat suddenly near the end of the lever’s release. The GT’s touchy clutch action and poor low rpm fueling combine to make the simplest things, like rolling away smoothly from a stop, relatively challenging at times.
Where a pretty clear line is drawn between the engines, overall chassis performance from each bike brings them closer together.
Both bikes share a 25.0-degree rake angle, but the GT has significantly (1 inch) less trail. Combined with a lower-profile 120/60-17 front tire (to the Glad’s traditional 120/70), the Hyosung tips in a skosh quicker, though the difference is slight and most noticeable only in the first few degrees of lean.
The nominal difference between the Hyosung’s 56.5-inch wheelbase and the Suzuki’s 56.9 inches wouldn’t have contributed significantly to one bike steering quicker than another, nor would indentically sized 160/60-17 rear tires. However, the Suzuki’s 13-pound lighter curb weight compared to the Hyosung’s 459 pounds, as well as slightly softer compression damping or softer springs in the Suzuki’s preload-adjustable telescopic fork provides eager turn-in response.
Part of the price paid for the Gladius’ lighter weight is less fuel carrying capacity from its 3.8-gallon tank, where the GT650 has a 4.5-gallon petrol holder. The Suzuki managed a better showing at the pump with an observed 42.7 mpg beating out the Hyosung’s 39.5 mpg, but the Glad’s ultimate range falls about 15 miles short of the GT’s.
A beefy-looking inverted fork with compression- and rebound-damping adjustments keeps the GT650’s front-end in check, but it oddly lacks spring-preload adjustment. It offers better damping over the rough stuff – particularly over sharp-edged bumps that tend to compress suspension quickly – than did the Szook’s sticks.
The occasional wiggle or wallow during aggressive transitioning ‘tween corners reminded us of the limitations of the budget-minded shock (with handy, ramp-style preload adjusters) on each bike. Otherwise, chassis stability is quite good with nimbleness as a key trait on each machine. And we were more than content with levels of grip and feel from the Bridgestone Battlax BT56 tires on the GT and the Gladius’ Dunlop Qualifier rubber.
Braking performance is one area where the GT650 left no question in our minds it had the Suzuki beat.
Each bike sports dual rotors and calipers up front, but the Korean bike’s 300mm semi-floating discs and opposed 4-piston calipers offered a good deal more stopping force and better feel than the Suzuki’s lower-tech sliding-pin-type 2-piston binders grasping smaller 290mm rotors. Chalk one up for the Hyosung.
The riding positions of these two roadsters will appeal to riders based on their body sizes.
“I liked the ergonomics of the Gladius better,” Troy opines, adding he better appreciated the shape of the Gladius’ saddle and its lower height. “The Suzuki’s 30.9-inch seat height is a bonus to me compared to the nearly 2-inch taller GT650, though I could easily touch the ground from the Hyosung’s perch.”
It’s a safe bet that riders shorter than 5-feet 8-inch Troy will also like the Suzuki’s lower saddle and more compact rider triangle, valuing the unintimidating ergos as much as the aforementioned friendliness of the bike’s engine and clutch. Suzuki completes a nearly perfect package in the Gladius by giving it an ergo layout that welcomes just about any rider – save for maybe those folks with extra long inseams and guys that shop at the Big & Tall.
Even though I’m about the same size, I preferred the Hyosung’s thicker, firmer seat pad and its extra legroom. I found the Gladius’ seat too thinly padded for my tastes, especially near the front, just like I did when reviewing this kissin’ cousin to the SV two years ago (see Related Reading section below).
Both bikes employ our favorite instrument display layout (analog tach with an LCD panel handling just about everything else), but here we give the Suzuki another gold star.
Figures and characters in the Gladius’ LCD are bolder and therefore more easily seen during daylight hours, and two prominent indicator signals flank the centrally placed tachometer. One-upping the GT is an ideally sized GPI (gear-position indicator) inlaid at the end of the tach needle’s sweep.
The Hyosung’s gauge package looks dated next to the contemporary appearance of the Suzuki’s display. And while the GT’s instruments include most of the data the Suzuki’s panel has, the GT doesn’t offer a GPI – a feature we view as nearly a necessity for the intended buyers of these mild-mannered-but-still-fun two wheelers.
650 V-Twin Summary
Hyosung’s GT650 represents a decent effort from a manufacturer with a low-profile in the U.S. and without a storied history of competing ferociously for a piece of the sporting consumer like the well known Titans from Japan have done for decades.
Taken alone, the GT is at least adequate in all respects, and its $5,499 MSRP keeps $1,400 in your pocket if you choose it over the Gladius. The financial cherry on top for the frugally minded is the GT’s two-year limited warranty versus a 12-month limited warranty for the Gladius.
On the other hand, how close is the nearest Hyosung dealer if you need to take advantage of that warranty? It’s a safe bet there’s a Suzuki shop just around the corner, or at least in the next town.
It’s when the Hyosung is placed next to a major brand that you notice the GT’s relatively unpolished status. It’s noticed in the GT’s let’s-just-yank-off-the-GT650R’s-fairings industrial-looking appearance, and it’s felt in the unsophisticated performance from its EFI. The Hyosung comes across as underdeveloped when placed next to and ridden back-to-back with Suzuki’s virtually flawless Gladius.
Like most parents think and hope of their kids, we believe Hyosung has potential.
For now, though, we’ll stick with what we know.
2010 Hyosung GT650 Review
2009 Kawasaki ER-6n vs. Suzuki Gladius
2009 Suzuki Gladius Review
Hyosung GT650R Review
Hyosung GT650R vs. Suzuki SV650
2006 Suzuki SV650S vs. Kawasaki Ninja 650R
All Things Hyosung on Motorcycle.com
All Things Suzuki on Motorcycle.com