Hyosung GT650 vs. Suzuki SV650
If you opt for a Hyosung, the extra $300 ($800 if you want the lower fairings) buys you another 30 HP, a better chassis, radial tires, beefy front suspension, dual disc brakes, and similar build quality, too. The Hyosung GT650R has a lot of flaws. But it surprised me with how much it had to offer. It's a stylish, well-designed motorcycle that need make no apologies for its suspension, motor or handling: the stuff that matters. The overall build quality is cheaper than what I'm accustomed to, but it's acceptable and looks like it will hold together with proper maintenance. Is it worth $5,500 to $6,000?
I think compared to other new bikes in this price range, it's a pretty good value and you might have some luck bargaining with the dealer. Although, this is a low-volumne business for now, and with the de-pegging of the Chinese Yuan against the dollar and it's subsequent controlled rise in currency value.
Expectations are it'll have a ripple effect all through SE Asia, with a generally higher prices from goods shipped out of that region. Hyosung has other models on the way as well. Look for a power cruiser with the 650 engine in it, as well as a 1,000 CC version of the GT. There are 250 CC standard and cruiser models, too. With ATV's and dirtbikes, Hyosung has a complete product line that seems to be a clear step above the shoddy mainland Chinese brands that crowd the internet and floors of many rural motorcycle shops.
The motorcycle marketplace now offers more choices than it has for many years. This can only be good for the consumer. For a first effort at a mid-sized sportbike for the US market, Hyosung has produced an interesting product that is worth taking a look at. If you want a new bike for a used price, or want full-sized sportbike looks with a softer, more beginner-friendly motor, or if you just like the racy, aggressive styling, the GT650R might work well for you.
Going Faster with 650 Twins
It's no secret that middle displacement V-Twin Sportbikes make fabulous street bikes and outstanding platforms for improving your track riding skills. Honda's 650cc Hawk GT was a long-time favorite of club racers and served several years past its expiration date. However, the SV-650 came along in 1999 and the Hawk GT quickly faded into the past, since the new SV was significantly more powerful, slightly lighter and clearly faster around the racetrack. For the last five years, Suzuki's SV-650 has been the smartest choice for those looking to enter the club racing scene.
"Many new racers hone their track skills on SV-650s and once they move up to faster classes, they often keep their SVs, due to the loads of fun the bikes offer on race weekends."
Few motorcycles are eligible for more classes -- with a shot at actually being competitive -- than the SV-650. Their desirability as track bikes has ensured that used values remain relatively high, as racers often snap them up as soon as they are listed.
What do you do, once you've acquired a shiny new SV? Read my 2002 article on race prepping an SV for helpful tips and in-depth explanations. In too much of a hurry to read it all? If there were Cliff Notes, they would simply read: "Tune the Suspension!"
After reading Gabe's impressions of the Hyosung, I'm guessing that the GT 650 is in a similar boat to the SV (a nice engine and chassis, with a mediocre suspension). My recommendation: Call Phil at Aftershocks Suspension at (650) 494-8849. Aftershocks will completely re-valve and tune the forks and shock that you mail themfor about $500 total. You just remove them from your bike and send them via UPS (if you have non-cartridge forks, I would also recommend sending along a set of Race Tech Gold Valve cartridge emulators.) Tell Phil how much you weigh, what your riding style is, and what you will do with the bike. He will do the rest. When UPS returns the parts, you simply bolt them back on, don't touch an adjuster and watch your lap times fall by multiple seconds per lap. It really is that easy.
Now you must decide: Do you want a brand new Hyosung, or a second-hand SV-650S? The new Hyosung will probably be in better shape than the used SV, but the SV is probably a bit faster, and equally importantly, there is an abundance of knowledge and aftermarket (as well as used OEM parts) support for the SV. My recommendation: Get the used SV, save some money on taxes, freight and prep, then put that savings into the suspension and some race bodywork. -Sean
GT650R MSRP: $5,999
GT650S MSRP: $5,499
SV650S MSRP: $6,449
SV650 MSRP: $5,949