Solid offerings like the Comet GT250 and growing support to the dealer have made Hyosung a very real competitor in the Canadian market.
With every passing season it becomes increasingly obvious that South Korean motorcycle manufacturer Hyosung is here to stay. While its lineup becomes steadily more sophisticated—the sport models will be fuel injected for 2008—there’s also growing support at the dealer level.
A two-year factory warranty on some units should help make them easier to move, as will a 3.99 per cent financing package for 2007 models still in inventory. “Or a cash equivalent [rebate] if the customer doesn’t need financing,” says Stephen Simkovits, owner of the Canadian distributor, National Motorsports, who also confirms there are indeed 1200cc cruiser and sportbike models currently in the development stage at an unnamed research centre in Japan. Moreover, Simkovits says the rumoured 450cc RX450SM Supermotard will arrive as a 2009 model, “possibly as early as July 2008.” Naturally, the big single will first appear in the European markets.
During test sessions with Hyosung built cruisers in the light and middleweight categories, and with the sporty Comet GT250, we’ve found bikes that are quite competitive against others in the class, though possibly less so in the case of the Comet, which must now compete against models such as Kawasaki’s Ninja 250 and Honda’s CBR 125R. That’s a tall order for Hyosung but the Comet—which comes in faired and naked versions—does have that two-year warranty going for it.
Available in red, yellow or black, the handsomely styled air-cooled Comet carries a MSRP $5,595 price tag, which makes it significantly more expensive than both the Ninja ($4,249) and the Honda ($3,499). While it could be argued that the Kawasaki platform is getting rather long in the tooth, there have been recent valve train, suspension, brake and styling upgrades, the 249cc parallel Twin is liquid-cooled, and the bike is also supported by a 24-month warranty. (There’s an option to extend the warranty an extra year.) Meanwhile the Honda boasts up-to-the-minute elements, including fuel injection, and race style wheels, even though it does surrender a big displacement disadvantage in its liquid-cooled single-cylinder 124.7cc engine, which is mated to a six-speed.
In the Comet though, Hyosung has a bike that can hold its own, on paper.
Nearly identical to the Kawasaki in the dry weight department (155 kg versus the Ninja’s 151 kg and the Honda’s 127 kg), the Comet GT250 is the only member of this trio to boast twin disc front brakes, and, at 41mm, the beefiest front forks. The Hyosung also carries the fattest rear tire, a 150/70 17-incher, though it spins up through a five-speed transmission, though the Kawasaki, like the Honda, carries a six ratio gear box.
Inside the Hyosung lie race-style squelch combustion chambers, dual overhead cams on roller bearings, and beveled drive gears, all designed for the eight-valve 250cc V-Twin in Hamamatsu, Japan. The factory also offers an optional performance can.
Digital instrumentation, aggressively positioned handlebars and a supportive rider’s seat complemented by adjustable footrest positions give the bike a definite sport feel as the six spoke alloy wheels hit the pavement. A dual lens headlamp and aerodynamic fairing with an optional tinted windscreen create a sport touring impression, and the 17-litre tank means infrequent fill-ups.
Under a light clutch pull, the peppy Twin leaps into action with just a mild kick in the slats. It wants a quick gear change or two before it really starts ripping away at the posted speed limits, but even though the styling will draw you into temporarily believing you’re on a big bike, you’ll soon be brought back to reality when you top out at 130 kmh or so. With a substantial sense of mechanical quality, the ride to the top is pleasant and relatively buzz-free, though the Shinko tires tend to chatter.
The suspension offers okay action, but is probably best when under the load of a smaller, lighter rider than my six-foot 200-lb. carcass. The tradeoff though is a very long reach to those bars, with the bulbous tank interrupting the grab.
Still, as an entry level motorcycle, the Comet GT250, either naked or faired, qualifies as a really decent choice from a manufacturer that is beginning to make long strides in the market.
By John Campbell Canadian Biker #238