Alternative Twins: Multistrada, R1200R, XB12R and GT650R

Talk of twins and it's a fair bet you'll be imagining a Ducati 999 or Aprilia Factory. But what are the 'alternative' two-pot choices?

Posted: 1 February 2007
by Jon Urry

In the beginning there was the single cylinder motor. Man saw the single and saw it was good. Soon after he mounted it in a frame with a wheel attached to either end and saw it was better. Then he realised that two was better than one - the twin was born and man was pleased. Then woman arrived, told man that he should stop mucking about with silly single track vehicles, get a job and start saving for a family car, perhaps an estate. Man was less pleased, and reluctantly set on the slippery slope to Volvo ownership.

To be truthful I'm not sure bike evolution went this way (I have a sneaking suspicion it probably didn't), but I never paid much attention at school, and anyway, 'history of the motorcycle' wasn't on the curriculum... Moving swiftly on, and back to the matter in hand: twin cylinder motorcycles. Specifically these four takes on the type, all quite different and with little in common bar the number 'two' - two wheels, two cylinders.

First we have Ducati's Multistrada, or Uglystrada, or whatever insult you care to throw at it. This all-roads moto, designed to take on any terrain short of a supercross track, and in style, thanks to Ducati's superb 1078cc, air-cooled, 90-degree V-twin motor.

Next is the Buell XB12R Firebolt, or 'Firefault' if you've previously owned one for any period of time. Erik Buell's radical and technologically advanced 'cycle uses a whole host of fresh ideas combined with the oldest - Harley-Davidson's push-rod, air-cooled V-twin 1203cc Sportster motor. It's a sports bike, but not as we know it.

Then we have the BMW R1200R. BMW's Boxer engine has been around longer than George Foreman and punches in the same heavyweight class. And punches well given the latest 1170cc development of the breed. Big, it is often said, is beautiful, but big and naked?
Finally we have the Hyosung GT650R. "The what?" you cry. Read on to find out more about this Korean 650cc V-twin, this could be our the future. Remember how we laughed at the Japanese and their rice burners just a few decades ago?

Hyosung GT650R

So what exactly is a Hyosung? Well, Hyosung is the Korean bike manufacturer that's leading the way in the Far East invasion of the bike market. Originally a scooter manufacturer, Hyosung has crept up the motorcycle food chain making a lot of parts for the Japanese bike industry, while on its own account building ever bigger bikes. That Hyosung makes the engine internals for Suzuki's massively popular SV range gives you an idea of the genesis of the GT650R.

Yes, check the bore and stroke: the GT's is the same as the SV650's. So Hyosung have made their own SV, only, here is the key, they've made it for a cheaper price, as you'd expect. An SV650S retails at £4599, the GT650R costs £3999 and has the same two-year warranty.

So what's the catch? Quality must be lower, right? Not necessarily. Inspecting the GT you can't help but be impressed. Inverted forks, a stylish fairing, adjustable footpegs and a really funky digital dash that has more than a hint of a 90s Casio watch about it. Yes, there are a few cut corners, the top yoke is truly massive and quite ugly, and the tail unit is a bit old looking but overall it's very impressive. And it even has a fuel gauge as standard, which is one up on Suzuki's SV.

And the ride is really impressive. With budget middleweights you have to allow some leeway for the suspension, which is always slightly poor, but the GT's isn't really that bad, no worse than an SV and the riding position is certainly comfier. Despite having a slightly race-rep riding position it isn't as extreme as an SV and I actually found it quite comfortable.

Somewhat unsurprisingly the Hyosung's engine felt almost identical to an SV's, although the old version. Next year Hyosung are aiming to inject the 650, but at the moment they are relying on good old-fashioned carbs, just like the previous incarnation of SV.

A large part of the SV's success has to be put down to the motor, because that little V-twin is a gem. And so it is with the GT. Despite only being a 650 it rips along at a decent pace, has a really strong midrange and a top end of over 100mph, which is also a bit of a worry because the GT's brakes are truly terrible.

It's not that often we encounter a bike with bad brakes these days but the Hyosung's are lacking in both power and feel. Although a similar twin-piston sliding caliper style to the SV, they lack strength. It is possible that the bike we tested was particularly bad, but we can only comment on what we ride.
So is the Hyosung a viable purchase? Yes and no. The price isn't to be sniffed at and the quality and ride is as good as an SV.

But when it comes to resale the Hyosung will suffer simply because of the brand. The SV650 holds its resale value well, but I can't see the Hyosung doing the same. At least for the time being. Also Suzuki are offering some great deals on the SV with dealers often willing to cut the price to nearer the Hyosung's. Yet with a ride and performance comparable to the SV it's very clear that this alternative Oriental bike is fast coming of age.

Click to read the BMW R1200R review

Hyosung GT650R Specs

PRICE NEW - £3999
POWER - 67.2bhp@8700rpm
TORQUE - 44.1lb.ft@7000rpm   
WEIGHT - 208kg
SEAT HEIGHT - 780mm   
TOP SPEED - 130.4mph   
0-60     - n/a

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Discuss this story

I owned a Norton a beemer have had a zzr11 a cbr600 an old school Duke and any number of in line fours and 2stroke twins ( 73 rides in total ) I now own a 20 year old Bros and my my latest love a Buell xb1200r and I can tell you it is everything a bike should be, it has more character than it has a right to, it corners like the 125 racers I rode for years (almost) it is good on gas is suprisingly comfortable on a run, and it is the bike that gets complete strangers over for a look and a chat, oh and the ladies love it, it's a harley with penache

Posted: 15/06/2008 at 06:46

wow, Hyosung GT650 got a good review, i always thought there were more to them than "oh look, another cheapy korean crap shit".

Posted: 15/06/2008 at 18:53

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