Just ask anybody who’s owned one—the liquid-cooled, eight-valve 650cc V-Twin may be the ultimate motorcycle engine. Light, torquey, zippy and fun for novice riders as well as roadracers, it’s created a whole new class, dominated by Suzuki’s SV650 until Suzuki stopped selling it and its standard-styled descendant, the Gladius a few years back.
Well, rejoice, as 2013 will see not just the return of the Gladius (now called the SFV650), but also a re-worked and improved Hyosung GT650. And who is Hyosung, you ask? We have yet to test one of these Korean-built machine at MD (although I have for other publications), but the company has been building a line of 647cc V-Twin standards, cruisers and sportbikes for some time now, sold in the USA under the Hyosung, UM and ATK brands.
Does it sound like an SV knock-off? Actually, although it shares a basic engine configuration and similar bore/stroke numbers, it has no parts in common, although it has a very similar power output (which should answer the charge of Hyosung building reverse-engineered SV650s—there are so many important differences between the powerplants it’s more a story of convergent evolution). It’s bolted into a heavy, industrial-looking steel frame that makes the bike weigh in about 50 pounds heavier than an SV, although it’s not much heavier than Suzuki’s (also steel-framed) Gladius.
But the Hyosung (say “Yo, Sung!”) has some problems. The GT650R sportbike suffers from old-looking styling and componentry that while somewhat effective, is made by companies you’ve never heard of, like TCIC Brakes. According to a Hyosung insider, that will change with 2013—the new GT650 standard and GT650R will use Delphi electricals, KYB suspension and one of the big Japanese brake manufacturers, probably Tokico or Nissin. Also, as you can see in the lead photo, the styling has been freshened up to a very satisfying (and suspiciously GSX-R-like) degree. That styling has been extended to Hyosung’s GT250R as well.
The best part of the update may be pricing. The updates can be yours for the additional cost of…zero. That’s right, we understand Hyosung will be leaving the MSRP of the GT650R and GT650 alone at $6299 and $5599 respectively. Two-tone paint schemes will reportedly be a $200 premium (they were $400 extra last year). With around 70 horsepower at the wheel, cartridge forks and dual four-piston brakes, that’s a lot of value when Kawasaki’s (very good!) Ninja 300 starts at $4799.
Suzuki announced it will be adding the SFV650 to its lineup for 2013. What’s an SFV650? It’s the motorcycle Formerly Known as Gladius, back with a swanky new gray/black paint scheme. We’ve yet to test this bike, but it should be entertaining—that SV motor is as good as 650 V-Twin fanatics say it is, and the low seat and wide bars should make the bike a fun and easy handler. It’s priced at $7999, which may drive some curious budget-minded folk into a Hyosung (or ATK) dealership. Whatever happens, there will be a few more middleweight V-Twins on the road—a very good thing.