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What Happened to the Korean Invasion? Hyosung Promises Several New Models

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Hyosung GD250R

Not a few industry observers expected Korean manufacturers to take a sizable bite of U.S. motorcycle market share, just as they had done in the automobile industry. We speculated about this 10 years ago, ourselves. It didn’t happen, but Korean manufacturer Hyosung promises to introduce several new models over the next two years, including at least three this Fall.

Their current budget-priced models are getting long in the tooth, including the GT650 v-twin naked we tested a couple of years ago. Fun, and affordable, but hardly cutting edge.

We previewed one of the newer models, a fuel injected single that makes competitive horsepower, the GD250N (pictured below). This naked, along with the faired sport version pictured above (the GD250R), gives you some idea of the styling Hyosung is capable of. Expect new models to be modern … even edgy in the looks department.

This Fall a revised 650 twin and a new 250 single should be joined by a larger displacment single (400 cc) derived from the GD250R . Additionally, a new 125 unlikely to be featured in the U.S. market will target European and Asian sales.

Most other existing models should be replaced before the end of the 2017 model year. While much of the attention has shifted to India when it comes to low cost, overseas manufacturing, don’t count out the Koreans.

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Hyosung GD250N

61 Comments

  1. db says:

    A 400 single? I’ll be fairly interested to see how it compares to KTM’s Indian-built 390.

  2. Gary says:

    Thanks Dirck for the update. Too many judge Hyosung’s from their early days in the US. I think also that Hyosungs should be making more inroads soon as they are a good bike. Just late last year or early spring, there was a road race in Korea which featured 15 motorcycles on the 250 grid. 14 of those were Honda CBR250R’s, so it wouldn’t be suprising if those Honda’s would have won. But a Honda didn’t win, the only Hyosung GD250 that was entered, won, and quite convincingly too.

  3. fred says:

    And resale value, after 5000mls. you can’t give them away.

  4. mg3 says:

    Buy Korean, don’t buy Chinese. They are threatening war in the S. China Sea. They are commies. Wake up people.

  5. Grover says:

    No beak, no deal!

  6. Blackcayman says:

    Just a cursory look tells me many of their design elements have simply been lifted from other manufacturers.

    • Tyg says:

      As opposed to the totally unique Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha? Show me one motorcycle out there that doesn’t have some design elements in common with many other motorcycles.

  7. fred says:

    With the lower price bikes from Honda and Yamaha what kind of fool would buy a CF Moto. poor workmanship, poor dealer support, parts? terrible resale.

    • Grover says:

      Absolutely agree!

    • guu says:

      And those lower-priced Hondas and Yamahas are made in countries that have lower production costs than South Korea.

      • TURBOMAN says:

        The Honda CBR250/300/500 check where they are assembled..Maylasia..You can get parts over night for a Hyosung..Warranty is better than the Big 4..CF Moto 650 is put together well and rides better than the CBR 500..KTMs not all are assembled by CF MOTO..CF MOTO doesn’t have bad dealer support..Make a phone call and see ..You will get a American on the other line that will help you..Also parts are available over night just like the big 4..Hyosung and CF MOTO is on the move just like Hyundai and Kia..

        • Grover says:

          But that doesn’t make up for ugly styling and reliability issues.

          • TURBOMAN says:

            I do inspections for bikes..One came in with 90,000 miles..Also I see Suzuki recalled 220000 bikes,,Harley 46000 and Honda just had recalls on their 1000s lol..Hyosung 0 recalls..Styling and looks is a matter of opinion..

        • Skywax9016 says:

          Actually, those bikes from Honda (cbr250s, cbr500s) are assembled in Thailand not Malaysia, but that doesn’t mean that the quality is low. The first batch might have several problems, but the later batches seem to have been assembled more properly

  8. allworld says:

    I would have thought Hyosung and other brands would have been more established in the USA, by now. The reason would seem economical, the USA is a relatively small market for 2 wheelers. The cost of setting up shop vs. your return must be unattractive or they would be doing it.

  9. Neil says:

    I look forward to seeing more Korean motorcycles. Holds the N Koreans in check by making the South stronger. Chinese motorcycles are also an interesting development, they who are literally building a military Island FAR from China on a reef between Vietnam and Indonesia, literally like a James Bond movie with the soul-less troops lined up outside. – Harley and Victory SHOULD be building something besides what here in the potholed Northeast amount to back breakers. But I welcome Korean efforts in the meantime.

    • david says:

      +1. Aside from claiming other countries’ sea territories, I wouldn’t count on Chinese motorcycles due to its corrupted culture of deceived quality and quick profit. Chinese makes and sells millions of scooters to its neighboring countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, etc. with a dirt cheap prices of $300 or $400 a piece. The trade-off? The scooters have wheel bending when traveling over pot holes, get fired for no reason, broken down like whenever it likes. The poor are victims. But people learn their lessons and avoid Chinese cycles at all cost.

  10. Seems like nobody here has paid attention to the fact that sales of motorcycles in this country dropped about 50% in 2008 and have not recovered much since. Harley and other high priced brands are doing ok, but the Japanese brands are not. We used to sell 1100 units per year at the dealership where I wrench in the summer and it has been half that, with most of the product being ATV and UTV. Suzuki had to reorganize and have yet to do much. Hyosung may be looking at this market and questioning why they should bother.

    • MGNorge says:

      It’s always the same, off-shore brands (to the US) are always met with skepticism. Was that way with Japanese products in the 50’s and 60’s and look at them now! The Koreans are fully capable of producing world class products, take Hyundai’s current line of cars for example, so Hyosung could follow suit. While the world economy is rebounding it is not in all areas. I wish them well.

      • Joe Bogusheimer says:

        When the Japanese arrived in the 60s, there was a big opportunity to undercut the British and American bikes on cost, while outdoing them on quality/reliability. Also a huge baby boom generation that was interested in such things. These days there is not such an opening in the market – the Japanese can compete on price by producing in low cost countries, and they wrote the book on quality/reliability. I think even Hyundai would have more trouble breaking into our market today than they did in the 80s, as the content level for the price on all cars has gotten better and better in the last 10 or so years.

    • azi says:

      This. First thing to go during the global financial crisis was discretionary spending. Motorcycles are largely considered luxury goods in most Western economies. It wouldn’t have made much sense for Hyosung to develop and sell superbikes for the USA market when GM couldn’t even sell their own domestic cars. The Japanese Big Four pretty much stopped development of their sportbikes, and we can see the aftermath even now in Honda’s current lineup.

      The Japanese UJM takeover in the 1970s was a different scenario – they succeeded only because the Western industrial culture at the time was not conducive to development and quality. Almost everything made in the USA, UK and Italy in the 1970s was total conglomerate corporate rubbish. Even Jimi Hendrix had to burn his crappy CBS Stratocaster 🙂

  11. brian says:

    The 250 Hyosung I drove – mostly problem free and greatly moreso than a number of big name bikes I owned later – when I first got into street riding was surprisingly great and I wasn’t a brand whore then so I didn’t care. This being said, I’ve learned not to put so much of a dollar’s worth of stock into anything Hung says. Remember the Supermoto they were gonna produce? What about the electric scooter? No? Well then maybe you recall the Diavelish concept drawings that went as far as the edge of the paper?

  12. Jim says:

    I have been riding a Hyosung RT125 (home market) in Seoul for the past two years, and I am looking forward to going back to states in a few months and riding a proper machine. The little Hyosung works well enough in the city, but I really think the brakes are made of wood.
    The thing about motorcycles in Korea is that the Koreans still very them as oversized scooters.

  13. Gutterslob says:

    Oh, the Koreans still invaded. They just opted to invade with crappy music and iPhone knock-off phones instead.

    • mickey says:

      I’m old enough to remember as a kid in the 50’s the exact same things (only it was transistor radios and small motorcycles) about the Japanese. That sort of turned out alright. Even my dad who was anti Japanese after WW2 ended up riding Hondas and Yamahas before he passed.

  14. TimZ says:

    Yes, Gentlewheelers, the Chinese are coming.

    With more motorcycle manufacturers than the rest of the world combined and with more engineering graduates than any other five countries working on battery power, fuel cell technology, diesel applications, suspension development and streamlining efficiencies, any crass remarks right now may well to your eating sizeable crow in five years.

    Wanna bet what that tastes like in ten years?

    These are companies thinking in the long-term, aided by an export-oriented state authority and able to control pricing to a level not seen in the Western world.

    And bikes can only get better.

    • Norm G. says:

      Q: Wanna bet what that tastes like in ten years?

      A: chicken…? dunno.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “eating sizeable crow in five years.”

      Mmmmmm. Crow fried rice.

    • david says:

      Sure but the Chinese needs to start stealing technology from Japanese and European now in order to have it ready in 5 years. Thanks for the great predictions. Hope it won’t materialize so the world won’t be filled with crap motorcycles.

  15. John says:

    I’d rather be bikeless almost.

    • goodlyRun says:

      Right!?

      • TURBOMAN says:

        Suzuki over 220000 recalled bikes..Harley 46000 frecslled bikes..Ducatis pinegales recalls..HYOSUNG 0!!!

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          That’s because the number of Hyossungs sold in the US is hovering somewhere around zero.

          • mickey says:

            I was going to say Hyosung DREAMS that they could recall 220,000 bikes.

          • TURBOMAN says:

            Actually the GT 650R in 2012 combine sales of standards and LAMS – SPEC topped sales of any other sportbike..Here in the USA they are rocking in the southwest ..I know of dealers carrying as many Hyosungs as CBR 250/300/500 CBR600RR if not more..They are on the move just like all the noise people was saying about Hyundai..0 recalls lol..

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Best selling LAMS bike where? Seoul?

            I think you are just making stuff up, TURBOMAN.

            First, to be recalled, a manufacturer has to sell a pretty good number of bikes because it is consumers reporting flaws that lands am OEM with a recall campaign. So it isn’t the least bit surprising that companies that have been selling huge numbers of bikes for decades have large numbers of recalls. Second, Hyosung has indeed recalled bikes in the US, the latest of which is listed on the US website right now.

            I have ridden two Hyosungs (GT650 and GT250) and think they are decent motorcycles. However, there was nothing about them, even the price, that would have enticed me to purchase one over their Japanese competitors. That was true 10 years ago when I rode them, and seeing as they haven’t been updated too much at all since then I imagine that is true today as well.

          • TURBOMAN says:

            Making it up!!google http://www.bikesales.com.au ..Its in Australia not Seoul..As far as you riding one 10 yrs ago well they are fuel injected now since 2009 and the brakes have been updated also many cosmetic updates..Thier GV 650 pro cruiser will destroy any cruiser 1300cc and below V twin Jap bike in the 1/4 mile..A 650 spanking the big 4 ..Bring it..

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            That link didn’t really show me anything TURBOMAN, so I am not sure what you were trying to demonstrate. However, 2013 data for Australia says that Kawasaki sold 771 units of just the LAMS spec Ninja 300. That is 4.35 times more bikes than Hyosung sold altogether (177) that same year. So you can imagine my skepticism at your claim that the GT650R is the best selling LAMS bike when Hyonsungs total units don’t even come close to the sales of just the Ninja 300.

          • TURBOMAN says:

            2012 they had a good year in AU.

          • TURBOMAN says:

            As far as recalls the 1199 Pinegale which very few were sold somewhere near 0..had numerous recalls..Now their is a big difference between the 2 bikes in technology but for 25k bike their shouldn’t be that many recalls..Seems like Hyosung is on the move to being a good motorcycle..

  16. Grover says:

    Wonky it is. Americans don’t do wonky.

  17. YankeeCajun says:

    The problem is CFMoto. The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!

    • Matt Gustafson says:

      Doesn’t CFMOTO stand for counterfeit moto?

      • Andrew says:

        No it doesn’t. In fact CFMoto are arguably the best of the bad lot, producing some of the highest quality machines you can get out China (yeah I know… but still). They also produce KTM Duke 390 (in partnership with KTM) that is apparently of higher quality than the ‘original’ Duke – ‘original’ in this case meaning ‘made in India’.

        • Jonathan says:

          where is your proof of that?

          • TURBOMAN says:

            CF MOTO AND KTM HAVE FORMED A PARTNERSHIP OVER A YEAR AGO..

          • Matt Gustafson says:

            Could that partnership simply be due to KTM wanting to do business in China? At least in the automotive world if you plan to sell vehicles there you must have a partnership with one of the Chinese car companies or the government won’t let you in.

          • TURBOMAN says:

            I cant answer for KTM but the fact remains they are having their bikes not all assembled in China.Polaris just bought a Chinese company also..

  18. Jeremy in TX says:

    Maybe these guys will buy EBR? 🙂

  19. azi says:

    The GFC happened.

  20. xLaYN says:

    how they do to get those “power wheelies” photos on such a small machine? or are they “Kodak” moment photos that required use of clutch and throttle on generous quantities?

    • Well, he DOES have a heavy wrist on the right handlebar and a finger on the lever on the left… 😉

    • John A. Kuzmenko says:

      It’s because there weren’t any KC around at the time – Korean Cops.

      A 250cc sport bike won’t give you the kind of power and torque that has you getting your guts pushed back in the seat and producing effortless power wheelies everywhere.
      That’s 1,000cc sportbike stuff.
      Sure, you can wheelie, but it will probably be at lower speeds in the lower gears and probably involve some shifting of your body mass back in the seat along with timing the throttle and clutch.
      So, yeah, most likely a “Kodak moment” captured in an image where you don’t see how it was done.

      The reason you choose to ride a small bike like that is to take advantage of the physical laws everyone is governed by and not slow down as much for the corners.
      That’s the 250cc Single reward, not 150-plus rear-wheel horsepower and torque to match.

      That’s also why most guys around here wouldn’t want one of these small bikes – they want that high power and torque to push their guts back in the seat and hit the open roads and Interstate highways.
      Just hang around where riders meet and listen.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “Sure, you can wheelie, but it will probably be at lower speeds in the lower gears and probably involve some shifting of your body mass back in the seat”

        it’s how we punks roll on our BMX’s.

      • MGNorge says:

        Some of the most fun I’ve ever had on motorcycles was on bikes 250cc and less. That’s because I was a wide-eyed young kid who couldn’t get enough. I never discount the value of smaller bikes because I know they have their place and that’s delivering two-wheeled fun to anyone who appreciates it. Learning to wheelie on a small bike probably hurts a lot less than on a big one, lower gears or not!