HYOSUNG UPS ITS GAME: Korean bikemaker Hyosung has added a 250 X5R mini-sport bike to its South African range as an alternative to the usual 'commuter'. Image: Dries van der Walt
Hyosung is not an unfamiliar name among the South African bike community – the South Korean brand’s GT650 and GT250 have been on the market for years at reasonable prices.
Now a250 has been added to the mix – the X5R, a good-looking mini-sport bike aimed squarely at similar models from mainstream manufacturers. Imported by the Cayenne group, the faired X5R is joined in the showroom by its naked sibling, the X5.
In South Africa, with its big-bike culture, 250s are usually relegated to the role of deliveries or mundane commuters. Few are capable of maintaining highway speeds and those that are are usually costly enough to make a second-hand bigger bike a viable alternative.
An affordable small bike capable of keeping up with highway traffic for freeway commuting without sacrificing economy would be very welcome.
My initial impression of the X5R was a pleasant surprise. Having tested a GT650 a few years ago, I remembered that the Korean bike’s fit-and-finish were nowhere near its Japanese competitors. However, it seems KR Motors, owner of the Hyosung bike brand, has come a long way – the quality of the X5R is miles ahead of what I expected.
The X5R comes with a comprehensive LCD instrument panel similar to a more expensive machine. The display includes a speedometer, bar-graph rev counter, gear indicator and fuel and temperature gauges.
IMAGE GALLERY: Hyosung X5R mini-sport bike
Getting on the bike, I found it did not feel as small and cramped as I would have expected. Though visibly smaller than a mid-size machine, the proportions of the bike made for a comfortable fit. The seat is not typically sport bike-like – you’re still canted forward - but there is less weight on your forearms than on a bigger sport bike.
Although the bike is quite narrow, making it a pleasure in heavy traffic, the mirrors are big enough to give you good rear vision – something that bigger sport bikes can’t always boast.
EASY RIDE TO 120
When I was told the X5R could easily reach 120km/h I took it with a pinch of salt – it’s a claim I’ve often heard about small bikes, one rarely true. After spending a few minutes on back roads to make sure the engine was warm enough, I was eager to take the bike on to the highway to see what it would do. I selected a reasonably level stretch of road and found myself pleasantly surprised that the bike not only reached an indicated 120km/h but seemed perfectly willing to exceed it.
It later turned out that the X5R would happily reach 150, with the indicated speed dropping to just over 120 km/h on a steep gradient. The key to riding small bikes is to maintain momentum, which means accelerating as much as possible going downhill, and pinning the throttle well before hitting an uphill. With the X5R’s ability to maintain its speed up, this was a technique to which I rarely had to resort during the review period.
With acceleration that allows it to easily leave traffic behind at traffic lights, it does as well in town as it does on the highway.
STRADDLES MIDDLE GROUND
As with most faired singles, the X5R produces a buzz through the fairing at around 7500rpm. Although it diminishes at higher revs, it never quite goes away. That said, the engine is reasonably smooth, vibration is generally not a serious problem. In general, the X5R is an extremely pleasant bike to ride – it has that same je ne sais quoi that made the Bajaj Pulsar popular.
The Hyosung X5R firmly straddles the middle ground between an inexpensive but slower delivery-cum-commuter 250 and the quicker but pricier baby sport bikes.
It brings the fun and performance of the latter at a price around R15 000 less. The X5 and X5R deserve a closer look by anybody in the market for a small but competent bike.
Type: Liquid cooled DOHC 4-valve single
Maximum Power: 20.59kW @ 9500rpm
Maximum Torque: 24.17Nm @ 7000rpm
Fuel supply system: Fuel injection
Fuel type: Unleaded
Fuel consumption: 3.5 litres/100km
Type: Constant mesh, close ratio 6-speed
Final drive: Chain
Overall length x width x height (mm): 1937 X 1100 X 700
Kerb weight: 155 kg
Fuel tank: 11 litres
Front: 300Ø petal spoke mounted single disc, 4 opposed pistons calliper, stainless-steel mesh hose
Rear: 230Ø petal single disc, 2 opposed pistons calliper, stainless-steel mesh hose
Front: 37Ø Upside-down telescopic
Rear: Dual side aluminum swing arm with gas-charged hydraulic shock-absorber
WHEELS & TYRES
Tyre, front: 110/70 R17 54S
Tyre, rear: 150/60 R17 66S
PRICE: R44 900