Johannesburg - For many years there's been a huge hole in the South African motorcycle market between the 125cc learner machines - mostly built to EU regulations with less than 9kW output - and the (very expensive) 600cc streetbikes, boasting more than 60kW and some of the most sophisticated running gear this side of a racetrack.
Recently, however, there's been a revival in the quarter-litre class, including the Kawasaki 300R Ninja and Suzuki 250 Inazuma twins, and the Honda CBR300R single - and now the Hyosung 250 X5R.
Korean manufacturer Hyosung has leveraged a technology tie-up with Suzuki - the best-known fruit of which was the GT650R sports V-twin - into a range of small and medium-sized machines that share nothing with Hamamatsu other than their impressive level of quality control.
In fact the X5R is the first example of an all-new range of motorcycles the brand is planning to launch in the next two years.
What you are looking at here is a 249cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, twin-cam four-valve single for which the makers quotes 20.6kW at 9500 revs and 24.2Nm at 7000rpm, housed in a very European-looking tubular-steel frame.
Front suspension is by 37mm upside-downies, rear-wheel modulation by a cast-aluminium swing-arm and an offset monoshock (mounted directly to frame and swing-arm without any linkages) adjustable only for preload.
PURE SPORTS STYLING
A conscious effort has been made to concentrate the major masses near the centre of effort, with the fuel tank tilted to the rear, low down behind the airbox and directly over the engine, and a boxy little muffler directly under it.
More than that, Hyosung has deliberately kept the drive-train compact and mounted it well forward to enable a long (553mm) swing-arm within a cobby 1340mm wheelbase, a recipe distilled in the middle 90s by Yamaha design genius Kunihiko Miwa for improved power delivery and very quick turn-in. Factor in the X5R's wide, tapered handlebars, high footpegs and claimed 155kg kerb weight and you can expect hair-trigger reactions coupled to decent stonk out of corners.
Styling is pure race-replica, clean and angular with quite restrained graphics; at first glance the bike looks more Italian than Oriental.
Previous Hyosungs have been great fun to ride, with taut handling and sweet if unsophisticated engines, but generally let down by poor brakes. This one rejoices in a 300mm front disc gripped by the first four-piston calliper we've seen on a production bike from Korea, so will hopefully improve on its predecessors in that respect.
The X5R is available now from Cayenne dealers at R44 900.
FACTS - Hyosung GD250 X5R
Engine:249cc liquid-cooled four-stroke single.
Bore x Stroke:73 x 59.6mm.
Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.
Power:20.59kW at 9500rpm.
Torque:24.17Nm at 7000rpm.
Induction: Electronic fuel injection.
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital with electronic advance.
Clutch: Cable-operated wet multiplate clutch.
Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by chain.
Front Suspension:37mm inverted cartridge forks.
Rear Suspension: Monoshock, adjustable for preload.
Front brake:300mm disc with four-pot opposed-piston calliper.
Rear brake:230mm disc with twin-pot opposed-piston calliper.
Front tyre:110/70 - 17 tubeless.
Rear tyre:150/70 - 17 tubeless.
Fuel tank:11 litres.
Price: R44 900.