By: Dave Abrahams
Cape Town – First impressions can colour your whole experience of a motorcycle.
When I collected the Hyosung 250 Exiv R from the garage of the publication that had tested it before me, it hadn’t been run for a week or more. It was dirty, with the slightly seedy look of any motorcycle that’s been left to fend for itself, and seemed reluctant to start, although there was plenty of juice in the battery.
Even after it had warmed up and settled down to a slightly uneven idle, its throttle response was not what I was expecting from a fuel-injected, short-stroke quarter-litre single. It ran smoothly up to about half throttle (I didn’t push it any further on that first ride), but ran out of steam fairly early in the rev range, and seemed flat at any revs.
It was only after I got it home and cleaned it up that I noticed how neatly it was put together, with quality finishes, clever touches and obvious attention to detail. I found a spare set of four bolts under the saddle, which was when I discovered there were removable spacers in the footpeg mounts, making them adjustable by about 25mm fore and aft.
Over the next few days I commuted on the Hyosung, and became convinced that, in direct contrast to previous offerings from the Korean bikemaker, the Exiv was a great little sports bike let down by an underdeveloped engine and gearbox.
The seating position was distinctly short-coupled (on a wheelbase of just 1346mm, it would need to be) and the seat fashionably firm, but the neatly fabricated alloy clip-ons were mounted above, rather than below the upper triple clamp and the accommodation was by no means cramped.
The suspension was on the firm side of sporty even with my 106kg aboard, a clear indication of what the factory was trying to achieve with the fully-faired version of its X5 commuter. All its major masses – including that of the rider- were well centred, and the Exiv R could change direction like a cat chasing a squirrel.
The steering was quick, intuitive and accurate despite the narrow ‘bars (just 700mm across the end-weights) and the brakes - petal discs with high-tech opposed-piston callipers at both ends - were well up to the demands made on them by a bike that weighed just 155kg with a full tank of fuel.
My daily pre-dawn run to work was a lot more fun than I was expecting – especially the downhill part! – and I was pleasantly surprised at how legible the liquid-crystal instrument display was, even on unlit roads.
The Hyosung was well run-in when we got it, and returned very creditable fuel-consumption figures. Over two weeks of being ridden a little harder every day it gradually improved to a remarkable 3.88 litres per 100km.
It also became significantly more vibratious (or was that because the engine was spending most of its time in the upper half of the rev-counter display?) but what I didn’t notice was that it was also becoming stronger - until, near the end of the test period, I ran it flat out for the first time.
Without displaying any perceptible power band, it went up to an indicated 140km/h very smartly and, on the quickest of our three runs, just edged over the magic ‘ton’ to record a one-way best (into the wind, ironically) of 163 at 9600rpm, almost exactly on the factory’s quoted power peak.
It was a real disappointment, then to check the GPS afterwards and find that the true speed was only 143, reflecting a speedometer error of 14 percent – unacceptable in any terms – although fuel-consumption had shot up to 4.58 litres per 100km.
But it did lead me to check the true top speed against those of its competitors under the same conditions – notably, of course the Honda CBR250R, which achieved a GPS reading of 153, albeit with a very authoritative aftermarket tailpipe fitted.
In contrast Suzuki’s Inazuma (a twin, not a single, and therefore theoretically capable of much higher revs) could achieve only 132km/h at a buzzy 10 700rpm, and even Kawasaki’s hooligan-tool 300 Ninja - with an eight-kilowatt power advantage - was only good for a true 160.
She Who Has the Casting Vote rode the Exiv it for the first time near the end of our test period and was immediately struck by its agility and precision road-holding. It went, she said, exactly where she pointed it, steered intuitively and stopped well.
It was comfortable for her 1.8 metres, its ride firm without being bouncy, and the switchgear was both positive in operation and intuitively laid out, making the bike easy to get used to. When asked about the engine, she commented merely that its power delivery was so linear it was difficult to get a feel for it.
By the same token, we used the Hyosung as a paddock bike for a recent race meeting at Killarney, and it coped without stress, ferrying two adults from pits to photo-op and back all day.
And that really says it all; the Hyosung GD250 Exiv R is a cracking little sportster that gets underestimated because of its extraordinarily linear power delivery. It would have been easy to give it a peaky top-end rush, and thus a far more intense riding experience, but that would have made it a unpleasant in traffic and downright unpleasant two-up.
A sheep in wolf’s clothing? No, just more civilised than it looks.
FACTS - Hyosung GD250 X5 Exiv R
Engine: 249cc liquid-cooled four-stroke single.
Bore x stroke: 73 x 59.6mm.
Compression ratio: 12.0:1.
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 multiplate wet clutch.
Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by chain.
Front Suspension: 37mm inverted cartridge forks.
Rear Suspension: Offset gas-charged monoshock with stepless preload adjustment.
Front brakes: 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.
Seat height: 810mm.
Kerb weight: 155kg.
Fuel tank: 11 litres.
Top speed (measured): 143km/h.
Fuel consumption (measured): 3.88 litres per 100km.
Price: R39 500.
Bike from: Cayenne World, Kyalami.