South Korea Builds a Sport Cruiser

Hyosung cruiser

Base MSRP (U.S.) $6,699; Engine Type 647cc DOHC V-twin, 4 valves per cylinder; Power 79 hp at 9,000 rpm; Dry Weight 480.6 pounds; Seat Height 27.8 inches; Wheelbase 67 inches; Front Tire 120/70 ZR18 59W; Rear Tire 180/55 ZR17 73W; Fuel Capacity 4.2 gallons

I never turn down an opportunity to ride a new bike, so when Ross Walls, owner of Rising Sun Cycles in Harriman, asked if I would like try out the new Hyosung cruiser, of course I said yes. Rising Sun has been an official Hyosung dealer since last December, but this was the first time I had seen their product. Hyosung has only been in the U.S. market as its own manufacturer since 2005.

Hyosung (pronounced Ho-Sung) is a South Korean company that has been building bikes since 1978, and has been building SV650 and SV1000 motors for Suzuki for years. According to Ross, every Suzuki SV engine ever made came from Hyosung. In case you don't know, Suzuki SV650s are known to be some of the most reliable and trouble-free engines out there. If the Hyosung power plant is like an SV's, they have the base for a good machine.

So what is the GV650? As Ross accurately described it, it is a cruiser with a V-twin sportbike engine. The styling is cruiser all the way, with a long, low look, and a feet-forward seating position. Looking at the GV you can see styling hints from other cruisers. The gauge package is similar to a Harley V-Rod's, and the exhaust is reminiscent of a Yamaha Warrior.

Hyosung must also own a large chrome plating operation, because the bike is covered in the stuff. In fact, taking its picture was a challenge. It was hard to find an angle where there wasn't glare or a reflection. The fit and finish of the bike was much better than what I've seen on other non-Japanese bikes.

Ross told me to ride the bike as long as I wanted, and that it "likes to run." He was absolutely correct. I do not know how close the design of this 647cc motor is to a SV650 Suzuki, but it felt very similar. The fuel-injected motor is claimed to have 79 hp at 9,000 rpm, which would be about what Suzuki claims with its SV650.

This motor is not a big-displacement, low-rpm torque motor that you lug around; it likes to rev and it likes to be ridden pretty hard. Accelerating away from the red light, the bike revs quickly, and this is complimented by a smooth-shifting transmission. Power is sent to the rear via a toothed belt. The dual front rotors provide good braking power for the lightweight bike; they aren't sportbike-powerful, but they are more than adequate for a bike this size.

Handling is light, especially for a cruiser, and on my short city street ride, the Hyosung-made suspension seemed to work pretty well. The tires sizes are reasonable, 120/70-18 front and 180/55-17 rear, so you don't get that weird, huge rear tire /skinny front tire feeling. The GV weighs only 485 pounds, and this light weight encourages you to really lean it into corners. However, the feet-forward riding position means that your heals hang down below the pegs, so they touch down first when you corner hard. Be careful and save your shoes.

One interesting aspect of this bike is that the majority of the parts are made by Hyosung, not purchased from others. Suspension, frame, brakes, gauges, and of course the engine, are all made in-house. The only part that is not made in-house is the fuel injection. Most manufacturers outsource parts in order to keep their cost down, but at under $7,000, the GV650 is a very reasonably priced bike.

Many people have had huge problems with cheap Chinese-made bikes that break down soon after purchase, and then they can't get parts for them. Don't get the two confused: Hyosung is South Korean, not Chinese, and Hyosung products come with a 2-year, unlimited mileage warranty.

Ross told me that getting parts is no problem. "We did a lot of research into the company before we took them on, and parts availability was a key issue. The Hyosung distribution center is in Atlanta, and they have a 95 percent fill rate. What this means is that 95 percent of all parts are in this warehouse, and they are delivered to us within two days."

If you like cruiser looks and riding position, but want a lighter bike and a sportier engine, the GV650 may be what you are looking for. You may not be familiar with the name, but with a 2-year, unlimited mileage warranty, you don't have much to worry about.

Thanks to Ross Walls for letting us try out the Hyosung GV650.