I purchased this 2008 Hyosung GT650S new on Feb. 10, 2009. For a machine with such an attractive price tag the GT650S has an amazing array of desirable features, including:
Adjustable front brake lever with 6 available positions
2 trip odometers
Locking under-seat storage space
Digital speedometer, analog tachometer
Quality Bridgestone Battlax tires as standard equipment
4-way hazard warning flashers
"Flash-to-pass" handlebar high-beam switch similar to many European machines
Conveniently located idle speed adjustment
Easily accessible oil filter
3-position adjustable rider footrests
17 liter (4.5 US Gallons) fuel capacity
Comfortable semi-upright riding position
Built-in rear bungee cord hooks
Adjustable suspension - front damping and rear spring pre-load
Easily accessible fuses
A neat, well-wrapped wiring harness using a flexible braid sleeving at the steering head - a nice touch
Automatic vacuum-operated fuel valve
Interestingly, there is no engine oil pressure (or oil level) switch, so engine oil pressure or level is not automatically monitored.
Manufactured in South Korea, similarities with the Suzuki SV650 are undeniable however the GT650 is very much its own unique machine in design and construction, this includes the engine.
The GT650S is pictured above at an elevation of about 3231 meters (10600 ft) on Colorado Route 103.
Despite what you may have read or heard about Hyosung or Korean motorcycles in general, overall fit and finish and assembly quality in particular looks to be very good indeed. After a close inspection of the entire machine the worst "fit and finish" issue I can find is the right front corner of the rear seat does not fit down tight against the frame rails, resulting in a larger gap at the front right side of the rear seat compared to the front left side. It is visible in the photos if you look very close.
I can find little else wrong with the fit and finish and am quite surprised and pleased with the overall attention to detail. Even the tools in the tool kit are of acceptable quality!
The half-faired GT650S is a beautiful machine which is also offered in a "naked" GT650 version and fully-faired GT650R version. As is my style, I plan few, if any, modifications for the GT650 - no aftermarket exhaust cans, windscreens, rear fender eliminator, LED turn signals, etc.
ronh.org GT650S video
This 6 minute, HD-quality video starts at the beginning of Colorado Route 5 and features a springtime ride on Mt. Evans. It's not a fast ride but it is snowy and spectacular!
Recorded on 2014-05-29 (May 29, 2014).
This 11 minute, HD-quality video features a summertime ride up Colorado's Mt. Evans, the highest paved road in North America. It's a Hyosung riding adventure!
Recorded on 2013-06-20 (June 20, 2013).
This 12 minute, HD-quality video features a wide variety of roads - low-speed, high-speed, paved, gravel, smooth, not-so-smooth all on a beautiful day with great scenery!
Recorded on 2013-05-17 (May 17, 2013).
This 5 minute, HD-quality video starts in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and features snow-lined Route 103 and frozen Echo Lake.
Recorded on 2013-05-16 (May 16, 2013).
The pics below are from various rides on this fine machine.
Total kms traveled so far is 25121 (15603 miles). My thoughts and impressions about the GT650:
Handling is surprisingly neutral and stable - it tracks around corners like it's on rails and steers beautifully
The front and rear brakes seemed a little weak at first but now at over 15000km (9321 miles) the brakes are working well and I have no complaints
Carburetion is perfect (later models have fuel injection)
The engine starts readily, hot or cold
The transmission is a little notchy and imprecise at times, but regardless, I have (still) never missed a shift. As the miles accumulate, transmission operation is improving and is certainly acceptable, but at times still does not have the precision feel and smooth operation of some other machines.
Clutch operation is superb - initially, frequent adjustments were required to maintain the specified 2mm of free play at the clutch lever. After approximately 3500 kms (2175 miles) the clutch plates seem to have bedded in nicely and frequent adjustments are no longer necessary. If you have or are contemplating the purchase of a GT650 I recommend that clutch lever free play be monitored closely.
Riding the machine it feels very solid and well-built
It would be nice if the hinged fuel filler cap opened a little wider
The rear suspension seems excessively stiff and oversprung even on the lowest preload setting
The engine runs smoothly and quietly with a very low level of mechanical noise
The mirrors are surprisingly good, always providing a clear view to the rear - in fact, other manufacturers of higher-priced machines could take a lesson from these fine mirrors (are you reading this, Ducati?!) And yes, I own one of those "higher-priced" machines!
The speedometer is about 10-12% optimistic with regard to speed readings
The tachometer is nicely illuminated for night riding but oddly the needle is not (this has been corrected on later models via a revised instrument cluster)
At approximately 214 kg (472lbs) full of fuel, the GT650 is not a lightweight but as mentioned above is solid and well-built
The engine is nicely responsive, revs freely through the gears and to me has a very engaging character. It moves the machine along with seeming ease and gives the feel of being sturdy and well-constructed. It's simply a fabulous motor in my opinion.
A little additional steering range would be appreciated, a condition certainly not unique to this machine
The Hyosung has been a reliable and consistent performer even at elevations of over 4000 meters (13123ft). For photos from 2 of these rides I invite you to view my Mt. Evans Springtime Ride photo essay.
I have performed all scheduled maintenance myself. Oil and filter changes are simple and straightforward. A valve clearance check at 979 km (608 miles) showed all clearances to be within specification. Readings obtained during a subsequent clearance check at 6500 km (4037 miles) were for all practical purposes identical to those obtained earlier. Update 2011-04-17 - In another routine valve clearance check at 14822 km (9206 miles) all readings were in specification and again were identical to those obtained earlier - the top end (in fact the entire engine) seems amazingly robust and stable. In performing the clearance checks, the top end of the engine gives the impression (at least to me) of being very nicely constructed with finely machined surfaces held to tight tolerances.
Judging from this machine I would not hesitate to purchase another Hyosung and certainly would not hesitate to purchase another GT650 - it has many fine qualities and I very much enjoy riding it. Plus, it seems to be getting better (transmission operation, engine performance, braking) with every ride!