Kinetic Engineering collaborated with Korea’s Hyosung Motors in 2003 and launched a 250cc cruiser in a market that wanted nothing more than commuters. This is when the 150cc segment was just beginning to evolve. It was considered a brave move by Kinetic, but with big bikes hard to find back then, it instantly managed to find buyers for its limited quota of 200 cruisers imported from Korea. And then, the Aquila went into oblivion. From being the most expensive motorcycle in India, the Aquila 250 is now pegged as the most affordable V-twin currently on sale here. And this only goes to show how the Indian two-wheeler market has evolved over the past decade. Yet, there aren’t many entry-level cruisers, apart from the Bajaj Avenger and the Royal Enfield Thunderbird. So the Aquila 250 fills a valid void. The Aquila 250 of today is an evolution of the same motorcycle Hyosung launched in their first foray into the Indian market in 2003.
The Aquila GV250 still is a low slung, stretched out motorcycle with a large, classically rounded tear drop tank and big flared fenders. It’s heaped with chrome though some of it is plastic coated with chrome. The lines are pleasing and essentially follow a tried and tested, old school formula. The old twin exhausts have been replaced by a much nicer single, oversized chromed collector that flows with the design in a more pleasing manner than the previous upswept design. It rides on large chunky looking alloy wheels on both ends that help with building the illusion that it’s a large motorcycle. The ergonomics are also typically cruiser with forward set foot pegs and handlebars that stretch back to you, though it’s not as extreme as some larger low riders. The build quality has improved over the older motorcycle but there is still room for improvement. The indicator switches were hard to turn off and the fuel level indicator was very slow to indicate the right fuel level.
Fit and finish is rather good too. What’s even better is the comfort and the relaxed riding experience. In typical cruiser fashion, you sit pretty low on a well-cushioned saddle with forward-set foot pegs and a wide handlebar to cling on to. The riding position is bang on and it doesn’t require you to unnecessarily stretch your limbs to reach for the brakes or gear lever. And with 179 kilos to take care of, the Aquila feels nimble around town and isn’t as painful as some of the bigger cruisers. Riding long distance is something this cruiser loves doing and it does this in comfort. However, the firm suspension results in a choppy ride on bumpy surfaces and that could be an area of worry. Also, at higher revs, vibrations are felt on the handlebar and foot pegs, but then, they shouldn’t be too big a concern.
However, the engine and gearbox both lifted from the Hyosung’s GT250R sportbike. Yes, it’s a sportbike engine doing duty on a cruiser motorcycle and that’s where things start to going wrong for this otherwise an impressive motorcycle. Now, sportbike engines are high-revving units that offer full boost at the top of the rev-range. A typical cruiser motor should ideally offer strong low-end grunt and pull cleanly from lower down the rev range, from any possible gear. The Aquila’s V-Twin motor does exactly the opposite. Firstly, it doesn’t sound anything close to what a twin-cylinder motor should, and then it lacks power once on the move. This motor needs to be revved to 6,000rpm to extract respectable power, and while it pulls all the way to 9,000rpm, there isn’t much juice left in the engine once you’re past the 6,500rpm mark. The lack of torque is evident while cruising on the highway. If there’s a sudden need to accelerate, simply wringing the throttle won’t offer anything significant and it requires constant shifting of gears to stay in the meaty end of the powerband. Besides, the Aquila comes with a 5-speed gearbox, which is decent to operate. But a sixth gear would have made life much easier while cruising on the highway.
On the safety front, Hyosung offers the Aquila with a single disc upfront and only drum brakes at the rear, a combination that still does a decent job of keeping things under control in case of an emergency. However, ABS is sorely missed, on a bike priced at ₹2.69 lakhs, safety tech should have been standard.
Overall, The Aquila 250 is a good attempt by Hyosung to give us our most affordable V-twin motorcycle. The designers have nailed it when it comes to style and comfort. Build quality and fit and finish are good too. The nature of the 249cc engine doesn’t match the cruising requirements of the bike. But despite the flaws, the Aquila is still decent value for money. For those of you who have outgrown the Avenger and are looking at something bigger, here is Aquila 250 for you.
V-twin engines and cruisers are not really the quintessential rider’s way of life.
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