We recently got our hands on a Hyosung TE450, which is a Taiwanese-built sport machine aimed at ATVs such as the YFZ450 and the TRX450R but priced like a Honda 400EX. While expectations were mixed, we took off to test our Hyosung without bias, because we encourage the development and release of new model machines from anyone willing to build them the right way.
WHAT IS A HYOSUNG?
Hyosung is a Taiwanese manufacturer that designs and builds motorcycles, ATVâ€™s, and streetbikes, mostly for the European and Asian market. Their first venture into the sport ATV world yielded the TE450, a dual overhead cam, four-valve, four-stroke single with a five-speed manual transmission and chain drive. It has the makings of all the popular sport 450â€™s, with dual A-arms up front and a solid-axle swingarm in the rear. The machine looks the part, with sharp lines in the plastics and a double stacked headlight, a la LTZ400. It comes equipped with Kenda Dominator tires wrapped around aluminum wheels, with piggyback reservoir shocks all around. The machine also has reflectors, mirror mounts and a horn, because itâ€™s street-legal in Europe! All these parts add weight and are unnecessary in the US market, but most are easily removable. It is cheaper than the J-models, coming in at $5999
HOW FAST IS IT?
Scary fast. Now this is a hard concept to explain. Compared to other 450 machines, it is similar in power. The thing that makes this machine scary is that the chassis cannot deal with the power. On top, there is a surge of power that breaks the wheels loose and rockets the TE forward like an unguided missile. And we mean unguided.
WHAT ABOUT THE HANDLING?
The steering geometry is odd, so handling is overly responsive and difficult to control. This is most likely due to poor shock dampening and a strange angle on the spindle. Over every bump, the steering jerks you around violently. We would like to install a steering dampener to see if it would make riding the machine more enjoyable, but aftermarket shocks are in order, also. We attempted to adjust our shocks to slow the rebound, but they still felt like pogo sticks.
IS IT COMPETIVE WITH THE BIG-NAME 450S?
Not in stock form. Weâ€™re sure that a good set of shocks and wider A-arms with revised geometry would make this thing a blast to ride. It is built a little heavy, though, and you can tell just by looking at it. The rear axle carrier is about the size of a football, and the nuts on the axle look like they came right off the Titanic. With a few adjustments in the next model year, this could be a contender. But in its current form, itâ€™s not.
IS IT A JUMPER?
It depends on how gutsy you are. Even over small square-edged bumps, the rear end kicks up uncontrollably, and itâ€™s all over the place in the whoops. Jumping even small amounts causes harsh landings and a lot of bouncing, and weâ€™re not too sure how strong the footpegs are, either.
WHAT ABOUT POWERSLIDES?
Again, the handling of the machine holds it back here. Itâ€™s got tons of power to slide, but you have to keep the motor revved to use it. It will powerslide and blow poofy berms into next week, but itâ€™s like piloting a B52 bomber; it takes some training. The back end tends to come around very easily, especially under full throttle.
HOWâ€™S THE SUSPENSION?
Deceiving. The suspension looks like the high-tech shocks youâ€™ll find on any modern sport 450, but they donâ€™t work exceptionally well. There is a lack of damping that makes the shocks very springy, and you can feel it even by standing on the machine while itâ€™s parked and rocking back and forth. You can hear the pistons in the front shocks slapping their travel limit! With as much power as this machine makes (Hyosung claims about 51 horsepower), it needs revised suspension.
WHAT ABOUT TRAIL COMFORT?
Surprisingly, the seat and handlebars are fairly comfortable. Some of our testers complained about the small parking brake lever getting in the way of the clutch, but the adjustable front brake lever and reverse are welcome features. The Hyosung has a lighted display, but ours showed a low gas light no matter how much gas was in the tank. Also, the gas cap doesnâ€™t stay tight, and it skips threads, almost like the tank and the cap have two different thread sizes. Gas leaks through the threads on the cap all over the gas tank while youâ€™re riding, which is dangerous.
HOW ABOUT THE BRAKES?
The brakes are sweet. The rear disc is so large that thereâ€™s a rumor that Hyosung lifted it from one of their streetbikes! Nevertheless, it provides great stopping power. It is, however, very vulnerable, and heavy to boot. The front brakes have a nice progressive feel, and the adjustable brake lever fits any hand size.
WHATâ€™S OUR FINAL ANSWER?
The TE450 feels like a machine that was rushed onto market without enough R&D. Hyosung has a great concept, but there are many flaws that make it difficult to ride. Also, the fact that the gas leaks out of the tank is very dangerous, and could start a fire on the trail. All in all, Hyosung needs to make some adjustments before the TE450 is ready to take on the bigger manufacturers.