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Hyosung

Hyosung TE450 MX ATV
Korea Steps Into The 450 Ring

Hyosung TE450 MX
Hyosung TE450 MX

If you need further proof of the rapid development of the highly competitive 450cc race ATV class, look no further than the sheer number of manufacturers offering an entry this season.  The Hyosung TE450 represents the eighth manual transmission 450cc performance model we’ve looked at this season (the others of course being the Honda TRX450R, Yamaha YFZ450, Suzuki LTR-450, Kawasaki KFX450, Can-Am DS450, Polaris Outlaw 450 MXR, and KTM SX450).

For those unaware of just who Hyosung is, rest assured they are a Korean based manufacturer with a rich heritage in powersport/ motorcycle production dating back to 1978.  Despite the fact that they have been steadily establishing a dealer network here in the U.S., a majority of their global sales cater to the European and Asian market.  The TE 450 (and the rebadged United Motors version) represents the company’s first stab the performance 450cc class and as such it bears much of its configuration to the standard fair: Dual A-arm front suspension with piggyback reservoir-equipped shocks, a solid axel and mono-shock setup in the rear, chain drive, 5-speed manual transmission, and a liquid cooled dual overhead cam 450cc four stroke single providing the muscle.

Upon first glance, the quad looks sharp and purposeful with racing inspired plastic (available in black and red color options) and a wide, low center of gravity.  Little touches like Kenda Dominator tires all around and an aftermarket-styled muffler make the ATV stand out in a crowd.  Hyosung boasts two claims to fame with the TE450: First, with a claimed power output of 51 horses, the lightest power to weight ratio of all of the 450s.  And second, with an MSRP of $5999, it is the cheapest entry in the class.




Odds and Ends

Before we even get to the details of the actual ride experience, we have to comment on some of the oddities that will certainly be noticed by most before they even press the handlebar-mounted starter.  Yes, there are two levers where one normally expects to find only the clutch.  The second slightly smaller (and higher) mounted lever is the parking brake.  It appears to function efficiently enough, but more than one test rider complained of accidentally grabbing it when reaching for the clutch in a panic.  Additionally, the quad is peppered with running gear that normally accompanies street bikes.  Reflectors, threaded mirror mounts, and even a horn come standard.  When asked, Hyosung claims that the model is actually street legal in several countries across the pond and thus comes equipped to deal with such regulations as required (which explains why early photos of the quad often showed it wearing supermoto-style tires).  Obviously here in the states, not only is the ATV sold for offroad-use only, we suspect those looking to shave weight for racing will start by ditching the street gear and then continue eliminating non-necessities such as fenders and lights anyway.  Still, we must admit that it certainly looks strange to find turn signals on an ATV.

Ergonomics

Once the initial shock of the vehicle’s odd choice of standard equipment wears off, the actual experience of climbing on board is surprisingly standard-fair.  The reach to the bars is natural and comfortable and the quality of the components looks and feels very much like their Japanese counterparts.  The riding position is fairly neutral and confidence inspiring and the overall feel of the quad can be most accurately compared as somewhere between the Honda TRX450R and the Yamaha YFZ450.  It isn’t quite as tight and nimble as the Kawasaki KFX nor is it as squatty and stable as the Suzuki LTR.  We were impressed with the ergonomics and layout of the quad right off the showroom floor.  A quick stab of the e-start button sparked the 450 to barky life.  We broke our test into two main environments:  A sandy motocross course and a hard pack woods section in effort to isolate the TE450’s strengths and weaknesses.  Here is what we uncovered…

Speed

While the best power to weight ratio in the class is quite a claim, we can’t accuse Hyosung of exaggerating, at least not in the power output portion of their claim.  While we didn’t have an opportunity to put the TE450 on the dyno to verify it, we can state with confidence that an estimate of 51 horsepower isn’t too far off.  The quad begins making power down low and builds steadily to the upper reaches of each gear with linear authority.  A bit too much throttle will break the rear tires free in most any gear.  We noticed the back end displays a definite tendency to start creeping up beside the rider on the hard-stuff especially.  Often times the only means to get the quad to straighten out during acceleration was to actually let off the gas:  A shame that so much power is lost in translation due to the limitations of the chassis.  Truth be told it is the suspension action, or lack thereof, that causes many of the handling bugs we encountered but more on that later.

To answer the question is the Hyosung TE450 fast, we can honestly report that it is easily on par with the efforts of its classmates.  With some upgrades, this quad could certainly be competitive against the brands mentioned above.

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