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Hyosung

Hyosung TE450 MX ATV
Korea Steps Into The 450 Ring

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Handling

If there were one area where the TE450 begins to falter, it would most certainly be in the handling department.  Our test riders spent a solid two days fiddling with the fully adjustable suspension and never came away satisfied (or fully aware of the exact trouble of the design for that matter).  At slow speeds a rider could almost be convinced that the quad is stable and firmly planted.  This all changes the moment the first terrain imperfection enters the equation.  Once any of the wheels encounter a bump, dip, or even a square-edge rock or root, the TE450 can get pretty violent.  The back wheels seem to be just looking for an excuse to lose traction and the bars (thanks to strange steering geometry) wants to yank themselves free of even the strongest rider’s grip.  Our initial suspicion was that by tweaking the suspension, we could eliminate the handling woes (or lessen them at the very least).  Unfortunately the springy nature of the suspension could not be cured even when we turned the rebound adjustment all the way out.  In fact it appears as though despite a whole host of levers and clicker adjustments, the actual range at which the unlabeled suspension can be tuned is extremely limited.

However, we should clarify that we suspect a decent set of aftermarket shocks may cure the handling bugs permanently.  At the very least, a steering damper alone may be enough to keep the front end from skipping around.



On the Track

A majority of our testing was performed on an outdoor MX track as we suspect this to be the environment many potential customers would pilot the TE450.  The motor is strong enough and boasts a wide enough range to be competitive out of the box.  We blasted berms with the best of them and even powered through sandy whoops and off-cambers without a hint of complaint from the engine.  The shocks, however, force even the smoothest racer into carefully considering his lines and watching out for any braking or stutter bumps as the risk of loosing control or spinning out is always present.

On the Trail

As it stands, a bone stock TE450 is best suited to wide sweeping trails that allow for third-gear and under exploration.  As with the track test, power was never an issue so much as the shortcomings of the chassis itself.  The lower reaches of each gear are punchy enough to induce smiles on hard pack and an occasional wheelie was mandatory by every rider in attendance.  However, once the going gets rough or the speeds start increasing, that feeling of riding on the razor’s edge starts creeping up in the mind of the TE450 pilot.  Flat corners make the quad want to simply slide into an all out doughnut and the rear wheels tend to start creeping up alongside at about the middle of third gear and onward.  Throttle control is key and certainly counterproductive when one finds himself in a dead-locked drag race to the next corner.

Conclusion

After spending two days in the saddle of a brand new Hyosung TE450, the verdict was fairly unanimous from all of our test riders.  The quality, fit and finish of the TE450 is surprisingly good.  The brakes are powerful and linear, the seat comfortable, the bar-bend perfect, and the controls spot on.  The motor sounds great, revs hard, and gave us no instances to question its reliability.  Keep in mind that Hyosung has been in the cycle business for many years and that expertise (not to mention parts bin) clearly played a role in the development of the TE450.

The biggest fly in this machine’s proverbial ointment comes in the form of the chassis/ suspension package.  Normally we could simply dismiss a quad as a dune-machine or field blaster in this situation except that doing so downplays the potential of this quad’s motor.  Hyosung could have a legitimate contender here by simply swapping out the generic shocks for some aftermarket units (ala KTM or Polaris).  Sure the MSRP of the quad may take a slight bump in the process but riders would be far more willing to shell out the cash in knowing that their machine is competitive out of the box.

Additionally, if Hyosung wants to be taken seriously in the US market, they may want to consider ditching all of the road gear before sending the quads across the pond.  Reflectors and horns send mixed signals to potential buyers, especially the race-set who view even headlights as OEM overkill.

Finally, one test rider managed to summarize the TE450 experience best when he said that the machine felt like someone took his 2008 YFZ450 motor and shoved it into the frame of an old Yamaha Warrior.  In other words, it doesn’t take long for the engine to begin outperforming the chassis.  Hopefully Hyosung will seriously entertain the prospect of making a few changes to the spec sheet in models to come.  With a bit of fine-tuning, 450 shootouts in the future will be forced to include one more legitimate contender.

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