Test Ride: NAZA BLADE NB650
It seems that a local automotive company has also realised that there is a huge demand for a cheap superbike. Having such strong ties with the Koreans, our friends at Naza Bikes have managed to bring in a Korean superbike which is impossibly cheap.
At RM25, 765.79, the Naza Blade NB650 is in fact the cheapest superbike in Malaysia.
But does cheap usually means good? We have been raided with dirt-cheap China scooters/ mopeds and their quality is so low that I can give my daughter’s Fisher and Price tricycle a better rating.
So let`s take one NB650 out for a spin and see how it fairs, shall we?
Now Naza Bikes has no intention to hide the fact that this is a rebadged Hyosung Comet 650. Why should there because the Comet is selling very well in Australia and Europe, thanks to its lower price and good overall package.
This is a naked bike, sans fairing or any other plastic shroud. There is only one colour available, metallic royal blue.
Huge round headlights with turn-lights popping out on stalks from its sides give the bike such a retro look. The tank and the tailpiece have curves at the right places. Paired with a twin spar steel tube chassis, the bike looks pretty good.
Hyosung actually started off with the help from Suzuki of Japan. Many believe that the Comet 650/Blade 650 is a rip-off version of Suzuki’s SV650N. Well friends, it is not.
The Blade 650 has five more extra horsepower than the fuel-injected Suzuki. The 647 cc Korean 4-stroke, twin-cylinder V 90 DOHC 8-valve engine is liquid cooled and runs on two
39 mm Mikuni carburettors. It kicks out 79 hp at 9,000 rpm with torque rated at 68.1 Nm at 7,200 rpm. Not bad really but the Suzuki however has a lighter aluminium chassis and the Blade’s steel tubing chassis robs off the extra power it has.
Suspension wise, the Blade has a pair of upside down 41 mm Daesung adjustable forks. Though the name is not that convincing, it performs as well as it looks. The rear has a steel swingarm with a Daesung monoshock.
If you need to stop, you have a pair of steel discs at the front end (300 mm) and a smaller 260 mm single disc at the rear end.
Ride and Feel
I got about a month to play around with this bike. This bike has been the talk of the town, and there are more people checking on this bike than any other superbikes that I have ridden. This I believe is partly because that many can afford to have one.
Unfortunately there are too many negative reviews about the bike, either by “experienced” superbikers who believe their Japanese/Italian/American machines are the best, or by forummers in online-forums who heard bad stories about the bike from their so-called reliable sources.
To be frank, this bike is not that bad. Perhaps that is why those who have bought pricier bikes are quite scared that this “cheap” Korean bike will whack them on the road.
Once on the bike, you will be greeted by a pair of meter pods which either look old-school or perhaps too simple. You get a temperature gauge but no fuel gauge. What you do get are two warning lights, one for half tank and another for empty.
Brake lever is non-adjustable and the switchgears look cheap but both feel okay. Nothing drops or comes loose at the end of the one-month test period, except for one engine mounting which starts to wriggle around. A quick work with a spanner settles it without any drama.
Thumb the starter button and the engine starts with a crackling noise from its big exhaust. Thanks to the precise cable-operated clutch, gears are easy to select. Sometimes I do get a false neutral but most of the time, the gearbox acts out okay.
The Blade feels really small and nimble. Push it out on straight roads, it can speed you up to excess 200 kmph. But during those high speeds, wind gets a bit too strong. Perhaps a small bikini fairing on top of the meter pods will do just nice.
Taking corners is what a V-twin naked bike is good at. With expensive Pirelli Diablo tyres as standard OEM, you get massive grip and feedback from the rubbers. The suspension however, needs a little tuning. The standard set up makes the tail jiggles over bumpy roads. After adjusting the rear end slightly harder, it performs better.
The brakes need some reworking too. The front end does not really bite and you have to pull the lever quite hard. In the end, you will use the rear brakes initially before gradually transferring it to the front. It works on dry tarmac, but I do not have the guts to try it out in the wet. The last time I did that, the rear came swinging forward.
The Blade 650 shines really well in the city and on some hilly roads with loads of nice curving roads. You do not have to go fast on such roads, but you need a nice mid-range torque to push you out of the corners. That is what the Blade 650 can offer you.
The Blade 650 is a good beginners bike. Yes, its smaller sibling, the Blade 250 is also a good choice but if you have some experience in riding and you can handle a bit more of power, grab the Blade 650. Ride it for a year and two to learn the basics of riding and later swap it for a bigger bike.
Naza Bikes is offering financing packages for the Blades (up to 70%). It is a good move because the more affordable the bikes are, the more people will be riding them on the road. This will then generate a stronger two-wheel market here and hopefully, the golden days of riding will once again come back to Malaysia.
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