Chinese Motorcycles – Growing Fast

This really isn't news to anyone, we've written about Chinese motorcycles many times but it just seems like things are moving faster now. Here at The Kneeslider, email arrives almost every day from one Chinese company or another announcing their new motorcycles or motorcycle engines. If you follow their link you'll find one of thousands of similar products being offered by some new company, which may have been formed a few months before and now "in production" with their all new small displacement bike.

A few companies are establishing themselves in this country with a U.S. based importer / assembler and some even have a design team here helping create products specifically for the American market. A friend of mine recently added Qlink to his dealership which are CF Moto motorcycles imported from China and supported with a presence over here. His take is they seem to be of decent quality and their automatic transmissions are winning some sales. Vento has been over here for a while and Zongshen is growing fast.

I just picked up the April issue of Motorcyclist and they have a pretty decent overview of many of the major new Asian companies, both Chinese and Korean, and if you read any of the industry trade magazines you know these companies are on everyone's mind.

In previous stories we've mentioned the issues of quality and counterfeiting, hopefully these are being addressed and one commenter who was looking to import motorcycles stressed the added problem of financial stability with many of these brand new manufacturers.

One issue I haven't heard addressed is product liability. U.S. manufacturers and the established majors from Japan and Europe have to contend with laws that hold them liable for defects in their products. Has anyone had to deal with this issue on a Chinese motorcycle? The local dealer certainly can't accept the liability and what are your chances with a company from China responding to your claims or concerns, especially if it's one of the smaller ones? With the rapidly increasing Chinese presence, someone ought to think about this because if you hold everyone else liable, you can't give them a pass. I think it may be a while before the laws catch up to the reality of the market and in the meantime, be very careful with your purchase.

Chinese motorcycles are here to stay and they'll be far more common each year. In these early years, we'll hear of numerous horror stories or dissatisfied customers but as time goes on, they'll diminish. Satisfied customers will report their experience, too. The bigger long term story will be how the established companies respond to this competition, and in some cases, things may not end well.

Comments

  1. todd says

    I say bring them on. Just look at what “Datsun”, VW, Toyota, Honda, etc. have done for quality/efficiency/styling/value standards in US automobiles. If it wasn’t for the VW bug or the Honda CVCC we’d all be driving around in Chrysler Cordobas or Ford LTD’s.

    -todd

  2. humanoid says

    I’ve read about a liability suit, but I don’t remember the name of the dealer or the brand. The jist of it was that the grip of a Chinese-made ATV allegedly came off at speed, resulting in a fatal accident. The victim’s relatives are suing either the people who sold it or the people who imported it- maybe both? I wish I could remember where I read this.

  3. says

    Most foreign motorcycle makers open up a US-based affiliate. For example, while Honda is a japanese company, you’re actually dealing with “American Honda Motor Co., Inc.”, a US-based “Class C” corporation.

    If they don’t operate a US-based affiliate, then they have to have a contract with a US-based distributor. The distributor would be liable.

  4. Bob Horn says

    From what I’ve heard, at least one line of aftermarket “Big Twin” engines, transmissions, and other high dollar parts for the custom bike market is made in ……..China.

  5. Prester John says

    I wish Chinese motorcycle builders/importers all the best, and the bottom end of the current America market has lots of oportunity.

    Differences between today’s Chinese imports and the Japanese imports of 40/50 years ago:

    >In general, the Japanese built their own designs; the Chinese build old/cast off/pirated designs of other companies. The most unique Chnese machines I’ve seen are the CFMotos, and they use copies of Honda Helix engines and transmissions (the Helix is one of the oldest designs on the USA market, BTW).

    >By the time most Americans had seen their first Honda, that company had won the IoM. Suzuki had won a World Championship off road. The only Chinese factory racing team I know about races a Suzuki.

    >Honda spent a dozen years buying the best American and European machine tools and copying the best factory practices. By the time they began exporting (~1960) they had world class, and even world best, quality. The Chinese, well, not so much, eh?

    >The successful Japanese companies built dealer networks and sold under their own name plates. The Chinese companies generally sell as rebranded private labels, and often name multiple, competing non-exclusive national distributors.

    It’s easy to import some bikes. It’s much harder to still be a player in 20 years.

    Best,
    Tom

  6. Prester John says

    Steve said in part: “If they don’t operate a US-based affiliate, then they have to have a contract with a US-based distributor. The distributor would be liable.”

    Yep. Of course, if the distributor is an LLP whose total assets are a rented storage facility and a cell phone….

    Tom

  7. terry linebarger says

    “…I’ve read about a liability suit, but I don’t remember the name of the dealer or the brand. The jist of it was that the grip of a Chinese-made ATV allegedly came off at speed, resulting in a fatal accident. …” – humanoids
    I believe the brand Was ‘Dinli USA’ in Dallas and is now defunct [ http://www.dinliusa.com ], in Texas. It seems someone set-up again in Georgia as ‘DinliSales’ [ http://www.dinlisales.com/contact_us.html ].
    As I vaguely remember ,the suit sought 3 meg in compensation and maybe settled for 1 meg.
    Seems everyone here is with the chinese-view; in that Dinli is a Formosan Company in Taiwan,[maybe Taichung City] and they bought-out the surplus IP at the Cannondale dispersal to include in some trendy BIG ATV….
    “…From what I’ve heard, at least one line of aftermarket “Big Twin” engines, transmissions, and other high dollar parts for the custom bike market is made in ……..China. …” – BoBHorn
    One again, we are/might actually be talking Taiwan with “Rev-Tech” and there are some trannys out there from Korea too. It is common for the HQ Sales Offices to have originally started in Taiwan and now they also off-shore on the main-land… CBR 600s are/were made by SsangYang and somehow get/got labeled as ‘made in nippon’ when they arrived here.
    It will all become a global mish-mash in the future: as I have seen some chinese componant factory master-catalogs that show major-bits adverted as OEM Supplier to that US V-Twin Motor Company. And some various suspension and brake bits have come from Nippon too, showa~nissin
    Anyway, China is Here; consumer demand will wash-out the junk-brands from one-year to the next and further consolidation in the new Cina Export Licensing will assist the establishment of their own Big 5……

  8. GenWaylaid says

    The experience with Chinese motorscooters over the past few years shows there’s a big difference between Taiwanese brands and mainland Chinese brands. Taiwanese scooter manufacturers have a large home market given the size of their country and usually build their own designs. The brands which have been imported, such as Kymco, TGB, and PGO (Genuine) are considered on par with European scooter manufacturers in terms of quality. The Taiwanese companies also take care when setting up distributor networks in the U.S. Overall, they are most nearly in the position the Japanese manufacturers were decades ago.

    The fly-by-night brands almost always come from mainland China. Most mainland manufacturers play fast-and-loose with parts sourcing, intellectual property, and branding. It’s hard to tell what you’re going to get in a Chinese scooter. A couple of companies like Baron and CFMoto are starting to buck the trend by establishing permanent dealerships in this country. The rest of the manufacturers just compete for the bottom of the market price-wise.

    I wonder if quality really does matter in the American market. Novice riders or those with only a casual interest in motorcycles seem motivated soley by saving money and unaware of potential quality problems. By merely underselling as many competitors as possible, a fly-by-night operation can sell container loads of motorcycles and scooters sight-unseen through a website. The result is an unsupported, essentially disposable product. On the one hand, these cheap bikes encourage many people to try motorcycling who otherwise wouldn’t be comfortable with the cost. On the other hand, they then quickly discourage many of those people by breaking down quickly or never working in the first place.

  9. chris says

    with all the companies trying to sell product, at least a few will actually succeed in the long run. lets just hope they figure something of their own style. and quit copying everyone else’s.

  10. says

    I have available Warranties and Extended Warranties covering all types of Chinese produced Powersport vehicles, including On and Off Road Chinese built Motorcycles, ATV’s and Personal Watercraft. I sell only to Manufacturers, Distributors and Dealers. No Warranties availbale to the retail Public.

    Please contact me at Phone: 949-282-8332
    Fax: 949-502-6634
    456 Saint Vincent
    Irvine, Ca. 92618 USA
    E-Mail: hcappel@cox.net

  11. says

    Have been trying a number of times this week to get names and addresses of local service and warrantee outlets representing road motorcycles sold by “PEP-BOYS auto parts stores here in the Dallas area of Texas,Was told by the “service Rep. that he could not give me this information as he gets over 100 requests per day ,and did not have time to handle them all.Apparentlty .Pep Boys could care less about service as they only give 90 days on parts only.A years extended warranty cost about $79,00 which is not bad ,as the 250 cc twin only cocts aboyt $1495,00The bike looks reallly well built and very nicely finished with nice detailing.As I was in the bike business many decades ago ,andHoeeewever, I wonder about parts availability. Any comments would be apppreciated. have a well equipped shop ,I can handle any repairs myself. Any comments would be apppreciated.- Thanks, Lionel.

  12. Henry says

    There comes a time in every man’s life when dreams of an ‘Easy Rider’ lifestyle fade away with wife and children. In the meantime, while the “chopper” is in mothballs, Chinese companies like QLINK, CF MOTO offer an affordable motorcycle product that’s fun to ride around town or on country roads. After all, isn’t that what motorcycling is all about? Just seeing the term ‘Interstate’ associated with motocycles is confusing to me.

    I ordered and received a QLINK Legacy 250 for under $3,000. The fit and finish of this bike are incredible. Yep, it’s only a 250 and yep, it’s an automatic. Some of my seasoned motorcycle buddies saw it, rode it, and went on to buy one. We like it so much; we plan to buy another so we can tool around together with the kids on the back.

    These Chinese bikes are not going to get the girls drooling for a ride, and you won’t terrorize country towns with the your exhaust growl. But, for those of us with families who still like the feeling of wind in our face at cruising speeds and who don’t need to inflate our egos with half a ton of American, Japanese or European metal between our legs, these Chinese bikes are the ticket.

    Be safe and enjoy the ride.

  13. Ron Berghofer says

    Hi kneeslider I just happened on your site & enjoyed all the talk of these Chinese motorcycles as one came up in the paper for sale very inexpencive I decided to fine out what I could about them. This one happen to be a 200GY & I went to see it,what a surprise,it looked very good & only had 400 miles on it .Then got on the net & found one by the name of Jetmoto that sells out of San Francisco ,a nice looking Enduro street legal for 1699.00 at thier place of business. Does anyone know anything about this machine?? I mean what can you buy new for that price?? You know the old saying if it looks to good to be true Its—- I Am an older retired dirt rider that wouldn’t mind finding something that was a dual sport to do some trail riding here in Oregon.. Is there anyone of these Chinese bikes more reliable than most for moderate easy trail riding that will get you back home ok??

  14. John s says

    I own 3 bikies made in china. I also own a honda rebel. There all nice bikes. the honda is a jem. but a 4000.00 jem. The bikes from china are great for 1500.00 ap And parts are all over the computer. As far as the law suit. you know what that is. lack of maintence failure to tighten up somthing. the first thing in you lic. driving manual is the vehical is yours you are responsible to be sure you machine is safe.Unless the axel brakes in half.

  15. Jason says

    I like chinese bikes!

    It is about time that motorcycles became affordable for lower income people. Chinese bikes just make life a little more fair.

  16. Jonathan Van Voorhees says

    Someone earlier in this thread was asking about the PEP BOYS motorcycles: I managed to get the phone number of one of the service reps. When I called I was told that they are no longer accepting warranty work because the manufacturer/distributor hadn’t paid them for work they had already done. I’m sure there is more to that story than they were saying but it was enough to put me off buying one.

    Jonathan Van Voorhees
    Richardson, TX

  17. Jeff Burton says

    I own a Q-Link Legacy. It cruuises nice down the road and is good in stop-n-go traffic.

    But … it has spent almost as much time in the shop as it has on the road.

    Constant oil leak from the drive seal, Broken cooling fan bracket mount and cracked weld on the exhaust.

    It is currently in the shop AGAIN due to the THIRD cracked exhaust weld …. and it was leaking oil again by the time I rode it home from the shop after the 2nd oil leak reapir and exhaust pipe replacement.

    This time they are replacing the entire engine.

    The fourth trip to the dealer will be for me to get my money back.

    (The dealer has been GREAT about it though.)

    Jeff Burton
    Westfield, IN

  18. Simon says

    For those interested in Chinese bikes from Chinese bike owners, go to http://www.chinariders.net which was set up by a Chinese bike enthusiast. There, you can get the good, the bad, and the ugly on these bikes. The most popular discussions involve the enduros.

  19. Bob Golembeski says

    Chinese motorcycles- I LOVE THEM. I have ownd Hondas, Dneprs, Urals, and Yamahas. But I have to say that my Chinese Skygo is by far one of the best that I have ever owned.

    I have recently moved to Chile (in South America) here a Honda sells for three times or more the price os a similar Chinese model. Last year 2006 Chile imported approx. 30,000 Chinese motorcycles and scooters, this year to date sales are over 70,000. These bikes are here and here to stay. Recently Skygo/ Lifan introduced a 250cc enduro bike. I would compare it to any Honda that I have ever owned. In fact we are now modifiying a 200cc trials bike to transport a Ural sidecar frame for transport within our orchards. As a consumer they can not be beat. Let me give you two examples from the past year.
    1. I have crossed the Andes into Argentina 3 times on a 150cc Skygo (top speed 120km/h without vibration). This bike, loaded with 5 days worth of gear, an aux. lighting system, and me had no problems handling a mountain pass at 12,000 feet above sea level with almost a meter of snow (although I was questioning my judgement at the time).

    2. Recently I turned a sharp turn on a dirt road to find a man, his pedal bike and a horse in the road, I had no choice but to lay the bike down in a controlled crash. In the end I replaced the front wheel and tire, front fender, light, four marker lights, 2 mirrors, and some other minors for 47,000 pesos (that under $100 US). If it were a Hondas I would be looking at $400 just in parts. You have to love these Chinese bikes. But be warned, although many are made in the same factory, there are good and bad brands. Skygo, Lifan, and Lipan are three that I can personally say are outstanding for the money.
    If you have any questions about Chinese bikes email me. I am not an expert but I am a pretty big fan. g8824@hotmail.com. Good luck.

  20. Gunny says

    How do you find a dealer? Anyone know if they Skygo, foex, makes a 750 Cruiser (ala Shadow)?

  21. patrik says

    hi there!
    i own one of the chinese scooters – a 125cc sukida. i was very cautious before getting one of these and did a lot of research on where to buy one.

    it’s over a thousand miles on the clock now, a couple of oil changes, a couple of tightened screws, new mirrors, and it rides like a dream. i mean, it’s not a ZZR and never will be, but for commuting from the suburb to the city – it’s great.

    very economical
    cheap to buy
    cheap to insure

    if i had to decide between buying a second hand japanese scoot and a new chinky, i would go for a chinky.

    that won’t be necessary though, since i’m just about to get a suzuki katana.

  22. Rosie says

    My daughter bought my 6 year old Grand son a Chinese ATV and it is the most dangerous thing a child could have. They were told they could throttle it down so he couldn’t go too fast. That is true but they have small hills and if you set the throttle high enough to climb them it will run away with him on flat ground. It has a centrifugal clutch like our old go-carts and to develop torque you must have RPM and there in lies the problem. I predict many a child will be hurt and even killed before people wake up to this machine.

  23. dave says

    I am curious if anyone has experience with a Chinese bike – but I can’t remeber the name. It has KAI in it, I think it starts with KAI… ?? Anyone can help me?

  24. Cannon says

    I think the point is that you never know what you’re going to get when you buy a Chinese motorcycle. I bought 2 for my boys a while back. Although the 2 bikes were identical one was very reliable and never had a problem (except for the usual rotting rubber hoses and tubes, and poor suspension) while the other was a constant headache. I agree that Chinese motorcycles have come a long way and the fact that they are a fraction of the cost of Japanese motorcycles makes them a tempting alternative (especially for a starter bike). I was recently looking at a Chinese made 250cc dirt bike that looked really good on paper. I was seriously considering ordering one until a got a closer look. This was a brand new bike on the showroom floor and the front fork seals were already leaking on the inverted forks. The spring pre-load on the front forks was so soft that half the travel was gone under its own weight. The rear spring was strong but there was no rebound, so it bounced up and down like a pogo stick. The Chinese would be well advised to get blueprints for suspension components. The Chinese seem to be well adept at copying the external appearance of existing technology, but solely lacking when it comes to functionality. I bought a 4-stroke Chinese bike that was fitted with an expansion chamber.?%$#! Apparently they saw 2-stroke dirt bikes with chambers so they copied it without knowing its particular purpose. This is why you don’t see serious motorcycle enthusiasts riding Chinese motorcycles, and why you probably won’t see a Chinese made motorcycle winning any motorcycle races – at least in our life times.

  25. Mark says

    Hi i have got a Kangchao KC 118 3 months old with 380 miles on the clock but smoke has started pooring out of the breather pipe. I believe piston rings have gone where the previous bloke who owned it has thrashed it. I was wondering if anyone knew where to get part for this bike.

  26. RENS says

    I was thinking of buying one of these Kangchao KC 118 off Ebay but also wanted to know if anyone in the UK has got one and can tell me a bit more about them. I.e. how many miles on the clock, problems with the bike, top speed in MPH, warranty and parts and any other info that may help.

    Thanks.

  27. Lew says

    As someone who lives in China, I can tell you that some Chinese motorcycles are good and cheap, whilst others are death traps!

    Some companies such as Qingqi and Jialing are OK, some others suck, for example some manufacturers are simply assemblers of outside sourced parts. Avoid these companies, some of them do not use proper torque wrenches in the factories. It can get pretty dangerous when your triple tree falls apart because none of the bolts were tightened up properly!

  28. Jake Bechtel says

    I just saw the post from “Rosie” – good heavens woman! Why in God’s name would you allow a 6 year old to ride a self powered machine over hill and dale? I don’t care where the ATV was built – NO 6 year old has the intellectual or physical capacity to appreciate the nuances of operating ANY motor vehicle!

  29. Jake Bechtel says

    I own a 2008 BMS (mfg Znen) 150cc cruiser scooter. It was manufactured in July 2008 and I bought it in August 2008. After 2000 miles I have had no loose screws, no leaks, no cracked welds, no rotten rubber, no alarm system problems, no cloged filters, no overheating, no loss of performance (in fact performance has improved with milage), no problems of any sort!

    I performed what is known as a “power break-in”, changed crankcase and differential lubes and rode the heck out of it. I change oil every 1000 miles and plan to shift to synthetic oil at 5000 miles. I plan to upgrade to a 257cc Linhai-Yamaha engined model at about 10,000 miles. I am waiting until they develope a luggage trunk to fit the BMS TBX260.

    In past years I have owned a Vespa, two Hondas, a BSA and a Norton. This is the most trouble free 2 wheeler I have ever owned.

  30. Your momma says

    Well I thought I would add my 2 cents. I know this thread is old but they still make these bottomless money pitts. Anyway I bought one new about 6 months ago and thought to myself that if I buy one new and look after it it surley will last for a while… Ha, fat chance. I have had nothing but problems with this pile of doodoo. The thing is just falling apart little by little. Mark my words, “you will be sorry” but I suppose every now and again you will find a good block of lego in a big pile of dog poo…

  31. rob@mojave,calif. says

    6 yr old riding m/c. In response to jakes response to rosie…………3 reasons to your view. 1) you dont have any children. 2) your children dont have natural riding abililties. 3) you are a new rider. My son started riding a dinli quad (with 4×4 blocks for his feet to reach) at age 2. Same situation as rosie (except for the blocks). open flat land for the learning curve is the solution(along with a govenor of course). My son is now 2 years and 9 months. His newest bike is a honda xr 50r with training wheels. He maxes out at 15 mph in 1st gear at the race track and open desert. (He dosent know about 2nd or 3rd yet.) Point of the post is not to brag or demean……….. only to point out the fact i had to illegally purchase a 50cc m/c for my son, because folks (liberals) like you, think you have right or “purpose” to tell everyone else what is right and what is wrong……. Before you make another post like your last, go to a pee-wee motocross event and see the talent, love and excitement in the childrens faces…………..In regards to pee-wee chinese quads, they are death traps. I looked into them and my son will never set butt on one.