At the recent MotoGP in China, the Maxtra 125 from Maxtra Racing was unveiled. Unless you follow 125 GP racing, it was something many of you may have missed, I paid little attention myself. Then I saw another article and took another look at Maxtra, … I’m paying attention now, because it is much more than a 125 GP racer, it’s a big red flag that describes a process showing where the motorcycle industry may be heading in short order.
The Maxtra 125 is a new Chinese 125cc 2 stroke racer designed to begin racing in the 2009 season. After a year of learning, their aim is to place well in 2010 and seriously challenge in 2011. For a new racing team with a new bike, those goals might be ambitious but this team and motorcycle is different.
The Maxtra team is made up of some well known names drawing on knowledge and top level expertise from the racing world; Garry Taylor, involved with teams from Barry Sheene to Kevin Schwantz and Kenny Roberts Junior – John Surtees, former auto and motorcycle racing world champ – Dutch engineer Jan Witteveen, previously with Sachs, Cagiva, Aprilia and others and well known for his knowledge of 2 stroke engines – Steve Harris of Harris Performance Products, frame builders for both street and track – it’s quite an array of talent.
So you have a Dutch designed engine housed in an English frame and bodywork, why is this motorcycle Chinese? The reason is Haojue, one of the leading motorcycle manufacturers in China. Haojue, turns out somewhere around 3 million motorcycles every year! They decided they wanted to go racing and found Taylor and Surtees who were evidently looking for a Chinese factory with just such an intention so they could do a bit of consulting. The English pair brought in Witteveen and Harris and a race bike took shape. The Maxtra name is simply something they came up with as more easily recognizable and pronounceable than Haojue, ergo, the Maxtra 125.
Import Knowledge – Build in China
Taking the knowledge from an international team and building a new motorcycle at the Haojue facilities puts the Maxtra name on a top level machine. Everything on this bike, except for some things like suspension components and the like, was designed for this bike, not purchased elsewhere, what was purchased was the know how.
Now, … take that idea one step further. Import the knowledge of how to build any type of motorcycle from an international team, pass that knowledge on to your own engineers, build those motorcycles by the millions then pay your employees (housed in factory apartments) the prevailing wage in China, pack those bikes in shipping containers and export around the world. If you can build 3 million plus motorcycles per year, you have no need to build them anywhere else.
Remember, this is not some cloned Honda or Yamaha, it’s a bike designed for Maxtra by a top level team.
If this doesn’t get the attention of every motorcycle company around the world, I would suggest they take another look. A motorcycle built like this is no second class machine, it’s top shelf equipment. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this method of learning what you need to know from anywhere in the world, but until recent years, no country had the ability to manufacture products on this scale at these prices. After years of ramping up their motorcycle industry, China is in a position to flood the motorcycle market with far better machines than they have previously been known for.
The Chinese are learning far more here than how to build a 125cc racebike, they’re learning how to build a world class motorcycle of any type. The knowledge is for sale, they have the factories, …