Oriental, non-Japanese bikes are set to become the new Rice Rockets?
Fancy a Chinese? I do. Well, let me put it this way: in a couple of years I reckon I might.
Y'see, China is getting into motorcycles big time. And in the next few years I'll put a large bet down that they will be building the sort of bikes you or I like to ride. No, not the traditional commuters and small-capacity learner bikes you expect from them, but decent, middleweight to heavyweight machines, possessed of much higher complexity and capable of greater excitement levels than seen before from the Chinese.
It's no coincidence that at the unveiling of every major large-capacity motorcycle at every major motorcycle show this year there's been a major Chinese presence, with large numbers of Chinese chaps - rumoured to be high-ranking technicians - taking photos of the bikes and their component parts.
Not very many years ago, mention of a Chinese bike would conjure up images of a rickety old Jialing nail, shod with rock-hard Bakelite tyres that would see you on your arse at the flick of a wrist.
But Wuyang want to change the way you think of Chinese bikes forever. Discreetly tucked away at this year's NEC show on the David Silver Spares stand were five machines from Wuyang and their parent company the Guangzhou Motors Group.
Speaking at the show to Pang Ya Dong, senior engineer for the Guangzhou Motors Group, you get the feeling this is the advance party for a much bigger invasion. "These are the machines we're bringing in at the moment," smiled Dong. "But after that, we will see. We have 66 models in our range so we have many more we could introduce into the UK. In China we sell between 700,000-800,000 units a year."
That compares to total UK sales of two-wheelers in 2005 of 132,803.
The Guangzhou Motors Group got off the ground in 1986. They began assembly of their first range of motorcycles and scooters a year later and by 1992 they'd won a prestigious contract to work with Honda, making machines for the Chinese market. And this is the key to why Wuyang could be destined for great things. As Dong says: "Our quality control is the same as the Honda standard. We feel this is important, as quality is so vital. That is why our bikes are more expensive than the opposition in China."Wuyang and their parent group have built many Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys for the Chinese market. Isuzu, too, trust them for licenced production.
Dong adds: "We would love to be seen in the same light as Honda around the world, but we know we have a way to go. This is the start."
Hot on the heels of Wuyang's entry into the UK has come the news that Jincheng has a technical link-up with Aprilia. The Jincheng Corporation is one of China's largest motorcycle manufacturers and this alliance with Aprilia is part of Jincheng's expansion plans into Europe and the USA.
It's not yet clear what effect this will have on the UK market, but Jincheng is looking to get a stronger foothold in Europe alongside Aprilia.
In 2005, Jincheng exported more than 500,000 bikes to 40 countries. That's huge. So, the link with Aprilia - owned since 2004 by Piaggio, Italy's largest producer of motorcycles - should not be underestimated. China, it seems, could soon be following Korean firm Hyosung into the middleweight arena. The Comet and Comet R are both middleweight machines using a licence-produced Suzuki SV650 mill. With Wuyang already buildling small-capacity Honda engines under licence, all with fuel-injection and compliant with the Euro III emissions laws, what could they do with a 2007 Honda Hornet motor?
So laugh at them if you will. Yes, like we did at Skoda 20 years ago. But, like Skoda following their 1991 part buy-out by Volkswagen and subsequent 100 per cent buy-out a decade later, Honda's influence on Wuyang may yet bear delicious fruit.
* Would you buy a Chinese motorcycle? Let us know below
Posted: 15/10/2010 at 19:36
Posted: 15/10/2010 at 21:39
Posted: 16/10/2010 at 04:47
Posted: 16/10/2010 at 05:09
I just wrote a comment on another article on VisorDown.com about this:
Posted: 16/10/2010 at 09:14
Posted: 16/10/2010 at 10:46
I wouldn't own a chinese bike if it was given to me for free, period. Everyone knows the products coming out of that place are either designed by other countries or grade A-F copies of a product. There is not sence of passion when it comes to designing and making their own crap as it all comes down to minimizing production costs completly just as 'Tom B 5' said.
Motorcycles are for passionate people that have a true love to what they do. The only people I see buying a chinese bike are possers that don't know any better who would think they're cool but have no idea they're sitting on a piece of sh*t.
Would you do 150 mph on something that might look the part but isn't?!
Posted: 16/10/2010 at 16:57
Posted: 17/10/2010 at 15:36
Don't kid yourself guys, they might not take over for a decade or two (or more), but it will happen. The Chinese have to start somewhere just like the Japanese before them, and the Europeans before them. Don't forget the Japanese started out by ripping-off Brit/Euro designs just like the Chinese are copying the Japanese now, and if the Koreans can go from basically no market presence to where they are today in the space of a decade or two then to think the Chinese can't is just naive. Would I buy one today? Not a chance in hell. Will I be riding one in 30 years when I'm 55? There's a pretty big chance I will be.
Knocking their reliability doesn't count for much either; yes, right now they're pretty shit, but if you can't remember what Triumphs and Harleys (for e.g.) were like until not really all that long ago then you have a pretty short memory. It might take them a while but they'll get there.
It's not credible to knock them on their alleged motives ("The Chinese are all about making money") either. You honestly think any of the Japanese or European companies aren't all about money either? Think about it; the established companies have a history of dropping innovative, impressive models purely and simply because they aren't making money out of them; the same goes for not delivering certain models to regions they don't think they'll sell a given number of units; it's a business and it's all about money.
Innovation to date might be lacking (non-existent), but that will come too. The Chinese are a relatively unindustrialised country (sophistication wise) so they've had to rely on quantity over quality to make money. As they develop there's no reason they won't start doing their own designing and coming up with real innovation and with that will come quality upgrades; to assume that they don't have any passion for motorcycling or the sport is bloody ridiculous - if there's one country in the world that relies on motorcycles it china. Right now they're a necessity for a population that can't afford cars, one upon a time that was what motorcycles were for basically everyone - if their standard of living keeps rising they could easily end up being just like developed countries now; where motorcycles for many are about much more than just transport.
The brand loyalty argument doesn't mean much either when new riders can't afford to get into the brand in the first-place. If the Chinese can bring out decent motorcycles at reasonable prices (and by that i mean a LOT less than $20,000AUD for a new model 1000cc sport-bike for example) that new riders can actually afford then I don't see current brand loyalties holding on for more than a decade (...except for HD brand loyalty; but that I'll never understand).
The Chinese will take over the same way the Japs did, through motor-sport. They're not up to standard yet but they only need to get their foot in somewhere to get a toehold and go from there. As bradbox comment on another story "This is interesting because for the last 20 years people have wondered how a European manufacturing industry was taken over so quickly by the Japanese. And it started at the TT.
Now the same is happening again - a Chinese company using the TT to launch themselves."
It's going to happen. Eventually it will come down to standing in a dealership and having to choose between 2 bikes that weigh the same, ride the same, have the same power outputs and be of the same quality, the only difference will be that one's Japanese and one's 25% cheaper and from China - when that day comes your sons/daughters, who will have grown up watching Chinese bike race won't give a shit that 20 years ago the Japanese wer
Posted: 18/10/2010 at 07:46
Posted: 18/10/2010 at 07:49
the chinese will get their "cb750 moment"
and when that bike comes along it will change the mind of all the doubters because it will simply be better than the competition
and then bikes will happily round around on their chinese superbikes
and no one will bat an eyelid
Posted: 18/10/2010 at 12:29
Posted: 18/10/2010 at 13:01
Posted: 21/02/2011 at 15:33
Posted: 06/09/2011 at 11:13
Become a fan of Visordown
Follow us on twitter
Other Immediate Media Sites
Our eCommerce Platform
© Immediate Media Company Ltd 2012. This website is owned and published by Immediate Media Company Limited. www.immediatemedia.co.uk