Fortune Crackers | 10 Chinese motorcycles you should be considering

Chinese models may not have received the most welcoming reputation in Europe... but the times, they are a changing, as these 10 Chinese motorcycles prove

Herald Brute 500.jpg

We won’t beat around the bush - Chinese motorcycles don’t have the greatest of reputations on this side of the world.

For a long time, criticisms around build quality, reliability or engineering have left models hailing from our friends in the Far East being easily dismissed by bikers.

But that was then, this is now and as of now there are an increasing number of tempting Chinese-manufactured models from the likes of CFMoto, Lexmoto, Voge and Super Soco flooding the market offering a dash of style, improved quality and competitive mechanicals - and all for prices that undercut the mainstream opposition.

After all, there was a time when many turned their noses up at the influx of motorcycles arriving from Japan, but that soon changed! 

Since history has a history of repeating itself, here are a selection of Chinese motorcycles that have already blazed the trail to be worthy of your consideration right now.

CFMoto 700 CL-X

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeatFuel Cap
£6,299693cc74bhp68Nm @6,500rpm196kg800mm13 L

Of all the Chinese manufacturers making gains in Europe, CFMoto has certainly been the most pro-active with a slew of enticing models hitting the market based on trusty - albeit dated - mechanics from engineering partners KTM.

Most recently we've had the 800MT ADV model, 450SR sportsbike and soon we'll be getting our hands on the intriguing new 800NK roadster, but for now our eyes are most keenly drawn towards CFMoto's 700CL-X triplets.

Available in three flavours  - Heritage [pictured above], Sport and Adventure - the CFMoto 700CL-X is a bit of a mongrel mechanically with its 693cc Kawasaki ER6-sourced engine, BMW switchgear and a design penned by KTM's favoured  stylist, Kiska.

The Heritage is the most handsome of the trio with some smart detailing that helps the chunky, European-centric 700CL-X stand out but if you're not swayed by its retro finish, then there is also the more contemporary Sport and the soft-Scrambler ADV.

Proving more involving and refined on the road than you might expect, at £6,299 the 700CL-X Heritage is a bit of a steal.

Visordown Review | CFMoto 700CL-X Heritage [2021]

Lexmoto LXS SE 125

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeatFuel Cap
£3,099125cc13.8bhp11Nm @6,750rpm155kg790mm10 L

We all had to start somewhere and while it is not hard to see the allure of models like the Yamaha R125 and Suzuki GSX-R125 for those who want to step out with something sporty with their first purchase, for many the Lexmoto LXS 125 fulfils the same brief more than adequately.

And sales charts don’t lie. The Lexmoto LXR 125 regularly appears towards the top of UK sales charts, its mix of excellent value, striking looks and eager single-cylinder engine enough to win over an increasing number of buyers.

However, we’d encourage you to shell out for the LXS which retains the LXR’s sensibilities but throws in a bit more desirability for not much more cash. The looks are sharper, it offers retro charm with its underseat exhausts and the 13.8bhp engine beckons you to rev it hard on the back roads.

An R125 or GSX-R125 are more accomplished all round but it’s hard to find a new motorcycle that offers more smiles per mile for little more than £3,000.

Visordown Review | Lexmoto LXS 125 [2021]

Herald Brute 500

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat Fuel Cap.
£6,950449cc43bhp40Nm @7,000rpm145kg835mm13.5 L

British manufactured with financing from China, the Herald Brute 500 is certainly one of the most convincing models on the market with influence from the other side of the Silk Road.

Having progressed from the fairly utilitarian Brute 250, the larger 500 gets a lithe makeover that has a blend of Scrambler and Flat Track racer about it.

While it perhaps looks faster than its 449cc, 43bhp single-cylinder engine would suggest, at just 145kg, it retains an enticing amount of 'chuckability' and benefits from being A2-licence compliant too.

While the Herald Brute 500 - which is also designed in the UK - perhaps shouldn’t quite qualify for this list outright, it remains a discerning choice for someone in the market for a middleweight machine that stands out from the crowd.

Voge 500DSX

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeatFuel Cap.
£5,499471cc46bhp45Nm @7,000rpm206kg830mm16.5 L

Launched on these shores in summer 2021, Voge might still be finding its feet in the competitive UK market but its first offerings - the 500AC roadster, 500DS tourer and 500 or 650DSX off-roader - are well-appointed and excellent value enough to make your options list.

For a bit of background, Voge is the 'premium' spin-off brand of Chinese giants Loncin, though its upper class aspirations don't translate quite so well here on models that, while solid, don't exactly scream class.

Here we are highlighting the Voge 500DSX as one of the few like-for-like rivals to the - admittedly very similar-looking - Honda CB 500 X.

While you'll find more sophisticated mechanicals and better quality materials with the Honda, the 500DSX holds its own with handsome (albeit dull) looks, comfortable ride and generous kit levels, while at a penny-pinching £5,499 it is a tempting £1k cheaper than the CB 500 X.

AJS Cadwell Clubman

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeatFuel Cap.
£2,899124cc9.8bhp9.5Nm @6,500rpm213kg740mm11.2 L

In much the same way Jaguar, Land Rover and MG thrive in China for their unashamedly British heritage, several brands have returned the favour by calling upon our quintessentially classic silhouettes for inspiration with their efforts.

As such, you’d likely cause a few mouths to drop open if you pull up on an AJS Cadwell Clubman and revealed its origin… not least because the name itself couldn’t sound more ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’.

History buffs will point out AJS is of course a relic of the once thriving British motorcycle industry but having been fairly dormant for decades afterwards, it took to importing Chinese-manufactured models to furrow its little portion of the market today, including the eager 125cc Cadwell Clubman.

It’s on the more basic end of the quality scale, but all 10 of its bhp is right on tap, it looks like a shrunken Norton and it’s a hoot to ride.

Super Soco CPx

£3,7494 / 8kWh6.4bhpN/A146kg760mm44 / 87mi

Australian origin, Chinese owned Vmoto Super Soco have cornered the growing electric scooter segment in the UK to such an extent its most popular model - the Super Soco CPx - made history in 2021 as the first EV to crack the overall top ten best-sellers in the UK.

It's no mean feat in a market that sees electric models still outsold 15 to 1 by their fossil-fuel sipping counterparts but it's a measure of the CPx's popularity... that and its widespread use by myriad urban delivery companies.

Nevertheless, the CPx appeals with its removable battery - available in 4kWh and 8kWh guise - allowing for easy recharging, while it achieves decent range of 44 or 87 miles respectively on a full charge.

The design is contemporary and unfussy, while it comes with a host of handy features for its competitive £3,749 price tag, including a app integration, USB port, a reverse function and keyless ignition with alarm.

Moto Morini Seiemmezzo

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeatFuel Cap.
£6,999649cc61bhp54Nm @7,000rpm213kg810mm15.5 L

One of motorcycling's most historic brands, while Moto Morini has endured multiple periods of uncertainty since the turn of the Millennium, its most recent takeover by Chinese conglomerate ZNEN is giving it a Benelli-inspired new lease of life.

Having cleared out its ageing large capacity range in 2018, it hit the comeback trail the following year with the Moto Morini X-Cape 650 ADV-cum-tourer crossover and has since gone on to follow it up with the Moto Morini Seiemmezzo, a new entry into the mid-size naked class.

Literally translated as 6½ - a nod to the 3½, one of its most popular models of the 20th century - the Seiemmezzo is available in sporty STR and scrambler-inspired SCR guise.

From the outset, its clean, chunky lines owe a lot to the Honda CB650R, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, while it handles with some vigour, even if the 649cc engine is a touch restrained at 61bhp, putting a fair few ponies down on its nearest rival, the CFMoto 700CL-X Sport and Heritage.

Nevertheless, at just £6,999, it is well-kitted and great value.

Visordown Review | Moto Morini Seiemmezzo

Yadea G5

PriceBatteryBHPTorqueWeightSeat Range
£2,6292.3kWh3.1bhpN/AN/A750mm50 mi

You may not know it, but this here - the Yadea G5 - is one of the world's most significant two-wheel models, for it is the most popular model in Yadea's range globally. And by globally, we mostly mean China, where it is taken the populous nation by storm in the sales charts.

In fact, Yadea - which was only founded in 2001 - has boomed in recent years after taking advantage of government incentives in China to switch to electric, so much so that the company is now the second largest two-wheel manufacturer in the world. Shifting almost 12 million scooters in 2022, Yadea now out-ranks the likes of Yamaha and Hero MotoCorp and sits behind only Honda.

So it appears Yadea is onto a good thing and the G5 is an example of this, albeit in a functional, value-orientated kind of way. The design is modern and minimalist, while that chunky bodywork hides plenty of luggage space and a 2.3kWh battery capable of a modest but eager 3.1bhp.

Available via Lexmoto's distribution network, the Yadea G5 is also a bargain at £2,629 when you consider the barely non-existent running costs, though it is not as powerful or well equipped as its main rival, the Super Soco CPx.

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeatFuel Cap.
£2,899125cc14bhpN/A163kg810mm14.5 L

Having tasted success in the 125cc sportsbike category with the LXR and LXS, Lexmoto has given its 125 platform some added flair for 2023 with the launch of the new Lexmoto RSS 125.

Stripping away the fairing before drizzling it in some well-judged 'neo-retro' design cues, the RSS 125 cuts a dash with its simple lines and bulbous tank, plus some attractive colour way options.

Under the skin, the RSS 125 offers a useful 14bhp from its single-cylinder engine, while its feathery 163kg should ensure it is nimble through the city streets when pushed.

Other welcome touches include a 5" TFT dashboard, a 17-inch rear wheel and six-speed gearbox, while at £2,899, it is almost a full £2k cheaper than the Yamaha XSR125.

Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail

PriceEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeatFuel Cap.
£7,999754cc76bhp67Nm @9,000rpm224kg818mm15 L

Like Moto Morini, the inclusion of Benelli here is showing a bit of artistic licence since it is also one of motorcycling's longest-serving Italian-founded manufacturers.

However, Benelli is in much ruder health these days thanks to the efforts - and financing - from parent company QJMotor, which has used a successful badge-engineering strategy in Asia to give the Italian marque a strong foothold in the world's largest markets.

It means Benelli now out-sells the likes of Triumph and Ducati with ease, while even Italians have returned to its showrooms in droves to elevate the TRK 502 to the top of the sales charts.

For this ranking, however, we've gone for the UK flagship, the Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail, which stands for Little Lion, and puts a paw in the Modern Classic, Cruiser and Scrambler segments.

With its low-slung riding position, easy-going dynamics and punchy - if languid - 754cc engine, the Leoncino 800 looks more upmarket than it is, while this Trail version even gets some off-road ability with its knobbly tyres and raised suspension.

Priced at a competitive £7,999, the Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail is definitely a worthy alternative to the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650.

*prices correct at the time of publication [March 2023]

Top Chinese Motorcycles for 2023 | Key Specifications and Technical Details Comparison

 Price fromEngineBHPTorqueWeightSeat HeightFuel Cap
CFMoto 700CL-X Heritage£6,299693cc74bhp68Nm @6,500rpm196kg800mm13 L
Lexmoto LXS 125£3,099125cc13.8bhp11Nm @6,750rpm155kg790mm10 L
Herald Brute 500£6,950449cc43bhp40Nm @7,000rpm145kg835mm13.5 L
Voge 500DSX£5,499471cc46bhp45Nm @7,000rpm206kg830mm16.5 L
Super Soco CPx£3,7494kWh6.4bhpN/A146kg760mm44 / 87mi
Moto Morini Seiemmezzo£6,999649cc61bhp54Nm @7,000rpm213kg810mm15.5 L
AJS Cadwell Clubman£2,899124cc9.8bhp9.5Nm @6,500rpm213kg740mm11.2 L
Yadea G5£2,6292.3kWh3.1bhpN/AN/A750mm50 mi
Lexmoto RSS 125£2,899125cc14bhpN/A163kg810mm14.5 L
Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail£7,999754cc76bhp67Nm @9,000rpm224kg818mm15 L