NOT long ago the annual CIMA show in China would be a bore-fest of poorly slapped-together scooters, largely – and rightfully – ignored by the western media.
But that’s changing fast as China’s bike brands start to embrace the ever-growing wealth of riders in their local market and to take note of the potential for exporting their bikes. Sure, the only Chinese bikes you’re likely to see on British streets these days are near-disposable, L-plated cheapies, but there are occasional bright spots like the offerings of CFMoto/WK Bikes, or the latest Chinese-made Benelli machines.
This Friday sees the doors open to this year’s CIMA show and the bikes on display are expected to include models that look nothing like our stereotype of a Chinese scooter.
We’ve already shown the 800cc V-twin that’s likely to make its debut at the show but it won’t be the biggest Chinese model in the offing. Another one – a full 1000cc larger – is also expected to appear.
Several Chinese websites are reporting that Longjia – best known here, perhaps, for making the pretty, Italjet-badged Buccaneer V-twin – is planning to launch an 1808cc bobber called the LJ1808.
It will become the largest capacity Chinese-made bike ever built, although the firm is turning to famed American engine builders S&S to supply the powerplant. The motor is reckoned to be the S&S V111 (111 cubic inches) which is sold for around $5,500 as a complete motor in America. With 115hp and 122lbft of torque, it will surely be China’s most powerful bike if that information is correct.
A grainy picture, said to show the bike, reveals springer forks and a softtail chassis, a belt final drive and the sort of styling you’d expect to see on a high-end, one-off American custom-built Bobber.
With the S&S engine alone costing more than most Chinese bikes, the LJ1808 isn’t likely to have the sort of bargain-basement price that you might associate with Chinese machines, but it’s equally sure to be less expensive than any equivalent built in the West.
However, Chinese bikes do tend to have long lead times between being shown and reaching production, with many never even getting that far, so don’t hold your breath to buy one.