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Thread: Chinese motorcycles -- are they where Japan was in the late 60s?

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    Chinese motorcycles -- are they where Japan was in the late 60s?

    Do you think Chinese motorcycles are where Japan was in the late 60s? Up until the late 60s, Japanese bikes were laughed at.

    Kymco now has a pretty good rep in the scooter and ATV worlds, albeit they are a Taiwanese company. They make engines for Honda. They also make ATVs that are rebranded by ArcticCat and Kawasaki.
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  2. #2
    To me, it seems like the Chinese bikes are more derivative of Japanese designs than innovative thinking on their own. Maybe that will change.

    Honda, otoh, is going big in Thailand with superior quality. I have a Thai-build Honda CB500X that is an excellent bike that's developing its own cult following.

    The biggest problems I see with Chinese bikes are 1) quality of materials and 2) lack of distribution. When a poorly-made part breaks it is often difficult to buy a replacement... however the Internet helped that a lot.

    There are so many good Asian-based choices out there.
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    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    Comparing the state of Chinese and Japanese motorcycle industry is a bit like comparing naval and blood oranges. They are both oranges but very different varieties. I will end that similie there.

    As Visian points out, the export Chinese motorcycles are very derivative. In that respect they great at copying things. They have all the problems of quality and parts to owner supply chain issues that drive owners/would-be-owners crazy. So in many ways like this they are ‘60s UJMs or worse.

    Which China industry, Mainland or Taiwan?

    In “country” the parts issues go away for those models and riders are left with derivative bikes that are cheaper than the import models the mimic. The rest of the internal industry has a huge range of quality and design for customers; from ChangJiang’s sidecar rig Von Ribbentrop gave Stalin as part of the Russian German non Aggression pact who then turned it over to Mao after the war, to some really new things.

    The business models aren’t the same. The Chinese build components for others to a greater extent than the old UJM model. As the OP points out they produce, parts, engines and entire units for other manufactures. In addition to the ones sighted in that post add brands like BMW, Benelli and most recently Norton.

    The wild card for the future is e-Bikes. They have a mandate to develop them. They have a large customer base to spread costs over. If they figure out chassis and chassis component design and building then mate it to a viable e power plant they could leapfrog a much to the traditional manufacturers.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by mika View Post
    The wild card for the future is e-Bikes.
    China is covered in scooters.

    Harley-Davidson should turn them on to this!

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    There are certainly valid parallels to be drawn between Japan 1960 and China 2019. Both were supplying products quick to be dismissed by the establishment. Both were learning fast, and catching up in leaps and bounds, after having closely studied their predecessors.
    But there are a few differences. The Japanese had the better timing luck, with baby boomers coming of age just as the Japanese products were coming to market. All those "nicest people" just entering the bike (and car) market had no real established brand loyalty. Chinese motorcycles are flooding our shores at a time when the market has greatly contracted, and is facing an unsure future.
    I have trouble imagining that anyone in the future is going to want to be collecting the current crop of Chinese bikes, but I'm well aware that the same was said by my Harley/Triumph riding elders about the small Japanese bikes I was riding in the 60s.
    One key I see is for the Chinese to establish a brand name and a product image. This is a problem for their entire manufacturing industry. In the past when we bought Hondas, Toyotas or Sonys, we knew we were buying Japanese products. Today we know that we are buying a lot of Chinese-made goods, and the OP actually named a Chinese bike, but most folks would be hard pressed to name one Chinese brand of anything, despite having a house full of them.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffDiCarlo View Post
    Today we know that we are buying a lot of Chinese-made goods, and the OP actually named a Chinese bike, but most folks would be hard pressed to name one Chinese brand of anything, despite having a house full of them.
    Lenovo!
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    You are always the exception to the rule, Paul.

    And of course Lenovos used to be IBM Think Pads.

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    '99 '03 '06 National Co-Rally Chair Friedle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    Lenovo!
    Ramen noodles??

    Friedle
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  9. #9
    Japan was a copier for years in many tech areas. Now they are designing tech machinery. The Chinese-who knows what the future holds. India is now building for Harley, BMW, KTM and is introducing their own machines, albeit with Brit names. The market is expanding in the east and motorcycle manufacturers are gearing up to ride the tide. The Chinese build some stuff which we all call junk, just like we did for the Jap Crap decades ago. Harbor Freight B & S replacement motors are performing reliably in small engine applications. The Honda clone engines are showing up elsewhere.

    Many potential riders are turned off by high price motorcycles which are seen as toys by their peers. Why spend more money to buy a bike which can only carry two people and a small amount of luggage when for the same money a car with a top, heat, air, four seats, a trunk and more usability by a family with children is available? Cheap price will attract some and may fill the wants of a rider who only takes short hops on weekends.

    Bob

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