From what I understand about Chinese motorcycle manufacturing:
1.) Brand name means nothing to them... I feel that they are starting to get this... I think many of these North American importers have been stung buy poor quality and essentially forced out of business.
2.) ... huge industry in manufacturing Honda clone parts in China.. "Manufacturers" often runnig out of garage-sized facilities will buy these parts and manufacture bikes.
3.) ... Getting general parts for your Chinese dirt bike has been nearly impossible in the past, but is just now starting to get easier.... available through the ebay store, including complete new bodywork for about 40 bucks
4.) The bikes are disposable...
5.) Things are getting better. The North-American importers are demanding higher quality from higher volume producers...
6.) You still don't want to buy one if you are not-mechanically inclined...
From what I've seen in the way of improvements, in a few years the Japanese could be in trouble. I will have to wait and see on that one to be sure though. For now, over 50% of the kids bikes that we saw in the forestry this year were Chinese. This has to be hurting the big four.
... Some parts of this bike really impress. Others, not so much...
The difference in price is what made me take the gamble...
Thanks for the retail link and other comments there. Your overview seems pretty realistic, and pretty much jives with my own thoughts.
I'm sure in a country with a population of over a billion that there's MORE THAN A FEW Chinese Eric Buell, Team KR, John Britten type-guys in some of the key companies, who are working on improving there reputation in the bike world. Even with the (percieved?) limitations of Communism things are basically ramping up towards acceptable *mainstream* North American quality.
I've been thinking that by 2010 we'll have something comparable to a late '80s early '90s Japanese motocrosser. Company's like Zongshen and Lifan have been in the biz for a long time, and they seem to be developing the "brand" and setting up dealer networks better than most of those "garage-size" knock-off firms. A few of these bikes are now looking better than "disposable". Lifan had a pretty big setup at the last bike show I attended a few years ago.
The first *interesting* Chinese bike I saw was a 200cc dual-sport which one of the new dealers in town had on there showroom floor a couple years ago... i remember them saying it was not yet DOT certified for street use then, but I wonder if a couple of the manufacturers haven't managed to dole out the cash and go through all the red tape to get them EPA/DOT approved yet. That's a big hurdle for some of them, which is all the more reason to build hot off-road-only bikes instead.
There's gotta be a Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Yo-Yo Ma, of the motorcycle industry waiting out there
or maybe another mini-Mao Tse Tung...
What I find odd is that the Korean firms, like Hyosung havent made a decent MX bike yet. That may be a sign of how strong the competition is... but they could build a KDX220 or WR200 replica. Maybe they're going to stick mainly to 4-strokes like the rest of the world.
If Ducati can beat the Japanese in MotoGP, just think what the population of China can do up against the Japanese. And you can bet they are hungry for it, and very determined to prove themselves after many hard decades (centuries?) in the "back seat".
Even BMW just started to race there 450 motocrosser this past year. They'll have there hands full, but at least with mx bikes people won't complain about turn signal switch-gear being located on the wrong handlebar! :mr green:
Since I have a little time this weekend, I'll do a little digging on the web, and drop by a couple local dealers, and maybe swing by some of the cheapo dealers too, like CanadianTire and such to see if they've got anything new coming in... i think it was CanadianTire that had the models which appeared to be Yamaha RT100/125 or TTR150 "replicas"... I'll see if anything is coming down the pipeline for the 2008 January Bike Shows