Recently, having just opened the latest Bike SA Magazine for June 2012 I was overwhelmed to see that the Chinese have finally decided to go the next level, from scooter to a 650cc streetbike. Perhaps not a superbike but who cares. I haven’t heard it and I don’t care either. The Chinese are going to take the bike world on by storm just as they did electronics and consumer appliances. And it won’t take them long.
Although the Chinese stuck with the 250cc as being their top end export, this 650cc changes the game plan. Apparently a Kawasaki ER6N copycat, that’s good news. I like Kawasaki. What makes it appealing is the price versus performance ratio. Not to forget that the Chinese make damned good-looking bikes. Years back I would have recommended the 400cc Honda twin or four as a good starter bike – this turns the tables on our Japanese imports. The bike costs 40% less than from our local Japanese stable and it’s guaranteed to be an economical, pollution free competitor. Many years back I ran a website which covered off-road and road bikes and had many Chinese companies requesting me to run advertsing campaigns etc – the thought then was already the Japanese bikes are going to be in for a rough ride price wise, but this soon? – most predictable.
A perverted thought that crosses many a biker’s mind is going to be those things we take for granted – the quality of steel and resistance to metal fatigue. Japanese bikes cost more because they are better made. I’d be pretty much surprised if this machine will outlast a Kawasaki right now. The most reliable computer electronics right now is Chinese made. So bets are on that first generation 650cc bikes may not be one that you aim for – but let the dust subside. In the 60’s we had the Black Bomber (Honda) possibly their first really good bike. We may have sniggered before this, the west had their toys. That snigger changed to envy when the Honda 750 four came out. I remember it well – every young lad’s and lady’s dream bike. Honda possibly still make the most reliable bike on planet earth based on units sold. I’m afraid this is soon going to change with the 650NK.
Smirks aside, this is going to take our bike world apart – now we finally have a bike that can keep up with the traffic, beat the traffic, cheaper than a car and of course, cut your transit costs by a margin to make it a commuter’s dream.
CFMOTO has been out in Australia now for about two years and enjoys good press coverage and their products are robust. This bike is a new release, as far as I know only this last quarter. I have it in good faith that another Chinese manufacturer is to be releasing their version of the 650cc in the next few weeks – I doubt this will come down to a price war, the manufacturing margins are just too low but once the general public in the west do warm to these Chinese bikes there will either be a tapering off of Japanese imports or Japanese production will also move over to cheaper manufacturers. I would not be surprised to see manufacturers in India also now jumping on the bandwagon because to a larger degree they have better inferstructures in place which includes excellent access to raw material. No matter what anybody can say about modern motorcycles or where they get manufacturered they are after all infinitely more reliable than twenty years back. The Chinese and Indian manufacturers will, in due course only improve matters – not without their fair share of litigation, industrial espionage and liquidations. Just like software and hardware – this is a techno world we live and thrive in.