Top Ten Motorcycles from China (Part 1)
Benelli TnT600 GT
People used to laugh at “Made-in-China” motorcycles at one time. Well, why not. It was true they were slightly more powerful than lawnmowers and less reliable than kick scooters.
That was five years ago.
Of course, today there is still a good mix of brilliance, rebranding other manufacturers’ models to outright copying, but much has changed since then, and they have improved by leaps and bounds. In fact, a number of manufacturers and models listed here have gone on to being sold worldwide.
China has more than 200 individual motorcycle producers, by the way. Here are five of the best “Made-in-China” motorcycles: –
10. Sur-Ron White Ghost
The Sur-Ron White Ghost is an electric bike and it looks pretty futuristic, to say the least. The manufacturer claims an over 90 kilometre range and over 90km/h performance; not particularly impressive, but it does feature an alloy frame, upside-down forks, linked-braking system, ABS, LED lighting, dual-clutch auto transmission and traction control.
9. Chang Jiang CJ650
The manufacturer’s name “Chang Jiang” means “Long River”, which alludes to the Yangtze River. It is one of, if not the oldest, motorcycle manufacturer in China.
The first model was called the CJ750, which went into production in the 50s or 60s. It was a copy of the Soviet IMZ M-72, which was itself a copy of the German BMW R71, hence the Boxer engine.
Chang Jiang now produces the likes of the CJ650, which is powered by a CFMoto’s 650cc parallel-Twin.
8. Zontes Phantom S250
Guandong Tayo Motorcycle Co., Ltd. is a Sino joint-venture manufacturing giant and builds motorcycles under two different brand names of Zontes and Motorini. The former’s line-up include middle- and large-capacity models (310cc is considered large bikes in most Asian countries), while the latter consists of scooters, mopeds, and small capacity sportbikes, dual-purpose and cruiser. The company’s website describes their manufacturing capabilities as extensive with fully robotic processes.
The Zontes Phantom S250 looks pretty much like a robot and is powered by an air-cooled, single-cylinder engine which produces 24 bhp. Not super impressive but not too shabby either.
Tayo’s bikes are now being sold in the UK and Europe, and there are a number of models that are A2 license compliant.
7. CFMoto 650TK
We are starting to get into the big stuff.
CFMoto is a giant, producing 98(!) models of vehicles and 51(!) different engines, distributed through 1,900 partners worldwide. It even has its own line of riding gear, clothing and accessories. Racing at the Isle of Man TT had also upped its prestige and the company has since tied up with Kiska (the designers of KTM motorcycles) to style their bikes.
The 650TK looks a lot like a Honda Pan America/ST1100 sport-tourer and uses a 650cc parallel-Twin which closely resembles the Kawasaki ER-6’s (it makes 70 bhp, too). The engine is used throughout their model line-up, as we will see further into this list.
6. Zongshen RX4
The Zongshen RX4 was unveiled at EICMA 2016. Looking much like a BMW R 1200 GS, it is powered by a 450cc single-cylinder engine. Zongshen is heavily involved in motorsports and entered four RX4 in the 2017 Dakar Rally. None made it to the finish line but we have to remember that the Dakar is tough for everyone, especially on new bikes.
5. Benelli TnT 600
Benelli may be an Italian brand but it is fully owned by Qianjiang. Granted, design and R&D are still performed in Italy, but manufacturing has been moved to China.
The TnT 600 is one of the best models produced by Benelli. Sure, it is heavy and rough around the edges, but its inline-Four creates rather beautiful mechanical music, while the handling is commendable.
We have five more Chinese motorcycles to recommend–Part 2 coming soon!