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Chinese Go Large as Harley Downsize

Chinese motorcycle manufacturers are finally getting serious about big bikes, giving us the prospect of cheaper 800cc+ machines. At the same time, the ‘heritage’ badges of biking are busy downsizing as motorcycle makers rush to offer a wider range of bikes.

CF Moto has revealed the 800MT adventure bike and 800NK naked, both of them powered by a 99bhp version of KTM’s 799cc parallel-twin, promising more power than the new Honda Hornet, probably at a lower price. We already have 500 and 650cc Chinese bikes on sale in the UK, and Lexmoto, so long a sub-125cc importer, now offers mid-size Chinese machines.

T1002V C1002V

But far bigger bikes than this are on the way from China. MGP (‘Moto Bologna Passione’) is a new brand from Gaokin, being launched in the UK in 2023 and due to offer a complete range of bikes. Biggest will be the T1002V adventure bike and C1002V cruiser, both powered by a 997cc DOHC V-twin offering 94bhp, with the chassis spec including J.Juan brakes with Bosch ABS.

Meanwhile, the older Western badges continue to diversify into smaller bikes. KTM and BMW have been sourcing 300cc singles from India for some time now, and Triumph is planning to follow suit. Now we hear that Harley-Davidson is to launch 353cc and 500cc twins, thanks a joint venture with the Chinese giant Qianjiang. The engines are already familiar from use in Benellis, and they meet international emissions standards, so we could well see the baby Harleys on sale in the UK too.

BMF Chair Jim Freeman said, “More diversity can’t be bad. As the trade have discovered, cheaper midrange bikes are a good way of shifting units, instead of the remorseless cost/size/performance ‘arms race’ of the recent past. It’s got to have something to do with real world needs, rather than ‘on paper’ numbers that don’t mean very much. The demographics are inescapable, as Harley have been finding out, for years, in the US. Anyone who’s wandered around a showroom and thought ‘I wouldn’t buy anything here’ will know that feeling. ”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Images courtesy of BikeSocial