Chinese Motorcycle Industry

“The price of Chinese motorcycles built for the rapidly expanding Asian export market has dropped to $200 (U.S.) on average, from $700.” The Chinese motorcycle industry is breaking the stranglehold of the Japanese market not just with lower manufacturing costs, but by decentralizing — no, by removing — the centralized corporation.

Unlike traditional manufacturing industries, where tightly regimented production hierarchies spit out end products under the command of a single leader, the Chinese motorcycle industry consists of hundreds of different companies that collaborate on motorcycle design and manufacturing. The approach has been so successful that Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha, once dominant throughout Asia, have lost 40 per cent of their market share in the past 10 years.

The motorcycle market in China today is a series of points, loosely joined — one group makes frames, another speedometers, another engines. The business of collaborative design and self-organizing alliances is conducted over pots of tea in the back rooms of restaurants. One group does sales, another distribution, another customer support. Everyone gets their slice of the pie, interchange is optimized, and there is no single controlling body for the process. Linux-like, in ways.

Interestingly (inevitably?) collaborators sometimes capitalize on the the name-brand market positions of the very Japanese counterparts whose business they’re killing (check out the “Hongda Waze,” which competes with the “Honda Wave”), much as KDE and Gnome, also produced through mass collaboration, are basically knock-offs of the Windows UI.

Music: Rev. Moses Mason :: John The Baptist

6 Replies to “Chinese Motorcycle Industry”

  1. Mmm… there’s something missing here.
    Japanese step-throughs are also manufactured (for the se-Asian markets) outside of Japan in Korea, Thailand, Malaysia & Vietnam. Pricing varies depending on the country of manufacture. For instance, a “Vietnamese bike” is less expensive than a Korean one, but Thai-manufactured bikes come pretty close to the original Japanese ones.
    Built-quality and price go together. So, Thai bikes rank #2 (after the originals, which are highly coveted), then Malaysian, followed by Korean bikes, while Vietnamese bikes are almost as bad as the Chinese clones.
    In Cambodia, a (new) Chinese Honda clone can be had for $600 to $750, whilst an original Japanese Honda Wave can fetch up to $1500 (depending on the color of your skin).
    Although Chinese bikes are on the rise, they’re still frowned upon ’cause everyone knows how badly they’re made. They often have a few more bells & whistles, but the problem is that these B&W’s literally fall off after a few months.
    Even poor people prefer quality, it seems.

    On a sidenote: in these outsourced countries mixing-and-matching (collaborations) happens almost as much as in China. It’s quite common to find a Honda with a Korean framework, but with a Vietnamese-made Honda engine (which makes it slightly less expensive, and slightly less reliable).

  2. Hehe, in response to D2’s reply, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The chinese bikes are built with Honda engines and parts so that they are just as reliable as a Honda, just extremely cheaper. Also, one question for D2, do you own one of those chinese motorcycles that ” literally fall off after a few months”?

  3. At first Chinese bikes become a hit in Malaysia due to the design and aprice a lot cheaper.. but they re going no where now,
    bad in quality, a lot of problem, local manufacturer are far more better in their qualities.

  4. I just want to let everyone know, I own a komoto 250 enduro. The bike did take some work to get it running properly. I built it in less than a night, and spent a few weeks tuning the bike. I put almost 2000 trouble free miles on it in 3 months. You just have to have some mechanical ability and you’ll end up with a nice bike for half the price. If youve never turned a wrench in your life, I can understand all the negativity.

  5. I bought a Sukida SK125-4 last week. Its a clone of the Suzuki GN. Its already had its fare share of problems. The front head light was full of water. Took it apart and re sealed it. The odometer button is missing – need to get one. The back brake spring that operates the break light fell off. I have picked it up off the road and fitted it on properly. The engine cut out on the second day. I had to drain the carb. Now the front brake caliper housing rattles and feels loose. Im not yet sure if this is normal but will check it out in the day light tomorow. The chain seems to be a bit looser than I would expect for a bike thats done less than 250km.
    I expected a few teathing problems from a cheap Chinese clone, but I seem to have a few more than I expected at this early stage.

    I think they can be a double edged sword. If you expect it to be perfect then you must pay for the quality controll. If you want it cheap then you must be willing to compromise in some areas.

    Im still not quite sure if its been worth it so far as Ive had so many problems early on.

  6. I bought one of those China shit bikes, and man, the steel of very poor quality its like scrap iron they will rust in a few months and break easily.
    Hey, not to mention the wiring and ignition problem and little or almost no replacement parts and support from the dealer.
    I’m now riding a Honda.

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