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Despite strict rules in many of the big cities China motorcycle manufacturing has a rich and long history and a recent partnership between BMW and Loncin has given hope for some improvement in quality. Currently there are three main motorcycle areas Chongqing, Guangdong and Zhe Jiang provinces seem to have most of it, and I must say it is a refreshing change to see a lot of bikes driving around when I get off the plane in Chongqing.
We arrive at Shineray, a Chongqing motorcycle company, and is one of the big manufactures along with Loncin, ZhongShan and CF moto. Its about an hour out of town and the factory and surrounding units reminds me of one of those old James bond movies with all the busy uniformed workers and ‘scientists’ in white coats.
With a particular interest in a medium size single cylinder engine Shineray have an engine that the manager tells me was copied from a Honda Cb400. In Chinese culture it’s considered an honor to copy someone else so there is no shame in telling me directly. Of course this is not an attitude that washes very well with us lao wai.
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All in all the operation seems pretty reasonable, workers busy on production lines lots of automation, white coats testing top speeds, acceleration and breaking figures. I was impressed with the size and scale of the operation and it looks like business is pretty ok. The manager tells me most of the products are heading to South America and Africa, but they are also starting to move into Europe which is refreshing, replacing carburetor’s with fuel injection systems to comply with emissions.
We head out to see a few more factories and it’s more of the same, some bigger smaller, but all in all low capacity engines 150-200cc and a general lack of design. Its not that they cant do it, in fact the Chinese have the equipment the know how and money to do so. The issue really is in the innovation, understanding foreign market tastes and getting away from their short tem thinking of making a quick buck.
Finally one of the greatest things about China is being able to get things made and I take a trip to our rim factory get a few snaps of the factory. Fantastic stuff, these Chinese business trips can be quite uplifting. On the plane back cant wait to get started on our export tracker and changing the perception and reality of the Chinese motorcycle industry