THE CHINESE MOTORCYCLES
I realized also a page about the Chinese bikes, because, although the obvious differences, the China belongs to the same block fallen in the East Europe between the '89 and the '91 (but the Communist dictatorship in China is still in full activity, with a particular pitilessness). But i don't want to talk of political facts: i want quite talk about the motorcycles of the Dragon's country!
Chinese bikes of Soviet derivation: the "Changjiang"
The Chinese motorcycle industry was born in the 1958, with the foundation of the Beijing Motorcycle Factory (click here for a complete history of the developement of the Chinese motorcycle industry), that produced "clones" of the pre-war BMW "R71". These motorcycles were substantially copied from the Soviet Ural and Dnepr (also the Russian bikes were reprised from the German model), therefore the techinical features were the sames: 750 cc. twin-flat engine, air-cooled, side valves, final shaft drive. Differently from the Russian side-valves models, these bikes are still produced in China: in the three pics above, the Chang Jiang "M1 750", basically egual to the German pre-war model!
Only few modifications to the electric scheme (but it remains very archaic, with enormous coils and the spark cables covered with cotton!!!!) and some slight improvement of the mechanical parts were added. The max power is 20 hp (it's a 750 cc!!!), the rear suspension is always without swingarm and with "driven wheel", an old system of the years '30s...but the whole bike is a real "replica" of the pre-war motorcycles. Up, another version of this bike: the Changjiang "M1 750 Chrome", more finished in comparison to the normal model, and surely actrattive for the enthusiasts of the "vintage bikes"...but this is not an used bike, it's new from the factory!
Since the years '80s (with a delay of 20 years even in comparison with the russian "cousins"!!!), the Changjiang bikes were equipped with a "new" OHV engine (up), always 750 cc. The power was increased to 36 hp...anyway, a slightly better power in comparison with the 20 hp of the previous version!
It's interesting to notice that the Chineses (differently from the Russians) developed these old projects with new solutions, although often with criticizable results...The bike in the first pic above is a classic and "normal" Changjiang "J-I 750" sidecar for the Chinese police (produced since the '80s); the bike in the second and third pics, instead, is the "Changdong 750 Solo", "cruiser" version of the old Russian-chinese bikes. It's not a bad bike...but you can notice the panther on the mudguard (urgh!), and the rough construction of the radiator...yes, the Chineses fitten the liquid-cooling system on the old twin-flat!!!!
But the maximum sacrilege is the "M1 Cool" in the first pic, above, with the liquid-cooled engine on the old frame of the years '30s!!!!!!!!! And also the name is very strange: the factory have called the bike "cool" to indicate the liquid cooling system! But the "Changjiang 750 Super" (second and third pics, above), equipped with the air-cooled engine, is interesting: it can be an incitement to the polygamy...with four places, you can transport the wife on the motorcycle's seat, and two lovers in the sidecar (better than a car)!
The vehicles in the three pics above are other Chinese evolutions of the old flat-twin engine: the sidecar Long Tech 750, richly equipped; a "Beijing" three-wheeler (always with the boxer engine...but in a diesel version!!!), and even a "quad", the Dong Tian "750 ATV Cool" (with the liquid cooled version). When the resources are poor, the Chineses looses the fantasy!
Other Chinese bikes: Donghai, Xingfu
Besides the Changjiang, the China had also another big-displacement sidecar (i think that's is still produced): the Donghai "750 A" (four pics above, and also in the opening pic; the third pic shows a "solo" version). Differently from the Changjiang, it has a parallel-twin engine, OHV, 750 cc., with the oil in a separate tank. This engine (that seems inspired to old British realizations) developes 33 hp, for 100 km/h of max speed (145 km/h for the "solo" version).
Among the early motorcycles produced in China under license, there were also the Czechoslovakian Jawa 250, assembled in Shangai with the "Xingfu" brand, and produced still today. Up, there are a perfect "clone" of the Jawa "Typ 353" (first pic), the Xing-Fu 250 in the normal version (second pic) and with a new "coachwork" in fiberglass (third pic). All these bikes have a single-cylinder engine derived from the Jawa "Perak" (a project of the '50s!), with 14 hp...but the diabolic Chineses engineers obtained also a "Sport" version, with petal admission valve, with a little stronger power, 22 hp.
In China there is currently a huge production of mopeds and scooters, almost all of Japanese origin. Therefore, it's useless to talk about...but the vehicle in the pic above deserves to be mentioned. Do you can recognize it? It's the old and well-known Velosolex, the famous French moped with the engine placed on the front wheel. Now it's called "Hongling" (or "Impex" for the foreign markets), and it's produced in China without modifications. I don't know if it's a vehicle of success in China...but, from millions of bicycles to millions of motorized bikes, the step is short!
Chinese bikes of Japanese derivation
Here is some example of motorcycles produced under Japanese license (the pics were taken from http://www.jhberkandassociates.com/chinese_motorcycles.htm , a beautiful page with other interesting images). I will mention only few models, considering that the Japanese small-displacement bikes produced in China are very numerouses (often several factories produces egual models). In the first and second pics, above, two bikes of the Chinese police: the Suzuki GN 250 produced under license, and the Xingfu-Honda 125, all four-stroke monocylinder. The Chinese Suzuki's factory produces also the fastest bike produced in the Dragon's country: the Suzuki "GSX 250" (third pic). For a Chinese guy, this the Ferrari of the bikes!
Up, some "bizarre" examples of small bikes under Japanese license. In the first and second pic, above, the "Honest"...not so honest about the displacement: under a fake cylinder realized in plastic, there is a little Honda 90 cc. engine! In the third pic, the Sundiro-Honda 125, with typically "chinese" colours...and in the fourth pic, the Huanghe-Kawasaki 250, a high level bike for the Chinese market, but still with the front drum brake!
If we consider Taiwan as "China" (theorically, Taiwan is still a Chinese district, because it hasn't yet declared the indipendence from the China), also the bike in the four pics above can be considered as a Chinese bike. The PGO "V2 1600" was launched in the 1993 by the Taiwanese PGO, a big producer of scooters: it caused sensation because of the totally new V-twin engine, 1600 cc.(!), SOHC with three valves and two sparks for each cylinder, developed in collaboration with the Polytechnical of Graz (Austria). The motorcycle, equipped with an aluminium frame, was tested by several European magazines, that noticed a great maneuverability and a very strong torque of the engine. Unfortunately, this very interesting bike wasn't produced.
However, soon or later, a big-displacemet Chinese bike will come. The bike in the two pics above was realized by the Zongshen, the third Chinese factory about numbers of production. It was called "ZS 750", and has a 750 cc. engine, V-twin (90º), DOHC, eight valves, capable of 90 hp. Only the carter were taken from the Suzuki "SV 650", the rest of the bike (also the aluminium frame) is almost totally Chinese. It seems that this bike will be the base for a new "naked" model, destined to compete with Ducati "Monster" (!) and similar bikes, competing with a lower price...but nothing is sure, at the moment.
The Zongshen partecipated to some international SBK competitions (the only one Chinese team in the world!), initially with an old Honda RC 45, modified and patriotically painted in the colors of the Chinese flag (above), and now with some Suzuki GSX-R, always painted in red and marked with the Zongshen brand. Recently, the Chinese team has won some race in the Endurance championship (as the 200 Miles of Silverstone), therefore they have not intentions to be a simple and mere presence... One day, the Chineses will invade the world not only with radios and components for PC, but also with the motorcycles. Although i think that the human rights and the respect for the workers are not the best Chinese product. And, about this argument, the Chinese society is not so advanced like the Chinese industry...
Some pic taken from www.joeberkphotography.com , www.gespannfahrer.purespace.de