Current Chinese Bikes.

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After reading another guide to Chinese motorbikes I thought I'd write something a little more up-to-date that reflects the greatly improved quality of currently available Chinese bikes.
I write this as an owner of three different Chinese motorbikes over the years, the first a Lifan, the second a Shineray and now a Skyteam V-Raptor; all of these bikes have been 125cc have been used for commuting.

The Lifan was agreat little cruiser style bike and never let me down, even on cold winter mornings, it was simple and robust. It did need looking after like any other bike, especially the battery that came with it (this was replaced after 6 months with a compatible Varta battery). The build quality was solid, good welds and secure lock-nuts on the bolts, all the wiring was sheathed and tidy along the frame. Some nuts did work loose over time, the exhaust ones for example, but a spot of loctite and they were fine. Unfortunately my little bike couldn't take being run over by a Range Rover!! Lucky I was in the chip shop at the time and not on it, i saw it out of the window and couldn't even stomach the chips afterwards!! A sad day!!

The next bike i tried was a Shineray, the was a moto-cross style of bike with a higher seat. A lot of this bike was plastic, the tank, side panels and rear end, which made cleaning it a doodle. Again the battery was a problem, it was an old style non-sealed battery, but once i replaced it with a Varta everything was fine. This bike in all honesty wasn't as good as the Lifan, i had to keep it outside and it didn't like the cold or the wet. Again with this bike it was robust and secure, apart from minor nuts working loose. I believe this is, to some degree, a problem with a lot of 125s due to the amount of high frequency vibration they produce. In the end i moved away from this bike as i'd never really enjoyed the high seat and after the Lifan the steering never felt good for me, it had a really quick turn in.

My current bike is the pick of the crop! It's a Skyteam V-Raptor 125 and has a retro style about it with a laid back relaxed riding position. It's a replica of a Suzuki Van van and a couple of people have asked if it was one but rebadged!! This bike has never given me any problems, cold mornings, wet mornings and it was driving rain as well. As it's not fuel injected its easy to adjust the running and do any servicing on it. The build quality is excellent, good strong welds, metal tank, electrics covered and placed discreetly, a very good sealed maintenance free battery - it's even got a helmet lock!! Mechanically it's brilliant, twin piston brakes have bags of stopping power, the shocks take a good pounding well (i am the wrong side of 90kgs) and the engines goes great!

There are bags of other reliable Chinese motorbikes out there available through many dealers, in fact if you look at many other countries they seem to have adopted them more readily than us here in the UK, try Canada, lots of Europe,  Australia, NZ or South America. However there are some Chinese bikes that have a very poor build quality, use inferior metals and parts and will rust and deteriorate in a year, but these seem to be getting less all the time.

The Chinese bikes are where the Japanese were 20 - 30 years ago (Jap crap was the phrase), they are distrusted and looked at being inferior copies of original Japanese bikes (the first Japanese bikes were copies of European bikes). They aren't as sophisticated as there Japanese counterparts, i.e. engines are still carburettor based (on most) as opposed to fuel injection and they don't have the gadgets on the big named brands. Build quality is improving but is not at the same standard as the Japanese - although it is only a matter of time before the gap is very close.

What I would say is research the bike you intend to buy, if you haven't seen it in the UK before try looking for reviews from other countries or trawling the forums.

Here are some links to other guides i found useful and a picture of my bike - getting a 250cc version in July!!

Good guide.
Another good guide.

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