Yes, it really is made in China
The machine pictured here is the first sign that China has what it takes to build bikes we in the west might actually desire.
China is the biggest bike producer in the world, but it’s generally known for churning out copies of 40-year-old designs which may be cheap but are often less than cheerful.
But the Zongshen ZS750 could change all that. It is a prototype of a future road machine due to go on sale worldwide by the early part of next year.
Built by China’s third-largest bike company, Chongqing Zongshen, it features their own 743cc V-twin engine which is claimed to make 90bhp – enough for a top speed of over 150mph.
The engine casings may look familiar if you know Suzuki’s SV650, the original mouldings were taken from one. But all the internals are the firm’s own.
Our picture shows how a race version for a Chinese series will look. The road version will use the same chassis and engine but the styling is likely to change slightly and the tank will be different.
The ZS750’s major selling point is its price. The firm reckons it can build the 750s for the price of two of its current 125cc machines – which sell for little over £500 in China. Even once the bike is shipped to the UK, with all the relevant taxes paid, it should go on sale for less than £2500.
So how can the firm do it so cheap? The answer lies in China’s massive population, low average pay and self-sufficient nature. As a result, Zongshen has access to a huge, cheap workforce and plenty of low-cost raw materials to make the bike.
The specification of the prototype itself might not have jaws dropping, but it is certainly respectable and should add up to an extremely capable bike.
The 90bhp motor is fitted to a hand-built aluminium beam frame, although a production version would be likely to feature an extruded alloy frame rather than such a labour intensive design.
The suspension consists of a rising rate rear monoshock along with a pair of 43mm right-way-up forks, while the front brakes are 300mm discs gripped by six-pot calipers.
The wheelbase of 1425mm should offer a good combination of flickability and stability. Currently, the prototype is in the early stages, with an initial investment of just £350,000 – not a lot to create a totally new bike.
The firm is considering using the bike as a base for a new range of machines and a big trail bike is definitely on the cards.