Zongshen could enter World Superbikes in 2003
The Chinese Zonghsen firm has developed a 1000cc four-cylinder sportsbike which could debut in World Superbikes next year, before the road version arrives in 2004.
The 1000 will join the firm’s 750cc superbike, which is already in development, and paves the way to race in WSB, and even MotoGP.
Zonghsen World Endurance general team manager Michel Marqueton is adamant there will be a Zongshen superbike on sale within three years. He added: " The new 1000cc bike will be a classic design with an in-line four-cylinder engine. We see this type of machine as the future of superbike racing and the flagship of our range of road-going motorcycles. "
Marqueton describes the project as a " long-term evolution " . Zongshen already has the 750cc V-twin, which is due to go into production by the end of the year. It would have been earlier, but for delays in the delivery of parts from suppliers in China.
It’s due to come here as soon as it’s ready, and it could cost half the price of a rival Japanese 750.
Zongshen has its own R&D facility in China, but Marqueton has just bought new premises in France which will house the race team. Significantly, it will also be home to the European R&D centre where the new superbike will be designed.
Zongshen already has some road bikes on the way to the UK. The first shipment arrived here last week through UK importer Barrus, based in Bicester, Oxon. The three models available are the GoGo110 (a Honda C90-style commuter) which costs £1195, the Roadrunner 125 scooter (£1395) and the MRX125 trail bike (£1795).
The Chinese bike market is 20 times bigger than the UK’s, with 50 million bikes in use, and an annual output of over 10 million new bikes a year making it the world’s biggest manufacturer. Most are 50-200cc models licensed from the likes of Honda and Yamaha, which means they cannot be exported.
There are more than 200 registered motorcycle manufacturers in China and last year they sold 11.5 million bikes. But it is estimated black-market companies produce the same amount again using stock from wholesalers and cheap labour.
To read more about the 1000cc Zongshen, their plans for racing, and the biggest motorcycle market on Earth, look in MCN, on sale Wednesday June 5.