Zongshen Cyclone RA9: Aprilia-derived V-twin is a near production-ready concept

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Zongshen might not be a brand that sparks many emotions for European riders but among the hordes of Chinese bike firms it’s a well-respected company that’s been around for decades.

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Now the firm are developing their first litre bike in the form of the Cyclone RA9 which has been unveiled in concept form.

Bikes from brands including Fantic, Mondial, Rieju and Derbi have used Zongshen engines in the past and the company have long-standing ties with Piaggio.

It’s that tie-in with the Piaggio Group that leads directly to the RA9, because under its unconventional bodywork lies an engine and chassis that will be familiar to Western riders, as both are developments of the designs used in the Aprilia Shiver and Dorsoduro.

Zongshen Cyclone RA9 rear

The V-twin comes in at 987cc in the Zongshen RA9. That doesn’t match any of its previous iterations – the motor was introduced in the Shiver as a 94hp, 750cc unit back in 2007, reaching the Dorsoduro the following year.

The DOHC lump was bored out to 896cc for the Shiver 900 and Dorsoduro 900, then given a longer-stroke crank for 1197cc and 129hp in the Dosoduro 1200 and the short-lived Caponord 1200 adventure bike. Zongshen haven’t announced the bore and stroke, but their 987cc version of the engine is claimed to make 112hp at 9500rpm and 72lb.ft of torque.

It’s not just the engine that’s familiar – it sits in the same part-aluminium, part-steel frame that was used on all three Aprilia models which featured this engine.

Zongshen Cyclone RA9 headlight

Even the suspension and brakes are realistic, production-spec kit, with fully-adjustable inverted forks – probably from KYB – and radial calipers from Brembo’s Spanish subsidiary J.Juan. In another nod towards production, the bike has a Bosch ABS system.

One part of the chassis that isn’t borrowed from Aprilia is the single-sided swingarm which is unique to the RA9. The oversized 240-section rear tyre is more show bike than production spec as is the massive under-seat exhaust that makes up the rear section of the bike.

The instrument pack is a digital readout mounted in the front of the large, 22-litre fuel tank, so there’s nothing above the bars. Unusually for a concept bike, Zongshen have even quoted the weight as a very believable 215kg, fully fuelled.

Ben Purvis

By Ben Purvis