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Bryan Bosch

Chinese Dirt Bikes: The Next Big Thing? (Video)

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Note: this topic isn't about mindless bashing of Chinese bikes. I can't say that I'll be on one anytime soon, but I think it would be foolish to also say they'll NEVER been good enough for the weekend warrior rider. If anything, I hope that the competition at some point keeps the Japanese and Euro bike mfr prices in check. Can't say that 10k+ dirt bikes helps the sport. With dirt cheap interest rates it's more doable, but what happens if/when the cost of money normalizes? Will younger riders not sucking off their parents teet have the means?


image.pngChinese made 2019 GPX Moto TSE250R

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I see the Chinese dirt bikes as a good and bad thing.  Their low cost is a huge opportunity to bring in new riders or possibly even bring some riders back to the fold.  Quality is a concern however it's common for many of them to use old Japanese tech, so it's possible that a "new Chinese bike" is really just a modern looking Honda, Suzuki or Yamaha.  Do your research before buying.

The bad is if a new rider buys a "really off brand" and then has nothing but trouble with reliability and getting parts.  For now I would only buy one from a dealership that services that brand, don't buy one out of the local hardware store - if your not a skilled mechanic then your asking for trouble.

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Yes, prices are insane.  I was looking a Specialized mountain bikes last night for the first time in years.  I couldn't believe some of the bikes were 10 grand now!

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There are two areas where I believe they have a shot at deep market penetration:

  • Kid Stuff: If they can move from pit-bike-oriented minis to true kids' bikes (throttle limiters, adjustable levers, 1/2" diameter bars, etc)...at near current pit-bike prices, they'd make a killing.
  • If they can fill the "forgotten market" of semi-aggressive off-road riders who desire a reliable, almost-competitive bike at two-thirds (or less) of the price of competition models, they'd sell a ton.  Think KDX200, XR400, etc...simpler, milder engines, in comfortable chassis, with current-tech brakes and suspension.
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There are two areas where I believe they have a shot at deep market penetration:

  • Kid Stuff: If they can move from pit-bike-oriented minis to true kids' bikes (throttle limiters, adjustable levers, 1/2" diameter bars, etc)...at near current pit-bike prices, they'd make a killing.
  • If they can fill the "forgotten market" of semi-aggressive off-road riders who desire a reliable, almost-competitive bike at two-thirds (or less) of the price of competition models, they'd sell a ton.  Think KDX200, XR400, etc...simpler, milder engines, in comfortable chassis, with current-tech brakes and suspension.
The forgotten market is exactly what the GPX TSE250R fills. And possibly the GPX FSE250R. A modern IT, or KDX, XR!

I had IT's in the 80's, and my TSE reminds me of them.

It's an older type engine, but with electric start and counter balanced(TSE). Water cooled too. With a more modern frame & suspension.

Unfortunately due to medical bills I'm forced to sell mine. Bills are not related to riding.

 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Padilen said:

The forgotten market is exactly what the GPX TSE250R fills. And possibly the GPX FSE250R. A modern IT, or KDX, XR!
I had IT's in the 80's, and my TSE reminds me of them.
It's an older type engine, but with electric start and counter balanced(TSE). Water cooled too. With a more modern frame & suspension.
Unfortunately due to medical bills I'm forced to sell mine.
 

My first/only new dirt bike was a 1985 Yamaha IT200...if the Chinese can bring back the "spirit" of those bikes, while providing proper parts/service support, they will rule the non-racer, amateur/hobbyist market that Japan and Europe have mostly ignored.

For the record, a $10.5K-plus Beta or KTM, with the comparatively thin dealer network and racer's-edge attitude, doesn't cut it for the "KDX/XR/IT club" group of riders who can barely spend half that much money comfortably.

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ive got a garage full of Japanese and KTM bikes , last year I was shopping for a minibike for the girls and found the Hondas and such at almost $3K just for a 110 crf , too much!

looked at the Chinese rides and found a 110 14"/12" semi auto and a 125 17"/14" manual . bikes looked good so I made the call. about 1 hr later we were talking to the distributer and told me their warehouse is nearby. I bought both OTD for $1047 in the crate with MSO , killer deal. assembled they are both Chinese quality chassis, OK, but engines are great with poor carburation. I spent a total of 6 hrs and $135 to fix and make trail ready. both are fun to ride even for us OG's and with so little invested who cares if it ha no re-sale value

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5 hours ago, Bryan Bosch said:

 

 I think it would be foolish to also say they'll NEVER been good enough for the weekend warrior rider.

I've been saying that since the Chinese bikes showed up here 15 or more years ago and now they're at the point where you're starting to see it. It's only a matter of time before we see competitive made in China MX bikes. One of my local dealers is now selling Chinese trials bikes and he swears by them. Something I thought I'd never hear from him.

People like to remember the good times but early on a lot of those Japanese race bikes were not great. They picked up their game but originally they sold on price like the Chinese are going to do all over again.

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I see them as a great way to get the growing child on a new bike. 

Even if you throw a few bucks at carburetors, what might you spend on a used bike that suddenly needs a piston and valves? 

EDIT: That TSE in the still picture is really nice looking. 

Edited by Beta300recat

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I’d buy the TSE if it were priced the same as the FSE.

I'm getting my son into dirt biking later this spring. I bought a used lower hour 2012 KX85. He’s almost 14, 5’2”, and has years of MTB experience. The used KX cost me $1,500. I can likely resell for $1,200 or more in a few years. I wouldn’t gamble that much on a Chinese pit bike. 

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I’d buy the TSE if it were priced the same as the FSE.
I'm getting my son into dirt biking later this spring. I bought a used lower hour 2012 KX85. He’s almost 14, 5’2”, and has years of MTB experience. The used KX cost me $1,500. I can likely resell for $1,200 or more in a few years. I wouldn’t gamble that much on a Chinese pit bike. 
The FSE250R is priced about the same as the TSE.
The FSE250E is cheaper because it's not the R "race" model. And is lacking some features of the R's.
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Like most markets that have a huge Chinese following now, it will take time. They will just have to prove that they are close to or equally reliable and have the aftermarket support available. If they are just cloning bikes that have been proven then it might be pretty easy, assuming they actually clone them.  Markets I've been involved in like RC's and Reef Aquariums have a big Chinese place now but it was hard for them at first as stuff like the Reef Aquarium lighting from "big brands" could be a couple grand for two fixtures and the chinese brands could set you back $200. So it was almost too good to be true. But now theres enough people that have gambled on them and done lots of studies as well as just having them for an extended periods of time to know that they actually work very well, in some cases, better than the big brands.

Where do you actually shop for these bikes though?

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35 minutes ago, Padilen said:

The FSE250R is priced about the same as the TSE.
The FSE250E is cheaper because it's not the R "race" model. And is lacking some features of the R's.

The TSR and the FSE-E are where the focus should be in my opinion...lower/older tech mills with a fun attitude in modern chassis, using up-to-date suspension.  I believe the FSE-E would sell like hotcakes with the proper dealer network and parts support.

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2 minutes ago, slowngreen said:

Like most markets that have a huge Chinese following now, it will take time. They will just have to prove that they are close to or equally reliable and have the aftermarket support available. If they are just cloning bikes that have been proven then it might be pretty easy, assuming they actually clone them.  Markets I've been involved in like RC's and Reef Aquariums have a big Chinese place now but it was hard for them at first as stuff like the Reef Aquarium lighting from "big brands" could be a couple grand for two fixtures and the chinese brands could set you back $200. So it was almost too good to be true. But now theres enough people that have gambled on them and done lots of studies as well as just having them for an extended periods of time to know that they actually work very well, in some cases, better than the big brands.

Where do you actually shop for these bikes though?

That last question is the killer.  The Chinese brands need to front-load their investment in a dealer and parts support network if they intend to be taken seriously.  There is not a single GPX dealer within 200 miles of me here in Texas.  The internet could be the great equalizer, though.  GPX is already working with Rocky Mountain on OEM and aftermarket support for the TSE.  If they do the same thing for the FSE-E, where I know I could readily get parts in 48 hours, I'd bite.

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The GPX's are easy to street legalize and dual sport. Which to me was another plus, a street legal 2 stroke!
IMG_20181003_162935701.jpeg

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Outside of a pitbike, I'm not interested. I also don't have much respect for the blatant bodywork and engine carbon copies they produce, eg the GPX/Husky/Yamaha clone, or that CRF clone in the video. Create an original design that can stand it's ground, and then I would take a look. At the moment it looks like they just try to make an existing product cheaper.

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6 hours ago, HansLanda said:

Outside of a pitbike, I'm not interested. I also don't have much respect for the blatant bodywork and engine carbon copies they produce, eg the GPX/Husky/Yamaha clone, or that CRF clone in the video. Create an original design that can stand it's ground, and then I would take a look. At the moment it looks like they just try to make an existing product cheaper.

You are describing the first 25 years or so of the Japanese motorcycle industry post-WW2.  All they did was copy for the first two decades.  Hell, just about every two-stroke built by the Japanese until the late-60's was sourced from Euro designs, and their tuning advancements were brought to them by an Eastern Euro/Communist defector.

They don't need to be "new." They need to bring the best balance of features, quality and price to a market that is somehow under-served. "New" will come after they are established.  Think Kia or Hyundai.

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The mention of a dealer network is HUGE for me.  I've owned bikes that the only source for parts was the internet but I'm not going to drive 1000 mi. either to pick the bike up.  I own a Chinese trail bike 150cc., 18" & 21", no lights.  I got it free.  I've already had a parts source question.  I broke a SEAT (I'm not a featherweight !) and haven't found a source.  It was really a fun trail bike, cheap, I've heard, but because of the seat, it just sits in my shed.  It uses a lot of Honda XR parts but not the seat.

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You are describing the first 25 years or so of the Japanese motorcycle industry post-WW2.  All they did was copy for the first two decades.  Hell, just about every two-stroke built by the Japanese until the late-60's was sourced from Euro designs, and their tuning advancements were brought to them by an Eastern Euro/Communist defector.
They don't need to be "new." They need to bring the best balance of features, quality and price to a market that is somehow under-served. "New" will come after they are established.  Think Kia or Hyundai.

I understand. That point was more or less made in the video, and I thought my response addressed it. If history repeats itself they should be fine in the long run. I just don’t see much reason for them now.

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