It used to be that if a few decades ago you asked anyone where the most cars were made, the answer would be Detroit. Detroit was world’s capital of car manufacturers. But alas, that is no longer the case. But what about motorcycles? Which part of the world makes the most motorcycles? If you would think Italy, because you know they have many famous brands (Aprilia, Benelli, Bimota, Cagiva, Ducati, Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Piaggio, Vespa), or Germany because of the German manufacturing might (and BMW of course), you would be wrong on both counts.
You might think it is Japan, since world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer comes from there (Honda), and there are three other big names located on the island (Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki). But again you would be wrong.
The city that has the most motorcycle manufacturers, and the one that makes the most motorcycles is Chongqing in China. Chongqing, formerly known as Chungkin, is located on 31,815 square miles in the center of China, and in municipal area houses over 28 million people.
They produce annually some 12 million motorcycles (in 2007 they were “only” producing 8.6 million). But the names on the motorcycles are unknown to most bikers in the Western world; names like Dayun, Haojin, Shineray, Loncin, Lifan or Yinxiang (amongst others). In total, there are 133 manufacturers, although many of them are smaller manufacturing units.
So these 12 million motorcycles made are not known in North American or Europe, because they are all sold in Asia, Africa and some parts of South America. The bikes usually have 125 cc – 200 cc engines and are pretty rudimentary, but solid and more importantly; cheap.
But let us not forget the history. Many decades ago, Japan started out like this. Small bikes, dubious quality and small exports to the Western world. Now, they dominate the motorcycle world. Eventually, the Chinese bikes will become a norm in our motorcycle world. In 10 years or so, many of us will be riding a Yinxiang or Lifan motorcycle. Already the Chinese have started exporting and selling their motorcycles in North America and Europe. If you can start riding your first motorcycle on a $500 bike, would that not be better than a $3000 bike?
Article inspired by Ultimate Motorcycling