There’s a new 650 in town, but it’s not made by any of the usual suspects.
Straight from the China International Motorcycle Exhibition come these photos of the Loncin DS8 adventure bike (we found these photos on NDTV.com). If you think that motor looks awfully familiar, that’s because it’s the same design that BMW used to power its 650 singles. Loncin is already assembling these engines for BMW (formerly, they were constructed in Austria by Rotax). The Chinese company is just taking everything to the next logical step and using the engine themselves.
Loncin isn’t the first Asian country to have such a deal with BMW; Taiwanese manufacturer SYM was responsible for BMW’s short-lived 450 engine lineup.
The Loncin DS8 isn’t particularly bold in its styling; it has generic adventure bike lines, and cast rims that seem to indicate the bike is aimed at pavement use, not hard-core offroad. Supposedly, it makes 50 hp and has curb weight close to 198 kg.
It wasn’t that long ago that people would have poo-poo’d the idea of a 650 cc Chinese motorcycle, as the country’s only motorcycle exports to North America were budget bikes, often in the 250 cc range (or smaller). But in recent years that has changed, with outfits like CFMoto proving the Chinese manufacturers are capable of greater things. Of course, with greater capability comes greater price, and that has been the downfall of these more competent Chinese motorcycles. Buyers were willing to gamble when the price was in the $2,500-$3,500 range, but once the MSRP gets north of $6,000, most riders are more interested in spending their cash on a known entity, such as a gently used Japanese bike in that price range.
So, don’t expect the DS8 here anytime soon, and if it does show up, don’t expect to snatch one up for $2,500; this will be a more complex machine, and will command a much higher price than the Konker and Lifan of yesteryear.
The DS8 is probably not aimed at western markets to start with. It’s most likely aimed at the developing world, where companies like Royal Enfield are making piles of money selling to bike-hungry buyers from developing middle classes in places like Indonesia or Brazil. The Chinese have already been selling small-capacity machines here for many years, and are going to be ready with bigger bikes as their customers increase their buying power.