At CMG we’ve been very interested in the wave of Chinese imports that
have been crashing onto Canadian shores in recent years. However,
they’ve been plagued by quality control issues, poor parts back up and
‘here today, gone tomorrow’ importers.
There is one import that has caught our eye though and that is the KSM
200 from Konker Motors. We conducted an initial test of the bike last
year and gave it a thumbs up for mechanical abilities and value, but we
wondered how the bike would hold up in the long run.
Well, we solved that question by acquiring a KSM directly from the
importer with the intent to put it through its paces on road as well as
in the dirt.
The deal was done in May 2009, with a delivery date
sometime in July.
BYPASSING THE MIDDLE MAN
I have once before purchased a bike directly from an importer. It was
the Suzuki 650 V-Strom long termer that we had a few years back and
apart from some minor issues with paperwork when it came to
registration, it was a relatively straightforward procedure.
I was thinking it would be much the same for the Konker, but the
difference being that I already had the Strom (purchased at the end of
the long-term testing) but the Konker came direct, in a crate.
Now I knew this was going to be the way when the deal was struck, all it
meant in effect was that I had to do the PDI (Pre Delivery Inspection)
rather than a dealer and since I used to be a motorcycle mechanic in a
previous life, I had a pretty good idea of what to do.
What I hadn’t counted on was that the shippers (Day & Ross) would
neglect to deliver it with the front wheel. You’d think that that would
be easy enough to do, but the front wheel is actually a separate unit
from the rest of the bike (not put within the crate) and by the time the
error was found the truck had long since gone.
No problem. I also had the off-road wheel set on order so when they
arrived I could just attach them and await for Day & Ross to deliver
the front 17 incher that was still on the truck. Hey it was still early
July, so I still had time.
Well, the off-road wheels took a while to arrive and Day & Ross said
that they never had the 17″ wheel in the first place, so the issue went to back to
the importer – who didn’t have any more in stock. Never mind, I
was more interested in doing some off-roading with it anyway.
Thankfully you don’t really need the front wheel to do a PDI (though it
helps) and before long the bike was uncrated, the oil replaced, chain
and cables adjusted, battery inserted and the tightness of most nuts and
I did come across a few minor issues like the front headlight adjuster
not aligning to the triple clamp, wrong bolts to attach the rear
sprocket to the off-road wheel (had to go buy some longer ones) and, err, no front road wheel.
As for quality, overall I was impressed. At a rough initial estimate I’d say
that the bike was within about 75% of what you get with a Japanese
There were some afterthought issues, like the rather thin seat
mounts or the battery holder, which sticks out an awful lot and bolts
together at an angle, which makes it almost impossible to get the bolt
But overall it’s not bad. Hell, even my KLR650 doesn’t have USD forks
and a twin piston front brake caliper with braided hose to boot! Add to that
rather sweet styling, gorgeous 17 inch wheels (well the back one is) and
decent off-road wheels for a mere $599 and you have a pretty good deal.
There are a few things that I’d like to see added. The obvious one is a
backrack to fill that large flat space over the rear wheel and add to
the commuter appeal of this bike.
A handlebar mounted choke would be
good (it currently sits on the carb) and maybe a decent halogen
headlight (the current one looks like someone put a rear bulb in there
TIME IS NOT ON MY SIDE
By the end of the month she was ready to be registered and ridden but it
took another two weeks of back and fourth with the importer to get all
the info I needed … and now it was the end of July.
Then, well, life got in the way and before I knew it it was September
and the only riding that the Konker had actually done was across the
road and back to fill it up with gas. Well, I pushed it across the road
and rode it back.
By now I had decided to leave the project for 2010, and dutifully
winterized it and slapped it under a tarp for the long New Brunswick
winter to pass.
THE RUST TEST
One of the big concerns with any Chinese import is quality control. As I mentioned at the start, we were impressed by the apparent quality but the real question is, how does the Konker fair after being parked outside for a couple of months, just a few hundred meters from the Bay of Chaleur and its blasting salty winds?
Well, not too well. Of course I have to iterate that this was a pretty extreme — if unintended test — and any bike would likely show a little worse for a blasting of salty wind, but I think it’s a good look at what might happen after a winter or twos usage or a life without much spit and polish.
The main issue that high pressure salt uncovered was the lack of a decent coat of paint on the frame. Light rust can be seen on many areas with some parts (the cut of the passenger footpeg holders for example) seemingly having missed the paint sprayer completely.
The alumimum alloys haven’t fared great either, with a layer of dusty white oxidation clearly visible on the carb.
I think a can of black paint will have to come to the rescue to touch up these areas, but on the bright side, the motor paint seems to be pretty solid, the off-road wheels are completely rust free and the bashplate seems to be made of altogether sturdier stuff.
More updates on quality (or any lack thereof) as we go through the year.
NEXT UPDATE – Getting it legal (and you know that ain’t going to be as easy as it sounds).