Chinese manufacturer clones the Sportster engine (or so it appears)

Would you buy a made-in-China Harley-Davidson? Even as progress apparently continues on the rebadged Qiuanjiang naked bike project, which would see a Chinese naked bike bearing the H-D badge, we now also see pictures of a new V-twin from Shineray that’s, errrrr, “strikingly similar” to the air-cooled Evo Sportster engine.

Shineray is a massive Chinese manufacturer, and some of its bikes have been available in Canada for years—it’s the company behind the current SWM brand. However, those mid-displacement machines aren’t Shineray’s main line of work. Like most Chinese manufacturers, Shineray cranks out countless small-cc motorcycles, scooters, and other practical mobility solutions aimed at developing markets.

Like all the other major Chinese manufacturers, Shineray now wants to grow its line into larger vehicles with more profitable margins, which is no doubt the reason we see this new 1200cc V-twin, as in the video above. No doubt we’ll soon see a motorcycle launched that’s built around this engine, too.

The Shineray V1200 engine looks an awful lot like something from an Evo Sportster. Photo: Shineray

If you’ve spent any amount of time looking at Evo Sportster, you’ll recognize that this made-in-China V-twin looks like it would bolt right into a Harley-Davidson frame, with all major engine components in a similar configuration, and the engine itself also using the same pushrod top end as the classic ’80s-and-onward Harley-Davidson Sportster engine. The internals may be considerably different, of course—whether it’s motorcycle engines like Honda’s classic CG125 mill, or other mechanical devices (firearms, in particular), Chinese engineers will often simplify and even sometimes improve on an existing European or US design.

It’s hard to see how the Evo Sportster engine could be much improved on, though! Regarded by many as the most reliable Harley-Davidson engine ever made, at least of the air-cooled era, the Evo has powered machines since the mid-’80s and really come into its own in the era of EFI and rubber mounting in the latest-gen Sportsters. The aftermarket is filled with upgrades, if you decide you’re willing to trade off performance for reliability.

But, rumor has it the Evo Sportster is about to be chopped from the MoCo lineup, and it’s already unavailable in some markets, due to emissions regulations. Even if Shineray doesn’t offer a motorcycle to Europe and North America with this engine, there will be demand for these as drop-in replacements as current Evo V-twins age out.


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