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It's time to address the elephant in the room: should you buy a Chinese motorcycle or scooter? In this blog, I will go through the pros and cons of owning and running a Chinese scooter or motorcycle, the costs, and how long they realistically last. All of these things should be taken into consideration when you are deciding on your new eventual commuter bike or your new pride and joy.

Pros of Buying a Chinese Motorcycle

When you buy any vehicle, there are a couple of things you take into consideration regardless of who makes it. For example, price. It is well known that Chinese bikes are usually about 25% cheaper than their Japanese counterparts. This could be a saving of £1000 or even more. The next thing you will usually consider is the power and top speed. Chinese bikes now offer a wide variety of speed and power outputs. My primary experience is in the 50cc and 125cc market, so I will stick to what I know. 125cc bikes can range from 55 mph max to 75 mph max, with an output range of 8 hp to 14.7 hp (the upper limit for a 125cc in the UK). The most powerful bikes in 2023 are the Zontes ZT125 U1 G1 U or GK, which boast 14.7 HP. Also, the Lexmoto LS-N boasts 13.7 HP. So, remember whether you buy Chinese or Japanese, you are still limited to 14.7 in the UK. There are many different models, shapes, and sizes for any type and style you require in the Chinese arsenal. There was a time when the Chinese bikes were not even in the same league as the Japanese models, but that time has now passed to a certain extent. And COVID didn’t help these matters. Regardless of the manufacturing location, all bikes have parts from all over the world. The main issue during COVID was obtaining the ECU for all bikes, as Japanese and Chinese bikes use the same ECUs.

Cons of Buying a Chinese Motorcycle

It isn't all sunshine and rainbows. There are some subtle differences, for instance, Directbikes, which supplies a lot of Chinese motorcycles to the UK market. They send their bikes to customers in a box with no pre-dispatch inspection (PDI). This means customers have to install batteries, and wheels, and check the tension of bolts, among other things. My main job is to do PDIs on motorcycles. 90% of the time, it is checking that bolts are tight, but the last 10% is all safety-critical things that, if done incorrectly, could seriously injure someone. Also, for every bike I PDI, I test-ride at least 6 miles and over the years, I have developed a very sensitive rear end and can detect issues a lot of issues before they become an issue. Take this scenario into consideration: I have done a PDI on a bike, I go for my test ride, and for some reason, the engine locks up (I have had this before). As an experienced rider tester, I could still control that bike and bring the bike and myself to a safe stop because I'm expecting it. Now think of the other scenario, little Johnny just got his bike in the box, puts it together, and test-rides it. Do you think that if the engine locks up, he will be able to control it? I think little Johnny will be in trouble. Another point, Chinese quality control sometimes isn't what Japanese quality control is, so it is even more important that the bike is PDI'd by a competent mechanic. All Chinese bikes are not made the same. Check the reviews on the internet before you buy, just to make sure there aren't some general issues on any model. But you should do that anyway regardless of who makes it, the Japanese have

made some poor bikes too.

Factors to consider before buying a Chinese motorcycle

When buying any bike, new or second-hand, there are some things you should do. Check reviews, people have owned these bikes and know the finicky issues. Check out who you are buying it from, and make sure they have prepared it properly for sale, whether that be a PDI or for a second-hand bike, and service history. Make sure you are getting the best price, you may be able to get some freebies like a free helmet or jacket, a lock, or something like that. And make sure you see the bike, sit on it, and make sure it is right for you. There are a lot of bikes out there that are not suitable for some riders, are too tall, too small, no rack gears, all these things need to be considered.


Should you buy a Chinese bike/scooter? This depends usually. It isn't down to whether you should buy a Chinese bike, it is usually down to price availability. It used to be the case that you could get Japanese bikes, but there are big waiting lists for them now, and some Chinese models have been out of stock for well over a year. However, there is still a large amount available. You could save more than £1000 on a Chinese bike versus a Japanese bike. When it comes to 50cc, there aren't any Japanese bikes, as long as you maintain them, they will look after you. The AA states that the average life of a 125cc is 20,000 miles and a 50cc is 10,000. I have known Chinese bikes to surpass these figures, and it is all about maintenance. My last point is this: the warranty for a 50cc is 1 year, the warranty for a 125 is 2 years. If they were as bad as they get made out to be, don't you think the importers like Yamasaki, Zontes, Lexmoto, or Moto GB would have all gone bankrupt by now? Thanks for reading and as always, ride safe.

If you liked this blog why not check out some of my other blogs

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1 Comment

Very good points.

The one checking out who you purchase from is probably the most important. Do your homework. Any bike is only as good as the person selling it.

This is the person who will make sure the bike is safe, and fix any problems.

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