We’ve all known it would take place sooner or later, but now it’s finally happening: A Chinese manufacturer has stepped on to the world stage with a growing range of affordably priced mid-sized motorcycles targeted at export sales, rather than smaller capacity models aimed at customers closer to home in the world’s largest motorcycle market. And let’s not forget that almost 14 million motorcycles were sold in the People’s Republic in 2013, against 10 million in the next largest, India.
CFMoto Power Co. Ltd. is a subsidiary of the Chunfeng – meaning “gentle breeze,” – Holding Group (hence CF), an engineering company founded in 1989 by 24-year old Lai Guogui to make components for the growing powered two-wheeler industry. It only began manufacturing complete motorcycles in 2000, when it obtained the necessary government license to do so, but since 1996 the company had built 125cc motors for sale to other companies; and the following year it developed the first complete liquid-cooled motorcycle engine made in China, again for supply to other brands. In 2007 CFMoto moved into its present purpose built 490,000 square foot plant in Hangzhou with a 1520-strong workforce (200 of which are qualified engineers directly involved with R&D of new products ) that is steadily ramping up production not only of bikes and scooters, but especially ATVs – in which CFMoto is a market leader.
As a company much smaller than industry giants like Lifan, Loncin, Zongshen and Qianjiang (owners of Benelli), CFMoto is almost unique among Chinese powered two-wheeler manufacturers in exclusively marketing its own brand – it doesn’t build complete bikes and scooters to sell to other companies for rebadging.
It’s also more export focused than most of the larger companies there: for the past five years it’s been the biggest exporter of ATVs from China in dollar volume, and it only builds larger capacity models, 500cc and up – indeed, its range-topping model of which 10,000 units were built in 2013 has an 800cc V-twin engine that might make an ideal basis for a cruiser motorcycle.
With all its products, CFMoto emphasizes quality of manufacture, rather than low cost, so while its bikes are well priced, they’re also well made and durable.
“CFMoto gets the whole quality issue, in a way that most other Chinese manufacturers which are primarily price-oriented, still don’t yet,” says Michael Poynton, CEO of the company’s Australian importer, Mojo Motorcycles. “They strictly enforce a zero defect manufacturing policy, and they’ve adopted innovative production methods to ensure every product is finished to the highest level of detail. Our core customers for their ATV models are Australian farmers, who are ultra demanding, but it’s a mark of how good CFMoto’s reliability is that we’ve now overtaken Kawasaki and Can-Am in terms of numbers in ATV sales, as word spreads of how good they are.”
To read more of about our inside look at CFMoto in this week’s issue of Cycle News, click here