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The birth of a classic

ER Classics Desktop 2022

When Honda started making 'mopeds', the British Builders raised an eyebrow a bit annoyed: “Weird guys, those Japanese. But luckily everyone sees that it is nothing and will become nothing.”

When the whole of GB was also filled with Hondaatjes, the English dismissed that phenomenon with: “They don't do a bad job with that scribble stuff. But of course England is the only country that builds fast, heavy motorcycles.”


The Japanese are coming!

And then came the CB750, the Z900, the XS650 and the GT750. And the ruins of the once globally leading British motorcycle industry thundered against the plain in a magisterial cloud of dust. And British motorcycles became classics.

The Japanese Glorified

The world was doing well economically and the new, increasingly heavier models tumbled over each other. It was not uncommon for the then large generation of new motorcyclists to simply buy a new topper every model year. Those were motorcycles that ran at around 200 km/h. And we tried to do that as often as possible.

Meanwhile, the prices of 'old' Japanese people collapsed. I bought a nice one T500 for 600 guilders, a GT 750 - with sidecar and Reimo three-in-one - for 2.500 guilders, a very nice CB 750 K2 for 2.000 guilders. An XS1 for 1.200 guilders. A Russian tricycle? You had it for 500 guilders.

The British lost

Meanwhile, it has been recognized even in the sad remnants of the UK that the Japanese have built motorcycles that are rock solid classics and the times when you bought them for change? Those are really over. And what if someone ticks off five numbers for a classic Japanese? Then it is simply because De Markt dictates that.

And now we have China

Meanwhile, in the People's Republic of China they also made motorcycles that made people laugh. Because how sad is it that you are going to make copies of the copies of the pre-war BMW R71? The Chinese did that under the Chang Jiang or Xiang Jiang brand and a handful of other brand names for the same thing. They made millions of them. The next big step forward started with its own copy of another BMW. And such a rabbit is now in my garage. I bought it – including 'German Letter' – for 500 euros as a partially loosely mounted box project.

My previous 'biggest project' was the DAF thing

But that involved significantly more work than this kit promised. So easy! And after that bout of mild brain softening, I went to see what I had bought and was amazed. At Chang Jiang, they gave a photo of an R75/5 to a savvy trainee in the XNUMXs. “This is the example of what we want. Think of something like that. When you finish for lunch, you get an extra portion of white rice.”

A sad, shameless copy

The result is sad, but a lot of them have been made in VR for the police, army and governments. Something like 32 hp from 750 cc was no longer earth-shattering in 1987, certainly not for a sidecar tractor. All castings on the block, box and hubs are coarse. Only the ignition is cleverly done the auto way. The pre-ignition degrees are the only sharp detail. The welding on the frame is to cry. The rear mudguard is heavier and more clumsy than the doors of the Grevelingendam. But the thing is largely complete, the block is loose and has compression. To complete the story I go shopping for Ural parts at Richard in Genemuiden. And at Beck in Wijhe I can look in the junk bins at the BMW 'identical' parts.

This 1987'er is - even when it's finished - almost worthless

And you can rightly be surprised at the uncouth lovelessness with which the device was made and assembled. But in the meantime, very beautiful, good things are being done and made in China. BMW gets entire engine blocks from it. A new Harley is no longer real American Steel and also Benelli is now a Chinese brand. China is the new Japan. For quite some time again. So who says that Chinese motorcycles are not or will not be classics. So grab your chances now and buy a 750 cc OHV Chang!

The previous Great Project
When the Chinese were still practicing

11 Comments

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  1. The Chinese also made semi-reproductions of Russian aircraft such as the Yak-18 (became the Nanchang CJ-6) and the MiG-17 (became the Shenyang J-5). According to the stories, these aircraft would far surpass their Russian counterparts in terms of quality. But apparently this is less or not the case with their motorcycle copies.

  2. I assume that most Transavia travelers to Spain are not or hardly aware
    are that the aircraft where they "Fly" really has a lot of parts from China.
    Airbus as well as Boeing. I also know people here who prefer to stick pins in their eyes
    than to buy something from China, but who, because of the enviroment, buy a Polestar2 thinking
    it's Swedish! It is sort-of sold as a Volvo design.
    Had to laugh a lot at the "cast in coarse gravel" Old Dacia looked just like this.
    Greetings, nice article Dolf

    • Hi Bastian. Many opinions are based on incomplete information. Let's have fun and put things into perspective. Saturday to Genemuiden to get stuff for my Chang and my Ural. And to take a look at the New Urals. Apparently there are people who want to go for Russian charm, but not for the fickleness of those carthorses. And they just tick off 20+ thousand for a Ural with warranty. And with functioning brakes

  3. Sad remnants of the UK, be careful what sad remnants of the EU we'll soon be left with.

    Also a funny article; The Japanese have my great esteem for their industrial achievements.

    • Ah Erik, everything is transitory. We are considering declaring the part of NL east of the IJssel as a free state. They will learn that with their EuEn industrial, the Chinese are not wrong either

  4. Doors in the Grevelingendam??
    Haringvlietdam could be, but on the way to Cadzand you won't get there.
    Nice article, keep it up.
    Gr, Peter.

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