Opinion The Game

Missing the point

I can’t remember how this came about, but the other day I found myself looking up reviews for the WK 650 TR, a 650cc Chinese-made tourer that goes under any number of names, including CF Moto. It’s a nice enough looking bike, somewhat mimicking the look of a Kawasaki GTR, but probably better compared with a Honda Deauville.

And indeed, the latter comparison comes up quite often if you make the mistake of wading through internet comments about the 650 TR. Comments on Chinese bikes are almost always useless. It is generally all-caps xenophobia countered by the occasional hopeful observation that people used to say the same things about Japanese products. Whether the bikes are any good is a question that is never really answered. And by “good” what I mean is “good enough.”

A brand new 650 TR will set you back £5,200 and see you covered by a two-year warranty. Over and over in internet comments you will see the sage advice that it is better to just spend that money on a secondhand Honda Deauville. For some reason, this suggestion annoys the hell out of me. I get so frustrated by the “get a second-hand something else for the same price” argument because I feel that the people saying this are missing the point.

Let’s take a look at this handy table I’ve made:

Number of times bike has been dropped
Number of times bike has been ridden too hard
Number of times bike has been neglected in terms of service
Honda Deauville
WK 650 TR

It goes on and on and on. With a secondhand bike, you are confronted by any number of unknowns. A new bike gives you, at least, the knowledge that certain bad things haven’t happened yet. I’ve had a look at BikeTrader and there are presently 26 Honda Deauvilles available in the United Kingdom for £5,200 or less. Doing a quick bit of math, these Deauvilles are on average nine years old (1) and have 25,000 miles on the clock.

So, the actual comparison is between a brand new motorcycle and one that has seen a lot of years and a lot of road. The first bike comes with a two-year warranty, the second bike comes only with the not-particularly-comforting knowledge that if it were new it would have been a better bike. And this is where comes my question of whether a Chinese bike is any good. Is the WK 650 TR good enough that it will be as reliable and have the same longevity as a well-used Honda Deauville? Assuming one plans to hold onto the bike for six years (1), which machine will be producing the least amount of headaches in 2019?

On a side note, I don’t really want one of these bikes. I’d take one if offered, but if I had £5,000 on hand it would almost certainly go toward a Triumph of some sort. But that’s personal preference; the bikes I want are apples to this particular orange. My issue is with the culture that dismisses Chinese bikes and won’t fairly assess their worth. Are these bikes good enough? I’ve not seen any articles that really answer that question.


(1) Which means the bike would not meet Euro 3 emissions standards. Older vehicles are exempt from having to comply to these standards but the rider still has to live with the knowledge that he or she is polluting more.

(2) The average amount of time a Briton holds onto a touring machine, according to this story.