With the influx of cheap 125 to 200cc motorcycles, buyers are left facing a tough decision – pay a premium for a Japanese or opt for the budget choice. With prices for Chinese-built motorcycles starting at just around 30,000 THB, rather than near 60,000 THB for a Japanese brand that is often made in Thailand, you can see why so many cash-strapped riders plump for the cheaper option.
According to industry figures in 2016, the major players in Thailand’s 125 to 200cc market from China were Lifan, Zongshen and Keeway while Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki represented Japan with KTM the only European.
When it comes to depreciation all of the manufacturers fare similarly and record depreciation percentages in the 30 percent area. On the Japanese or European motorcycles, which cost a premium to start with, this equals a greater loss of capital, making the Chinese machines certainly appear better value for money. However, there is a catch.
The fact that recognized brands are more popular in the new motorcycle market (the top best selling 125 ~ 200cc are all Japanese) is reflected in the used one and selling a two-year-old Japanese or European machine is often easier than a used Chinese motorcycle.
The used motorcycle prices were what some of the dealers quoted, not what the motorcycles were actually selling for . It is also worth noting that private sales of Japanese or European small-capacity motorcycles were generally closer to the dealer’s prices than Chinese brands, hinting that known-brand motorcycles are easier to sell. There again, the price difference means that owners of Chinese motorcycles can afford to take more of a loss on their investment.
It is no secret that KTM’s small-capacity motorcycles are currently built in China and most of the Japanese and some of the Chinese companies have factories in Thailand for their lower-end motorcycles, so does it matter where the motorcycle is produced? With some of the new machines you are covered by a 3-year warranty, so reliability shouldn’t be an issue, and the leading Chinese have now built up a reliable spare parts network although dealerships are less plentiful than the big brands. At the end of the day, if you don’t mind not having a well known brand on your fuel tank, there seems little to fear in the short term when it comes to buying a new Chinese small-capacity motorcycle.
Another thing to consider is maintenance cost, with a Japanese brand the service cost can be over 30,000 THB for the first year, which with the average Chinese small-capacity motorcycle you not pay more than 10,000 THB.