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Dimitri Hettinga
Doug Stabler

Birth of an Emperor

Date:06-01-2017 Source:chinamotor

In the last 5 years, Chinese motorcycle companies, one after the other, have claimed that they have entered the designing phase, but an expert can see that many companies are rehashing successful designs.

In truth, designing a motorcycle with a unique gestalt is vastly different from rehashing another existing gestalt. In the process of creating a brand new gestalt, we witness a unique design that could reflect the identity of the manufacturer; but in a rehashing process, there won’t be any unique products on the market.

For further explanation in this regard, we must say:


Designing a product, at its core, includes mathematical and geometric rules, rules that could create a unique look for the product. KTM is a good example of this: a close look at their lineup of products shows that the same mathematic and geometric rules are applied to all of their products. This is so obvious that you could identify their products without the logo, even if you have had never seen that product before. Use of mathematic and geometric rules is prevalent in many fields but creating these rules for motorcycles is much harder than other products since it has an inherently complicated form and has a 3-face perspective from all angles. Therefore, elliptical and hyperbolic equations need to be solved alongside 2-D geometrical calculations. But, the difficulties cannot be used as an excuse by the motorcycle industry for not adopting this science, since several of the companies are already implementing these mathematic and geometric rules in their design, although with varying success.

As previously explained only a few of Chinese manufacturers possess a unique gestalt design. Keeway leads the pack in this regard, benefiting from Italian technology, followed by Jianshe and CF Moto.

When Keeway bought the Italian company Benelli, everyone had high expectations; design and engineering knowledge at the highest level, breathing life into Chinese products. But it did not come to pass. I believe that even though Keeway products have unique designs they have not been perfect products. Developed and developing markets are the target markets of Keeway due to their high brand recognition. The missing factor is an engine that would match their market and design strategies; they have not accepted that a superior body requires a superior engine. This weakness is the reason behind minor failure in markets despite its achievements in design (Although Keeway have rectified this in their most recent 250 cc product). Therefore, in simple words: this company may have been mistaken in their engine selection strategy. Without most suitable engines to match their product’s bodies and brand recognition, this may also give their Indian rivals a chance to win the battle.


For CF Moto, I must say, that it is a Chinese company that is paving the way for development by utilizing Chinese knowledge. This company used to focus on heavy motorcycles but in a strategic course change they have now begun designing and manufacturing lighter products.

For the first step, CF Moto designed the Lightweight 150NK. 150NK is by definition a street sport product, which targets adventurous customers in developed and developing markets. Given the products nicknames (street warrior) it should have been equipped with at least a type A engine, where in fact it is equipped with a type B, which will limit it to East Asia markets (lightweight drivers) while if the same engine were installed on a general use motorcycle body, e.g. RKV, it would turn it into the perfect product for developing markets; or if the 150NK were coupled with a type A engine it would be a powerful rival for Duke 125 in European markets.

The third company, Jianshe, designed the beautiful JS150-32 on the first try. The JS150-32 was not perfect at first, but last year’s update, which included the addition of a type A engine, has resulted into China’s most complete motorcycle, which can be rightly called “The Birth of an emperor”.

It has been a couple years since JS150-32 has been included in Jianshe’s product cart, but it could not meet the managerial expectations. The reason for this is the same common problem, the motorcycle’s body is targeted at developed market consumers while the engine was not compatible with customer demand. Last year Jianshe made the right decision to install a better engine and used the Yamaha type A engine, which easily satisfied customer demands.

Combining JS150-32 with Yamaha’s incredible engine has resulted in the divine JS150-31, which will undoubtedly help raise Jianshe’s brand recognition worldwide in coming years.

Jianshe JS150-32 is a prime example for harmony between design, engine and market strategies. The JS150-32 suffered from disharmony between design and market strategies and engine strategy, which made it unappealing to customers in all markets (underdeveloped, developing and developed). Jianshe’s decision to change engines and upgrading to a type A has finally made it to a product that is appealing to developed markets.

Still, the JS150-32 was unsuccessful in underdeveloped and developing markets. For the underdeveloped markets it was the design, which conveyed a sense of luxury, that put off the customers since it evoked a sense of expensiveness in these societies that negated their highest priority, price, in purchasing a motorcycle. As for the developing markets, it was the brand recognition that damaged the products prospects.

This disharmony between design, engine and market strategies can be easily seen in many Chinese motorcycles. This disharmony has resulted in a product that is unsuitable for both underdeveloped and developing markets. Their bodies are suitable for underdeveloped markets, while their engines suit a developing market. Therefore, the products cannot find a customer base in either market.

Furthermore, using this type of engines increases the retail price by approximately 500 dollars, effectively reducing sales. On the other hand, the copied bodies, even with a type B engine, make the product unappealing to developing markets. When the same type B engines are installed on unique bodies such as the Shineray body, we can see huge amounts of sales in underdeveloped and developing markets.

Finally, we can conclude that a bestseller is a motorcycle that has harmony between design and engine strategies in a way that can satisfy market demands in target markets.

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