NEW CHINESE MOTORCYCLE MANUFACTURER PFMOTO TO LAUNCH IN AUGUST
The Chinese holding group Zhejiang Geely Holding Group is well-known as the owners of the Swedish car manufacturer Volvo, as well as QJMotor. Now, they have a new Chinese brand, with a frustratingly familiar name.
CFMoto has become relatively well-established over the last few months in the European view of Chinese motorcycling. This has been helped by their sponsorship of the PruestelGP Moto3 team, with the riders Carlos Tatay and Xavi Artigas.
But, Geely’s latest motorcycle brand, PFMoto, actually has nothing to do with CFMoto. Rather, they are more affiliated with another manufacturer-sponsor of a KTM Moto3 team that arrived in 2022: QJMotor.
QJ sponsor the Esponsorama Racing team that was previously known as the Avintia team. Esponsorama is now the QJMotor Avintia Racing Team in Moto3, and while last year they fought for podiums and race wins with Niccolo Antonelli, their 2022 roster of Matteo Bertelle (who in Assen was replaced by Luca Lunetta) and Elia Bartolini have been unable to match that level of competitiveness.
Like CFMoto, QJMotor also has links with KTM, hence their sponsorship of a KTM Moto3 team, like CFMoto, although unlike QJ, CFMoto’s relationship with the Austrians can be more solidly compared with those of Husqvarna and GasGas.
But, as for PFMoto, aside from naming conventions and alignment-through-ownership, there is little in common with either CFMoto or QJMotor. The “PF” comes from Paifang, which is a traditional Chinese architectural style for the design of entrance gates.
The brand’s logo is the Greek letter “pi” (the mathematical symbol for 3.14-however-many-decimal-points-you-can-remember-it-to), and, combined with the meaning of its name, there are many curiosities.
Is PFMoto about to bring motorcycling into a new era? Will it create phenomena akin to Greek civilisation, Greek mathematical discoveries or that of the mathematical constant “pi” itself? Judging by its current line-up of prospective motorcycles, seemingly not. It is, after all, just a manufacturer of motorcycles.
“Starship” is a name that has become quite controversial in recent times, mostly thanks to Elon Musk. PFMoto’s Starship is unlikely to achieve an interplanetary reality for humanity, but it might take you from one city to another. It is a cruiser, and from the photos of it, it is not an especially pretty one.
The thing with cruisers is they are supposed to have rangey power, with plenty of grunt on the bottom. What you don’t want with a cruiser – a bike on which you are supposed to relax – is to have to chase the power up the rev range like a 500cc Grand Prix bike, and hussle it through the corners to keep momentum up.
The looks, generally speaking through the history of cruisers, reflect that. Deep colours, and curved lines present a welcoming visual for the biker who wants a relaxing, laid-back cruise, rather than a spine-tingling, hair-raising dash through mountain roads.
The Starship does not seem to achieve this. It is white and black, like a Toyota iQ, or the set of Ex Machina. It looks like it might be electric and, in fairness, an electric motor would provide that instant torque to make a ride about as relaxing as possible.
But, the great, long side pipes and V-shaped engine block indicate that this is not an electric. It’s a traditional, internal combustion cruiser. And that’s fine, but the visuals just don’t match.
While the Starship looks like the set of a sci-fi film, the Gravity shares its name with one. It’s a scooter, which (with a bit of a stretch) you could equate to a motorcycling equivalent of whatever a jet pack is to a spaceship. It’s not the most powerful, and it’s mostly designed for smaller journeys in built-up areas.