There is something to be said about knock-off brands of any kind. For some, their knee-jerk reaction is to pick apart everything about the object in question, others are down for a bargain no matter the consequences.
When you look at some of the no-name bikes that are popping up all over the web, it’s surprising how similar these look to your well-known manufacturers. Many look like mirror images; the individuals who don’t spend enough time dissecting bikes could easily mistake some of them for the real deal. And, who wants to accidentally purchase a generic motorcycle, right?
You may be completely surprised to find that there are actually a number of knock-off bikes that are beginning to find their way into the mainstream spotlight. More often than not, people are unable to afford an impractical vehicle, like a sports car or a motorcycle, which is why the sales take a plunge during times of economic hardship.
In other words, when they’re well-built, knock-off creations can provide be the answer to many struggling enthusiasts dreams. It’s also beginning to look like many of these generic manufacturers have caught onto what actually works; what people want and what keeps them in business.
Reliability, namely, being the most important aspect of all. There are now a variety of dependable bikes coming out of the woodworks left and right, and their gaining some momentum. Though, this doesn’t mean that you should turn your back on the brands that have spent decades building their bulletproof reputations. Many of these knock-offs truly belong in the scrapyard and won’t do anything for you other than waste money that you don’t have. With the right amount of research, a generic bike doesn’t have to be a bad investment.
25 CF Moto V5 (Worst)
The CF Moto V5 is one of the prime examples that knock-off bike haters love to cite, and that’s because it is an absolute nightmare. The 250cc liquid-cooled bike is quite boring to drive since it’s packed with a whopping total of 15 horses. It prides itself in its motorcycle styling, but the V5 has a CVT transmission which is scooter territory; simply twist the throttle and you’re off.
This imposter bike accelerates more like a scooter, too; it takes ages to even get up to the declared top speed of 80 mph. The scariest part about this bike, however, is the fact that all 6,400 models of the CF Moto V5 and V3 (a variant of the V5) were recalled in the US due to the left-hand brake not meeting DOT standards. Seldom will you ever find a used model of the V5 or V3 with the DOT-required foot brake – which was supposed to be installed by CF dealers.
24 Leike Thunderer (Worst)
Don’t judge a book by its cover, particularly when bike-shopping, or you could end up with this bad imitation. The Leike Thunderer may share the styling characteristics with the famed BMW S 1000RR (pictured above), but don’t mistake these for the same machine.
The good looks of the Leike Thunderer are about the only positive words that can be offered for this knock-off, and even those can’t truly be credited to Leike. Once you begin delving into the specifications on this bike, it’s quite obvious that the Thunderer has nothing on the 1000RR in terms of power. Or, really any other competitor bike for that matter. With a top speed of 50 mph, the Thunderer seems more like a pumped-up Grom than a full-sized motorcycle.
23 Jiangsu Xinri (Worst)
The Jiangsu Xinri, otherwise known as the Honda Gold Wing’s copycat is a failed attempt at a stolen bike design. If you ever have the opportunity to spot a low-quality image of the Xinri, it’s clear that there are minimal funds being put into the production of the Xinri – and, not just because of the fact that the image is fuzzy and obsolete – it has a very cheesy body that’s covered in plastic.
It actually looks even more like a scooter than it does a tourer. Since Jiangsu typically builds scooters, we can assume that it probably would have run more like one, as well. Fortunately, the Xinri never made it out of the assembly line, and shortly after its debut, it disappeared.
22 Kymco Pulsar 125 (Worst)
No matter what make, model, or engine displacement, everyone usually falls in love with his/her own bike, but this isn’t usually the case for the Pulsar 125. After a short period of ownership, people find the Pulsar 125 to be an excruciatingly boring bike to take out on the road.
Kymco specializes in scooters and based on the dull performance of the Pulsar 125 they need to stay in their line. The Pulsar 125 has a plethora of mechanical problems that plague it, and the suspension is disappointing (to say the least), and it won’t take any time at all for the Pulsar to begin corroding. Unless you want a bike that you can throw away in three years, don’t waste your money.
21 Cat Eye 50 (Worst)
The Cat Eye is a cheap pocket bike that probably makes more people regret their decision. Obviously, it’s only a 50cc so you can’t expect much from it as far as power goes, but the more alarming aspect of the bike is the transmission; it’s a single-speed automatic, which makes it more similar to a scooter than a mini motorcycle.
Since the Cat Eye isn’t the most reliable piece of machinery in the world, it comes at an unbelievably affordable price of (roughly) $100 in most used markets. That is if you can find one anyway. If you have the time and skills to work on the bike, then this could be a really great investment, otherwise, we don’t recommend it.
20 Quang Phuong Monster 110 (Worst)
Erring on the pitiful side of knock-offs, the Quang Phuong Motor Monster 110 is a very tiny wannabe. The tail may look like it’s chopped, but step back and you’ll notice that the entire bike looks like a tiny version of the Ducati Monster 210.
It may be easier for amateur manufacturers to rip off big-name bike-makers, especially European models, but there’s nothing remotely convincing about the Monster 110. In fact, the knock-off can hardly even call itself a ‘monster’.
19 Kengo R350 (Worst)
Even the burned-orange paint is actually a former Kawasaki Ninja color scheme. It’s safe to assume that copycat manufacturers, like Kengo, either believe that the potential customers lack the proper intellect or they don’t take pride in their build.
The pivotal ingredient of the Kengo R350 that draws bikers of all experience levels to the Ninja is its bulletproof reliability – something that the Kengo is desperately lacking. Unsurprisingly, you don’t find too many people driving these around. Without physical dealerships or even an ounce of the Ninja’s dependability, buyers typically stray away from bikes like these.
18 Qlink 250
The Qlink bikes are among some of the least reliable knock-off brands. For buyers who are investing in their first bike or who aren’t competent enough to fix their own, the Qlink 250 is a total nightmare. Not only do you need to anticipate excessive costs for repairs, but the dealer support is practically nonexistent, especially in the US.
Since the Qlink 250 is made in China, there aren’t many dealers who are willing to work on these bikes, unless you live in Europe or any region that is more open-minded to these bikes. It would be one thing if the Qlink 250 wasn’t afflicted with a number of issues, but they’re much too frequent and too technical for the average Joe to handle.
17 Hyosung GT650R (Worst)
The Hyosung GT gets a bad name for being a wannabe Honda, Yamaha, you name it. Although, there’s a valid reason why many enthusiasts avoid this one. While it is light and nimble, the riding position is very aggressive (and very uncomfortable).
We can’t critique the style of the GT650R, either, it’s a very clean bike. That is until you realize all of the disadvantages of going knock-off. The GT650 doesn’t have the best track record for reliability. It will deliver a nice ride, but don’t expect that to last for very long. If you’re in an area with little dealer support for Hyosung, it’s best to stay away from it altogether.
16 Jonway YY250 (Worst)
Ripping off one of BMW’s infamous bikes probably isn’t a great idea, especially for a less-established manufacturer. Yet, the YY250 is an unapologetic clone of one of the worst looking clones to ever leave BMW’s factory, the F650CS (pictured above).
Jonway has certainly drawn attention to itself – as we assume they were attempting to pull off with this model – at the expense of the dwindling sum of respect that existed for this bike in the first place. We know it’s easier to copy someone else’s design and shove a 250cc scooter engine into it, but there’s no way that the Jonway will ever become a big-name manufacturer with a sloppy business model like that.
15 Benelli Leoncino (Not Bad)
As is implied by the name, Benelli is an Italian manufacturer. Yet, the bike is actually made in China. Which isn’t all that surprising once you realize that Benelli is owned by Quan Jiang.
Needless to say, this is a great bike for anyone on a tight budget. The scrambler chassis is adventurous and appealing; you’d never guess the affordability of the Leoncino just by looking at it. The Leoncino is no Aprilia, but it can hold its own compared to other low-cost bikes.
14 CF Moto 650 NK (Not Bad)
Depending on where you live, the manufacturer goes by a few names, including WK Bikes (UK). The mechanical aspects of the bike stay the same, though; the CF Moto 650 NK is a beautiful sports ride that actually takes you back when you realize that it’s not a part of the legendary group of Japan-manufactured bikes.
In fact, this sleek-designed 650cc was actually made in China. In many ways, it resembles some of Kawasaki’s bike iterations. However, we expect that the CF Moto’s longevity may not be quite the same. Even if the bike isn’t considered number one, Kiska design house has really outdone themselves; this steps up the game for little-known manufacturers in a number of ways.
13 Sur-Ron White Ghost (Not Bad)
Whether or not electric bikes serve your taste, Sur-Ron has whipped up one respectable concept. The White Ghost is not exactly a high-performance bike – like most knock-offs – it has a 60-mile range and a top speed of 60 mph that will remind you more of a scooter than a motorcycle.
Though, it does have a few upsides that tend to level the playing field for most potential buyers. The frame is practically weightless at an incredible 17 pounds and it comes with ABS stock. It may not be competitive with Japan-made bikes but the White Ghost is making a name for the market in China, at any rate.
12 Zontes 310S (Not Bad)
It may not be a first-class sports bike, but you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference upon passing inspection. The Zontes 310S is one of the most surprising bikes on this list because it has no big name behind it, yet it was one of the highly-anticipated sports bikes (in Europe) to be released in 2018.
Not only does the engine meet the standards but the bike even includes many high-quality parts including Bosch ABS. The top speed of this smooth, sporty ride is just below 100 mph, which is nothing to complain about for a 300cc. And, since the Zontes 310S is priced so affordable (only $5,430!), it’s hard to imagine that this bike won't be a huge success.
11 Motrac MG500 (Not Bad)
In the form of a true knock-off, the Motrac MG500 pulls some of its design from the Ducati Multistrada but keeps the mechanical aspects strictly Honda CB500. What sets the MG500 apart, though, is it has actually managed to use its copycat design to make itself slightly different and maybe even better, depending on who you ask.
For one, Motrac’s engine in the MG500 is actually a 491cc, which one-up’s the Honda CB500’s 471cc. The lines and shapes of the MG500 are attractive like Ducati to pull in a few buyers, but it’s also original enough to make a name for itself.
10 Chang Jiang 650 (Not Bad)
They’ve built their entire business off of creating replica classic motorcycles. We’re not talking about a simple imitation of the stylistic factors, either, it’s a full-blown carbon copy of the original bikes.
The Chang Jiang 650 is one of the favored models that the copycat manufacturer has built. It’s, basically, a Ural and even had the same boxer twin engine that could be found in the original, up until just recently. For the sake of modern convenience and dependency, the engine has been changed to a parallel twin (produced by CF Moto). Despite the swap, the bike still screams vintage.
9 CF Moto 650MT (Not Bad)
Though CF Moto has had its fair share of flukes, the 650MT is a promising model from their lineup. It’s the sporty adventure bike that doesn’t necessarily grab your attention with its sub-par looks – at least, not in a flattering way – but it does happen to have quite a bit of promise behind its frumpy façade.
The 650MT has been compared to the Versys 650 for its sleek (yet tall) frame. What really sets the CF Moto 650MT apart from the rest is the mere fact that it’s a very affordable adventure bike, but is built with parts that are designed to last a bit longer than most knock-offs. This model could even challenge its Japan-based competitors.
8 Nusun 150
The Nusun 150 isn’t best-known for having good looks, but it still has a lot to offer for an inexpensive enduro. This Nusun may rip off of Honda (just a tad) with a simply-designed four-stroke, air-cooled engine. Yet, this seems to be one of the key ingredients that attract moto-fanatics to the Nusun, in the first place.
The Nusun 150 has a bit more longevity than some of its sibling models, and even the body is willing to take on a little bit of abuse from the arduous back-roads trail rides. In reality, it’s no Honda and will require a few part replacements, but they tend to be very affordable. Unfortunately, they're rather challenging to find, today.
7 Zongshen RX4 (Not Bad)
For anyone who has taken a fancy to Norton motorcycles but can’t say the same about their prices, you may be pleased to know that Zongshen has formed a partnership with this notable company.
While the RX4 can’t be credited to Norton, it goes to show that Zongshen has a little bit more to offer than your average low-level motorcycle corporation. The RX4 is the real deal, as is evident by the latest styling of the 2018 model. This adventure bike may only be a 450cc, but its competence has created quite a bit of hype throughout Europe, especially for those looking into something more beginner-friendly.
6 QuanJiang / Benelli BN600 (Not Bad)
The BN600 has a few different badges, but it’s essentially the same naked sports bike behind all of the dusty labels. It has a modest 82 horses at 11,500 rpm, but it’s not a total prude either. That’s quite a generous amount of power for a low-end naked sport. By no stretch is the BN600 a sophisticated bike, but it offers that dependency that lightweight commuters are in search of.
The delivery is smooth and pretty powerful (for what it’s worth). The entire deal is topped off with some knock-off Italian style, which isn’t something that we’re going to complain about. This is an unbeatable bike when you price it out with competitors.
5 Chongqing Jida JD250 (Not Bad)
The Jida bike has quite a few variants, but the JD250 seems to be the hyped-up generic cousin of Yamaha. If you didn’t know better, you could easily mistake it for one. The Jida JD250 is basically a morph of the Yamaha YZF-R125 and the YZF-R1 WGP.
While you can’t buy the Jida 250 directly from the manufacturer any longer, it can still be found on a number of websites and, though it might be slim pickings, in the used market. There’s nothing too exciting about the 250cc engine, except that the parts are incredibly affordable and the problems that arise with the bike aren’t too frequent.
4 CSC TT250 (Not Bad)
The CSC TT250 is an enduro that’s slowly creeping its way up the ladder. The TT250 doesn’t come close to touching anything that KTM has to offer, but it’s a lot of bang for your buck.
The parts are very inexpensive, so if you have the mechanical know-how (or someone who can lend you their knowledge) then it’s definitely worth considering. We could attempt to make the claim that the TT250 is an excellent beginner’s bike, but since it only costs around $2,200 it also makes a great toy for a biker of any experience level who may want to save some cash.
3 Zongshen CSC RX3 Cyclone (Not Bad)
If you compare the Zongshen CSC RX3 Cyclone to the some of the more established adventure bikes out there, you may be surprised at how much that this knock-off really has to offer. If you want something that will show no signs of premature wearing and is pretty comfortable, then this is an excellent bike.
But, the RX3 Cyclone’s major flaw is that it wants to be something that it’s not. It’s certainly a bike that you can hop on and ride for quite a long distance, but don’t expect to take it too far off the beaten path because it isn’t actually made to do so. We can’t say that it’s a bad bike, but the Cyclone may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
2 CF Moto 650 TK (Not Bad)
The CF Moto 650 TK is a bike hack for anyone who is on a budget who also happens to be a Japan-made loyal. While the 650 TK isn’t actually made in Japan by one of the big manufacturers, its guts are practically a clone of a Kawasaki.
Some of the best parts of the 650 TK’s fuel injection have come directly from Ducati Energia including the Magneti Marelli injectors, the Japan-made clutch, and an ITT throttle. Despite the improved mechanical rendering, CF Moto has kept the thrifty rider in mind. In fact, it’s one of the most affordable adventure touring bikes you’ll ever find as it’s priced just below $7,000.
1 Vader 125 (Not Bad)
Not everyone will welcome the Vader 125 with open arms since most aren’t exactly fond of the Honda Grom. The Vader 125 is a clone of the Grom; they practically share the same engine and specs as well. Though, there’s one distinct difference between the two; the Grom is fuel-injected while the Vader is carbureted.
Oh, and might we mention that it’s massively slower? That part could certainly turn off a few potential buyers since the Grom doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being a speed demon, to begin with. Yet, other small low-power bikes like the Ruckus have a cult following despite the fact, so there’s no reason why the Vader couldn’t make its way into the mainstream. It may just have a steeper hill to climb than most.
Sources: RideApart, Motorbike Writer