Cycle News

Cycle News 2013 Issue 33 August 20

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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FIRST RIDE P90 BENELLI BN600 EVO CHINA'S FIRST FOUR It's a Benelli designed and engineered in both Italy and China, then produced in China BY ALAN CATHCART PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEL EDGE T he global debut of the Benelli BN600, manufactured in China by the historic Italian marque's owner Qianjiang (pronounced "Chin-jung," but called simply QJ by all its staff), has finally kicked off the long-awaited revival of Italy's oldest motorcycle company that celebrated its 100th birthday in 2011. But as the first-ever four-cylinder bike made in China, albeit designed and developed in Italy, it marks a significant landmark in the evolution of the Chinese motorcycle industry, and is certain to be the forerunner of an increasingly irresistible attack on Western markets by manufacturers from the People's Republic. Since purchasing Benelli in December 2005, QJ's ambitious plans to relaunch the brand had stalled in the face of uncertainty caused by the global economic downturn. But the ongoing slump in the Chinese home market, caused by the ban on any nonelectric motorcycle being ridden in all but one of China's 167 largest cities, saw QJ's 5500 employees build "just" 800,000 motorcycles and scooters last year. This represents a significant drop from the 1.5 million units produced three years ago by its then 8000-strong workforce. And, like many of its Chinese rivals, it's caused QJ to pay increased attention to export sales - an area where many of them are struggling to compete against the single-cylinder products of Indian manufacturers, which are more closely focused on quality than their Chinese rivals, while still sharply priced. The Benelli BN600 is the first four-cylinder motorcycle to be manufactured in China. But its design is a collaboration between the Chinese and the Italians.

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