Time to buy Chinese?

Time to buy Chinese?

More disruption. Disrupting established thinking is the way of the world these days and the arrival of Voge motorcycles will have the big boys worried…

Having previously prattled on about the imminent arrival of Voge on many occasions, we’re pleased to confirm the boat has finally docked. Yes, at last, the Voge 500DS is on sale here in Blighty. Why should you care? The premium branch of humongous Chinese concern Loncin, Voge products are intended as a step up in design, quality and function. The reasoning? To convince Euro buyers to shake off lingering doubts about motorcycles from China. And the UK arm offers a huge dealer network with robust parts supply, yet the bikes still undercut the established Japanese and European models – and by thousands, not just a few quid. The first Voge here is this 500DS, and it costs just £4999 – that’s £1200 (or 20%) cheaper than Honda’s CB500X.

Clearly aiming to pick a fight with the Honda, the 500DS is dotted with KYB suspension, Nissin brakes, Bosch electronics and Pirelli tyres. There’s a colour TFT dash, tyre pressure monitoring and phone connectivity are standard, and the screen is height-adjustable. Thrust is from a 471cc parallel twin with 33 lb.ft of oomph at 7000rpm, and 46bhp at 8500rpm – neatly on the A2 licence limit. Dry weight is 188kg. If the displacement and figures seem familiar, that’s because Voge’s bore and stroke are identical to the CB500X. There are similarities to the chassis geometry, too. Nothing wrong with this, of course. Though Chinese firms have a reputation for cheap copies, there are many wellknown companies who established themselves by being ‘inspired’ by the engineering of others (ask anyone who’s compared the internals of an early Hinckley Triumph with certain Kawasaki models).

How much of the 500’s design is based on the Honda is neither here nor there, as Loncin have a solid engineering reputation. Making bikes for almost 40 years, they’ve partnered BMW since 2005 and currently manufacture all the German brand’s parallel-twin engines – if you ride an F750GS, F850GS or F900XR then you’re already a Loncin customer. There’s proper back-up too as Voge are handled by Llexeter, the folk behind learner-bike giants Lexmoto. ‘All of our 140-plus dealers are set up and able to handle Voge,’ says Llexeter’s Mark Mason. ‘There will be a supply of spares ready and waiting, sold through cmpoparts.com – we’ve already received one container and have a second on the water.’

The 500DS is already in dealers, with top-box and panniers from the accessory range fitted for free on the first 30. Yes, all for £4999. And Voge’s timing could be cock-on. Royal Enfield have proved that where a bike is made is irrelevant as long as the balance of price and dynamic is right, their high-value Interceptor 650 retro being last year’s second-best-selling bike behind the BMW R1250GS. With sales of smaller-capacity bikes leading the current new bike boom, there’s every chance the Voge 500DS could make just as much of an impact.

‘If you ride an F850GS or F900XR you’re already a Loncin customer’
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