First off, I’d like to categorically state that nobody on our staff writers’ team is psychic, at least as far as we know. The following piece is pure speculation and hope for what lies ahead for the industry as a whole. While the future is difficult to predict accurately without advanced computer modelling and trend observation we can use the progress of the motorcycle industry in general to make an educated guess as to what might be in store for us.
The next few decades look to be very exciting for anybody involved in the scene and if any of these predictions are on the mark then it will be a great thing to be part of progress that gets us there whether by playing a small part or a large one.
10 years from now – 2026
A decade has passed since you would have read this article and the first noticeable difference is in customer services; factory agents now command advanced English skills and are on the ball and organized, Chinese company websites have been overhauled and brought into a functional, professional state, long gone are the days of miscommunication with contacts possessing the language skills of a three year old and website interfaces are now at an international industry standard.The powers-that-be have brought the hammer down on rouge Chinese factories scamming foreign customers or producing the lowest quality bikes. Instead, the first tier companies have moved into the high-end leisure market competing with the Japanese and European marques both on and off the track. Hints of carbon fiber and space grade aluminum are making their way onto top of the line models. Quality control has stepped up its game and is only allowing the most well build bikes onto the market.The second and third tier companies produce for the agrarian sector both home and abroad and even they are incorporating up to date fuel management systems and reliable tech and safety features like so many of the bikes from the 2010’s featured.
20 years from now -2036
A few Chinese brands gain international acclaim among other industry leaders from around the globe. These companies have stepped out of the dark ages of small engined motorcycles and are on a level playing field in both technological advancements and innovation. They do battle on the track and leisure riders take pride in owning a Chinese machine from one of the greats. The bikes are pushing forward in prowess; Dakar, Isle of Man, world circuits and the open road, they each claim their places in history.Production standards for these big marques are equal to any other and the quality of the smaller companies building regular commuter and farmer bikes levels out and in doing so the reputation of Chinese bikes being poor quality disappears. The lower end producers cut their losses and move into other industries leaving the building of motorcycles to a smaller, better qualified group of companies.As technology improves and bikes become more digitized we see the introduction of electric hybrids and ethanol internal combustion engines. As the dino-juice becomes more expensive the industry moves to expand into new fuel systems employing engines designed for biofuel and electricity from on-board generators. Cheap metals are a thing of the past; high grade alloys and carbon fiber comprise the bodywork, engines are refined and durable while being low maintenance and stock from the factory the bike comes with world renowned rubber from Continental, Pirelli or Michelin.
30 year from now – 2046
Chinese motorcycles no longer bear a resemblance to the machines of the decades passed and are only distant cousins, as close as a 1948 BSA Bantam is to a 2008 Honda CG. Technological improvements in suspension, fuel systems, gearboxes, aerodynamics and electrical systems have made the bike into the most efficient vehicle next to a bicycle. It is now considered a tough choice to pick between a Japanese, European and Chinese motorcycle.Autonomous pilot systems have made driving a car as boring as taking a flight and motorcycles have become the go-to for those with a passion for tearing up the black top. Personal rockets ships of the modern age, perfectly balanced after decades of fine tuning and refinement. Companies merge internationally, sharing concepts and developments resulting in pristine products. Safety features and protective gear have come on leaps and bounds to make rider fatalities from traffic accidents a rare thing indeed.Riding popularity increases across economic classes and motorcycles become as numerous as cars throughout the world. Thanks to the improvements in safety tech the motorcycle is now the safest way to travel and is still more reliable than the car. The leaders of the world declare that motorcycles are the savior of humanity and throw down their arms, ending all wars and bringing global peace to mankind for the first time in millennia.OK – so maybe the last bit was a tad too optimistic but world peace by way of motorcycles would be the coolest part of history ever written. Fantasy or not, the future of the Chinese motorcycle industry is awaited with high expectations and even higher hopes.By Sean “Nostradamus” Kerr and David McMullan
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.