A Chinese Sportster? – Adventure rider
I feel like… a prophet. Something I predicted years ago finally happened. A Chinese motorcycle manufacturer is said to have cloned a Harley-Davidson, or at least cloned a Harley-Davidson engine.
The engine in question is the product of Shineray, an absolutely massive giant in the Chinese motorcycle industry that not only builds bikes under its own name, but also under other names. Shineray owns the historic Italian brand SWM and manufactures some very decent dual sports and ADVs under that brand. Some of the first wave Chinese motorcycles in the US (about 15 years ago) were Shineray, and some of them had very good reputations.
Now Shineray has built an air-cooled, 45-degree V-twin that seems to be a perfect match for an Evolution Sportster engine. It’s not superficially identical, but all the right bits are in the right places, and it even has a pusher-operated top end, just like the old-school Sportsters. It has a capacity of 1200cc, just like a big-bore Evolution Sportster.
But is it going potato-potato? Watch the launch video below and decide for yourself:
The engine makes its debut at an interesting time. Harley-Davidson seems set to phase out the older air-cooled Sportster engine; indeed, it is already not available in some markets due to emissions regulations. And lest you think emissions regulations don’t matter to Chinese buyers, think again. In some Chinese cities, gas-powered motorcycles are already breaking clean air laws.
However, the rules for one part of China may not apply elsewhere in the country, and China also supplies the rest of the world now. China isn’t afraid to play around with engine tuning to try to keep it going through emissions regulations, detuning it or doing whatever else is necessary. So don’t be surprised if there’s a new Shineray-built cruiser on the global market soon, powered by a familiar V-twin.
And, for all the haters out there who are going to decry the idea of a copycat Harley-Davidson engine (if that’s what it’s all about): What about all the S&S engines and others made over the years, all instant replacements for MoCo Power? If Harley-Davidson decides to drop the Sportster from its lineup, shouldn’t anyone else be allowed to make such a bike, if the patents have expired?