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  1. #1 Buckin' Bronco -- breaking in my JH600 in rural Sichuan 
    Senior C-Moto Guru euphonius's Avatar
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    It's hard to believe that in less than six months, I've gone from having never ridden a motorcycle to owning two of them. The first was a dusty, 9-year-old KLR650, purchased on my birthday in December 2009 as a balm after 6 or 7 years of suffering and deferred gratification while building a small publishing company in China. Between December and March I clocked about 5000km on the KLR, which was not bad for a nervous neophyte.



    All that riding, and the freedom and joy I felt, gave me confidence to incorporate a bike into my life in China, where I arrived exactly 20 years ago last Monday, 17 May.

    The bike I selected, after reading reports from Franki, Pfaelzer and others, was the Jialing JH600, China's only "modern" big-bore bike. The Changjiang 750 has its first-look appeal of course -- brutal, sexy and rare -- but thrives in a time warp circa maybe 1941. It's not a bike I'd want to rely on for long multiday or multiweek circuits through rural China. Franki, ChinaV and others are out in the wild right now, testing the reliability and versatility of the Galaxy XTR250 for extended touring. But for me (and surely many others) the challenge was to find a durable, powerful dual sport that would reliably stand up to all that China can dish out.

    There are really only two choices: A BMW Gelaende Strasse (G650GS or F800GS) at between double and triple what it would cost in Europe or America, and the Jialing, at RMB 30,000 before registration (about US$4400 or about one-quarter or one-fifth the price of a new BMW). While some in this forum are still sitting on the fence, Franki, Pfaelzer, Bob S, TexasAggie and others have voted with their pocketbooks, and now so have I. I ordered the Jialing a month ago.

    Though Jialing has dealers all over southwest China and in major cities, those shops have little or no knowledge of the JH600, which is available only from the factory. Nor is the JH600 mass produced. If they receive 10 orders before the monthly cutoff on or about the 10th, they make 10 bikes that month. You pay in full up front. If your wire transfer misses the cut, you wait another 4 weeks. My payment was processed in April, but production and delivery were delayed by the May Day holiday. I finally got the call on 11 May, and booked my flight to Chongqing for 13 May. The idea was to tame this steed on the back roads of Sichuan province, knowing I could bring it easily back to the Jialing factory in case of any problems.

    So anxious was I to reach Chongqing, I took the maglev out to Pudong International Airport. In recent years the maglev has been running at just over 330 kph, perhaps to save on magnetic attraction, but with the Shanghai Expo in full force the maglev is running at full tilt 431 kilometers an hour, or 268 mph, so it takes 7 minutes from the Longyang Lu terminal rather than 10. As you can see...



    ...plenty of time to catch my 11:35 a.m. flight.

    There's already a lot of authoritative information in this forum about the JH600, making MCM a really important supplement to the Jialing website, which is limited to a four-page English overview starting here. So my aim with this post is to give some idea about my experience at Jialing and in the saddle.

    My professional calling is that of a newsman. I came to China exactly 20 years ago as a reporter for an American news agency, United Press International, then spent 10 years with a British agency, Reuters. Seven years ago I put my hand to independent publishing, starting what became a family of newsmagazines for doctors. Highly specialized but also accessible and tailored to readers' needs and ambitions. I have a reputation as a publisher who helps Chinese doctors attain training and experience (mainly in India) that is valuable for advancing their often-miserable careers. So when I called a doctor friend in Chongqing to say I was coming up to visit, and would be picking up a motorcycle as well, he assumed the latter part was a joke.



    He was waiting at the airport, and I asked him to drive me to the Jialing plant at Shuangbei, on the banks of the Jialing river.

    The Jialing sales office is in a bustling, leafy street on the edge of the vast Jialing campus, which is said to produce 3 million motorbikes a year and accommodate 100,000 or more workers and their families. A vast state-owned enterprise that is trying to adapt to China's own economic advances and the imperatives of globalization. Though the smaller bikes are exported in large numbers, the JH600 remains the exception. The main customers are the Peoples Liberation Army and thousands of local police departments. I'd wanted to take a tour of the factory during this visit, but given that we arrived at 4 p.m. and that I had a confused doctor in tow, we had little choice but to work through the formalities and get me on my way. I did ask about JH600 production numbers, but was told this was confidential. I had a feeling the sensitivity of this data reflected embarrassment about the low figure rather than some other trade considerations. OK, but one guy told me there are probably 500 JH600s in "civilian" hands in China, and the bike was launched in about 2007, so do the math. They are averaging fewer than 100 a year, or maybe 8-12 a month, of the civilian model.

    Including mine. And then a guy walked in with the keys and said my bike was downstairs.




    I managed to get sales accountant Wei Hong and sales manager Li Shilin to pose for a picture...



    ...then suited up for the ride to the hotel. (Apologies for getting the settings wrong.)



    My adventure had begun.
    Last edited by euphonius; 07-03-2010 at 08:18 AM.
    jkp
    Shanghai
    2010 JH600 "Merkin Muffley" (in Shanghai)
    2000 KLR650 "Feezer Ablanalp" (in California)
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  2. #2 Re: Buckin' Bronco -- breaking in my JH600 in rural Sichuan 
    grumpy old sod jape's Avatar
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    Go Jim John Jack (?)!!! Old farts do well on bikes once they get the bladder and spincter under control as I can also attest to - nearly lost it today on mud, a loooong slide and wiggle while I tried to loosen my panicky grip on the throttle - I reckon if the raised heartbeat I am experiencing lately doesn't blow my valves I am going to be one of the few local grumpies that makes it to senile status with a biiiig smile on my face. You look a wee bit shell shocked in those pics too. I envy you lot your JH600 machines, whatever the faults they may have, they also seem like a great starter machine for mods and for adaptation for long rides. I think they may become a classic. Come on, lots more words and pics please.
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  3. #3 Re: Buckin' Bronco -- breaking in my JH600 in rural Sichuan 
    Moto Scholar moilami's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by euphonius View Post



    My adventure had begun.
    That train goes fast I can say! I tried to take a similar picture in my journey to get a bike, the train only went 161 km/h though and I missed the opportunity.

    Thank you very much of the report! Please do photograph a lot (and show the pictures to us , one thing I learned in my trip was that I photographed far too little. You are very lucky to get your bike straight from the factory, I wanted to buy mine from the factory too and drive it to Finland, but after reading stuff from MCM I understood foreigners might not get permission to drive the bike around China and out of China. Anyway, travel slowly and enjoy more, you are into a great and very enjoyable adventure now. I can't think of a better way to start adventuring with a bike than to get it straight from the factory.
    Last edited by moilami; 05-24-2010 at 07:41 AM. Reason: Typo.
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  4. #4 Re: Buckin' Bronco -- breaking in my JH600 in rural Sichuan 
    C-Moto Guru MotoKai's Avatar
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    DSCN1551..jpgDSCN1539..jpgDSCN1550..jpgDSCN1548..jpg

    Congratulations! Can't wait to see your bike in Shanghai
    Oh, and since you didn't get any factory photos to include here - I'll add the photos I took during my May Day visit earlier this month for everyone's reference...

    * I'm with Jape - more photos of your Chongqing ride please!!
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  5. #5 Re: Buckin' Bronco -- breaking in my JH600 in rural Sichuan 
    Administrator-tron CrazyCarl's Avatar
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    Congrats on then new ride and thanks for the wonderful write up! As a publisher, I'm sure you know that people can never get enough of pictures and we'd all love to see and hear more about your experiences in China.

    I can't imagine having arrived in China 20 years ago... it would have been an INCREDIBLY hot place to adventure ride. I could just about pass out thinking of all the totally priceless photographs that could have been taken during that time! If you have any online galleries or blogs to share, definitely don't hesitate to post.

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  6. #6 Re: Buckin' Bronco -- breaking in my JH600 in rural Sichuan 
    foreign China moto dude bikerdoc's Avatar
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    exceLLLLLent stuff, and I for one can tell straight-of-the-bat your a journo, or, into some form of publishing, -yes I said publishing, not punishing :P

    Got to put my hand up and go off topic slightly for a moment and issue a general warning, due to recent ads I have seen all over the place for big bore bikes in the recent weeks, to warn the uninitiated and any noobies reading this thread, there are a number of bikes being offered in many different places here in PRC, and all of them so far have very questionable histories and most of them sound likely to have copied identities at best or completely fake plates at worst... so be careful as very tempting treats abound... e.g. a 2008 Ducati 1000S is for sale from a foreigner in SH, a 1996 Ducati 900SS & 1996 1200 V-Max from a SH guy with Hebei plates that he claims to have owned for 6-7 years. So ok maybe legit, but then he states that the bikes are in his Chinese wife's name (still could be cosha), but then doesn't answer direct questions on when the inspections were last done/next due nor can't remember the exact details of what the road user license certificates say ie. brand, model and cc rating... oh and the bikes got no green books (motor vehicle licensing registration). A couple of others advertising from BJ, at least one was up front and said his bike 2004 Suzuki Hayabusa 1300 has no documents, while the other 2002 Yamaha XJR1200 is full of BS saying that motorbikes greater than 250cc can't get BJ plates. That is complete BS!!!!

    So just be warned... anyone tempted by large bore bikes, need to know what they are and possibly not buying when considering buying a >250cc motorbike in mainland China.

    OK, back on topic... great write up and just like other posters I am left wanting more of the juice... who was the ride, what's your impression etc... OK, OK, you aint got the bike in SH yet, but my gawd, I'm hypersalivating just waiting on the edge of my seat for your impression... and the story on how you never made it to Chengdu LOL.
    I got a question for you JHsix's guys.... the side car outfit, does the chair unbolt or is it welded on... I'm thinking that a bolt of chair would be great idea and a mix of both worlds...
    Last edited by bikerdoc; 05-26-2010 at 03:50 AM.
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  7. #7 Re: Buckin' Bronco -- breaking in my JH600 in rural Sichuan 
    C-Moto Guru TexasAggie's Avatar
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    Congratulations! I just got back to Nanjing. I am informed my new JH600 was shipped yesterday. It should arrive in Nanjing next week. I will try and post a few pictures upon arrival. I look forward to getting my new toy.

    DT
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  8. #8 Re: Buckin' Bronco -- breaking in my JH600 in rural Sichuan 
    Senior C-Moto Guru euphonius's Avatar
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    Nice to see the little JH600 club growing! Another was shipped to Shanghai on or about the same day that TexasAggie's was shipped to him, and I've been in discussions with the purchaser about various registration issues, etc. And the grapevine suggests that several other expats here in eastern China are in advanced states of contemplation about purchases. The more the merrier.

    And now back to my tale, with apologies for the work-related delay.

    As noted previously, I'm a newcomer to motorcycling, having in all my 52 years never ridden an inch prior to December, then racking up about 5,000km in three months after purchasing my KLR650 in California. So here I was in Chongqing, putatively the world's most populous city with 30+ million souls -- half of them seemingly on a dizzying array of motorbikes and the other half in cars or jaywalking in all directions in Chongqing's rat's nest of twisting surface streets, elevated highways and tunnels, all threaded across a highly mountainous geography skewered by two major rivers (the Changjiang aka Yangtze and, ahem, the Jialing).

    Oh, and did I mention the forecast was for six straight days of rain?

    Suffice it to say, I didn't just go out straight away and plant my big unlicensed arsch on my big unplated, unregistered thumper. I'd intended to get right out and start riding, aiming to cross the Sichuan plain to visit several Indian-trained eye surgeons in Chengdu. But the logistics of this ride left me intimidated. I had no fixed luggage racks, only a waterproof duffel to strap onto the seat behind me and a new LEM tank bag that I'd bought in Shanghai not even knowing if it would fit. I had a very nice Garmin Zumo 660 GPS that I'd never really used before, with a newly installed China map whose accuracy was entirely untested by me. Nor had I purchased any decent maps. Here I was thinking I'd combine my breaking-in riding with a journey across parts of Sichuan I'd never even driven before. I was starting to feel like this beginner had bit off a bit more than he could chew.

    And it was raining!

    OK, paint me a chicken shit, but I felt given my lack of knowledge and experience and kit I should proceed with some caution. So on that first Friday, I set out to install the tank bag and GPS, see if I can make it work and, if the weather clears, I'll take her out for a careful spin through the rat's nest maelstrom that is Chongqing. I had several days before my flight back to Shanghai. Take it slowly. The rain waxed and waned, and in the end I spent Friday and Saturday tinkering, thinking and trying to buck up my courage.

    The weather improved and Saturday evening brought a nice surprise. My eye doctor buddies and some military friends fetched me up and drove me out past the sprawling Jialing factory, down a very long dirt track to a simple farmer's restaurant for an al fresco feast on the banks of the dark, wide and fast-flowing Jialing.



    This being Chongqing, the epicenter of Sichuan cuisine, every dish was basically a huge platter of fierce chilis and tongue-numbing huajiao peppercorns, with a few morsels of meat or other vegetables tossed in for color. Given that my hosts were military men, we all anesthetized ourselves with Chongqing's finest baijiu. Not sure if this is a smile or a grimace...



    Which brings us to Sunday morning, and I've yet to ride a single kilometer apart from the ride from Jialing to my hotel. The day arrived cloudy but dry. I still had three full days to ride. I scrunched up my courage, and headed out. On the new expressway it's only three or four hours to Chengdu. "I'll try that first," I thought, "and if they don't let me on, how much longer could it really take on surface roads? I can surely get to Chengdu in half a day. My GPS will guide me."

    What do you see in this newbie's eyes? Courage? Caution? Hubris?



    Half a day. GPS guiding the way. Bad assumptions. Very bad...
    jkp
    Shanghai
    2010 JH600 "Merkin Muffley" (in Shanghai)
    2000 KLR650 "Feezer Ablanalp" (in California)
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  9. #9 Re: Buckin' Bronco -- breaking in my JH600 in rural Sichuan 
    C-Moto Guru TexasAggie's Avatar
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    Never apologize for using motorcylce caution when in doubt. Especially here in China!

    I purposely rode yesterday within 75Km from home. I figures if I experienced Epic Fail, I would not be too far of a tow home.

    Keep us informed of your progress.
    DT
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  10. #10 Re: Buckin' Bronco -- breaking in my JH600 in rural Sichuan 
    Moto Scholar moilami's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by euphonius View Post



    Half a day. GPS guiding the way. Bad assumptions. Very bad...
    Woohoo! A great report! Can't wait to see what happened. You should had considered to become a movie director, I think you could do some great thrillers It is the adventure what counts, things going as planned and arrivals to destinations are irrelevant.
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