2017 China International Motorcycle Fair

China’s motorcycle market is evolving at a rapid rate, and it could have a profound effect on the form factor of motorcycles of the near future. Although China is no longer the world’s largest motorcycle market or the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer (it has now fallen behind India on both counts), it still dwarfs all other national motorcycle markets.

Together, the world’s two most populous countries now make up the vast majority of the world’s motorcycle manufacture and consumption and with the governments of both countries now committed to the electrification of personal transportation in short order, some dramatic changes can be expected to occur over the next few years, and the motorcycle is going to be at the very forefront of that change.

In India, Hero, Honda, TVS, Mahindra, Yamaha and Bajaj will all launch electric two-wheelers at next February’s Auto Expo in Mumbai, well ahead of the Indian Government’s target date of 2030 to transition the country to electric vehicles.

With China’s centralized Government and a deadline looming a decade sooner, China’s motorcycle manufacturers have a much shorter runway and are scrambling to quickly adapt to what amounts to an existential threat. Motorcycles have already been banned from many major cities in China and the relentlessness of the country’s quest to reduce air pollution will see little leeway on commercial grounds. It will be a matter of comply or perish.

Hence it was an interesting time to visit the 15th China International Motorcycle Fair in Chongqing last week, a show that may not be the most important motorcycle show in the world, but can be seen as a harbinger of the changing landscape for motorcycle development in the countries that produce them.

It’s quite possible you’ve never heard of Chongqing, but despite the rise of India’s motorcycle industry, it remains the de facto capital of the world’s motorcycle industry.

Chongqing is an ancient river port and trading hub, located where the Jialing…

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