Well after a year watching my young bloke riding and enjoying his quad, I finally took the plunge and bought a 250 trail bike for myself.
I spent a bit of time looking at what's available through the various ebay stores selling chinese bikes, what prices bikes were going for and the differences between bikes and model before I took the plunge. As is always vitally important with any shopping on ebay, I had a firm idea of the $$ I wanted to spend and kept myself to a budget.
So, after looking at all on offer I ended up buying a 250cc Moto-x from SDB. (I'm just a customer, no affiliation). The purchase went well, some issues with shipping which were entirely down to me, but in a few days I had the bike in the shed and set to work.
Now anyone who is looking to buy a new chinese bike or quad will need to be comfortable with assembling the bike themselves, or know someone who they can get to do it. There is little in the way of instructions supplied, however the job is pretty simple. In the case of this bike it was a matter of fitting the front wheel, forks, Front brake caliper, handlebars, connecting the rear shock linkage and finally the plastics.
Sounds like a lot, but if you take your time and don't rush it it is about an hour or two's work.
At the time, I used loctite on the bolts that looked to need it and replaced the front brake caliper bolts with Unbrako ones. (The supplied ones were probably OK, I'm just fussy about such things) I also dropped the oil and replaced the brake fluid. The only issue that arose was a problem with the clutch cable. This was pretty easy thing to sort out at home. Otherwise I would have had SDB send me a new one.
So with all that done, it was time to actually ride the thing. I spent a day out riding with my son and his quad, gently at first, then gradually harder to give the motor a chance to bed in. I'm no pro dirt bike rider but it went really well, with plenty of grunt for where we were riding. After a full day's riding, the only issue was a very stretched chain :) and I lost a sidecover bolt. (one of those that didnt't get the loctite treatment!)
As I've found with the quad, the key to living with a chinese quad or two-wheeler is that you need to be prepared to get your hands dirty and look after the things. Just because they are cheap to purchase isn't a reason to mistreat them. If you purchase via Ebay, then you need to be prepared to disregard any sort of warranty or after sales service. The people selling these things just don't make enough on each sale to cover the overheads in providing the sort of after sales service you would expect from a japanese bike dealer. They are just selling units and hoping to get a reasonable margin on each one. You make a value call by chasing for the cheapest price!
If you need to depend on a store's workshop to look after you with warranty and ongoing service, then forget chasing the cheapest price and pay the extra few hundred and buy from a storefront operation, or spend more and buy Japanese! From what I've seen so far you probably won't get much in the way of assistance from established japanese bike workshops. For some reason they seem to take a very dim view of these chinese products. As always, shop around and remember that the customer is king!
When I've taken my son out to dirt tracks with the quad to go riding I see heaps of young kids out on pitbikes that have no idea about how to look after their bikes. Chains either too loose or too tight but never lubricated, tyres either flat or over inflated (one kid blew the tube in his rear tyre and just kept riding!) broken bits and bobs everywhere. Then they complain that their bikes are a piece on s**t!
I'm a believer that these chinese bikes and quads are a good thing in that people are getting out of their longerooms and going riding who normally wouldn't consider spending thousands and thousands on bike and gear. After a year or two they may very well buy a honda or yamaha as their skills grow, but it would be that Moto-x or Atomik or other chinese bike that got them started!
Anyway, hope that this may be of help and if you do buy a chinese bike, be happy and enjoy what you have and not grizzle, missing what you don't!
I thought that I'd update this guide with a couple of things that have cropped up in the 5-6 months that I've had the bike. Maybe they will be of help to others.
- The 250 started leaking fuel. This was due to the type of fuel line fitted to the bike at manufacture. I'd suggest checking your fuel line at the very least to see if there is any evidence of cracking or perishing of the line. (Automotive spares shops sell fuel line by the meter for a few dollars). Be sure to take a sample of the line with you as it is very important to match the internal diameter of the tubing to ensure a tight fit on the bike.
- After riding the 250 in wet weather and mud, I later found that the rear suspension linkages and pivots have no seals to protect them from water. (This is one of the detail type of things that separate a $1000 chinese bike from a $7000 or $8000 Japanese one!) Just a day after riding I found the start of corrosion in the swingarm and linkage bearings. It's critical to keep water out of these areas, so be very careful when using a pressure washer and have a good look over these areas when you've been riding in the wet.