At the time I thought that buying a chinese quad was a bit of a gamble.
I bought the thing as a present for my 8 year old son, and it turned out to be a really good thing for him in that riding it, scaring himself a couple of times and generally building up his confidence with riding it has been a great personal boost for him. I wouldn't have bought a Japanese or american quad simply due to cost. We would never be able to justify the $$'s required for a Honda/Yanaha or Polaris.
So, how have we gone after a year with a Chinese quad?
Overall pretty good. We have had a couple of problems that took some time in the shed to sort out. The battery failed (I'd just budget on replacing whatever the bike comes with with a quality Yuasa one) and there was a bit of a problem with the rear swingarm adjustment where I just couldn't loosen the chain enough. It turned out that one side of the frame was offset by a few mm. 5 minutes with an angle grinder sorted it out followed up with some black enamel.
The tyres that came with the bike wore out quite soon on the sharp rock paddock lanes that my son rides on most of the time. The 6 inch rims on this particular bike can be a bit of an odd size to find tyres for, but a call to a local motorbike tyre shop had a much better set in after a couple of days.
I've got some previous experience with looking after bikes and cars and I'm quite comfortable in maintaining the bike myself. A year in I've just stripped down the front end and re-greased and re-aligned everything. This is probably the key to living with a chinese quad or two-wheeler, 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 after sales service. 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 the store 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!
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!
And finally, as I say to my son the important thing is to be happy and enjoy what you have and not grizzle, missing what you don't.
It's been a while since I wrote this guide, I thought that it might help people to hear what else has happened in the past few months.
- The exhaust on both our 110 Quad and a mate's 110 Buggy both cracked in the same place. These 110cc engines produce a lot of vibration at higher revs, and the mufflers are solidly bolted to the frame. This means that the exhaust pipe is constantly being flexed by the engine against the frame. In both cases, this caused cracking and separation of the muffler from the exhaust pipe. The metal is VERY thin in these exhaust systems and not easy for a beginner to weld. I know! Once repaired or replaced, place a rubber washer between the frame and the muffler's mounting bracket. In both cases this has stopped the exhaust from cracking. A 20c rubber washer will save you $40-odd for a new exhaust!
- Going over the quad this weekend after a couple of full days riding, I found that a few of the bolts has loosened. (swingarm pivot, chain adjust bolt) When you service your quad or bike, make sure that you loctite the important bolts as they will vibrate loose! Make sure that you use the appropriate type of loctite! some types are permanent!