Video of the Motorcycle Trip in Chinese Countryside

The final edit of my trip across Beijing on “Mafan,” my Jincheng 250. The song is “Girl is on my Mind” by the Black Keys. Also be sure to check out our Youtube page, RubberOnRoad08,  for some of our other videos, and future Rubber on Road video updates! Hope you like it!


A Chinese Road Trip: Cuandixia Village and Back

Hiking up the Mountain Near CuandixiaI guess this could be considered my first official ride of the season. With the weather warming up into the high-teens, low-twenties (Celsius) and a national holiday in China, Qingming Jie, giving me three days off, it seemed like the perfect time to really test out my new motorcycle for the first time, going 100km out of Beijing to Cuandixia Village, a Ming Dynasty era village tucked in a valley among the surrounding mountains of the city center.

The roads were perfect for motorcycle riding. Only 100km made it just long enough to enjoy the good weather, but not too long that your butt goes completely numb. There was some good open highway at the beginning driving out of the city with my girlfriend as passenger. Soon, after only about 50km, we joined up with highway G109 at the entrance to the mountains surrounding Beijing, when I pulled right up to another motorcycle which turned out to be an earlier model of my first bike, a Harley-Davidson Sportster, not something you frequently come across in China. We ended up stopping for a break at the same place not too much farther ahead, next to a brook, so I took the opportunity to jealously admire his bike, enjoying the sound of the pipes as he drove off ahead.

The rest of the ride was both very pleasant and also extremely stressful. We started to climb up into the mountains along some really fun, windy turns that reminded me of the cliff hugging Pacific Coast Highway in California, but unfortunately we were caught behind a truck for a lot of this, resulting in face-fuls of unpleasant smells, a mixture of burning brake and tire rubber as well as some black, smokey exhaust. The trip also gave me an opportunity to think about the quality of drivers in China. My overall impression is that many Chinese are not quite ready to be driving, particularly on precarious mountain highways, as I was continuously in awe of some very nice cars passing on a two-lane highway around blind turns. There is also a general lack of awareness of motorcycles on the road, as I was often treated as an annoying nuisance simply to be pushed aside as the other drivers saw fit. Several times, people would try to pass us on the motorcycle by coming up on the side and then moving over into my lane, facing me with the decision to either move back or be pushed off the road entirely. I ended up flipping off more than a couple cars, and even threw my leg out trying to kick one or two. This blatant lack of road manners can be best displayed through the massive traffic jam we encountered on our journey back. About half-way back to Beijing, there was a major stoppage of traffic, so much so that people had turned their cars off and were getting out to walk around. Soon, cars began to take advantage of the fact that there was no oncoming traffic and used the opposite lane to get ahead of the jam, only to find that that lane had stopped as well not too far ahead. I started to have visions of a multi-day long traffic jam as I recalled the 60-mile, 10 day traffic jam that Beijing experienced the previous summer, praying that that wasn’t what we were about to experience. Luckily, being on the motorcycle we were able to wind our way through, only to find absolutely no cause for the trouble other than drivers stubbornly not letting on-coming traffic through, probably the result of more cars passing on a blind turn.

I have to say though, I was very impressed with how my little Jincheng 250 handled the trip. I was able to cruise at 70km/hour no problem, even fully packed for two days and with a passenger, even at times being able to maintain 90km/h. We were also able to maneuver the very sharp turns without much problem, though I have to admit that I was craving a more powerful engine for the ascents not to mention as a way to help me avoid the obnoxious drivers. I did have some problems with my engine popping out of gear momentarily and losing some thrust at random intervals, but overall we made the trip without incident. I also found that “Mafan” has quite a respectable gas mileage at about 29 km/liter highway, with about a 15 liter gas tank (my own estimation), meaning the trip would have been doable on a single tank of gas.

The area we visited was really nice, even if crowded, with the ancient village a great visit and the surrounding scenery making for some nice weekend hiking. We met up with some friends from Beijing that took the bus up. When we couldn’t find an open inn (客栈, Kezhan), we moved on to another nearby village, where we found most of the lodging was actually closed until we came upon a couple that happened to have two free beds. As it turned out, this was their personal home and the rooms that we stayed in had formerly belonged to their children who had moved to the city for work and school. The couple was extremely friendly, cooking us up some food in their personal kitchen, giving us heating blankets, and a coal heating stove for our room. Best of all, they had a western-style toilet and hot water!

Below you can see some of our pictures from the trip, and, even though I wasn’t able to attach my camera mount to the bike, my girlfriend Amy was able to film bits of the drive there and back. I’ll be editing this footage and posting it here soon! If any of our readers have questions about road tripping in China or if you have some experiences of your own you’d like to share, please share in the comments. We’d love to hear it!

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Going on a Chinese Road Trip

Just a quick post to say that since I’ve got a couple of days off work for the Chinese “Tomb Sweeping” holiday coming up this weekend, I’ll be taking my first “road trip” with Mafan, my JinCheng 250. Of course in typical Chinese fashion, in order to make up for the extra day off, the government decided to make Saturday a working day. So after the 6 day work week, on Sunday, my girlfriend and I will be leaving for Cuandixia Village, 爨底下村 (which literally means “Under the stove village”). Cuandixia has been named World Heritage Site protected for it’s authentic Ming Dynasty era buildings and scenic mountain scenery. Luckily, it’s also only 90km outside of the city center of Beijing and looks like it might actually provide some nice windy mountain roads making for an exciting and pleasant ride. I also plan on taking my camera mount for the ride so check back regularly over the next couple weeks and keep an eye out for a video posting from the trip.

For more information on the village and some pictures, click here to check out what Tour Beijing had to say.

Below you can check out the map of the route we’ll be taking:

Named my Chinese Bike: 麻烦

I recently came up with a name for my new, Chinese-branded motorcycle, a Jincheng 250cc. After going through several difficulties with my bike from the get go involving my battery and rectifier (which you can read about here and here) and then recently having my license plate stolen, I decided upon a very fitting name: 麻烦 or Ma fan which means “trouble; troublesome” in Chinese. It’s typically used as a type of exclamation, such as when something is acting particularly annoying or troublesome, you say something like “很麻烦“ or “what a pain.”

Of course, I knew that buying a motorcycle in China would come with its fair share of difficulties, so it hasn’t come as much of a surprise. But still, doesn’t mean it’s not a pain when these things do crop up!

If you liked this, you might also be interested in:

Buying a Chinese Motorcycle: Jincheng 250cc

A Very Chinese Motorcycle Repair Experience

Video: Riding through the Chinese Countryside

A Very Chinese Motorcycle Repair Experience

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After nearly a month of suffering through having to push start my Jincheng 250 anytime I wanted to ride, no easy task particularly when you’re dressed for winter riding weather, I finally found the time to locate a motorcycle repair shop in Beijing. Actually what happened first was that I spent a significant amount of time texting back and forth in Chinese with the guy who sold me the motorcycle trying to explain to him the problem. Here’s a quick summary of this exchange (entirely in Chinese):

1) I explained in detail what was going on and my conclusion that it was a battery/alternator issue. I included in my explanation how I knew that it wasn’t an issue with the cold weather

2) His response: it was the cold weather.

3) I repeated my explanation.

4) He told me the battery was new and should last a year.

5) I told him that regardless of what he said, the battery was having problems.

6) He told me I just didn’t know how to ride then (I actually laughed out loud at this).

Unfortunately, this all happened right before the Chinese New Year, during which time we were both out of the city. After I came back and texted him again he said it was probably a battery issue (welcome to China!) and that I should take it to a repair guy because he was still on holiday. Apparently it should only cost 100 RMB (approx. US $15). I made a point to tell him that this was contrary to what he said, but then agreed to go find a place.

So I got a recommendation from a friend that I knew had motorcycles in China as well and recommended me to a place that was nearby to my work, and this past Monday, I push started my bike one more time to ride it to work and bring it by during my lunch.

The place itself was very classic Chinese. It clearly doubled as these guys’ apartment. They also had quite an impressive collection of motorcycles including an almost brand new Honda CB400, an 1100 Kawasaki, a Honda Magna that was torn apart, and a Honda Valkerie (which has a crazy looking 6 cylinder engine!). When I pulled up there were two guys in a traditional Chinese squat fixing some piece of equipment. I briefly explained my problem, the one guy checked it out, confirmed it was the battery and went off to get a new one. As it turns out, the battery I was given with the bike was Chinese and only meant to last half a year at best. So for 300 RMB (3x what I was told, but of course that guy wasn’t the best judge of batteries) I got a new battery that has worked like a charm so far. I also had a problem with my “rectifier” as it turns out (which I think is another word for alternator), and that ran me 100 RMB. But overall I got a good deal as I didn’t have to pay a service fee and they even fixed some loose wiring with my horn.

For reference, the Chinese word for battery is 电池 (dian chi, “electricity pool”) or 电瓶 (dian ping, “electricity bottle”) and the word for rectifier is 整流器 (zheng liu qi) and alternator is 发电机 (fa dian ji, which literally means send electricity machine). There are still some issues I’m experiencing with the bike here and there. Though there’s still a sense of anticipation every time I go to start it that it just won’t click, it’s quite a relief to not have had to push start this past week.

Push Starting my Motorcycle in the Middle of Beijing Rush Hour

I thought I’d share my recent problems in my  adventure into the world of Chinese motorcycling. After having just bought a second hand but only one year old Chinese brand motorcycle, I’m already having problems. The first day riding it home was great. I was able to take it on of the major Beijing roads, the 4th ring and navigated my way through traffic no problem. Despite, the sub-freezing temperatures, it was great to be back on two wheels. Then after one day of leaving it parked outside my apartment, I press the ignition only to find that I get no response from the engine whatsoever. At first I think it might be the cold, but the sound the engine would usually make in that situation is a little different. Whereas in the cold the engine is trying to catch with a sort of revving type sound, I was hearing a barely audible click, which would indicate a dead battery. This was bad as I needed to commute to work and was almost late as it was. I noticed a slight incline behind me so I pushed the bike up and started to run it down. Luckily this push start worked and I was able to make it to work on time.

Of course this wasn’t the end of my troubles. A couple of times at stop lights, the engine cut out. I figured, with the engine warmed up there shouldn’t be any more problems. I was wrong and so on the side of a very busy Beijing street with bikes, cars, and pedestrians everywhere, I had to again push start my bike (what it must have looked like to the local Chinese to see a foreigner, which is a strange enough sight as it is, go through this ritual I can only imagine). Luckily I started to get good at push starting as I had to repeat this several times.

Other things of note for diagnosis are how sometimes power wasn’t getting to the horn and that after the bike’s been sitting outside of my office building all day and I turn the power back on, the headlight is barely lit. This all leads me to believe it’s a battery issue.

What’s going to be interesting is to get this all sorted out with the language barrier. I have already been in contact via text with the seller, all in Chinese. His first response was to say it was cold. I explained how it wasn’t because it happened even after running for 20 minutes. His next response was to say that he just changed the battery. This just came off as a typical Chinese response that I’m not too likely to believe. And finally he told me that I just didn’t know how to ride it properly. I’m sorry but that’s just the wrong thing to say.

I’m going to continue to text him now that, after several days, the problem is more than confirmed. Most likely this Saturday (China time of course), I’ll be driving it (after the ritualistic method of push starting I’ve been using the past 3 days) back up to the north end of the city to have him see the problem for himself.

The sad thing of it all is that I’ve been really enjoying the bike otherwise. It rides well, it does what I need it to do (when it’s running), and I like the look of it. Let’s just hope I’m able to get it working smoothly and can be back on the road problem free!

Buying a Chinese Motorcycle: Jincheng 250cc

Jincheng 250ccI’ll write a little bit more on the whole process I went through for getting a motorcycle for helping out those of you who may be interested in buying a motorcycle in China yourselves, but in the meantime I just wanted to make the announcement and introduce my new bike. It’s certainly no H-D Dyna Wide Glide, but I think it’ll do just fine. I bought it at a price of CNY 9000 after finding it on a sort of Chinese equivalent of E-bay or Craigslist called

It’s 250cc from a Chinese company called 金城 or Jincheng (a direct translation would be Golden City). It’s relatively new, only about a year old, and it looks like it’s held up. Two of the biggest factors for me were that all the signals worked as well as the breaks (a problem I encountered with a bike I had previously looked at). Another big thing was that the seller was providing me with all the paperwork, registration with the police, proof of ownership, etc. Something that gives me huge piece of mind if ever anything were to happen. And finally it came with what looks to be a legitimate 京B license plate (some more piece of mind even if I would be able to get away with not having it for a while). Some other nice features is that it came with lots of storage space in terms of hard cases and also an alarm! The only thing left to do now is get my Chinese driver’s license.

Just for fun, here’s the original Chinese posting for the bike:




Read more of our articles on motorcycling in China here!