December 31, 2012

Koh Chang and the Lifan Cross 200

Just came back from the beautiful island of Koh Chang in the Southeast of Thailand, where I spent a few days of well-deserved rest.
The first day was all about beach and food, but on the second day my right wrist started twitching. I knew what was coming and how to get it out of my system. I needed a bike!

Most of the bikes for rent on the island are small scooters, with a fair amount of Honda Phantoms 200, ugly chopper-would-be and I wouldn't want to be seen dead on one of those. The island, with its steep and partly dirt roads, needed something a bit more powerful and with good handling. At least that was the line I used to convince my wife... ;-)

The rescue came with a LIFAN Cross 200. I've heard mixed reviews about this Chinese bike for some time and I was curious to see for myself. On top of that it was the first time on an Enduro bike, so that just doubled the excitement.

 Lifan is a very big company, in business for many decades already, and it shouldn't be put on the same (low) level as other Chinese brands, such as JRD, Platinum etc.

The first impression was that it was very light, around 130kg I believe and handled well, as you would expect from such a bike. Something I didn't quite like from the start was the gear configuration. The gears are like on the smaller step-through bikes: from the top down...N - 1 -2 -3 -4 -5. I'd rather have the traditional 1 (down) - N - (up) 2 - 3 - 4 - 5. Maybe it's just a matter of getting used to it. The gearbox was well built and the gears engaged easily and noiselessly. When moving you don't even need to pull the clutch. Just step through.

Going uphill I was pleasantly surprised by the power and the power delivery, which seemed smooth and more than enough to tackle even the most extreme inclinations.

On straight stretches I didn't notice any problematic vibrations, which was good. Something not so good however, was the hard seat. After 20 minutes I had to stop to relieve my poor backside.

The bike was pretty new, with only 1300km on the clock. So far no ugly rust on the frame or bolts.
Brakes were sufficient at best. The front disk continuously made lamenting noises, while the rear brake....was there a rear brake?

"The road broken. It's dangerous." :-)

All in all I enjoyed the ride. Would I buy a Lifan Cross? Hmmm I know the price is more than competitive, but buying a Chinese bike still seems risky to me for a number of reasons, which will have to be explored in another post, maybe.
That said, there's a very nice Chinese Motard, called Mbike Delta200....

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