Here's a rebuttal to a guide i read about the chinese scooters.
The writer was obviously biased towards the japanese brands and knows nothing about the history of motorcycles or scooters. first of all, lets get one thing straight from the beginning. Italian scooters are by far the best in the world period. yes, they are very expensive, but they spend billions in research, development, and quality control. Piaggio(vespa, aprilia, gilera,derbi) are the top selling scooters in europe.
secondly, all motorcycle, scooter, atv manufacturers have joint agreements with chinese companies to manufacture parts for their vehicles. and yes, even the italians. so what you need to understand is the facts about how these products are made and the whole process. way before the U.S. became flooded with chinese scooters(thanks to free trade), europe and the rest of the world was doing business with china. the major difference in a chinese scooter manufacturer and a japanese or italian is the importance they place on quality control and material used. when a japanese manufacturer enters into agreements with chinese manufacturers of parts for their vehicles, the material selection and the quality control process is handled by the japanese side and not the chinese. this is why for example a part manufactured in china for a japanese or italian brand is of much better quality than on that is made strictly by a chinese company. lets face it people, the chinese scooters are here to stay because we want them. what consumers need to DEMAND is a quality product from the importers. contrary to popular beliefs, there are many decent scooter manufacturers in china. so why are they not sending them to the U.S.? i'll tell you why; chinese companies do not have the capability to sell directly in the U.S. so they use a myriad of american middle men. and as we see time and time again, price is the driving force behind these american importers. for example: an american importer contacts or visits two chinese scooter manufacturers to buy containers of products. chinese company A has a very good quality scooter that it has been selling in europe and asia with a good track record and company B has a product that looks exactly like the product from company A just not as good, but, is 300-400 cheaper per unit. 99% of the time, we get product from company B.
so, here is the bottom line when buying a chinese scooter. if your trying to buy a brand new 49cc scooter for around 500-600 dollars, you'll be getting company B product. Cheap chinese garbage scooters are all over the internet. looks can be deceiving when buying online. when you buy a scooter online, see if they have a local store that is licensed by the state and not just coming from a warehouse. always buy from a local dealer if you can. any reputable dealer will have a good variety of products for you. my philosophy as a dealer is: pay me now or pay me later.
when it comes to buying a chinese scooter don't even look a the name of the scooter or even the make. you should always look for or ask the seller who the manufacturer is. the manufacturer plate has to be on the scooter by law.
here is how i would rank scooters manufacturers.
1. Italian (vespa, piaggio, gilera, derbi, moto guzzi, aprilia)
2. Japanese (honda, yamaha)
2a. Taiwanese (kymco, sym, tgb, adly, PGO,etc)
3. South Korea (Daelim, hyosung)
4. China ( qianjiang also known as QJ is the best of all available in the U.S., zongshen is good quality, cf moto makes very good scoots. these companies all stand by there products and the quality is consistent. remember to alway call your local dealer first to see if he/she carries any of the above products.)
if your scooter is not from one of the above manufacturers, then it's a crap shoot as far as quality and parts availability.
most reputable dealers cary a chinese scooter line or two. call dealers around the country who sell the top brands like, kymco, tgb, vespa and ask them what chinese scooter manufacturer they carry. you'll be surprised to find that it's probably one that i've mentioned. i should know, as a dealer in florida i've had to learn the hard way. i will never carry a product from certain chinese companies that i see all of the internet because i know from personal experience that they are just plain garbage.
here is a scale of quality and price for a typical 49cc scooter:
Poor: 400-800 dollars, most chinese stuff
good: 1100-1300 dollars, chinese brands that i mentioned.
better: 1500-2000 dollars, japanese, taiwanese, korean.
best: 2500-3500 dollars, any italian product.
the only country that i left out was india. only because the number of products available in the U.S. is very few. Bajaj of india has two excellent products available in the u.s.. bajaj usa sells 3-wheel vehicles and also offer a 150cc 4stroke scooter with a 4-speed manual transmission. bajaj of india used to have a relationship with vespa of italy some time ago and thus the quality of their products.
well, i hope that i've been able to sift through all the confusion of the vast scooter market. but in case i've confused you even more, i'm sorry.
just remember: if you pay 400-500 dollars for a 49cc scooter made in a country thousands of miles away and everyone who touched that product made a profit of some sort, then what did it cost to manufacture??? cheap is cheap is cheap!
and that's my unbiased-biased opinion.