• The Chinese Zongshen Cyclone is Really an Aprilia in Disguise

  • Cyclone RA9 Radical design hides largely Aprilia running gear, including 987cc v-twin motor from the Dorsoduro
  • Motor Show Brochure 987cc engine produces 112bhp and 72lb.ft of torque
  • Aprilia Chassis As seen on the Aprilia Dorsoduro and Shiver models. Main difference is a single-sided swing-arm
  • Funky Design Is this the best-looking Chinese bike yet? Rumours are that the production version will look virtually identical
  • RX850 Adventure Bike Using a built-under-licence version of the Norton 650cc parallel twin, enlarged to 850cc.

Radical new concept started life as an Aprilia Dorsoduro

Is there any western company with whom the Chinese don’t have a partnership? This concept from Zongshen, called the Cyclone RA9, is largely made up of Aprilia chassis and engine as Zongshen is a partner to Piaggio, the Italian group that owns the Aprilia brand, among others. Based around a 987cc v-twin, both chassis and engine come from the Aprilia Dorsoduro and Shiver models.

Zongshen Cyclone RA9 Is An Aprilia In Disguise

The Chinese Zongshen Cyclone is Really an Aprilia in Disguise
- image 1020965
Cyclone RA9
Radical design hides largely Aprilia running gear, including 987cc v-twin motor from the Dorsoduro

The recent CIMA Motor Show in China shows that not only are the Chinese the best plagiarists in the world, but actually have the talent to head in their own direction, certainly when it comes to design. Not only that, but they are prepared to head in some pretty radical directions that make the rest of the world’s manufacturers look positively dowdy.

The Chinese Zongshen Cyclone is Really an Aprilia in Disguise
- image 1020966
Motor Show Brochure
987cc engine produces 112bhp and 72lb.ft of torque

One such machine - the Zongshen Cyclone RA9 - might be familiar under the skin but clothing it is bodywork that is everything you’d expect a concept to be. The thing is, it just might be that the company will put it into production looking exactly the way it does.

The Chinese Zongshen Cyclone is Really an Aprilia in Disguise
- image 1020968
Aprilia Chassis
As seen on the Aprilia Dorsoduro and Shiver models. Main difference is a single-sided swing-arm

Cyclone is actually the flagship brand of the giant Zongshen motorcycle manufacturing company. It has forged a partnership with Italian giant Piaggio and, as such, uses Aprilia components in its own motorcycles as well as producing some of the bikes in the Aprilia catalogue.

The RA9 uses the v-twin engine and chassis from the Aprilia Dorsoduro and Shiver models. The main difference is the use of a single-sided swing arm and, naturally, that striking bodywork.

The Chinese Zongshen Cyclone is Really an Aprilia in Disguise
- image 1020967
Funky Design
Is this the best-looking Chinese bike yet? Rumours are that the production version will look virtually identical

The 987cc engine is badged ’Cyclone’ but is definitely the Aprilia unit and there was even a unit with Gilera branding on it on the motor show stand: could that famous Italian marque be about to make a reappearance? Peak power is claimed to be 112bhp and torque is listed as 72lb.ft. Another clue that it might be more production-ready than is normal for a ’concept’ is the fact that a weight is given - 474 lbs. Elsewhere, Chinese-sourced brakes and suspension is fitted.

Not only is there the tie-in with Piaggio/Aprilia, but another model on display was the RX850 adventure bike, which uses an under-license produced version of the Norton 650cc parallel twin engine. Not only that, but it seems that the licensing agreement applies also to the Norton V4 engine as there was one displayed on the stand also.

The Chinese Zongshen Cyclone is Really an Aprilia in Disguise
- image 1020969
RX850 Adventure Bike
Using a built-under-licence version of the Norton 650cc parallel twin, enlarged to 850cc.

Say and think what you like about the Chinese motorcycle industry and the way they go about their business but bikes such as the Cyclone RA9 show that not all Chinese companies are hell-bent on copying: there seems to be a lot of very good thinking going on behind closed doors. Of course, there is still the business of ridding itself of the reputation for poor quality but, with the resources available, don’t expect that to be the defining quality for too much longer.

Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
Motorcycling Contributor
Born and raised in England, he has lived in South Africa with his family since 2002. Harry has owned examples of Triumph, Norton, BSA, MV Agusta, Honda, BMW, Ducati, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Moto Morini motorcycles. He regrets selling all of them.  Read full bio
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