Friday, November 6, 2009

Chang Jiang makes Enfield look modern

"Makes the Royal Enfield look like crap." That's the pitch in an ad for a 1968 Chang Jiang motorcycle in Whittier, Calif.

The seller is just having fun with a bit of attitude. That's obvious, since he also refers to how well the Chinese motorcycle rides with his own "fat ass" on it. (Just for reference, he says his own specifications are 6-feet tall, 240 pounds).

His Chang Jiang is interesting, since it appears to be a solo motorcycle; like the Ural and Dnepr, Chang Jiangs are usually seen hooked to a sidecar. Because not everyone is familiar with it, the seller provides a link to a great Chang Jiang web site.

It explains that while the Chang Jiang, Ural, Dnepr and others all descended in some ways from a BMW boxer twin of the 1930s, their histories and thus their parts and workmanship are distinctive. As far as workmanship goes, the Chang Jiang would tend to be far from the BMW original.

Brand new Urals are actively sold in the United States, often alongside Royal Enfields, and have a network of dealers. A vintage Chang Jiang is something else again.

These were built for military service with the People's Liberation Army. This means they are basic, rugged, slow and like lots of maintenance. Draftees are the cheapest labor there is. One feature the military especially liked was the shaft drive.

Although the BMW heritage sounds attractive, it's important to realize that it is long in the past. The BMW original was replaced with a new design for the German Army by 1941!

According to the web site, a 1968 Chang Jiang M1 would be a side valve model, with 22 horsepower and a 6-volt electrical system. The seller says his has less than 500 miles on it and runs perfectly. The asking price is $4,000. He says it has a California title and plate "so all you have to do is take it to the DMV."

Is his motorcycle really a 1968, or just registered that way? It looks too nice to be that old. If it's not, it may have more modern features, but it is still a long trip back in motorcycle design. If you want to dial back your personal time machine, his phone number is 702-578-1945.


  1. CJ's are allowed into the US as vintage vehicles, so they all have to be at least 25-30 years old to be exempt from EPA and DOT requirements. Many shops in China restore old army bikes from the 1960's and export them looking brand new. Other shops are shadier operations, attempting to export newer bikes disguised as vintage. There are stories out there of people who bought these shadier bikes only to have US customs destroy them and bill them for the process!

  2. Thank you, Jorge. If this motorcycle really has only 500 miles on the clock, chances are it is newer than 1968. In addition, the lid on top of the tank looks like an in-tank tool box. The web site emphasizes (in italics) that: "No Chang Jiang 750 motorcycles had a Chinese built-in tool box gas tank before 1970." But, then, tanks are often replaced in restorations, so it is not impossible that the rest of the motorcycle is from 1968.

  3. When I was shopping for a motorcycle I was all set to get a Chang Jiang (CJ750/BMW replica) when I discovered Royal Enfield. I got the Enfield instead, but I always liked the low slung stance of the CJ.

  4. Dan Mullins11/06/2009

    I rode a M1 Cj solo for a couple of years, not too bad but it looks like it was built in a blacksmith shop.


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