This photo taken on Nov. 6, 2022 shows a motorcycle exhibited at the automobile exhibition area of the fifth China International Import Expo (CIIE) at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai) in east China's Shanghai. (Xinhua/Lu Peng)
TAIYUAN, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Against the roar of the throttle, 26-year-old Zhao Mian fires up his red Kawasaki motorcycle and heads toward a hill in Taiyuan, the capital of north China's Shanxi Province.
As the scenery flies by, the white-collar worker couldn't be more excited. "For me, it's not just a means of transportation," Zhao said. He explained that motorcycle journeys refresh him, bring him closer to nature and, most importantly, make him look "cool."
DEMAND FOR PERSONALIZED EXPERIENCES
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, motorbikes were a major means of transportation for many Chinese people. Owning one was seen as a sign of family affluence. However, as available means of transportation diversified and alongside the rapid growth of the auto industry, motorcycles began to lose their shine.
In recent years, a growing number of young consumers like Zhao, with high incomes and greater exposure to the world, have regained an interest in motorbikes to seek novel experiences.
China's social media platforms buzz with comments about motorcycles, and related topics have generated over 2 billion views and more than 500,000 comments on the microblogging site Sina Weibo. On Douyin, a popular short-video platform in China, motorcycle-related videos have garnered over 70 billion views.
At the 20th China International Motorcycle Trade Exhibition held early this month in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, more than 800 bike models from over 50 foreign and domestic brands were displayed to meet increasingly sophisticated consumer tastes.
"In the past, people bought motorcycles to facilitate work and daily life. Now the motorcycle consumption boom in cities is mainly driven by bikers' interests and hobbies," said Gong Hui, executive vice president at Loncin Motor Co., Ltd.
Almost every weekend, Liu Heyu, who works for a Beijing-based internet company, rides his motorbike and goes camping in the countryside with his friends. "Motorcycles have become travel, leisure and lifestyle choices for me," he said.
Personalized consumption has led to a burgeoning market for motorcycles in China. In 2021, the production of motorcycles rose 12.98 percent year on year to about 20.2 million units in the country, while sales increased 12.7 percent from a year ago to over 20.19 million units, according to figures from the China Chamber of Commerce for Motorcycle.
In the first three quarters of this year, motorcycles with engine displacement higher than 250 cubic centimeters saw sales grow 63.43 percent year on year, the chamber's data shows.
The related output value of motorcycle gear, apparel and modifications, as well as extended industries involving culture, tourism and catering, is between 400 billion yuan (56.28 billion U.S. dollars) and 500 billion yuan, according to an estimate from Li Bin, executive vice president of the China Chamber of Commerce for Motorcycle.
China has announced that it will peak its carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. These goals have galvanized many bike manufacturers to develop and promote electric motorcycles.
The production of motorbikes in China is projected to reach 22.5 million units in 2027, with electric vehicles accounting for 30 percent of the total, according to an industry report.
Li has suggested that domestic motorcycle enterprises should narrow the gap in the design and manufacturing of key components, thus creating well-known brands and achieving high-quality industrial development. ■