Beast from the East
WELCOME to the new world order.
As the world watches the rise of China as a global economic powerhouse, we all own products produced by the world’s second-largest economy, whether it be in fashion, food or household goods.
So it’s no surprise that China’s influence as a manufacturing superpower has now extended to motorbikes.
And where just a few years ago, you wouldn’t go near a Chinese machine for love or money, the reality now is that they’re making some seriously solid machines for relatively little money.
Which brings me to my test bike for this week, WK’s 650TR.
At first glance, the TR could be mistaken for any modern offering from the Japanese, German, British, Austrian or Italian competition.
A middleweight tourer for the modern era, the 650TR comes with full fairing, a substantial screen, hard panniers, electronic fuel injection and a 17.5 litre tank.
At the heart of the bike is a liquid-cooled, 650cc parallel twin four-stroke engine with 180° crankshaft, chain camshaft drive and a single gear-driven counter balancer to keep vibrations at bay.
The bike weighs in at 220kg (wet) and puts out a peak power figure of 69.73hp (@8,500rpm) and maximum torque of 45.73lb-ft (@7,000rpm).
On wet, cold Irish roads, the 650TR made for an inspiring ride. I headed for the midlands on a mixture of motorways, national routes and even bog roads and, in the main, the bike performed brilliantly and without complaint.
The engine pulls well from around 3,000rpm right up to the 10,800rpm redline, with a linear delivery of power and a wide spread of torque, all the while accompanied by a throaty-if-conservative exhaust note from the silencer.
Comfort is up there with the best bikes in the class.
I rode for around four hours with just one petrol stop – you’ll easily get 300km between fill-ups and I suffered none of the numb-bumb syndrome that many far pricier machines curse riders with after a lengthy spell in the saddle.
The suspension is a little on the stiff side but the bike soaked up uneven road surfaces with aplomb – until, that is, I took a wrong turn and ended up on a road through the Bog of Allen.
On my bog-road adventure – which was more like an off-road spin – the non-adjustable suspension was found wanting. Still, if you really want to bring a knife to a gunfight…
Retracing my steps and back on some recently-tarmaced, twisty roads, I was really having fun on this tourer-with-a-twist.
I’d done 150km since my last petrol stop and the fuel-gauge was still telling me there was half a tank left.
And then it came to me…if I was looking for a machine for a long commute that could easily bring me on a fully-loaded European jaunt in the summer, and all for just €7,950, then the WK 650TR would ideal.
Thanks to Bikeworld (call 01-4566222 or www.bikeworld.ie) for the test bike. Demo rides available, subject to terms and conditions.
Model: WK 650TR
Engine: 648.3cc, parallel twin, liquid-cooled, 8-valve.
Power: [email protected],5000rpm
Torque: [email protected],000rpm
Tank: 17.5 litres
Range: 300km-plus (est)
Seat height: 795mm
Weight: 220kg (wet)