The “walking green man” was suddenly replaced by a static red one. The woman stopped
abruptly. The boy at her side, who had his eyes on other things, continued to walk forward. The secure grip of
the vigilant woman tightened as she pulled the boy back from the road and the menacing cars that had already begun to speed
"Look!" scolded the woman, gesturing to the cars that had threatened to
claim yet another young life. The boy was looking, but not at the cars that were now whizzing past his left ear.
He continued looking to his right.
said the boy. “How Cool!”.
I glanced over at the subject of his gaze. He was looking at a motorbike. A big one with extravagant wing mirrors
glinting in the sun. I prefer bikes without engines, so was more impressed by the boy's reaction than by the machine’s
Davidson?" I asked myself. Although, on closer inspection, it didn’t quite have the “Born to be
Wild” look of a Harley, which is quite a rare sight in these parts, but not quite as rare as hen’s teeth
(Regular readers of this column – both of you – may remember that, several months ago, I wrote about a visit I
made to a Harley dealership in Beijing.) The boy
– who clearly knows more about motorbike brands than I do – put the record straight: “Jincheng!”
changed, the bike was about to turn left, so I moved back several yards to be in a position to capture the scene
I was witnessing (see photo).
had been a hot topic several months ago on Chinese blogs and forums, following the Nanjing company’s participation in
this year’s Dakar Rally. The motorsport event – which moved from Africa to South America (Chile
and Argentina) in 2009 – is considered to be the world’s most gruelling motor race.
The move to South
America has made it even tougher – not least because five of the 14 rally stages of the 2010 race passed through Chile’s
Atacama desert, which is purported to be the driest place on Earth.
Jincheng sponsored two riders in the 2010 event – Su Wenmin and Wei Guanghui,
both of whom managed to complete the 9,574 km course (despite a number of mishaps along the way). They
finished 75th and 82nd respectively (out of 161 entrants in the class).
The sponsorship of the team is a statement of Jincheng’s global ambitions.
According to Dakar.com, the event’s official website, news from the rally was seen by a staggering 2.2 billion
people. As well as an avalanche of Internet coverage, the 2010 race was broadcast by 80 TV channels to
189 countries. Jincheng sells 600,000 motorbikes a year, spread across more than a third of those countries,
according to its home website. The company’s country websites – from Africa to South America
– trumpet its participation in the event.
to know how many boys in Argentina, Chile, Nigeria, or South Africa would react as the boy in Beijing did. Not
many I would suspect. But, there’s no doubt that Jincheng are going out of their way to make an impression
and to write a new chapter in their illustrious history... In
1949, they maintained the aircraft that flew over Chairman Mao’s head during the ceremony at Tiananmen, at which the
founding of the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed.
These days the sound of a Jincheng engine can be heard by tens of millions
of people in 70 countries… as well by the unsuspecting llamas in Chile’s Atacama desert. A source of pride, no
doubt, for many of the Chinese boys who, one day, will be looking to buy the bike of their dreams.