The wind carries over my chest and shoulders like trustworthy, affirming hands. The engine glides me at 80 mph down the freeway on a sunny day, where the road bleeds into the blue sky. It suddenly occurs to me—I’m riding a motorcycle. Everything is good.
I’ve ridden many great motorcycles. My recent test rides are like a list of first buys after my Powerball number hits. The Kawasaki H2 SX SE, a hard-bag version of the powerful record-setting motorcycle; a KTM 1290 Super Duke GT, another road-trip version of a powerful bike; and a Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE, arguably one of the nicest motorcycles on the market.
Here, I’m focusing on the opposite. I’m riding an ADV motorcycle you likely don’t recognize from a Chinese manufacturer you don’t know. It’s a motorcycle you won’t call “great,” other than potentially being a great buy.
This off-brand motorcycle is undoubtedly worthy of an in-depth review. Still, it sparks an interesting discussion about manufacturing and the global motorcycle market. It also begs the question—is a household name like Honda or Kawasaki worth the extra money?
Who is QJ Motor?
QJ Motor, a Chinese motorcycle manufacturer with global aspirations, is set to make its mark in the U.S. by introducing the SRT750X. QJ Motor is no stranger to the motorcycle industry, producing millions of motorcycles, scooters, and engines yearly. Yet, they’re lesser known here in the States.
The company’s acquisition of the renowned Italian brand Benelli in 2005 has further solidified its presence in Europe and America. QJ Motor is part of an umbrella of corporations that includes Volvo and Lotus. The bottom line is, this is a big and experienced company determined to make a name for itself in the motorcycle industry.
Here in the U.S., you’ll need to buy your QJ Motor bike from SSR Motorsports, a brand you likely know, as they’ve been selling mini-bikes and off-road bikes since 2002.
A Blend of Style and Substance
The design of the QJ Motor SRT750X draws inspiration from the popular Benelli TRK502 adventure bike. With its classic ADV beak, imposing fuel tank, open trellis frame, exposed engine, and sleek tail section, the SRT750X exudes a legit and stylish look.
The matte finish shines nicely in the sun, and the components all have quality finishes, resulting in a bike that looks like a well-designed and confidently-built motorcycle. There are minor areas where it’s evident the dollars are missing, such as large lock nuts on the windscreen and plastic clips on the hard bags. But these areas are up for debate. Some hate it, but I don’t mind.
Despite its appearance, this adventure bike is primarily intended for on-road use with its sporty characteristics and road-focused features. Weighing in at 552 pounds, the SRT750X is a bit heavy for its class, but its taut handling and solid midrange power compensate for the weight, making it a nimble and enjoyable ride.
The SRT75X feels stiff the first time out, which can sometimes hide a lack of good suspension. I did not experiment with suspension settings and was surprised to learn that the bike is equipped with KYB 43mm inverted forks and a KYB rear shock. The front fork features adjustable spring preload and rebound damping.
However, despite clicker rebound damping adjustability, the rear shock lacks a progressive linkage and can be overwhelmed by bumpy roads. I’ve ridden big-name bikes that feel like they need to be more balanced, so the overall comfort of the SRT750X outshines the poor rear suspension. In general, my ride was pleasant.
Powering the SRT750X is a liquid-cooled, transverse parallel-twin engine with a displacement of 754cc. This twin boasts a 270-degree crankshaft, giving it a distinct sound and feel reminiscent of a performance-tuned V-twin. The bike is quiet and could benefit from an aftermarket exhaust system. The engine crankcase, however, can sound a little noisy.
The 750 size is perfect. The SRT750X’s competitors’ 600s or 650s may occasionally feel slightly underpowered, and 1000cc-plus engines are sometimes overkill for the daily commute.
Horsepower ratings are always dodgy with manufacturers, but the SRT750X produces around 70 hp and shy of 50 lb-ft around the 8,000 rpm range. No matter what I did, I was always around 4,000 rpm, which results in a specific harmonic frequency that isn’t a bother, but it makes me feel like the engine is asking for an upshift. Instead, it’s a communication breakdown, as the engine wants more rpm.
The bike is comfortable and sluggish when cruising, but you’re rewarded with good power and sound if you wind it out. Overall, the engine’s performance is on par with other middleweight adventure motorcycles.
Throttle response right off of idle needs refinement, and this particular bike also needs a better clutch. The SRT750X likely has a weak clutch. The lever pull feels excellent, but the performance isn’t there. However, the bike I rode had been used for demo rides only days prior, and lines of riders with varying experience may have ravaged the clutch, which I presume is what happened here.
While the SRT750X lacks some of the advanced features found in higher-priced adventure bikes, it offers practical and well-executed elements. The bike incorporates a five-inch color TFT display with adjustable day/night modes, a gear indicator, and Bluetooth and TPMS connectivity. LED lighting enhances visibility, including the bright twin-beam headlight and front turn signals with clear lenses. The standard features include adjustable brake and clutch levers, aluminum braced handguards, and a USB port.
QJ Motor might want to consider adding a center stand and tubular engine/fairing guards as standard equipment. Also, the screen was good but could be brighter and easier to read.
Price and Ownership
The 2023 QJ Motor SRT750X, priced at $8,599, aims to compete with adventure-styled motorcycles from Japan and Europe. To offer a price comparison, the Suzuki V-Strom 650 retails for $8,904, the Kawasaki Versys 650 for $8,899, and the Honda NC750X for $8,699.
There’s only one SRT750X model, which comes with three hard bags, as shown. But, for the V-Strom, bags are standard only on the V-Strom XT Adventure, which retails for $10,799. Both bikes have ABS, an LCD digital display, and hard bags, but the SRT750X includes a top bag and 100cc more. Now, the math begins to make sense. You can argue that the SRT750X is roughly $2,000 shy of its counterparts.
There’s a big difference between buying and owning a motorcycle. The most significant fear of an unknown brand is the dealer infrastructure. Where do you go if a part breaks or you want a service? According to SSR Motorsports, this isn’t a concern. The companies are expanding daily, but at the time of writing, QJ Motor has around 60 dealers in the U.S., while SSR Motorsports boasts about 350 dealers.
My initial assumption was that the bike was going to be like a store-brand knock-off soda. A Kawasaki Dr. Pepper against the QJ Motor Dr. Perky (that’s a real Food Lion drink). But, once I got that notion out of my head, I started to enjoy the bike the more I rode it. I felt the comfortable seating position, firm handlebar, good windscreen, and nimble performance, and I lost sight of the dollars and branding.
The firm seat becomes more comfortable on longer trips, the bike’s balance feels excellent through the transitions on asphalt roads, and the bags—while plastic—offer needed storage. The engine needs to work to create power, but it wants to work. When you roll through the revs, you’re rewarded with a smooth power curve and ample torque.
The QJ Motor SRT750X is good at almost everything it sets out to do, but not great at anything. It’s a solid bike that’s confident against its competitors. Other bikes may have bigger dealer networks, traction control, or more adjustment in the suspension, but the SRT750X offers a better price, good looks, and comfort.
+a surprisingly cool-looking ADV bike, a solid machine for commuting, mostly good riding comfort
–unfamiliar brand, poor clutch performance,
stiff rear suspension
Distributor: SSR Motorsports
Engine: parallel-twin, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 2-cylinder, 4-valve
Power: 75hp @8,500rpm; 49.4lb-ft @6,500rpm
Transmission: 6-speed, manual, slip assist, wet clutch
Weight: 560lbs (wet)
Seat Height: 31.3in
Fuel Capacity: 4.9gal
Fuel Consumption: 36.3 mpg (estimated)
Fuel Grade: premium
Colors: blue, red