Images have emerged on social media in China showing a purported 1,000cc superbike from QJMotor, the sister brand of Benelli and a subsidiary of the huge Qianjiang concern. However, the bike is more Italian than Chinese as under its newly designed skin it has the mechanical parts of an MV Agusta Brutale 1000.
Let’s look at the bike itself before we dive into the details of whether it’s likely to reach production, let alone be exported to international markets. The styling is very much in line with the appearance of the latest QJMotor sports models, notably the 600RR that was restyled last year. Like this bike, the 600RR has Italian mechanical parts—their origin lies in the Benelli TNT600i that was under development when Qianjiang bought Benelli back in 2005—with an inline four-cylinder engine and a part aluminum alloy, part steel-tube chassis.
MV Agusta’s F4 was penned by Massimo Tamburini, and survived largely untouched for almost 20 years, proving to be one of the most iconic designs ever. Now, QJMotors has taken a crack at it and has come up with a fully faired version of the naked Brutale.
Visually, the latest 600RR looks a lot like this 1000RR design model, with nearly identical treatment to the nose and headlights. On the 1000RR, the fairing mounted winglets are larger than the 600RR’s, but the two models are clearly from the same family. The fact that the 1000RR is a design model to test the waters, rather than a production machine, is emphasized by the fact it’s painted in a different color scheme on each side.
It’s as we move backward that the MV Agusta roots of the 1000RR become clearer. The tank is new but shaped very much like a Brutale 1000′s, probably because it has to house the same airbox underneath. The frame and engine are directly from the MV Agusta, as is the single-sided swingarm. Even the quad exhaust pipes are taken directly from the Brutale. The only mechanical parts that look different to the MV equivalents is the fork, which appears to be a Chinese-made Marzocchi unit. That should come as no surprise, as in early 2022, Marzocchi partnered with Qianjiang to set up Chinese production facilities in Zhejiang.
Yin and yang, or just a styling exercise to determine which color theme it likes better?
It’s an interesting reversal of the pattern set by the MV Agusta Lucky Explorer 5.5, as MV’s smallest bike is mechanically identical to the QJMotor SRT550, with the same chassis, suspension, and 554cc parallel-twin engine, but wrapped in Italian styling that’s all MV Agusta’s work. The existence of the QJMotor 1000RR shows how the synergy between MV Agusta and Qianjiang could work in the future, with Italy providing the more complex engineering and China allowing cheaper mass production.
The bike’s existence isn’t a complete surprise. The deal between Qianjiang and MV Agusta was announced back in 2020. At the time, the Chinese firm said that MV would provide its 1,000cc four-cylinder engine for use in a future Benelli-branded model, but given the rapid expansion of the QJMotor brand since then—it barely existed in 2020, but now offers more than 30 models in the Chinese market and is a bestseller—it makes sense to transfer the idea to QJMotor, at least for sales on that side of the globe.
However, it’s jumping the gun to suggest this could be a production model in the near future, and events since the styling model was made could throw a spanner in the works for tie-ins between MV Agusta and Qianjiang/QJMotor. The first images of this prototype leaked onto Chinese social media back in November last year, and at the same time Austria’s Pierer Mobility AG—parent to KTM, Husqvarna, and GasGas—acquired a significant 25.1 percent stake in MV Agusta, with the industry rumor mill suggesting it’s just the first step toward a complete purchase of the brand. KTM has also taken over global distribution of MV Agusta motorcycles.
To see why that might be a problem, we need to delve into the increasingly complex connections between Western and Chinese motorcycle brands, but the key element is that KTM already has a close relationship with a different Chinese company, CFMoto, that might create a conflict with plans made between MV Agusta and Qianjiang.