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Could QJMotor's new multi-geared electric motorcycle be a future Benelli model?

Chinese firm QJMotor barely even existed a year ago but thanks to a heavy reliance on existing Benelli models for its underpinnings the Chinese firm has already built up an impressive range of bikes. Now it’s planning to enter the electric market – and inevitably there’s a chance the same components will also end up on a Benelli-branded model.

QJMotor is a subsidiary of Qianjiang, the firm that bought Benelli back in 2005. As such, it uses Benelli engines and frames for its petrol-powered machines, from 125cc singles to a 600cc four, going via 250, 350, 500 and 750cc twins along the way. However, the new QJ7000D is an upcoming electric model, designed as an alternative to a 125cc sports bike. There’s no Benelli equivalent for international markets yet, but with every bike brand jumping on the battery-powered bandwagon it would make a lot of sense.

The QJ7000D’s uninspiring name results from mandated Chinese model naming conventions, with the manufacturer’s two-letter code (in this case, QJ) followed by numbers reflecting either the capacity for petrol-powered bikes or power in watts for electric ones. So we know the QJ7000D has a 7kW motor. That’s a ‘continuous’ power level, though, and QJ says the bike actually peaks a little higher, at 10kW, for short bursts.

The motor is powered by a 72V, 60Ah battery pack, which is good for a range of around 100km and a top speed of 105km/h.

So far, pretty conventional electric fare, but the QJ7000D sets itself apart from the throngs of cheap and cheerful electric bikes emerging from China with a few unusual design details. One is the helmet storage area under the dummy ‘tank’ between the rider’s legs. Oddly, the sides of this section are left open, so your helmet is on display when stored there – a move that also means the space is completely useless for smaller items, which will either fall out on the move or be open to theft when parked.

A more welcome, but similarly unusual, decision is the retention of a conventional clutch and gearbox. While electric bikes don’t really need multi-speed transmissions, they do have the potential to improve range and performance, as well as adding a layer of familiarity and fun. The shifter is foot mounted, as you’d expect, with the clutch on the left bar, relegating the rear brake lever to the right foot, like a petrol-powered bike. Multi-speed electric bikes have been tried before, notably by Brammo (before the firm was bought by Victory, only to be unceremoniously closed along with the rest of the Victory brand by parent Polaris). Kymco’s upcoming RevoNEX electric bike, which promises much more performance than the QJMotor, also features a normal, multi-speed gearbox.

There’s no word yet on the QJ7000D’s price or when it will enter production, let alone whether the model will be offered on international markets in either QJMotor or Benelli-branded form, however, it’s clearly a design that’s close to production readiness, so it’s unlikely to be a long wait until at least some of those questions are answered.

Ben Purvis