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Massive Chinese car brand launches nation’s most ambitious motorcycle with a flat-eight engine

The insane development speed of China’s motorcycle industry has seen a rash of new four-cylinder bikes from the country over the last few months – but now they’ve all been put to shame by a brand-new company with a bespoke flat-eight bike engine.

Last month we revealed details of this all-new model being developed by Great Wall Souo Motorcycle, a newly-formed subsidiary of Great Wall Motors (GWM). Now comes official confirmation from Great Wall’s boss, Wei Jianjun. Well-known in Australia for its Great Wall and Haval range of SUVs and utes, GWS is on a massive global expansion program. GWM’s boss, Wei Jianjun, took over the brand in 1990 when he was just 26 and has become one of China’s richest entrepreneurs. He is also passionate about motorcycles. Posting on the Weibo social media site in China recently he said: “I have been riding motorcycles since 1984. My first was a Xingfu 250. That bike is still in my garage now.

“The majority of enthusiasts hope to have motorcycles that represent China and we at Great Wall also have this responsibility. Our team started researching motorcycle technology a few years ago and has invested a lot of resources. Great Wall’s motorcycle technology will be introduced to you at the Beijing Auto Show.”

And it was, in the form of a complete flat-eight engine that looks very much like an extended version of the Honda Goldwing’s flat-six but is a noticeably different design. As well as sporting eight cylinders, the Souo (it means Soul) engine is a DOHC design where Honda uses a single camshaft in each head.

An animation of the engine’s internals confirms it’s a true boxer design, with a separate journal for each connecting rod and pairs of opposing pistons that travel in opposite direction. Like the Goldwing’s six, the Souo eight inhales via a spider-web-like intake manifold connected to a single throttle body – a car-like approach compared to the individual throttles for each cylinder that are more common on bikes. It also has the transmission – a dual-clutch semi-auto – mounted underneath the crankshaft to help keep the package shorter.

The first bike that the engine will appear in has also been teased in Souo’s video presentation, showing its outline and the front end and headlight design. Again it’s a Gold Wing-shaped design – a heavyweight tourer with full luggage and an armchair-like pillion seat – but the nose and headlights have a distinctive design with wing-like LED running lights flanking two circular lamps with halo-like outlines and an angled lit strip forming a pupil in each ‘eye’.

Engine size hasn’t been confirmed but it’s expected to be north of 2000cc and to have a vast amount of standard-fit equipment. Souo expects to launch the complete bike this month.