Jesters photo album

Cowboy & 'The Thing' in China

Cowboy in China

Yeah, I know this web site is about the JestersMC in Thailand, but I'm not in Thailand now and don't have my rides with me. As some of you may know, I have been working in China for the last four years off and on, and I got really tired of having to be driven around by a maniac driving fool and having an interpreter that can't understand any English everywhere I went. Sometimes when I'm out doing a bit of relaxing and looking for more than that perfect bowl of fish soup (Yuck), having those two with me really cramps my style especially when they are both members of the party and have slightly different (under statement) ideas of what is considered fun by the rest of us.

I have toyed with Idea of riding here in China for some time now and have never done anything about it until a few months ago. I started looking around for a good used bike to putt around on and could only find crap bikes in the 150cc range. I happened to run across a web site from up in Shanghai called the Red Devils MC and got my first look at a Chang Jiang 750. They have a long history in the past World Wars and Harley-Davidson even got involved in the making of these in 1942 and 1943. The full history is at the bottom of this page, taken from a web site importing them into the States called "PopsCycle".

I took photos of it before the renovation and in various stages of completion. Have to admit that half the time I was shit faced when I went to the shop and forgot the camera, but I had to be half loaded to get up enough nerve to get close to the "thing". It was a mess to say the least. I'll be posting more pics as I putt around and try to give you an Idea of what it's like to drive in China. I took it out yesterday {8/26/2001} for the maiden run. I had the builder bring it to my home as I was not up to driving a side car for the first time in heavy traffic, especailly in China. After driving around my villa complex for a bit getting used to the "thing", I ventured out onto the road holding the throttle with one hand and my balls with the other...I had gone about 5 k when the "thing" ran out of gas. The little moron put just enough gas to get it to my house and that was it. I hired a couple of natives to push it to a gas station and when I arrive at the pump realized the key for the locking gas cap was not on the key ring. That little maggot was loosing points with me real fast......I called my interpreter and after 20 minutes of explaining, got her to go to the shop and get the keys from the little fella. One and a half hours later I'm burning the road like a pro. It was only when I had to stop for the first time did I realize the big difference between disk brakes and drums. I slowed way down after that!!

Anyway, the ride was going like crap until I started driving like a total idiot and then it was cool. I didn't look when making turns, didn't stop for people crossing the road and my middle finger of my left hand was in a permanent up position. I only had one little mishap when I made a right turn and ran over some old ladies foot with the side car wheel. I didn't feel it was my fault, as she should have not been up on the side walk at the time of my maneuver!! Other than that it was a fairly cool ride. It felt awesome to be able to go where I wanted and feel the wind in my face again, even though it was on the "Thing" instead of the Road King back home in Pattaya.

Here is the history of the bike and if you're still interested after that, click on the Thumbnails below to check out the pictures. It will be interesting if nothing else.

The Thing Photo Album


history of Chang Jiang motorcycles is intertwined with BMW and Ural/Dneipr motorcycles, WWII, and the Cold War.

CJ750In 1938 BMW brought out a revolutionary range of new motorcycles that had, for the first time, a rear suspension. The new BMW range used "plungers" for the rear axles, a system that was also used by Indian in the United States, and Triumph in England. Other companies also used this design. The famous Ariel Square 4 had plungers at the rear. BMW continued to use this frame through 1955, and some C-J parts fit BMW's from 1938 through 1955.

1938 was last time BMW developed a new flathead opposed twin. BMW's first motorcycle was a flathead twin, built in 1923. The new flathead was the model R71 and boasted a "square" bore and stroke design of 750 CC's and 22 HP. This engine was considered so reliable and advanced in design that the United States government contracted with Harley-Davidson to build 1000 copies (1942 and 1943 Harley model XA). Russia also wanted a copy, and worked with BMW to set up a factory to produce the same motorcycle in Russia. The Russian version was the Model M72, which is nearly identical to the R71 and was built by Irbit, in Russia, starting in 1940. This became the basis for the Ural and Dneipr motorcycles.

When Russia invaded Germany, they over ran the BMW motorcycle factory. As with many other factories in Eastern Germany, they unbolted most of the major tooling and moved it to Russia. By the 1950's the 1938 design was getting a little long in the tooth even for the Russians, so they came out with an updated boxer twin and gave the original tooling to China. Chinese production of their version of the R71, called the M1, started in 1957.

Since that time the Chinese have only modified the original model in a few ways. Frames, sheet metal, sidecars and wheels are essentially unchanged. The R71 engine has the generator mounted on top of the engine and the points are mounted on the front of the crankshaft. The C-J model M1 retains this configuration. The M1 uses 6 volt electrics. The M1M has slightly higher compression, a couple of more horsepower, and puts a 12 volt alternator at the front of the crankshaft. An electric starter rides in the same spot as the generator on the R71 and M1. The M1M also has a reverse gear. The M1Super is the same as the M1M, except that it sports overhead valve heads and 32 horsepower. It takes someone who really knows BMW's well to spot the differences between an R71 and an M1 or M1M. The M1Super looks very similar to an early 1950's R68, except that the engine is larger and more powerful.