I believe Chinese manufacturers quietly made a deal with KTM and other manufacturers. Chinese manufacturers already build engines and other parts for big western OEMs. As part of their deal they will be building their own branded premium bikes – using motors they copied from western manufacturers. Probably the exact same tooling or even factory in the case of KTM.
I just got back from Malaysia, and like everywhere in southeast Asia motorcycles are super popular there. Small bikes with MotoGP replica fairings are especially popular. The people there basically know nothing about dual sport or offroad riding.
I did see a couple Harleys and Ducatis in Malaysia. One of our drivers there somehow owns a standard Ducati Panigale. That is a $25K bike over here, but in Malaysia he had to pay the equivalent of $45K USD for it.
I think China will be looking to sell their premium brands to people in southeast Asia that have money. Most Asian buyers won’t have a problem with a Chinese-badged bike, whereas people in the US very likely wouldn’t want one. In the end I’m guessing we won’t see premium Chinese bikes in the US very much.
Rides: KLR650, KX250