Founded in 1988 in Taipei, Taiwan, QLINK has spent the last 25 years producing some of the cheapest full-sized bikes on the market. But in a classic case of less is more, QLINK has managed to earn the respect of riders by rolling out affordable, fun, quality thumpers like the XF, a lightweight Supermotard-inspired dualie with style to spare. Made in China, the QLINK XF200 is priced to move, and move it does, with a carb-fed 200cc four-stroke single-cylinder, providing a ton of torque in the midrange.
QLINK might not be a household name in the U.S., but the company, whose product line includes dualies and scooters produced by a dozen different Chinese manufacturers, has established distribution networks in Mexico, Brazil, Hungary, Nigeria, Taiwan, and China. Currently, QLINK operates three distribution centers in the U.S., but the brand is growing by leaps and bounds, thanks in part to the popularity of models like the 2009 QLINK XF200.
The 2009 QLINK XF strikes a supermoto pose, though QLINK doesn't necessarily bill it as such. This lightweight dual-purpose motorcycle is powered by an air-cooled, 2-valve, SOHC, 5-speed, 199cc Single, fed by a teeny-tiny Mikuni carb. QLINK claims this thumper is good for 15.4 horsepower, and there's a trendy, wave-type rotor up front, gripped by a single two-piston sliding-pin caliper. The QLINK XF is carried in a steel-tube cradle-type frame that rolls on 17-inch aluminum Unison spoke wheels fitted with Kingstone tires: 110/70 up front, and a 130/70 in the back.
QLINK unashamedly refers to the “Suzuki technology” that powers their 4-stroke air-cooled engine. Look a little closer, and you might notice the XF's uncanny similarity to Suzuki's DR200SE. Even the frames look remarkably alike. Then there’s the issue of the identical bore and stroke figures (66 x 58.2mm), and a 9.4:1 compression ratio claimed by both the QLINK XF, and Suzuki DR. The 2009 QLINK XF even boasts a 55.3-inch wheelbase, just like the DR.
Though this thumper will rev to 8,500 rpm, you might find yourself short-shifting around 5,000 rpm to keep the buzzy engine near its sweet spot. The QLINK XF rattles at pretty much every point, but especially around 6,500 rpm. However, the ride levels out as you approach 8,000 rpm, and despite the vibe ride, the throttle-feel is relatively consistent, and the kick-starter turns the engine easily.
Part of the QLINK XF’s appeal is its accessibility: a sensible 31-inch height, and the open, upright ergonomics of the saddle make this bike a good fit for a variety of riders. The seat is wide enough for both the rider and passenger, yet narrow between the knees to allow easy flat-footing at stops. The saddle’s foam is thick, yet doesn’t immediately compress like a marshmallow, remaining supportive during short treks.
QLINK obviously hasn't earned the solid reputation of the Big Four. But even the Big Four had to start somewhere. And if QLINK (or any Chinese brand) makes an effort to improve its motorcycles to conform to American tastes in the coming years, the bikes’ appeal will grow, and along with it, consumers’ trust in QLINK.