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 fun, quality dualies like the XP, a lightweight Supermotard-inspired bike that won't break anybody’s bank. Made in China, the QLINK XP200 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 XP200.
The 2009 QLINK XP is powered by an 199cc air-cooled, 4-stroke, 5-speed, that's 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 two-piston sliding-pin caliper. The QLINK XP is carried in a steel-tube cradle-type frame that rides on aluminum spoke wheels with a 2.75 X 10 front tire, and a 4.10 X 18 rear tire.
QLINK unashamedly refers to the “Suzuki technology” behind their 4-stroke air-cooled engine, as well as a “Japan Mikuni carburetor.” Look a little closer and you might notice the XP'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 (66mm x 58.2mm) and the 9.4:1 compression ratio claimed by both the QLINK XP, and Suzuki DR. Just about the only difference is the XP's 54.3-inch wheelbase, which is a full inch smaller than the DR's.
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 XP rattles at pretty much every point, but especially around 6,500 rpm. However, the ride levels out a bit up near 8,000 rpm, and the kick-starter turns the engine easily. The Supermotard-inspired inverted front fork keeps the front end nice and cushy, which helps absorb some of the hand-numbing vibes from the rattling engine.
Part of the QLINK XP’s appeal is its accessibility: the open, upright ergonomics of the saddle make this bike a good fit for beginners and experienced riders alike, however the 35.7-inch seat height may make it difficult for short riders to get a foot down during stops. The seat is wide enough for both the rider and passenger, yet narrow between the knees to allow for more stability. 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 manufacturers, 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.