Like it or not, Chinese brand CFMoto is coming to the U.S.
Four model line-up announcedby Harry Fisher, on
There is widespread resistance to Chinese motorcycles in the U.S. but, with prices of once-hated-but-now-accepted Japanese motorcycles increasing, is this the right time for the Chinese brands to be given a second chance?
CFMoto Enters The U.S. Market
For a long time, motorcycles from China have been viewed with suspicion by American buyers, with questions lingering around the reliability of such machines. But is it time to reassess these impressions?
Having signed a partnership deal with KTM in 2017, CFMoto has long been a major player in the quad and side-by-side utility market in Europe and the U.S. but now plans to extend its presence in the U.S. with the announcement that seven two-wheel models will be on sale.
The announcement was made at the company’s first North American dealer meeting and, if we look at the models objectively, there is a lot to recommend them.
First up is the 700CL-X, a roadster powered by a larger (693cc) and heavily modified version of Kawasaki’s 650cc parallel twin engine. CFMoto has been building this engine for years so any problems should have been ironed out by now. Producing a claimed 74bhp and 47.9lb.ft of torque, which matches Yamaha’s MT-07 twin nicely, it sits in a tubular steel frame with aluminium swing-arm. Bosch electronic fuel injection is fitted, as is a slipper clutch and the whole bike weighs in at 432lb.
Front suspension is by KYB, brakes are by J.Juan and you also get LED lighting, power modes and cruise control.
Also in the 700CL-X range is the ’Sport’ version, which has slightly different styling, Brembo Stylema calipers (twin discs up front), clip-on handlebars and rear-set footpegs. If you like, it’s the cafe racer version.
More importantly, the price could be as low as $6,499 ($6,999 for the Sport) which should shake up the middleweight naked segment. How long it will take for the brand to make inroads into a market already dominated by big-hitting manufacturers, is another matter.
No manufacturer’s line-up is complete without an adventure bike and CFMoto has got one of those too. It might be fairer to call it an adventure-tourer in the mould of the triumph Tiger Sport 660 than a full-fat adventure bike but it’s still impressive all the same.
Called the 650 Adventura, it uses a slightly smaller-capacity version of the engine fitted to the 700CLX range. It’s a liquid-cooled DOHC twin-cylinder unit, producing 60.3bhp and 41.3lb.ft of torque. Front forks are rebound-adjustable upside-down items, a J.Juan caliper acts on a single 300mm disc up front, ABS is standard, as are a slipper clutch and hard panniers, touring seat, adjustable screen, cruise control and a 4.75 gallon fuel capacity. Price is projected to be $6,799.
There is a second 650cc model, the 650NK, which shares the frame and engine of the Adventura but has different looks and a more aggressive riding position.
Then there are two 300cc models, the naked 300NK and 300SS. The NK is the roadster, while the SS is the sportier cafe racer-styled model. Both are powered by a 292cc, DOHC single-cylinder motor, pushing out 28bhp and 19lb.ft.
Both are well-equipped, with upside down forks, ABS, slipper clutch, riding modes and TFT dash.
There is also the Papio, which is essentially a Honda Grom copy, using a 125cc single-cylinder engine, fuel injected and pushing out 93.bhp. It runs on 12-inch wheels, has a six-speed transmission and should cost around $2,999.
So, on paper and in appearance, the new-to-the-U.S. CFMoto models have all the right ingredients to play in their respective classes. The biggest hurdle will not be how they perform or how reliable they are, but the ingrained prejudice against all things Chinese. My guess is that if dealers can just gets feet through showroom doors and out for test rides, they should prove to be a worthy addition to the motorcycle market.