Branching out with a range of street bikes CFMOTO have released the 700CL-X Sport, a contemporary take on the café racer, that will give all other modern retro’s a run for their money.
CFMOTO is a reasonably new motorcycle manufacturer but is the largest ATV manufacturer in Europe. They have set out to re-define what ‘made in China’ means in the motorcycle world.
They are producing over 600,000 vehicles per year and are the biggest motorcycle brand in China, they are now set to take over the world with their bikes.
With a racing pedigree already defined by entry to the Isle of Man TT in 2016, they were the first new motorcycle brand to enter the race for 50 years.
Let’s take a look at this modern racer to see if it’s worth its salt.
700CL-X Sport Review
It has the characteristics of all the best middleweight naked bikes with its own take on what it means to be a modern retro motorcycle in 2022; it carefully entwines naked bike styling with classic cafe racer attitude.
Yes it is Chinese, but surely by now those outdated ideas about the production and performance of Asian bikes should be put to bed, especially when it comes to CFMoto Motorcycles?
The company has been producing bikes since 1989, so yes they are comparatively new to the scene but since 2013 they have partnered with KTM producing some of their small capacity bikes for the Asian market and also some Dukes.
The KTM partnership has led to CFMOTO using the Austrian design company, Kiska, for some of their builds including the 700CL-X Sport.
Kiska also works with KTM and Husqvarna on some of their models, so the design pedigree is up with the best of them and it shows with the 700CL-X Sport.
Before we get into the bikes style, let’s take a look at the powerplant.
700CL-X Sport Engine and Transmission
Powering the 700CL-X Sport is a parallel-twin engine derived from the Kawasaki ER6. It has bigger bore dimensions than the standard ER6 engine which gives it a bigger capacity of 693cc.
The engine produces exactly the same power as the Yamaha MT-07 which isn’t to be scoffed at given the success of the MT-07 as one of the leading street bikes.
Highlights of the powerplant which was new for the Sport include the Bosch fuel-injection, and forged pistons for increased strength and reduced weight.
Where the 700CL-X Heritage model was more linear in its delivery and smooth, the Sport is slightly different thanks to a re-mapping.
The engine is one with two personalities; on one hand it is very calm, pleasant, easy to use, happy to bumble along in no particular hurry, but on the other after around 6,000rpm it is eager to get going in a clear powerband and its sporty nature comes out in force.
One note is that the sudden quick revving power can be a bit jarring for newer riders.
When riding a sporty bike, generally a smooth power delivery is best, one that is pretty constant and predictable.
The sudden onset of power therefore with the Sport is a little bit unnerving, it is something that some riders will love the thrill of but others won’t enjoy when trying to get the most out of the bike.
With that said the bike is fun to ride aside from that one point, it pulls in any gear at any rpm which makes it quite a usable engine for most everyday riding scenarios.
Gear changes are light, clear, confident with no jerkiness or heavy clunks when entering into a new gear.
You also got a slipper clutch from the factory which is a very nice, modern addition to an already easy to operate clutch and gearbox.
Chassis, Brakes, Suspension, Handling
Housing the powerplant is a pretty standard steel tube trellis frame that is more than up to the job.
The chassis is a new design that has a split frame weighing in at 16.5kg and an aluminium alloy swingarm at 6.7kg, so the Sport has a wet weight of just 205kg.
As a result the power-weight ratio is high and precision handling pretty natural.
The weight distribution makes the Sport extremely well balanced and the geometry allows for it to be a flickable machine with no fear of bends, the chassis’ rigidity means it is also very stable at speed and when leaning over.
Brembo brakes front and back, Styelmas actually and true to form they have plenty of bite and provide appropriate stopping power pro rata to the power. The Sport is also equipped with ABS as standard.
KYB suspension front and back is spot on and is firm enough for precision while absorbing some of the worst bumps in the road with relative ease.
Feedback is good from the rear shock, plenty of road feel is there so the rider is in complete control, confident and accurate in the steering and handling.
The rider is put into a pretty relaxed riding position with a slight nod to sporty ergonomics.
The pegs are slightly tucked back, knees bent which can rest on the tank for maximum grip, and despite being clip on bars they are high and wide.
This riding position is not only comfortable for varying ride lengths but allows for some movement, so you can be super relaxed or tuck in and hunch over for a more aggressive sporty dynamic.
It is the very best street bikes that are not fatiguing to ride and the CFMOTO sits right up there with the best of them, whether battling through traffic to work every morning or hitting the mountain passes.
A comfortable and confident riding position means that Sport owners can focus on the ride as opposed to being distracted.
I will note that the pillion pad is more of a token gesture than an actual seat, the leather pad will be good enough for luggage to rest on but you will be hard-pressed to find anyone willing to sit behind you. The Sport is built for solo-riding like all the best café racers are.
Styling and Other Notes
Kiska are responsible for the design of the bike just like they were for the Heritage model and they have made some pretty cool changes for the Sport that make it stand out.
While many of CFMOTO motorcycles nod toward the retro scene, the 700CL-X Sport is focused on being a modern cafe racer.
The smooth body lines, aluminum fuel tank panels, retro round headlight, round rear mirrors and leather seat all help to provide its classic features.
The cowl above the headlight and instrument panel gives the vibe of a small fairing as seen on many cafe racers.
However, that is about where the traditional styling ends, as the Sport is definitely a modern motorcycle that isn’t afraid to make that known.
From the mechanical, futuristic paint scheme with bright highlights, the engraved X in the engine cover and the modern features that racers from the 70’s could only have dreamt of.
The muscular fuel tank, sharp angles, rear seat cowl, stubby end can, wide radiator, and slick indicators are all key in being able to draw parallels to the likes of the Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 who Kiska also work on.
Technical features include:
- Dual Channel ABS
- Two riding modes Eco and Sport
- Cruise control
- Slipper clutch
- Self-cancelling indicators
- LCD dash
- USB charging port
- Self-adaptive assist system for LED headlight
Is it a perfect motorcycle? Absolutely not, but for the money it is a really good one.
More often than not on any forum where people discuss Chinese bikes the biggest complaint is how they fare up to road conditions.
Well, a little bit of weather protectant, elbow grease and care then the Sport shouldn’t give you any more issue than any other machine.
CFMOTO believes in their bikes so much they actually offer a 4 year warranty, no manufacturer would offer up such a lengthy warranty for new bikes if they had endless issues as it just wouldn’t be economical.
700CL-X Sport Top Speed
The 700CL-X Sport has an estimated top speed of around 120mph.
Where is the 700CL-X Sport Made?
The 700CL-X Sport has been styled by the Austrian design team Kiska but is made in China at the Hangzhou factory.
700CL-X Sport Specs
Engine and Transmission
- Engine – Four-stroke, two-cylinder inline, liquid-cooled, DOHC
- Capacity – 693cc
- Bore x Stroke – 83 x 64mm
- Compression Ratio – 11.6:1
- Cooling System – Liquid-Cooled
- Transmission – 6 Speed gearbox, slipper clutch
- Final Drive – Chain
- Max Power – 73 horsepower at 8,500rpm
- Max Torque – 168 Nm at 6,500rpm
Chassis and Dimensions
- Steel tube trellis frame
- Aluminium alloy swingarm
- Front- KYB suspension – 41mm USD preload, compression rebound adjustable
- Rear KYB Suspension – KYB cantilever, preload and damping adjustable
- Front Brembo brakes – 2 x 300mm discs Stylema caliper
- Rear Brembo brakes – Single 300mm Stylema caliper
- Seat Height – 795mm
- Height – 1130mm
- Length – 2096mm
- Width – 790mm
- Ground Clearance – 160mm
- Curb Weight – 205kg
- Wheelbase – 1435mm
- Fuel Capacity – 13L
700CL-X Sport Price
The 700CL-X Sport is priced from £7,099 in the UK and $6,999 in the US.
Who’s it for?
The 700CL-X Sport is for those who are looking for a modern retro, those who appreciate the classic racers of days gone by but want something a bit more modern to fit in with their lifestyle.
It is a naked street bike with a twist and will suit those looking to ride to work for their commute, as well as those who like to go for a blast at the weekend and maybe even undertake some overnight trips.
It is a middleweight machine so may suit newer riders as their first big bike as the power output isn’t terribly scary and the weight is perfectly manageable.
You May Also Like
Other bikes that might attract your attention similar to the 700CL-X Sport would be something like the Royal Enfield Continental GT 650, the Honda CB650R, the Ducati Scrambler Nightshift and the Kawasaki Z650RS.
Prices vary among the models and it is clear the Sport has been competitively priced:
- Royal Enfield Continental GT650 – £6,239/ $6,199
- Honda CB650R – £7,599/ $9,299
- Kawasaki Z650 RS – £7,849/ $8,999
- Ducati Scrambler Nightshift – £10,395/ $11,495
The closest bike in terms of quality would be the Royal Enfield and the GT650 actually comes in a bit cheaper than the 700CL-X Sport. The GT650 has a more classic Cafe Racer look however, as opposed to the modern styling of the CFMOTO.
Overall CFMOTO has produced a really solid motorcycle in the 700CL-X Sport and it is for sure one that can compete with its Japanese counterparts in the middleweight sector.
It sits comfortably in both the naked class and modern retro.
In keeping with removing the stigma from Chinese bikes, CFMOTO have moved things forward significantly with their line-up, with little to distinguish their bikes from other leading manufacturers.
I say that is a huge step for motorcycle manufacturing as a whole and the door has been opened for other smaller manufacturers to enter the arena with affordable bikes that fill a gap without compromising on quality.
More details about the 700CL-X Sport here.