CFMoto 650NK

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It was only going to be a matter of time before China unveiled a ’real’ motorbike. Well that time has now come, so say hello to the CFMoto 650NK!

cfmoto 09Hundreds of years ago mass labour was forcefully, and often lethally, engaged in building the longest wall ever made. Know of it? Literally millions of workers toiled day and night to protect the heart of China from not only its close and often violent neighbours, but also from anyone else who dared to enter their obsessively protected domain. It was apparently a resounding success because only over the last few decades has anyone really been allowed to enter, if you know what I mean?

But modern times dictate other less Draconian means of defending an Empire and today it’s just come down to nothing more than money, or business in particular. China is the fastest developing and most productive country in the world and now ‘we’ have a problem of keeping ‘them’ out, regarding mass-produced products and much, much more. Chinese scooters and small capacity motorcycles already flood the motorcycle market worldwide and now their uncontrollable onslaught has begun in the mid/large capacity range of bikes, hence the inevitable arrival of the CFMoto 650NK, the first large and totally 100% Chinese motorcycle and, surprisingly or not, it’s rather good.

CFMotos are made in Hang Zhou province and I’ve no idea where that is besides China, do you? They make thousands of scooters, quads and engines for other manufacturers, so they already have a massively prosperous business. CFMoto produce big engines for quads including a 500cc unit and a huge 800cc V-twin, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find that in a bike frame in the near future. But for today chaps we have a liquid-cooled, 650cc parallel twin, with DOHC and fuel injection. This engine has already passed those dreadful Euro3 emission rules, so you don’t have to be Einstein to know where their targeted market is, besides SA of course.

cfmoto 04Let’s just clarify one thing here. CFMoto blatantly claim that they took a Kawasaki ER-6n and, er, copied it! Nothing wrong with that though because it’s a decent bike already. So CFMoto did their own take on the engine and the styling has an air of a Kawasaki, Ducati, and KTM hybrid. There’s no doubt in my mind that it looks fantastic, and judging by the reaction of people who saw me on it, so do they.

CFMoto claim their engine makes around five kilowatts less than the ER6 version. You know what though, I hate that kilowatt shite? What does it mean? To me it relates to a light bulb or geyser rating. HORSEPOWER is the only unit of measurement and when listening to F1 or MotoGP that’s all they quote anyway, don’t they? But the bike does weigh 193kg (dry), to keep you metric mystics happy, so there and case closed.

cfmoto 05Anyway on the dyno at Noddy’s spot the 650NK made five ‘horsepower’ less than the ER and not five willokots, which is even better so well done CFMoto. 55hp at the wheel is strong for any 650 and so is 50Nm of torque (ER made 56Nm). And before you spit out your steak roll, yes I know Nm is metric, but I’m writing the article so choke on it.

This dyno reading is enough to propel the 650NK to an indicated 200km/h (obviously in my dreams officer) and it pulls decent wheelies as well. In fact after my initial trepidation I began to abuse the CFMoto like I would any other bike over 500kms or more. It never, ever gave me any problems, started every time and the clutch never groaned either. Even the fuelling from the 38mm throttle bodies was near on perfect, something I can never say for Ducati for instance. They do make a cool induction sound as well as the engine spins towards its 10,800rpm rev-limiter.

cfmoto 08The CFMoto engine also has a gear driven counter-balance weight stuffed inside the crankcases and this makes it impressively smooth with hardly any vibration besides a touch maybe at the top end. This trait combined with a sweet six-speed gearbox proved to me this bike is a serious competitor in a very competitive capacity zone. Nice one CF.

The ride is equally as impressive with a near perfect seat, footrest and handlebar position for a naked bike. The 795mm high seat is fat and well padded and as I cruised easily at 120km/h on the highway I drifted off into naked bike heaven and I was proud to be riding the first big Chinese motorbike.

When the corners arrived and I threw the bike around again it brought a toothless smile, helped by the sticky and confidence inspiring Cheng Shin tyres, which was a pleasant and welcome surprise. The suspension, which I’ve been informed is made by a Chinese affiliate of Kayaba, is again superb. The bike turns and holds any line and it’s also rock steady and stable at any speed you want to take it to. The rear shock is offset like the ER and Ducati Panigalarley or whatever it’s called, nice. And while you’re attaining high velocities you can rest assured that the 300mm petal discs (Kawasaki again), and twin piston callipers, are more than capable of doing as they’re told. The levers also have span adjusters for all sizes of bum scratchers.

cfmoto 10The standard of finish is as good as anyone else and if not better in some areas, like the frame welding for example, which embarrasses many current manufacturers by a mile. Nothing rattled, squeaked, or fell off and the little digital/analogue instrument cluster also gets a tick in the right box. The white paint, red frame, metallic rim tape and carbon copy bits combination add up to make the 650NK quite a desirable steed, I wouldn’t mind owning one, which says a lot from a moaning git like myself.

Finally to the price, which I’m sure you’re all dying to know by now? How about R54,995? Amazing for what you get! There’s also a full faired touring version on the way with panniers and an adventure type bike all using the same basic engine. SAM will be the importers who already successfully retails Jonway, Go Moto and Bajaj to name but a few of their products, so you’ll be well looked after if you decide to buy one which, after reading this, I’m sure you just might? I enjoyed the CFMoto, a LOT, and if this is the first attempt at going ‘big’ from China the walls of the ‘others’ might be starting to crumble. Perhaps cheap labour isn’t a bad thing after all?


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