It’s not a cruiser, but it has a definite cruiser influence. It’s not a café racer, but has similar lines. It’s not a sports bike, but it has the peppy performance of a sports bike.
When I tested the entire line of seven CFMOTO models was brought to the United States, I wasn’t sure what to make of the 700CL-X Sport. Despite being the most expensive bike in the Chinese manufacturer’s American lineup, the MSRP is just $6,999. Then there are the mixed messages in terms of style. Fortunately, after a day of short trail rides with all seven CFMOTO bikes, I had the 700CL-X Sport for a day’s street ride to get a more complete experience. CFMOTO calls the 700CL-X Sport “sporty neo-retro styling,” and I was determined to get beyond the mixed signals the styling sends and see how it works.
Riding the 700CL-X Sport
Before even starting the engine, I wanted to see how the ergonomics worked. I’m 33, but after all these motorcycle races I’ve been crashing into, my back feels like it’s turning 60, so I pay attention to comfort. At first glance, I thought the CL-X Sport would be a little uncomfortable and feel stretched out like a cafe racer, but it wasn’t. At five feet 11 inches and 170 pounds, I found the seating position to be very upright and comfortable enough for a full day of riding.
Oddly enough, despite its upright ergonomics, the CL-X Sport also gave me the feeling that it sits on top of the front tire, like a sports bike. If you’ve ridden a racing replica like the Yamaha YZF-R6, you know the feeling I’m talking about. But the CL-X Sport didn’t stack me up like a racing replica and didn’t put weight on my wrists. The riding position felt like a pretty solid mix of comfort for long rides with a sporty edge, making it capable of cornering with confidence.
Although I didn’t get a chance to test this bike with a passenger, it should be a fairly upright position with decent length for their legs to stretch out. However, after a while, the passenger seat will probably look like a board.
When I tested the full CFMOTO lineup, I went in with no expectations and was pleasantly surprised by the overall performance and refinement, especially considering their price points. This also carried over to the 700CL-X Sport.
The Sport is powered by a 693cc, liquid-cooled, dual overhead cam engine that produces a claimed 74 horsepower at 8,500 rpm. The motor is connected to the final drive chain via a slip clutch. How do these numbers translate into real experience? Taking the CL-X Sport out on the track first, I noticed it had plenty of power, but I felt it lacked the low-end torque I’ve come to love with so many twin-cylinder Japanese machines. The power delivery was linear and easy to control, but it has a little extra “kick” that showed up when I pushed hard in the upper rev range. I couldn’t tell exactly where this push was happening in the rev range as I was more focused on the next turn than the dash, but it was something I noticed. It wasn’t incredibly abrasive, but worth noting.
After the first day of testing all the models on the track, I got to take the bike of my choice (obviously I chose the 700CL-X Sport) the next day for a little self-driving street ride. This allowed me to push the bike on the track and really see what it could do, but also gave me some real world riding experience and experience. Bikes that hold up well on the track aren’t always the best on the street, and vice versa.
As its top model, CFMOTO has equipped the 700CL-X Sport with some quality components, and one of them is the Brembo braking system. The Brembos really stood out to me and were quite different from some of the other bikes in the CFMOTO fleet. In general, I feel that most modern brakes work pretty well and I don’t focus too much on them, but testing the bikes back-to-back on the track really highlighted how smooth, controlled and set up the 700CL-X’s 300mm dual disc front brakes are Sport felt under braking in corners. Brembo is a well-known name in the industry for a reason.
Like the entire CFMOTO range, with the exception of the little 126cc Papio, the CL-X Sport also comes with ABS as standard.
Another feature you might not expect at this price is the adjustable suspension, which I found useful during two days of track and street riding. As a general rule, bikes that don’t have their suspension set up specifically for the trail tend to feel too soft and the fork dives under heavy braking. The KYB 41mm fork is fully adjustable and I can feel it in place. The CL-X Sport felt confident cornering and didn’t jerk or bounce me out of the seat when I grabbed the front brake.
I’m not sure many riders will be taking this bike to the track regularly, so how it handles on the street is more important. When I finally took this bike out on the streets of Minneapolis, the adjustment allowed me to soften the fork for more comfort and I found nothing to complain about during the street ride.
There are other features you might not expect, such as LED headlights and a throttle body. The 700 CL-X Sport also features an LCD display and two rider modes, Eco and Sport, that can be switched between on the fly.
Additionally, the 700CL-X Sport connects to CFMOTO’s Ride App. In the app, you’ll find everything from navigation information to driving records and diagnostics. A self-test is a system scan of your motorcycle that can run diagnostics and provide additional information or details about your motorcycle. My Ride shows the details of each ride: total mileage, top speed, acceleration, turn statistics and braking data. And one of the best features that the app provides, in my opinion, is Vehicle Seek, which is an anti-theft feature that locates your vehicle in case it’s stolen.
Probably the most amazing feature is the cruise control. This is something that many Common Tread readers have said they appreciate, and I don’t know of another bike available with cruise control at this price.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: CFMOTO gives riders serious “earnings”.
So the 700CL-X Sport’s suspension and brakes are solid, and the extras are very attractive considering the price, but what about the not so good?
What I don’t like…
To be completely transparent, it was hard for me to criticize the CFMOTO lineup, and I didn’t expect it to be the case before the press launch. I’ve had a few quibbles here and there with various models, but the 700CL-X Sport in particular stumped me a bit.
That being said, one thing I noticed, mostly during low speed maneuvers, was the overall weight. CFMOTO claims the CL-X Sport has a curb weight of 451 pounds. That seemed a bit porky to me, but that number puts it right up there with competitors ranging from the Kawasaki Versys (slightly heavier but with a bigger fuel tank) on the street and ADV bikes like the Yamaha Ténéré 700.
As mentioned before, the engine is a little lacking in low-end torque, though I’m not sure a mid-range rider would notice or be turned off by it. I was wondering if changing the sprocket might help, but that brought me to my next point.
Most riders I know, myself included, like to do some modifications to their rides – fender shock kits, aftermarket exhaust, smoother turn signals, skid plates, frame guards – the list goes on. Since the CFMOTO is new to the US motorcycle market, there aren’t many replacement parts available for these bikes at this time. The CFMOTO UTV/ATV segment is well supported with aftermarket parts and I’m sure we’ll see this type of support for motorcycles as time goes on, but for now it’s something to be aware of.
Dealer proximity may also be a factor for some buyers looking for a CFMOTO 700CL-X Sport. There are currently 550 CFMOTO dealers in the United States that sell and service UTVs, ATVs and related products. Of these dealers, just over 200 now also sell their motorcycles. Of course, CFMOTO plans to expand the number of dealers that carry bikes.
After all, reading the words on the screen, checking the specs, and taking my word for it will only get you so far. I would recommend jumping online to check CFMOTO dealer networkpicking up a set of keys and driving the 700CL-X Sport.
Is it a sports bike? Is this a cafe racer? Are you feeling a bit of a cruiser? Or maybe you have a better understanding of what “sporty neo-retro” is. Regardless, I’m pretty sure that most riders will be pleasantly surprised by the performance and overall quality of these CFMOTO machines, as well as the level of components and the amount of features you get for the price.
|2022 CFMOTO 700CL-X Sport|
|Engine||693cc, liquid-cooled, eight-cylinder, parallel-twin|
|Claimed horsepower||74 at 8,500 rpm|
|Claimed torque||47.9 ft-lbs at 6,500 rpm|
|Front suspension||KYB 41mm inverted fork, TK with TK preload adjustment, TK shock; 5.9 inch stroke|
|Rear suspension||KYB shock, TK with TK preload adjustment, TK damping; 5.9 inch stroke|
|Front brake||Brembo Stylema twin four-piston calipers, 300mm discs with ABS|
|Rear brake||Brembo Stylema two-piston caliper, 260mm disc with ABS|
|Rake, trail||24.5 degrees, 4.272 inches|
|Wheel base||56.5 inches|
|Seat height||31.5 inches|
|Fuel capacity||3.4 gallons|
|Tires||Maxxis SuperMaxx ST, 120/70R17 front, 180/55/R17 rear|
|Declared weight||451 pounds|