2025 CFMOTO Ibex 450 Review – First Ride

Ryan Adams
by Ryan Adams

Island life with the Ibex

After inhaling what must have been a metric shit ton of dust during the first half of our stifling ride day, all I can do is breathe in the heavy, briny air and relax for a second. Laying in a rattan hammock looking up at the palm trees swaying in the wind after stuffing my face with rice and curry was a welcome moment of relaxation after dealing with the day’s sweltering temps. A moment in time which doesn’t seem to come very often these days. If you get far enough away, jettisoned to the furthest corner of the world, well, maybe that’s what it takes to find a sliver of silence. Of unadulterated enjoyment and reflection. The Ibex 450 carried me here. A worthy travel companion, humble in its specification, but steadfast in its resolution.

2025 CFMOTO Ibex 450 Review

The Ibex 450’s specsheet ticks a lot of the boxes ADV riders have been hoping to check for some time, and while it’s not without issues, CFMOTO’s latest machine delivers on the ADV experience.

Editor Score: 82%




















  • Smooth engine and power delivery
  • Suspension that’s actually up to the task
  • Excellent value


  • The front brake is the definition of wooden
  • Seat to footpeg measurement causes a lot of bend at the knee
  • Not much feel at the clutch lever

Of course, the motorcycle is never the lone actor. On two wheels, everything becomes a part of the experience. From the broken road and familiar bends, to the reason you donned a helmet in the first place, you don’t leave for a once-in-a-lifetime trip on two wheels and come back only remembering what you were sitting on. Whether you’re struggling through impossible terrain, or grabbing a missing ingredient from the store, a motorcycle is the conduit through which to experience the world on a deeper level.

CFMOTO invited us to experience its new Ibex 450 on the Philippine Island of Palawan – a picture-perfect representation of paradise situated southwest of the nation’s capital of Manila in the South China Sea. If you haven’t noticed, the Chinese brand has been pumping out impressive new models lately in terms of styling, performance, and price – the first two of which aren’t generally associated with our friends in the People’s Republic. CFMOTO seems determined to alter the stereotype associated with Chinese motorcycles in the same way that Japan once did in America.

CFMOTO Ibex 450

The Ibex 450 is a 449cc Parallel Twin-powered adventure bike with eight inches of adjustable suspension travel at each end, a 21/18-inch wheel combo, and a $6,500 price tag. If that sentence alone doesn’t pique your interest, you might be in the wrong place. On paper, the Ibex 450 is poised to be an excellent contender in the lightweight ADV segment.

The CFMOTO 450SS, NK, and now Ibex and CL-C models all share the same engine with the latter two tuned for more torque at low rpm. Valve service intervals are set at 24,000 miles.

The DOHC 449cc Parallel-Twin features the omnipresent 270-degree crank design that not only brings audible character with it, but also the ability to turn power pulses into useful traction, and it features dual-counterbalancers to smooth unwanted vibes. The Ibex’s motor uses 72mm pistons and a compression ratio of 11.5:1 with 55.2mm of stroke. CFMOTO cites 44 hp at 8,500 rpm and 33.5 lb-ft at 6,250 so, while we’re not lighting the world on fire, we’re falling in line with what’s probably its most direct competitor in the KTM 390 Adventure. Weight-wise though, the Ibex is carrying around 38 more el bees compared to the KTM, at a claimed 425-pound curb weight. A cable throttle hints at a lack of ride modes and feeds fuel from its 4.6-gallon tank to two 34mm throttle bodies.

The Ibex 450 comes stock with a plastic/metal skid plate. Our test units were also equipped with engine and upper crash bars.

The Ibex 450’s chassis features a bolt-on subframe and downtubes that cradle the engine, making things easier to replace than total, should you take it to the limit. Kayaba supplies the fully-adjustable fork as well as the preload and rebound adjustable shock with both offering eight inches of travel and granting just over 8.5 inches of ground clearance. As mentioned previously, the Ibex also features a 21/18-inch tubeless cross-spoked wheel combo. Nice. The bike measures in with a 59.3-in wheelbase and 26 degrees of rake with 4.17 inches of trail. The 32.3 inch standard seat height can be lowered via the two-position shock linkage to 31.5 inches and there is also an accessory high seat that puts the seat at 34.3 inches – more on that in a bit. The windscreen is also adjustable with a handy crank on either side.

The TFT display is clear and easy to navigate, though some of the text is fairly small. CFMOTO has integrated Bluetooth connectivity and OTA updates into the dash as well as a USB-C connection.

Moving into the tech side of things, there isn’t a lot, but perhaps just enough for a bike of its ilk. The 5-inch TFT display is borrowed from other bikes in CFMOTO’s lineup and can be navigated via the left switchgear’s directional pad. We’re told Bluetooth connectivity and over-the-air updates are possible with the Ibex’s display. Traction control and ABS are switchable and while slightly confusing, the dedicated ABS button on the left side of the handlebar disables ABS to the rear wheel as well as traction control, putting the bike into Off-road “mode” with a long press of the button. You can also turn things back on with the tap of said button – both of which can be done while moving or stationary. Confusing, but convenient. These two systems can also be switched manually via some digging in the menus and will stay on if you toggle the kill switch, but revert to street settings when cycling the key.

Every CFMOTO I’ve ridden has been better than the last

That’s the truth. Of course, this is also the third CFMOTO I’ve ridden. It’s also true that every CFMOTO I’ve ridden has had issues, some more glaring than others. Despite those issues, this progression is promising for the future of the brand that they’ve managed to rectify certain problems in a very short time frame. After discussing this with the folks who joined us from CFMOTO USA, they collectively agreed that their counterparts and engineers in China seem to truly value their input which has led to quick progression in quality and functionality for the machines sold in the U.S.

I’ve got to preface my riding impressions with the fact that we spent our day’s ride at what I would call an island pace. Rarely did we crack 60 mph and 80% of the time, our tires were in the dirt. So, while the ride around Palawan was incredible, a more thorough review for our US-based audience will have to come at a later date once we have access to the machine Stateside this Fall. That said, there was plenty to learn.

Peeling out of the hotel in the morning left me with more doubts than I had hoped for. Up until that point, I had just been admiring the bike’s styling and finish as seen on display during our presentation and around the event area. Whether you’re into the Ibex 450’s style is, of course, up to the eye of the beholder, but what’s a bit less subjective is the fit and finish of the machines. This is something that CFMOTO has been doing a pretty good job of with its newest machines and that’s been the case with the other models I’ve tested as well.

Back to those doubts. At 32.3 inches, the seat feels like it was designed to meet a seat height spec rather than provide good ergos while riding. To me, it felt artificially low in a way that would entice on showroom floors, but immediately be awkward when moving. Most of my fellow riders opted for the tall seat straight out of the gate which is two inches taller, but I’m glad I tested the bike in stock trim to notice that the bend at the knee is far too much – and I have a 30-inch inseam. It seemed like the “tall” seat should have been the stock option with the stocker offered as a low seat. Some of the folks who opted for the tall seat said they could even use more length for less bend at the knee. Having a standard, low, and high seat is fairly common with adventure bikes these days. I will say being able to lower the bike via the shock linkage is a pretty cool feature.

While it does have adequate power, you won’t be feeling any feedback at the lever from that front brake.

It wasn’t long after setting out into the jungle that the next doubt reared its head. The front brake basically has all of the feel of a Novocain-dosed lab rat. There is power there, enough to chirp the front tire and get into the ABS, but there is absolutely no feel. I’m almost impressed. Unfortunately, the feedback from the clutch actuation is similar in feel. The clutch pull is very light and easily done with a single finger, but the engagement is difficult to ascertain. Actually using the transmission when shifting or testing the slipper clutch is entirely the opposite, with positive shifts and admirable smoothness from the slipper clutch.

The engine? Let's just say I wasn’t impressed – initially. Spending most of our time in the morning at slow speeds as we made our way to less densely populated areas, the engine’s lack of low-end torque and sloppy fueling was aggravating. The low rpm slop and short gearing is something I’ve noticed on every CFMOTO I’ve ridden. It’s unfortunate because it turns what is otherwise a good engine into a fairly glaring nuisance at speeds you generally find in the city. Once I learned to just keep the bike in the meat of its mid-range power, I actually really enjoyed the P-Twin’s smooth power output. Oh, and it sounds great. Like a tiny Ténéré .

Dodging water buffalo on the way to the beach.

Our first stop was a beach that we were told we could ride on, but not too close to the water. After riding in the heat at a pace just fast enough to kick up clouds of dust (the region had been in a massive drought for months), I saw the chance to rip into the sand and took it. Then I was promptly yelled at and slammed on the brakes. Turns out the area we were allowed to ride on was a very small portion of the beach that was basically a small oval.

That would do. This was where I fell into like with the Ibex 450’s engine. As soon as we left the pavement in the morning, I used the ABS button to switch the bike into Off-road “mode” – no TC, no rear ABS. Once I had been reprimanded for blatantly disregarding the rules (accidentally), I spent my time doing laps around the little oval. While the rear brake has a bit much initial bite, it was astonishingly easy to initiate a drift by locking the rear wheel, and then carry it through on the throttle. Folks who ride off-road know how good it feels when a corner comes together perfectly like that. So, surely it was luck. Except it happened every time. With the bike spun up past 5,000 rpm, the power feeds in smoothly and is easily managed with your right wrist. The CST Ambroa 4 tires that look suspiciously like Pirelli Rally STRs, of course also had plenty to do with it and they continued to impress during our ride, much like the Pirellis do.

All of a sudden, the doubts that had settled into my mind faded to the background and the Ibex and I were just spinning laps and having fun until I nearly got heat stroke from the temps and humidity.

Because “off-road” ABS doesn’t change the intervention level of the front wheel and only disengages the rear, I thought it was going to be a massive problem. While some did fault the system – particularly during rocky loose descents, of which there weren’t anything terribly tricky – I was surprised to be able to easily ride around it, and more so because of the lack of feel. I was admittedly light on the front brake intentionally, and again, we didn’t encounter anything terribly challenging or carry much pace, but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t a deal breaker.

With all this riding I’d be remiss to not touch on the inclusion of nearly fully-adjustable suspension on this $6,500 motorcycle. While we didn’t have time for much suspension adjustment, the stock settings seemed to hold up quite well with our pace and terrain. Often, bikes near this price or displacement have wallowing suspension that delivers a comfy ride at a sedate pace, but it is absolutely overwhelmed at anything more aggressive. Oh, and they might offer shock preload adjustment. Despite small hits on the broken roads or over embedded rock feeling a tad jarring, I was very impressed with the suspension. I did manage to bottom the fork with an odd jump landing into a heavy hit for the front wheel, but I might have to take the blame for that more than the bike. I’m very keen to spend more time with this bike at home to see what kind of tweaks the suspension can offer.

Another feature that is just not seen on plenty of adventure bikes, whether we’re talking about lightweight ones or not, are the cross-spoked tubeless wheels. Fitted with proper off-road sizes, this is a fantastic feature for any ADV bike to have. Hardcore off-roaders will likely prefer tubes, but I think most will be happy with this setup.

At 62 mph, the engine was spinning smoothly at about 6,200 rpm.

It’s hard to comment on street performance because we had such little time on the tarmac and the time spent was at nothing resembling U.S. speed limits. That said, the suspension held the bike up well under braking and the wide handlebar made direction changes easy, although it still felt fairly slow to flip side to side the few times we had the chance to.

It was nice to have a bit of tarmac toward the end of our day to dry some of the sweat and blow off some of the dust before we got absolutely gassed at the off-road park. We wound our way past beautiful views offered only at a glimpse through the dense vegetation and made our way to the off-road area that CFMOTO rented out. We were able to spend our time on trails of three varying levels of difficulty. All were silty or sandy and were really only set apart by the ascents of descents.

The off-road park gave us a chance to test the bike at our own pace.

The engine’s ability to continue chugging up a sandy hill if you kept it in the meat of the power was impressive. At one point, I found myself coming around a corner to a rider who had stalled mid-climb. Being the nice guy that I am, I promptly slowed to tighten my line and then hammered the throttle as to not become the hill’s next victim. And up we went with some finessing. During the level three run we encountered switchback after switchback of silty terrain and it was the same experience. Just when you think you might be in trouble, you just continue forward. What’s that word that I keep mentioning? Surprised? Impressed? I was feeling both by the end of our ride.

I heard there may be an up-spec “Rally” version in the works for the Ibex 450. Fingers crossed.

Our last few passes for the photogs left us to rip around a loop in the park at whatever pace we wanted, and after a day spent getting familiar, I was really enjoying the stability the bike was showing as we slid through corners and bashed through rough terrain. Ergos are pretty good while standing, though you notice how far down the stock seat is during transitions and the tank pushes your knees out a bit. The bars were in the right spot and the footpegs and levers worked well for a guy my size (5’8”).

By the end of our time with the Ibex 450, I was thinking back to that offer of a long-term press loan. Sure, there is plenty more real-world U.S.-based testing to be done, but man, this thing delivered a truly fun experience off-road. Thinking back to those key points: 449cc Parallel Twin-powered adventure bike with eight inches of adjustable suspension travel, a 21/18-inch wheel combo, and a $6,500 price tag. Isn’t this the bike that so many have been asking for? Sure, it’s not without its flaws, but it also delivers in an impressive way. Only time will address the market’s interest and the bike’s reliability. Maybe I’m chasing that relaxing feeling of sitting beachside absolutely filthy from a fun day of riding in Southeast Asia, but I’m looking forward to spending more time with this machine, and hopefully testing it alongside a few others.

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Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams

Ryan’s time in the motorcycle industry has revolved around sales and marketing prior to landing a gig at Motorcycle.com. An avid motorcyclist, interested in all shapes, sizes, and colors of motorized two-wheeled vehicles, Ryan brings a young, passionate enthusiasm to the digital pages of MO.

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3 of 18 comments
  • Imtoomuch Imtoomuch on Apr 15, 2024

    I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but the fact that this article from April 5th remains at the top, in the largest spot, despite the fact that there have been a few other significant articles since that time, does raise questions as to why you are showing favoritism to CFMoto.

    • Ryan Adams Ryan Adams on Apr 16, 2024

      Haha. Well, ya kind of sound like one... What if I told you it was as simple as almost the entire staff (and freelancers) all traveling at the same time and this was the last motorcycle review that we published? Typically, we would slot in other stories (such as the Norton interview from Alan). It just didn't happen this time.

  • Beu77904016 Beu77904016 on Apr 16, 2024

    I'll just switch to looking for non china or used low mile Bikes and skip these.