To most North American motorcycle riders, China-based motorcycle maker CFMOTO is a newcomer when it comes to street bikes. Elsewhere, it’s a familiar face, especially in Australia, the Philippines, and the UK, where CFMOTO’s sub-300cc motorcycles and scooters have been sold for decades. But CFMOTO is now making a play for a share of the street bike market in America, and the new 2023 450SS is one of the high-profile new “bigger bikes” beginning to arrive at over 300 CFMOTO motorcycle dealerships across the nation.
The steadily growing popularity of adventure (ADV) motorcycles is no secret. In fact, nearly half of all motorcycles sold today are ADV bikes. These bikes transcend the idea of a typical motorcycle, giving it a little bit of a dirt bike feel and making it possible to ride where no pavement exists. The only downfall to the ADV bike is the cost, which have typically been pretty high. That, however, is changing with a family of ADV bikes from CFMOTO. The CFMOTO Ibex 800 S and Ibex 800 T pack a lot of features and style into a value-laden package that gives you a lot of ADV bang for your buck.
As the Coronavirus pandemic gradually disappears in the rear view mirror of history, in its aftermath the global motorcycle industry continues to experience rapid and sustained growth. Leading this charge among European companies is the KTM Group, whose parent company PIERER Mobility AG finished 2022 on a continued high, after a 12th successive record year which saw sales of its three current brands KTM, Husqvarna, and GASGAS continue spiralling upwards to 375,452 motorcycles in 2022, an increase of 13% compared with the previous year’s 332,881 units. Of those, 268,575 of these motorcycles carried the KTM badge, 75,266 were Husqvarnas and 31,651 were GASGAS motorcycles, a sales volume of 375,492 motorcycles. Add to that the 118,465 pedal cycles and E-bicycles sold in the same period under its Husqvarna, GASGAS, Felt and R Raymon labels (up 15% compared to 2022’s 102,753 bikes), and the company’s overall revenues increased to EUR 2.437 billion in 2022, up 19% year-on-year.
It’s been a few years since an adventure-style moto made its way into this category – though with the popularity of the class still truckin’ along, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see another ADV rip its way into the ranks of the Best Value category. For 2022, the Aprilia Tuareg boldly displays its impressive package starting at $11,999. While $12k isn’t an insignificant sum, what you get for your money with the Tuareg transcends from being an excellent value in the ADV world to an excellent value overall.
After years of KTM owning this class with its 390 Duke and (390 Adventure), there’s a new kid in town – new in the US, anyway – in the form of the CFMoto 700 CL-X. It’s only fitting, really, since CFMoto’s Chinese manufacturer and KTM have a decade-long history together. That same Chinese OEM had a pre-existing relationship with Kawasaki also, and if CFMoto’s 700 CL-X isn’t powered by an engine eerily similar to a Versys 650 parallel Twin, I will eat my cat. In fact, the 700 CL-X is powered by a Versys twin that’s been stroked by 4mm, to 83 x 64mm dimensions – a thing Kawasaki’s never had the decency to do. That takes it to 693 cubic centimeters, and a claimed output of 74 hp at 8,500 rpm (and 48 lb-ft at 6,500 revs). Which makes this one a tad larger than our usual Lightweight winners, but for $6,399, how can you not supersize it?
CFMOTO was founded in 1989 and has been a significant presence in China’s domestic market ever since – producing government vehicles for police, fire departments, etc. In that time, it’s also been developing a name for itself as a feature-rich and reliable manufacturer of engines, parts, ATVs, side-by-sides, scooters, and motorcycles worldwide.
With just about every Chinese motorcycle I can remember riding, there’s nearly always A Problem. Sometimes they look great on paper, and sometimes they even look pretty good in the flesh. But then you hop on and start riding, and are met with a powerband that’s more a powerhole. Or an ADV bike with two inches of rear suspension travel, or cast iron components that weigh 60 pounds more than the competition. If it’s not one glaring thing, there’s usually a combination platter of weirdnesses that make you question whether the monetary savings are worth the sacrifice for any but the cheapest of contrarian skates – even if reliability isn’t much of a concern any more.
After skipping last year because of the global pandemic, the world’s largest motorcycle show is back for 2021. EICMA returns to Milan, Italy, on Nov. 23-28, and we’ll be providing full coverage on Motorcycle.com. Every year the Italian Trade Agency invites editors and distributors from around the world to attend the show so, for 2021, Ryan Adams will be reporting live from the Fiera Milano exhibition grounds.