After spending a day at CFMOTO’s motorcycle line-up launch event testing each of the Chinese brand’s 9 models at its test track in Minnesota. I am, as were the other moto-journalists, as impressed with the quality of the bikes as with their performance and styling. The CFMOTO 700CL-X “Heritage” model stands out as a super fun mid-sized naked roadster. I'm seriously considering adding one to my own garage. The bike is as fun on a spirited street ride as it is on the test track.
An emerging player on the U.S. motorcycle scene, CFMOTO is better known for ATVs and side-by-sides. The company has been selling products here since 2002, operating its U.S. headquarters in Plymouth, Minnesota, since 2007. It is now known in the two-wheeled scene for its collaboration with KTM (2014) which evolved into the production of KTM 200/390 Dukes for the Chinese market. The newly released full line of motorcycles are carried in more than 250 of its 550 U.S. dealerships.
2023 CFMOTO 700CL-X
Acquiring a long term test model of the 2023 700CL-X, I’ve been able to spend more time getting to know the middleweight. I love the aesthetics of the scrambler-styled 700CL-X. Its ergonomics and retro look is similar to my Indian FTR 1200 S, with 17-inch wheels and dirt-track-style chunky tires. I love cruising around town on the Nebula Black version which garners admiring and curious looks.
The bike’s 693cc parallel-twin engine makes 74 hp. It’s plenty of power for the compact bike that weighs just 426 pounds fully fueled. The 700CL-X can be compared to other mid-sized naked bikes like Yamaha’s MT/FZ-07 ($8,199).
The 700CL-X features a slipper clutch, two ride modes, cruise control, and self-canceling turn signals. I find the 700CL-X a blast to ride in any environment and recommend it to anyone who gives it a glance. The bike presents an impressive package of features at a competitive price.
The seating position on the 700CL-X is neutral, compact, and relaxed. It’s even appealing to my 6-foot friend on an all day ride. Wide upright handlebars offer easy steering inputs and the 56.5 inch (short) wheelbase gives the bike exceptionally nimble handling in the turns.
The 700CL-X offers some premium features most wouldn’t expect in a Chinese motorcycle, especially given the low price point. Starting with the fully-adjustable KYB suspension, riders can adapt preload and rebound settings to enhance the riding position and feel. There have been criticisms of the bike’s single-disc front brake when it’s so tempting to wick up the power, but I find the J.Juan-supplied brakes (a Brembo subsidiary in Spain) adequate for the majority of my riding.
Bosch electronic fuel injection and throttle-by-wire power delivery brings the twin motor smoothly to life even under quick acceleration. Riders will enjoy the stability provided by the slipper clutch and its easy, ‘assisted’ deployment. ABS and cruise control come standard. The only thing missing on the hand controls for me are heated grips.
The bike comes standard with two ride modes, Economy and Sport. I ride in Sport mode most often because it is more fun and responsive. But because of the 700CL-X’s small 3.5 gallon fuel tank, I often find myself switching over to Economy when trying to conserve fuel when nearing the end of the bike’s range. While I regularly get more than 100 miles to a tank, it creeps up on me sometimes.
The maneuverability and easy reach to the ground makes the 700CL-X a convenient bike for navigating around the city. Stop-and-gos, u-turns, hills, and bumpy roads are comfortable for the little roadster. The semi-knobby Pirelli MT60 tires even make sudden gravel sections doable.
Heading out onto the freeway to get out of town, the bike is confident at speed. The moderate growl perks up and roars with an additional burst of energy as you twist the throttle through the mid-range up to 9000 rpm.
Out in the country, the spunky bike dances easily through the tight twisties and glides smoothly through the big sweepers. Again I notice how fun it is to rev it up as I ride through the countryside at higher speeds.
Accessorize the 700CL-X
Riders can adapt the 700CL-X to get exactly the look they want with CFMOTO’s broad line of accessories and protective parts. In addition, many aftermarket companies are starting to develop more accessories for all CFMOTO motorcycles.
The mid-size CFMOTO is an all-around user-friendly ride with its moderate seat height and easy-to-manage torquey power delivery and light weight. Don’t get me wrong, the performance is plenty spicy in Sport mode and you really feel (and hear) the power come alive as you roll-on through 7000 rpm. The 700CL-X offers a fun confident ride no matter what you want to use it for. It is an impressive package of great power, handling and style at a price point starting at just $6,799.
Specs at a Glance: CFMOTO 700CL-X
Engine Size: 693cc
Seat Height: 31.5 inches
Fuel Capacity: 3.4 gallons
Curb Weight: 432 pounds
2023 MSRP: $6,799
2023 Colors: Nebula Black (black/brown seat), Zephyr Blue (black seat)