2023 CFMOTO Mid-sized Naked Bike 700CL-X

Smiles for miles on this low-cost high-performance middleweight roadster

By Sarah Schilke, photos by Sarah Schilke, Martin Kilbourne, and CFMOTO


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.

A leisurely day ride with legendary moto-journalists and supporters of women on 2-wheels, John Burns and Ron Lieback, on the CFMOTO 700CL-X Heritage and Sport models around the Minnetonka lakes near CFMOTO HQ, provides a taste of the model’s versatile fun.

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.

Is the CFMOTO 700CL-X a roadster? A scrambler? A naked sportbike? Whatever you want to call it, it’s a handful of fun in a sleek edgy package. Here you can see the factory accessory bag mounts installed on the minimalistic tail, making it ready for commuting or light touring.

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.

CFMOTO 700CL-X Sarah Schilke
I find the 700CL-X a good-looking blast to ride in any environment. The sleek roadster presents an impressive package of features at a competitive price.

700CL-X Ergonomics

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.

CFMOTO 700CL-X seat height woman rider
At 5 feet 4.5 inches I am often on tiptoes on the motorcycles I ride, but the 700CL-X’s scooped narrow seat allows me a comfortable solid footplant on both sides despite its 31.5 inch height.

700CL-X Features

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.

CFMOTO 700CL-X dash instrument display
The single round LCD display indicates speed, gear position, rpm, fuel level, and includes a trip meter and some other information.

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.

CFMOTO 700CL-X traction riding woman
New for the 2023 model are traction control and ABS; both can be switched off (ABS at rear wheel only).
CFMOTO 700CL-X riding
Bright LEDs make up the 700CL-X’s lighting. The headlight is surrounded by an illuminated outline emphasizing the unique X logo treatment.
CFMOTO 700CL-X taillight
Even though it is tucked up under the back end, the taillight stands out thanks to the bright LEDs. The license plate is mounted down low, giving the bike a nice clean tail section.
CFMOTO 700CL-X footpegs
I was surprised to discover the footpegs have a dual-duty. The rubber insert is removable which leaves grippy spiked metal footpegs commonly found on adventure bikes for off-road riding.

The Ride

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.

CFMOTO 700CL-X riding woman
The nimble 700CL-X dances easily around the curves which you will want to do in Sport mode. The unique, super bright X-configuration LED headlight lights the way.

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.

For a bike that feels small because it is so compact, the CFMOTO 700CL-X packs a surprising punch of confidence-inspiring power unexpected in such an inexpensive motorcycle.

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.

CFMOTO 700CL-X accessories
CFMOTO offers side carriers and these hard-mounted waterproof saddlebags. The saddlebags simply click onto the carriers and include a removable, waterproof liner and a removable shoulder strap. I was also able to adapt the CFMOTO carriers to use my SW-Motech Legend Gear saddlebags.
CFMOTO 700CL-X brown black seat
The Nebula Black color introduced in 2023 comes with a two-tone black/brown) seat. CFMOTO offers an all brown accessory seat ($179.99) as well as a 1” taller version available in black or brown ($199.99). The stock black seat from the Zephyr Blue model would also fit interchangeably.
CFMOTO 700CL-X bar end mirrors
One popular CFMOTO accessory is bar end mirrors made from milled aviation grade 6061 aluminum which can be mounted vertically or upside down, based on preference ($149.99). Other accessories include a chain guard ($129.99), radiator guard ($129.99), and a sidestand enlarger ($39.99).

WRN Recommendation

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)

Go to CFMOTO.com to learn more about the 700CL-X and other motorcycles.

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