It’s pretty rare these days that the world of motorcycling is introduced to an all-new machine from a new brand. And even if you’ve never heard of CFMOTO or an Ibex 800, technically this bike isn’t quite that.
First, and most recognizably, the Ibex 800 uses a 799 cc parallel twin with a 75-degree crankpin offset. If that sounds familiar, it is. It’s structurally identical, in fact, to KTM's 790 mill. CFMOTO has been around since the late 1980s, mostly as a supplier for other brands in the powersports industry, and the Chinese firm has been building parts for its business partner in Austria since 2013 (the 790 engine since 2020).
Evidently, if a company makes enough individual parts for other brands it’ll eventually come around to the idea of producing its own models. CFMOTO is well into that evolution, as we covered here on Common Tread last year. The Ibex 800 lineup is the company’s latest step forward into the western market, and into the mid-size adventure-touring market, one of the hottest segments of motorcycling.
My Common Tread colleagues and I (Ari and Spurgeon, specifically) got a chance to spend a day on the Ibex 800 T at this year’s Get On! Adventure Fest in California. Not quite enough for a full road test, but we each spun down the highway, galloped along dusty dirt roads, and picked our way through some of the endless sand washes in the Mojave Desert. Big sacrifices, in other words, to bring you this story.
Ibex 800 details
To put together its first middleweight ADV, CFMOTO used a lot of the usual ingredients and a classic recipe. Cradling the tried-and-true engine is a steel-tube frame and KYB suspension, front and rear, the fork being fully adjustable and the shock offering spring preload and rebound damping adjustments. There’s full LED lighting, Bosch ABS, and a 19-inch front wheel paired with a 17-inch rear, a la Suzuki V-Strom 1050 or BMW R 1250 GS. Cockpit comforts include a seven-inch TFT display with Bluetooth connectivity, two ride modes, cruise control, an adjustable windshield, and built-in power ports, both USB and 12-volt DC.
Beyond that, there’s a fork in the road: You can either choose the 800 S model with cast wheels and an MSRP of $9,499, or this 800 T version like the one the CT team tested for another thousand bucks. For that you get tubeless wire-spoke wheels, a steering damper, a quickshifter, hand guards, heated grips and rider’s seat, a skid plate, a center stand, and a tire pressure monitoring system. And yes, I basically plagiarized that completely from Lance’s first-look on the Ibex 800s.
Aside from the specs, it’s a handsome machine. The blunt nose and angled headlights give the Ibex an aggressive and stately look. It’s unique, and yet seems to fit right in with the crowd of V-Stroms, Multistradas, and Ténérés.
The bike we tested had a few accessories tacked on, namely crash bars wrapping around the engine and radiator, off-road footpegs, and a sidestand pad to enlarge the footprint. There was also a three-piece aluminum luggage set and handlebar risers.
That last one is notable because the handlebar already has a significant rise and pull-back and the seat scoops pretty dramatically into the bike behind the five-gallon fuel tank. The risers made it easier for standing on the pegs in off-road terrain, and shifted a would-be-comfy riding position on the road to extremely neutral and upright. The only downside there was the added distance from the rider’s head to the dash and windshield.
We took the luggage (made by Loboo) off for photos, but played around with it before then, and it seems classy. Burly aluminum, smooth seams, and even a soft liner on some of the panels to mitigate cargo getting rattled to oblivion on a bumpy road. The racks don’t integrate into the tail as with some plastic factory panniers — think BMW GS aluminum bags that use tubular mounts, as you can see in the photos.
Finally, the fun part: Is this thing any good? In a word, yes. As Spurg and Ari discuss below, the off-road prowess is basically what you’d expect from a 500-pound sport-touring bike with a 19-inch front wheel. It’s fine. Despite the adventurous mods and aftermarket tires our bike had installed, the Ibex 800 felt most in its element on pavement and intermediate dirt roads. The brochure reads “You bet it can get rough. This cliff-dweller hopes it does” and let’s just say that’s generous.
That said, from a hardware perspective, I think CFMOTO gets it. The braking and suspension components are solid, even if they’re not ultra high-end, the seat is good, the windshield is made out of thick plastic — the basics are covered, which is a bit more than we could say about the 650 ADVentura model that we tested last year. Where new-ish companies like this tend to lose their way is in the user experience. For CFMOTO, mostly this manifests in the dash, which is big and bright and ostensibly state-of-the-art.
Once you learn the secret handshake to access menus it all works… pretty well. There’s no way to turn off rear ABS, which feels like a miss. Also, the two ride modes, Sport and Rain, are oddly similar while not offering much adjustability. Every now and then I got caught in a place in the menu where I didn’t know how to go back and had to abort altogether. All of the info is there, and I communicated well enough with the bike, it just felt like sometimes it was speaking to me with an accent and I would have to say, “beg your pardon?” Ultimately, I think these are small problems, and fixable once there’s some more testing and customer feedback for the company to leverage.
Is the IBEX right for you? Depends. What are you looking for in an adventure bike? Folks seeking on-road touring capabilities in an affordable package will be quite pleased, I think. The engine spins up fast and, with the help of electronic cruise control, will hold a relatively relaxed 80 mph on the freeway. My main issue on the open road is that I couldn’t find a windshield position where my head, which sits atop my six-foot, three-inch frame, wasn’t getting buffeted like crazy. My height usually helps me deal with the often sky-high seats on ADV bikes (especially those with Austrian DNA), but the relatively approachable seat height on the Ibex means no warning stickers are needed for shorter riders.
Exiting the highway onto the fast sweeping curves of Jawbone Canyon pass, the Ibex continued to exemplify street etiquette inline with what one would expect from a mid-level ADV machine. While I found the handlebar (with risers) to have a bit too much of a relaxed sweep, the spirited engine stole the show and the Ibex proved to be relatively sporty. And if that’s all you’re looking for from your ADV experience, stop reading here and you’ll be pretty happy.
As sure-footed as the Ibex felt on the pavement, it felt as equally unsure of itself on the dirt road I took back to camp. Its low seat height, combined with its sweeping handlebar, made it difficult for this oversized rider to stand and move around easily in the cockpit. The Ibex’s biggest sin, however, is a throttle that just wants to get the party started, even in rain mode. Combined with a less-than-sophisticated electronics suite to keep things in line, one must really pay attention to body position as well as their right hand to keep the Ibex from getting too… “sideways.” If, as Zack Courts would say, you’re looking for more of a “SPURGEON DUNBAR”-oriented adventure bike for riding off-road, the Ibex falls a little short.
The ADV market is hot right now, so it’s no surprise that a conquest company like CFMOTO would focus its energy on that segment. And I think it produced a pretty good product. The Ibex is a solid package with a very competitive price tag, and that features list Zack copied and pasted from Lance’s original piece isn’t even the whole story. I discovered that the Ibex activates its hazard lights under hard braking for safety, and has an exhaustive bike-data display that oughta tickle ADV geeks. Battery voltage, coolant temp, tire pressure, and even tire temperature are all included on a screen that looks like it was lifted from the R 1250 GS dash.
As a functional piece of adventure equipment, the billy goat (I checked, they’re goats, not deer) is competent if not confidence inspiring. I rode Spurgeon’s KTM 890 Adventure R Rally at GOAF so my frame of reference is distorted — like tasting lemonade after biting into an actual lemon — but I loved the Ibex’s engine dynamic, quickshifter, firm brakes, and decent suspension.
The fork has good support on stock settings and is fully adjustable, while the shock is on the soft side (I weigh about 200 pounds in full ADV regalia) and can be bottomed pretty easily. I cranked up the damping, which helped, but the rear suspension is going to be the limiting factor off-road. And hey, that’s a pretty common weak link for anything but premium equipment, so the fact is this bike seems ready to challenge just about any middleweight ADV on the market. Good job, CFMOTO.
|2023 CFMOTO Ibex 800 T|
|Engine||799 cc, liquid-cooled, eight-valve, parallel twin|
|Claimed horsepower||94 @ 9,000 rpm|
|Claimed torque||56.8 foot-pounds @ 7,500 rpm|
|Front suspension||KYB 43 mm fork, adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 6.3 inches of travel|
|Rear suspension||KYB shock, adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping; 5.9 inches of travel|
|Front brake||J.Juan four-piston calipers, 320 mm discs with ABS|
|Rear brake||J.Juan two-piston caliper, 260 mm disc with ABS|
|Rake, trail||25 degrees, 4.0 inches|
|Seat height||32.5 inches|
|Fuel capacity||5.0 gallons|
|Tires||Maxxis MaxxVenture MA1, 110/80-R19 front, 150/70-R17 rear|
|Claimed weight||509 pounds|