It’s not a cruiser, but it has some cruiser influence. It’s not a café racer, but it has similar lines. It’s not a sport bike, but it has that peppy sport bike performance.
When I tested the entire line of seven CFMOTO models being brought to the United States, I wasn't sure what to make of the 700CL-X Sport. Despite being the most expensive bike in the Chinese manufacturer's U.S. lineup, the MSRP is just $6,999. Then there are the mixed messages in terms of styling. Fortunately, after a day of getting short rides on the track with all seven CFMOTO bikes, I had the 700CL-X Sport to myself for a day-long street ride to get a more complete impression. CFMOTO refers to the 700CL-X Sport as having "neo-retro sport style," and I was determined to get beyond the mixed signals the styling was sending and see how it works.
Riding the 700CL-X Sport
Before I even started the engine, I wanted to see how the ergonomics worked. I’m 33, but after all these dirt bike races I’ve been crashing in, it feels like my back is pushing 60, so I pay attention to comfort. At first glance, I thought the CL-X Sport would be a bit uncomfortable and feel stretched out like a café racer, but that was not the case. At five feet, 11 inches tall and 170 pounds, I found the seating position to be very upright and easily comfortable enough for a full day of riding.
Oddly enough, despite the upright ergonomics, the CL-X Sport also gave me the feeling of being positioned on top of the front tire, kind of like a sport bike. If you’ve ridden a race replica like a Yamaha YZF-R6, you know the sensation I'm talking about. But the CL-X Sport did not fold me up like a race replica or put my weight on my wrists. The riding position felt like a pretty solid combination of comfort for longer rides with a bit of a sporty edge, making it capable of tackling the corners with confidence.
While I didn’t have the opportunity to test this bike with a passenger, it should be a fairly upright position with a decent amount of length for their legs to stretch out. However, the passenger seat will probably feel like a plank of wood after a while.
When I tested the full CFMOTO lineup, I went in without high expectations and I was pleasantly surprised by the overall performance and refinement, especially when considering their price points. That carried over to the 700CL-X Sport, too.
The Sport is powered by a liquid-cooled, double-overhead-cam, parallel-twin, 693 cc engine making a claimed 74 horsepower at 8,500 rpm. The engine connects to the chain final drive through a slipper clutch. How do those numbers translate into real-world experience? Riding the CL-X Sport first on the track, I found it has plenty of juice up top, but I felt it lacked a little of that low-end torque I’ve grown to love with a lot of the twin-cylinder Japanese machines. The power delivery was linear and easily controlled but it does have a little extra “kick” that would show up when I was pushing it hard through the upper rev range. I couldn’t quite pinpoint where that kick happens in the rpm range, as I was focused more on the next corner than on the dash, but it was something I noticed. It wasn’t incredibly abrasive but worth noting.
After the first day of testing all the models on the track, I got to take a bike of my choice (obviously, I chose the 700CL-X Sport) the following day on a little self-guided street ride. This allowed me to push the bike at the track and really see what it could do, but also gave me some insight and impressions for riding in the real world. Bikes that handle well at the track aren’t always the best on the street and vice versa.
As its top-of-the-line model, CFMOTO fitted the 700CL-X Sport with some quality components, and one of those is the Brembo brake system. The Brembos really stood out for me and were a big difference from some of the other bikes in CFMOTO’s fleet. Generally, I feel like most modern brakes work pretty well and I don’t focus too much attention on them, but testing the bikes back to back on the track really emphasized how smooth, controlled, and planted the 300 mm dual disc front brakes on the 700CL-X Sport felt when trail braking through the corners. Brembo is a well known name in the industry for a reason.
Like the entire CFMOTO line, except for the little 126 cc Papio, the CL-X Sport also comes with ABS standard.
Another feature you might not expect at this price point is adjustable suspension, which came in handy for my dual days of riding on track and street. Generally, bikes that don’t have their suspension set up specifically for the track tend to feel too soft and the fork dives under heavy braking. The KYB 41 mm fork is fully adjustable and felt spot-on for me. CL-X Sport felt confidently planted in the corners and didn’t jerk and bounce me out of the seat when I grabbed a handful of front brake.
I’m not sure many riders will be taking this particular bike to the track on a routine basis, so more important is how it handles on the street. When I finally got this bike to the streets of Minneapolis, the adjustability allowed me to soften up the fork for more comfort and I didn’t find much to complain about during my street ride.
There are more features you might not expect, such as the LED headlight and ride-by-wire throttle. The 700 CL-X Sport also comes equipped with an LCD display and two rider modes, Eco and Sport, that you can toggle between on the fly.
Furthermore, the 700CL-X Sport connects to the CFMOTO’s Ride App. Through the app, you’ll find everything from navigational information to riding records to diagnostics. Self Check is a systems scan of your motorcycle that can run diagnostics and provide further insight or details about your bike. My Ride shows details of every ride: total mileage, top speed, acceleration, cornering stats, and braking data. And one of the best features provided by the app, in my opinion, is Vehicle Seek, which is an anti-theft feature that locates your vehicle in the event it gets stolen.
Probably the most surprising feature, however, is cruise control. That's something that a lot of Common Tread readers have said they appreciate and I don't know of another motorcycle available with cruise control at this price point.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: CFMOTO is providing riders with some serious “bang for the buck.”
So, the suspension and the brakes on the 700CL-X Sport are solid and the additional features are very appealing, given the price point, but what about the stuff that’s not so great?
What I don’t like…
To be completely transparent, I had a tough time critiquing the CFMOTO lineup and I did not expect that to be the case heading into the press launch. I had a few nitpicks here and there with various models, but the 700CL-X Sport, specifically, stumped me a bit.
With that said, one thing I noticed, mainly during low-speed maneuvers, was the overall weight. CFMOTO claims the CL-X Sport has a curb weight of 451 pounds. It felt a bit porky to me, but that number puts it in the ballpark with competitors ranging from the Kawasaki Versys (a little heavier but with a bigger fuel tank) on the street side and ADV bikes such as the Yamaha Ténéré 700.
As previously mentioned, the engine is lacking a bit of that low-end torque, though I’m not sure the entry-to-average rider is going to notice or be turned off by that. I wondered if a sprocket change might help, but that led me to my next point.
Most riders I know, including myself, like to make some modifications to their rides — fender eliminator kits, aftermarket exhaust, sleeker turn signals, skid plates, frame guards — the list goes on. Since CFMOTO is new to the U.S. motorcycle market, not many aftermarket parts are currently available for these bikes. The CFMOTO UTV/ATV segment is well supported with aftermarket parts and I’m sure with time we’ll see this type of support for the bikes, too, but for now, it’s something to be cognizant of.
Dealer proximity may also be a factor for some buyers looking at a CFMOTO 700CL-X Sport. There are currently 550 CFMOTO dealers in the United States that sell and support UTVs, ATVs and associated products. Of those dealers, just over 200 now sell their motorcycles, too. Of course, CFMOTO plans to expand the number of dealers carrying bikes.
At the end of the day, reading words on a screen, checking out spec sheets, and taking my word for it will only get you so far. I’d recommend hopping online to check out CFMOTO’s dealer network, snagging a set of keys and taking the 700CL-X Sport out for a spin.
Is it a sport bike? Is it a café racer? Does it feel a bit like a cruiser? Or maybe you have a better understanding of what “neo-retro sport style” actually is. Regardless, I feel fairly certain most riders will be pleasantly surprised by the performance and overall quality of these CFMOTO machines and the level of components and number of features you get for the price.
|2022 CFMOTO 700CL-X Sport|
|Engine||693 cc, liquid-cooled, eight-valve, parallel twin|
|Claimed horsepower||74 @ 8,500 rpm|
|Claimed torque||47.9 foot-pounds @ 6,500 rpm|
|Front suspension||KYB 41 mm inverted fork, TK adjustable for TK preload, TK damping; 5.9 inches of travel|
|Rear suspension||KYB shock, TK adjustable for TK preload, TK damping; 5.9 inches of travel|
|Front brake||Dual Brembo Stylema four-piston calipers, 300 mm discs with ABS|
|Rear brake||Brembo Stylema two-piston caliper, 260 mm disc with ABS|
|Rake, trail||24.5 degrees, 4.272 inches|
|Seat height||31.5 inches|
|Fuel capacity||3.4 gallons|
|Tires||Maxxis SuperMaxx ST, 120/70R17 front, 180/55/R17 rear|
|Claimed weight||451 pounds|