Not all Chinese bikes are flimsy, low-quality, low-capacity machines made in tractor factories during down-time. CFMoto’s naked 650cc twin is a sturdy and well-made learner-approved motorcycle and is just the tip of an iceberg of larger capacity machines to come from the Chinese company which only manufactures for export.
The NK accounted for about half the company’s 209 road bike sales in the first quarter, which was up 129.7 per cent. They’re not big numbers, but it’s only been in the market a short time.
The NK is doing well because it’s a lot of bike for just $6990 on the road.
Yet it doesn’t have bargain looks or finish. The graphics are sporty, the red tubular steel frame is very Ducati-like, the gloss-black engine is Japanese quality and the bars and triple clamp are finished in an attractive matte aluminium.
Build quality is compromised only by four cadmium-plated bolts that hold the instrument pod and cowl in place. The remainder are stainless allen bolts.
I like the indicator set into the radiator shrouds and the pre-drilled holes on the frame for aftermarket Oggy knobs.
This aggressive-looking naked bike is powered by a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, parallel-twin engine with a restrictor that makes it a LAMS bike. It has 41.5Kw of power at 8500rpm, but if the restrictor were removed, it would have 52kW.
All engines are hand assembled in the Hangzhou factory on a climate-controlled line with filtered air where the temperature is always 20C and humidity 70 per cent. All parts are at the right temperature so tolerances are spot on.
Like most parallel twins it flutters and buzzes with good midrange response but not a lot of low-down torque.
Keep it spinning freely through the smooth six gears and it will respond rapidly, reaching a bit over 4000rpm at 100km/h in top. Acceleration is lively if you keep it revving between 5000rpm and the rev limiter at 10,000.
It takes off briskly and tingles through the seat as the revs climb. Despite the single gear-driven counterbalancer it vibrates the mirrors at all revs, blurring the scenery behind you.
The gearbox is moved forward for balance and the shifter comes from in front of the left footpeg. It requires a big positive foot movement to engage, while neutral needs a long throw. Once you get used to it, neutral is easy to find.
Riding position is slightly aggressive for a naked bike with a slight lean to the bars and high pegs for plenty of lean angle and a sports-oriented leg bend that could cramp up some riders after a while.
The seat is firm and flat, yet comfortable. It sits 795mm off the ground, but it’s narrow so most people will be able to get their feet comfortably on the ground.
The pillion perch is also firm and flat, while the grab handles are big and the reach to the pegs moderate.
Controls and instruments are traditional and easy to use. The analogue tacho and LCD digital speedo and information are on the small side and can be a little difficult to read.
Steering rake is quite steep and the bike naturally turns quickly for maneuvering in traffic. Despite its short wheelbase, the bike feels sturdy and stable at highway speeds, thanks to the wide bars and stiff frame.
You can explore some radical lean angles in corners and still not use the full range of tread on the 160mm rubber.
Quality Kayaba non-adjustable suspension ensures good ride quality although it has problems with high-frequency bumps such as ripples and corrugations.
The bike tips the scales at just over 200kg which is not exceptionally light for this size of bike thanks to the rigid steel frame. But it feels much lighter and flickable, the extra weight helping it plough through road irregularities.
CFMoto hasn’t cut corners on the brakes either with steel braided lines, dual 300mm petal discs up front and a 225mm rear petal rotor that has plenty of feel and strong braking effort.
This is the first Chinese bike, scooter, car or SUV where I have admired the finish and style, felt confident and enjoyed the ride/drive experience.
Consumers can also have confidence in the fact that Importers Mojo Motorcycles offer a two-year warranty and have 36 CFMoto motorcycle, ATV and scooter dealers around the country with more coming.
Price: $5990 ($6990 rideaway)
Engine: liquid-cooled DOCH 8-valve 649.30cc parallel-twin
Power: 41.5kW at 8500rpm
Torque: 62Nm at 7000rpm
Transmission: 6-speed, wet multiplate clutch, chain drive
Suspension: 41mm telescopic forks, steel swingarm and cantilever monoshock
Brakes: 300mm steel discs with twin-piston calipers (front), 225mm disc with single-piston caliper (rear)
Tyres: 120/70ZR17; 160/60ZR17
Wheelbase: 1415 mm
Wet weight: 206kg
Fuel: 17 litres
Warranty: 2-years, unlimited KM