2022 CFMoto 700CL-X Heritage
There are times when your eyes and your mind get a little confused. We were told that the CFMoto 700CL-X is the Chinese firm’s foray into the popular retro-modern motorcycle segment, that much we knew, but as we set eyes on the bike, there was confusion. In front of us was a bike that looked more like it was forged in Europe than in China. At a casual glance, the build quality was pretty robust, with real metal bits used generously throughout the bodywork.
It looked really handsome too. A very prominent ‘X’ design is peppered around, from the headlight surround, to the engine cover and even the LED tail light has a cool X motif, all neatly tucked into a compact package. We particularly like the LED X around the headlight, which further enhances its European allusions and looks pretty menacing at a distance. Special mention should also go out to its 12 spoke, copper coloured cast aluminum alloys.
We have to admit that it did remind us of a certain popular selling Scrambler, but there are some things that it does better we think. The 693cc 2-cylinder inline liquid cooled engine has a generic thrum on start-up, but settles into a nice burble on light acceleration, but give it the beans and it breaks into a sexy chordant mix of exhaust and induction sound which heightens the sense of occasion. The engine (rumoured to be sourced from KTM) needs to be flogged pretty hard to extract all of those 70 horses and 61Nm of torque at 6500rpm. All said, we were never left wanting for more power around Singapore though, which is a good thing.
The handlebars were wide and cantered a little forward, which aided in the handling, but gave the rider a forward leaning posture. Not too bad, but it is let down by the plasticky build quality of the switch gears which makes no pretense about its no-frills approach. The LCD dash is very easy to read and decipher; it also offers 2 riding modes, ECO and SPORT. Don’t bother with ECO, it just makes the bike lethargic and unwilling to rev, SPORT mode gave the bike the pep it deserved, willingly exploring the upper ranges of the engine where it truly shines. Interestingly, a tiny button on the left side caught our eye – cruise control! Strange on a naked bike, but hey, there is a first time for everything!
Our favourite was perhaps the handling on this machine, it seems that a bunch of Chinese engineers have taken great pains to dial in a level of optimum handling for this bike for spirited rides, simply point, twist and go! Gearshifts were a bit notchy and hard to get into neutral.
This bike is perhaps the only one in the CFMoto range that is shod with Pirelli’s brilliant MT60 RS semi-knobbly tyres, which is commonly found on the Ducati Scramblers, which we think also contributes to its sublime road holding abilities. Don’t be fooled by its faux-knobbly look, these tyres ride and grip like any other sport tyre and then some, the only problem is that the 110/80-R18 front and 180/55-R17 rear might be pricey when time comes to replace them. Heat was almost non-existent on this little rocket, even in high-noon during our test ride. Only a slight smidge can be felt over the ankle area some time into the ride. The tyres, the lack of heat and it’s incredibly lightweight makes this the perfect city commuter for Singapore.
We believe that the CFMoto 700CL-X range of bikes could herald the charge for serious Chinese motorcycle manufacturers as it takes things seriously. It carves its own path and seeks to create a motorcycle that is truly desirable. Give this little modern retro bike a test ride and you’ll see why.