CFMOTO 700CL-X Sport review

Car Reviews and Advisory
Chinese motorcycle manufacturer CFMOTO releases its second model - the CFMOTO 700-CLX Sport.
CFMOTO 700CL-X Sport side view.

Years in the ‘caper’ have taught this scribe to be wary of the addition of the word ‘Sport’ to any bike or vehicle nomenclature, as it’s often a sign the marketing department has won out over engineering, and the rigor of the latter runs little deeper than a decal pack and a shiny set of wheels. Pleasingly, I discovered that when it comes to the CFMOTO 700CL-X Sport, the epithet is applicable in the way enthusiasts would want it to be.

First, some background. The Sport is the second model in CFMOTO’s new 700CL-X family, starting with the 700CL-X Heritage, costing $9490 ride away. The Sport adds an extra $1000 over the asking price of the heritage, and there is a yet to be launched Adventure model arriving early next year that will likely sit above this again.

Regular readers may recall that I reviewed the Heritage a while back and loved the bike’s value proposition, its styling and spirited engine. The Chinese motorcycle manufacturer has produced a good basis for a family of bikes here, with the Sport slotting neatly into the cafe racer sector with its clip-on bars and bar-end mirrors.

Both models come well equipped with two engine modes, cruise control, USB charging port under the seat and full LED lighting, including a headlight that adapts illumination to ambient conditions.

CFMOTO 700CL-X Sport on the road. 

Like many CFMOTO bikes, this model is styled by Kiska Design House in Austria and the subtle paintwork and trim creates a fresh and sporty look. Aesthetically, the Sport features a black catalytic convertor which is less ugly than the bare metal of the Heritage, along with striking paintwork, a headlight mini-cowl, black levers and forks, carbon fiber look trim, and five-spoke wheels.

Seating is via a sporty solo unit with tail cowl, yet pillion pegs are fitted, so you can presumably buy a rear seat if so inclined. Here in the Sunshine State, the registration cost for a single seater is about half that of a two-seater, so that’s a bonus for everyone expect wannabe passengers.

The bike is powered by the same inline twin-cylinder water-cooled engine as in the manufacturer’s 650cc range, but it’s been stroked 4mm to 693cc, so it is no longer learner legal in Australia. Other engine updates include Bosch fuel-injection, split connecting rods, a slipper clutch, forged pistons and improved intake, pushing power from 41.5 to 55kw and torque from 62 to 67Nm.

It’s a free revving unit with a beefy midrange and buzzing top end. In my previous review I professed to being not overly happy with the short gearing of the Heritage, which spins at a high 4500rpm in sixth gear at 100km/h. However, the same gearing on the Sport makes more sense, given its potential use as a canyon-blasting cafe racer. You’re also unlikely to be saddling up for long stretches of highway touring highways on this style of bike, so shouldn’t suffer the tingling fingers and toes of the Heritage.

Despite this, the riding position isn’t particularly radical. The clip-on bars are perched atop a high yoke, so are not much lower than on the Heritage. You also sit 5mm lower, so the riding position requires only slightly more forward lean. The bars are nice and narrow for lane-filtering and the bar-end mirrors dont protrude far. The mirrors are perched on stubby shafts that prevent blur caused by engine vibration, and in a neat bit of design they easily flip down to avoid hitting car wing mirrors then quickly flip back up into place again.

CFMOTO 700CL-X Sport speedometer.

Pleasingly, despite its reasonably affordable price tag the manufacturer hasnt cut corners when it comes to tyres and brakes, equipping the Sport with sticky Maxxis MA-ST2 rubber. On the braking front, the Sport gets powerful 320mm twin petal discs with Brembo twin-piston calipers, and Continental ABS. The washup is that despite the Sport tipping the scales 9kg heavier than the 196kg Heritage, its stopping power is demonstrably superior. Together with the short-gearing, its personality is that of a hard-charging and hard-stopping bike that’s built for carving.

However, some of the shortcomings of the Heritage appear here too, including the KYB rear shock with its overly harsh compression stroke which is not adjustable. While it is possible to adjust the rebound and the preload, getting a C-spanner in there to do the job on the spring requires the dexterity of a surgeon. The fully adjustable KYB front forks are okay, but dive more than is ideal under hard braking, which makes the back wheel light. This causes a fair amount of ‘slither’ into corners if you arrive too hot, despite the slipper clutch preventing rear-wheel lockup under down shifts.

I’m also not a fan of the instruments, which show a lot of information, some of which isnt even explained in the owner’s manual, but lack essentials like fuel range, a second trip meter and ambient temperature. The digital fuel gauge also seems to drop rather quickly, and it starts flashing way too soon – with five litres remaining in the 13-litre tank, or 100-plus km of range.

Taken as a whole, however, these are still relatively minor gripes about what is ultimately a handsome, well-appointed motorcycle that will put a smile on your face without causing pain in your hip pocket.

Key facts

  • Price: $10,490 ride away.
  • Warranty: 2 years/unlimited km.
  • Engine: 693cc parallel twin, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, eight-valve, DOHC.
  • Power: 55kW @ 8500rpm.
  • Torque: 68Nm @ 6500rpm.
  • Gearbox: Six-speed with slipper clutch.
  • Weight: 205kg.
  • Suspension: 41mm KYB upside-down fork, fully adjustable, 150mm travel; KYB shock with preload and rebound adjustment, 150mm travel.
  • Brakes: 320mm petal discs with radial-mount Brembo Stylema four-piston calipers; 260mm disc with Brembo twin-piston caliper, Continental ABS.
  • Dimensions: 2090mm (L), 795mm (W), 1080mm (H), 1436mm (WB).
  • Tyres: 120/70-17 Maxxis MA-ST2 (f); 180/55-17 Maxxis MA-ST2 (r).
  • Seat: 795mm.
  • Fuel: 13 litres.

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Things to note

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.