New bike review: CFMoto 300SR
Lightweight Chinese road racer proves nimble but a little breathless.
“More fun”. That’s the simple message printed on a decal adhered to the tail section of the CFMoto 300SR motorcycle we’re test riding.
It’s unclear if it’s a statement of the bike’s purpose or a recommendation to riders, but we can’t help but wonder how much fun you can have on a 292.4cc sports bike with just 21.4kW of power, the latter available at a screaming 8750 revs.
I guess we’ll see.
With its race-replica decals, aggressive styling, light weight, upside-down forks, and clip-on handlebars, the CFMoto 300SR certainly looks the part of a lightweight road racer.
It’s the first fully faired bike from the Chinese manufacturer and promises to be one of several initiatives for the brand in 2021, including a new range of 700cc bikes, a 1250cc adventure bike and even a battery-electric range.
The CFMoto brand is imported to Australia by Mojo Motorcycles, who are selling the machine at a competitively low $5790, ride-away with a three-year warranty.
The 300SR’s main rivals include the Honda CBR300R ($5749), KTM RC390 ($5995), Suzuki GSX250R ($5790) and Yamaha YZF-R3 ($6299), so it makes a strong case on price alone.
It comes in Nebula black or the standout Turquoise blue of our test bike, emblazoned with race replica decals which have your correspondent looking every bit the boy racer, despite my mature years.
The bike’s styling is the work of Austrian design house Kiska, which is also responsible for many KTM models.
CFMoto has close ties with the Austrian motorcycle and sports car manufacturer KTM, having manufactured the brand’s bikes for the Chinese domestic market for some time.
Complementing the racer styling are distinctive LED headlights which give good coverage if you’re riding at night.
The bike also comes with a full-colour TFT display with a comprehensive range of information, two-mode display and even mobile phone connectivity.
While the 300SR shares the same drivetrain and frame as the naked CFMoto 300NK, there are some subtle differences.
It weighs more, of course, thanks in part to the fairing which adds 15kg, but at 165kg it’s still a relatively lightweight machine.
What’s puzzling is that the bikes share the same liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine but, in this application, it presents with 3.6kW less power.
The power deficit is at least offset by 4.8Nm more torque which helps drive the bike off the line and provides a fair bit of flexibility through the rev range.
But the buzzy little engine runs out of breath quickly and you need to tap dance on the slick six-speed transmission to squeeze the most out of it, especially on hills.
The specifications say the engine is fitted with a balancer shaft but in operation it still blurs the mirrors and sends plenty of tingles through your fingers, backside, and toes.
The little donk generates a fair bit of heat too, something we didn’t experience with the naked version so can only assume it’s due to the fairing trapping the heat and pouring it directly onto your legs.
The riding position is not overly aggressive, with the bars slightly lower than on the 300NK, but the seat is also 15mm lower, so you can tuck into the bike a bit more.
An unforgivingly hard saddle reminds you that this is a sports bike and not a tourer, while the narrow 12-litre tank invites an intimate jockey-like riding position.
Strapped into this position, you have a good command of the bars for counter-steering and quick changes of direction.
While the suspension is a little on the plush side and bottomed out on some bigger bumps, even with my 75kg weight, it still handles quite well, with little fork dive or deviation.
In general, it’s a delight to whip around city streets or head up into your favourite twisting mountain road, flicking leaning easily into corners and holding deep lean angles, using all 140mm of rear tyre width and encouraging scraping of the hero bobs on the foot pegs.
It’s also handy in tight U-turns, where the wide clip-on bars provide a generous turning circle without jamming your thumbs against the tank.
Our main concern with the 300SR is its poor braking performance.
The brakes feel wooden, with little initial bite and require plenty of input for full effect.
Curiously, despite weighing more than the 300NK, it sports slightly smaller disc rotors, at 292mm (front) and 220mm (back), compared with the naked bike’s 300mm and 245mm.
In summary, the CFMoto 300SR will be plenty of bike for most novice riders, while still being great fun for more experienced two-wheelers who enjoy a nimble bike they can easily flick through tight, technical bits of tarmac.
Price: $5790 ride-away.
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres
Engine: 292.4cc water-cooled single cylinder, DOHC with balance shaft.
Wet weight: 165kg.
Suspension front/rear: 37mm upside-down forks, mono shock rear.
Brakes front/rear: 292mm single disc with four-piston caliper (front), 220mm disc with floating single-piston caliper (rear).
Dimensions: 2010mm (L), 750mm (W), 1080mm (h), 1360mm (wheelbase), 780mm (seat), 135mm (clearance).
Tyres: 110/70 R17; 140/60 R17.
Fuel: 12 litres.