CF MOTO 700CLX HERITAGE (2021 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Perky twin puts Chinese bikes in-line with big-name brands
  • Great spec for the money and long warranty
  • Makes strangers come and talk to you… ’ere, whassat, then?

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £570
Power: 74 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.5 in / 800 mm)
Weight: Medium (432 lbs / 196 kg)

Prices

New £6,299
Used £5,500

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

You might not know what a CFMOTO 700 CL-X is. So let’s start by imagining a Ducati Scrambler but powered by a long-stroke Kawasaki Z650 engine, equipped with an array of trinkets and baubles, and priced to undercut every competitor. Oh, and with a remarkable four-year warranty and 0% finance for good measure. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Yes, of course, you’re right. The CL-X is made in China, which is why it’s an affordable £6299. But shake off tired preconceptions of shoddy components and lacklustre performance.

CFMOTO (all shouty uppercase letters) need to be taken seriously. Producing bikes since 1989 and originally branded as WK here in the UK, they’ve partnered KTM (also shouty uppercase letters) since 2013 and produce their small-capacity bikes for the huge Asian market. They build Dukes too.

CFMOTO also knock out an über-tourer called the CF1250, with electronic suspenders, heated everything, a display to embarrass Cineworld and a 1278cc V-twin – and it’s China’s latest police bike.

That they know what they’re doing is evident in the 700 CL-X. The bike is quite a big deal. It marks the moment when a Chinese-built machine can be judged against established rivals without caveat.

Engine performance is perky, ride quality and handling are as good as the opposition, equipment level is higher than competitors, and finish is as fine as any bike with this performance/price combination. Sure, some parts will need anti-corrosion gloop in winter, but that’s true of machines costing twice as much.

The CL-X isn’t perfect. Its self-cancelling winkers turn themselves off too soon, the motor’s bold top-end rush won’t be to all tastes, and the display has a couple of functions that I’m buggered if I can fathom out. But for six grand the 700 is great.

It does the job of Ducati’s Scrambler Icon but with a better ride and a £2200 saving. It’s comfier and nicer on a Sunday thrum than Triumph’s Trident, which costs £1100 more. And while not quite as fruity as a Yamaha XSR700 it’s better looking, has more tech and is £900 cheaper. Four-year warranty, too.

It’s hard to predict longevity, or residual value, but admit it – you’re tempted. And if you’re not, you should be.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The CL-X has the medley of modernity and retro you get with Ducati’s Scrambler (with a Diavel-ish seat thrown into the deal).

Trellis frame, stance, round headlamp and tank profile are traditional, while running gear, ride, electronics, alloy swingarm and that great X-shape daytime running light are contemporary. The 800mm seat sits you ‘in’ the bike with an easy-reach to quite high ’bars, and a sense of weight being carried low – again, rather Scrambler-ish.

Swinging a knee out while cornering quickly on the CF Moto 700 CL-X

This feel brings a light, easy dynamic to the 700. It swings around merrily beneath you; it’s old school sit-up-and-lean-the-bike handling, rather than modern neck craning stuff. Suspension is by KYB (that’s Kayaba for middle-aged folk like me) and copes with spirited tossing, though it is quite a firm ride. This said, it’s less crashy than a Ducati Scrambler and supplies better ride comfort than Triumph’s rival Trident.

Despite firm springs the 700’s damping allows decent movement, bringing confidence-boosting weight transfer. Unlike the competition it has fully adjustable forks and a tweakable shock too, should you desire a plusher (or stiffer) ride. Pirelli MT60 tyres (as on a Scrambler, funnily enough) don’t upset the steering despite their blocks and have enough grip to readily wear away the footrest blobs.

Braking is by Spanish firm J.Juan. They might not be a household name but have supplied parts for everyone from Aprilia to Zero, and though perhaps lacking initial bite the single-disc set-up with braided line has ample power with a good tug. Natty span adjusters on the brake and clutch levers, too.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Power is from a parallel-twin motor derived from Kawasaki’s ER-6. First seen in 2012 in the WK 650i and still used in CFMOTO’s 650s, an increased bore gives dimensions of 83 x 64mm to make 693cc.

Being a traditional side-by-side unit means it doesn’t have the bassy rumble of a V-twin or a parallel with a 270˚ crank, but it’s still a burbling and pleasing noise. Claimed output is 50 lb.ft at 6500rpm with 74bhp at 8500rpm – exactly the same as Yamaha’s MT-07 and XSR700.

CF Moto 700 CL-X engine

Though the CL-X perhaps doesn’t quite have the punch of the XSR or the urgent surging of a Trident it’s definitely in the ballpark. Tool around on part throttle, short-shift through the light six-speed gearbox, and the 700 is a smooth, breezy Sunday morning bend-swinger.

Get beyond half throttle and 6000rpm, and the airbox suddenly emits a honk as the twin leaps into a distinct powerband, tacho needle diving deep into the red. It’s an engine with two distinct characters, and I rather like it. Nice to have modes (Sport and Eco) with obvious differences, too.

Average economy is a tad better than claimed by the bike’s pessimistic display. In normal use it gives 57mpg; enthusiastic dry-road (ab)use drops it into the low 40s, but you get 60-odd mpg with measured riding. Service intervals are quite short with oil and filter every 3000 miles and new plugs at 12,000, though the valve check and air filter aren’t until 24,000.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Quality appears to be just as good as the 700’s engaging dynamic and chirpy character. Paint, castings, switchgear and finish are impressive for a six-grand bike and a stride on from Enfield’s similarly priced Interceptor.

CF Moto 700 CL-X front brake disc

The plating on some fasteners looks thin and the rear wheel adjusters don’t appear winter-proof, granted. But you’ll find similar on any sub-£8k bike – and overall finish appears as good as any rival. I’ve run a CL-X through winter and with an occasional squirt of ACF-50 it survived unscathed (though anything more than a few days sat in the cold has the battery calling time – good job the 700 bump starts easily).

And let’s not forget CFMOTO’s impressive guarantee. Buy a new CL-X and you get four-year warranty for peace of mind. Yes, 48 months. They’re obviously confident

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

There isn’t another motorcycle of this displacement and performance that gives you as much for the money. Its level of equipment and fancy bits is ahead of them all (see 'Equipment', below).

The major valve-check service is at 24,000 miles, which is at least as good as rivals: the MT-07 is 24k, the Trident 660 is 20k, and the SV650 is 15k. The CFMOTO needs more tinkering than most, though. Its 3000-mile oil-change service interval is only 500 miles shorter than on the SV650, but an MT-07 can do twice the mileage and the standard-setting Trident can cover more than three times the distance before being refreshed.

CF Moto 700 CL-X left-hand bar with thumb controls

Whether this means paying out more on servicing depends on how religiously you adhere to the handbook, of course. All the manufacturers stipulate that the oil should be changed at the stated mileage or every 12 months, whichever comes first – and so if you ride around 3000 miles a year then the CL-X doesn’t cost any more to keep maintained.

Residual value is an unknown, though. A CFMOTO won’t hold its money like bikes from more established brands. As evidence, a two-year-old example of the firm’s 650GT sports-tourer is around £4000, meaning it’s depreciated by 33% in just 24 months.

However, while this is a lot as a percentage, it’s two-grand in actual money – and that’s about what the rival Tracer 700 loses over the same period. Assuming similar depreciation for the 700 CL-X, in terms of actual money it shouldn’t drop much more than the opposition in the first few years.

And let’s not forget that four-year warranty. Or the 0% finance deal.

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

Unlike its opposition the 700 has multi-adjustable suspension, fully adjustable hand levers, cruise control, a 'self-adaptive' headlight and cool X-shape daytime running light that adjust to ambient lighting, and self-cancelling indicators. Nearest rival on price is the Suzuki SV650 and it has exactly none of these features.

CF Moto 700 CL-X headlight is somewhat distinctive

The core bike behind all the trinkets is solid too. It’s dotted with big-brand components (Pirelli tyres, KYB suspension, Bosch electronics, Continental ABS) and there are some neat details: the seat is brushed leather-effect; the exhaust end-can carries a discreet heat shield; and the rear brake pedal is cast so that it matches the pattern of the footrest rubbers.

Specs

Engine size 693cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8v, parallel twin
Frame type Tubular steel
Fuel capacity 13 litres
Seat height 800mm
Bike weight 196kg
Front suspension 41mm telescopic fork, adjustable preload, rebound, compression
Rear suspension monoshock, adjustable preload, rebound
Front brake 300mm disc with four-piston caliper. ABS
Rear brake 250mm dics, two-piston caliper. ABS
Front tyre size 110/80 R18
Rear tyre size 180/55 R17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 57 mpg
Annual road tax £117
Annual service cost £570
New price £6,299
Used price £5,500
Insurance group 10 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Four years

Top speed & performance

Max power 74 bhp
Max torque 50 ft-lb
Top speed 120 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 163 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2012: CFMOTO launch the UK’s first 'big' Chinese-built bike (under the WK Bikes banner). The naked bike is essentially their take on Kawasaki’s established ER-6n, using the same 649cc parallel-twin engine and a near-identical chassis, but with slightly lower-spec components and a lower price – it’s just over £4000. It’s followed by sports-touring and adventure-sport variants. Quality and spec improve over the years, the 650i name is changed to 650NK, and styling is done by Kiska (who draw all KTM’s models). All the bikes become branded as CFMOTO.
  • 2021: CFMOTO’s now-familiar engine has its capacity increased to 693cc and is popped into an all-new chassis to create the 700 CL-X Heritage. 

Other versions

There’s a Sport version due alongside the Heritage in spring 2022, with clip-on handlebars, 17-inch wheels with pure road tyres and other detail changes.

Owners' reviews for the CF MOTO 700CLX HERITAGE (2021 - on)

1 owner has reviewed their CF MOTO 700CLX HERITAGE (2021 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your CF MOTO 700CLX HERITAGE (2021 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Engine: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £570
4 out of 5
19 January 2022 by Ray

Version: CF 700-2

Year: 2021

Annual servicing cost: £570

As an early bird, I have been riding this bike since 2020. I got my full A license in the Netherland, back in time, BMW, YAMAHA, Triumph, Guzzi was always what I would go for, till I saw this bike at EICMA, my thought was "finally some decent looking bike done by a Chinese manufacturer", at that time I still lived in Milan, COVID was not a big deal. Since I was stuck in China due to COVID 19, after a LIFE TIME LONG quarantines from Feb till end of May, I was eager to ride, my father has a Zundap rep, but never like it then the CLX became an option, I asked for a 2-day test ride, the bike is impressive, and settle the payment right after. It took me everywhere, also a trip to Tibet and back from Qinghai, over 6000km, all terrains, all climates, the bike made it, only waxing the chain, tire replacement, oil change, and an ECU mapping for free, no-fail at all. I would recommend this bike for sure.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

The ergo is comfy for long-time riding, the riding position is neutral, but do fill the tank every 200 km, the bike is not designed for long way journey, but more of a street machine.

Engine 4 out of 5

Power delivery comes early and smooth, but when compared with some top manufacturers, like BMW (owned R1200, own R18), the setting of electric throttle still sense the differences, let's say CLX's throttle has a from 1 to 10 levels of precision, R18 has a 1 to 30 levels precision.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

A well-made nice looking bike. 15000KM so far, no fail so far.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Oil filter K&N, CFMOTO air filter, MOTUL 10W40, RK 520 Chain, because of the Tibet ride I replaced the original MT tires to Pirelli Scorpion(this stand for most running cost)

Equipment 4 out of 5

It comes with Pirelli MT tires which are good enough to handle most road conditions, the reason I switch tires is that Tibetan road is complicated, better be prepared than stuck in the middle of nowhere. Same reason I replaced the original chain.

Buying experience: I paid the full price 45800 CNY + insurance 780 CNY+10%tax 4580, which is about 6 grand.

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