AMCN Adventure Test – CF Moto 650MT | Bike Tests | Latest Tests
FOR EVERYONE THINKING you need to spend $20K-plus to get into adventure riding, I’m about to throw something else into the mix… Enter the mighty CFMoto 650MT, a bike made for budding adventure riders on a tight budget.
The initial couple of hours in the saddle convinced me that the 650MT has plenty up its sleeve. Almost every adventure ride involves a decent stretch of sealed roads before you get to the fun stuff, and right from the beginning I had the impression CFMoto had produced a bike that punches well above its price point.
What were the main things I noticed? Decent power on the highway, easy handling at low speeds and great stability and feel from the suspension through corners, especially in the rear end. All significant pluses.
By the time we got to Stump Hill, I was feeling pretty good about my mount. I was winding through the property, crossing creeks, clearing rocky roads and fire trails, all without hesitation. And after a cracking barbie and a few beers, our three days at Stump Hill were starting to feel like the kind of trip you’d take with half a dozen mates, not a bike test.
The good ergos when standing, adjustable suspension to slow compression, together with a relatively lightweight machine … all of this helped off the blacktop. Which was handy, because our legendary host, Dick, was obsessed with making sure we saw every square inch of his property. And on the 650MT I could tackle the same roads as everyone else and have a great time doing it.
Well, up to a point! Our 650MT had Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tyres fitted, and that was one drawback. It really only was a problem as the conditions worsened, and they were never meant to handle wet, greasy tracks.
Apart from that there are so many positives rolled into an almost ridiculous price point: panniers with ample storage that were lockable and easy to remove; an adjustable screen; and ABS (albeit intrusive). The 650cc parallel twin not only gave decent punch on the highway, it also reacted well at lower speeds off road. Combined with the gearing, you can pull out of most tight spots easily. The travel of the suspension isn’t huge, but with the right settings it will handle reasonably rough sections.
There’s always a little tweaking needed when you work out where the bulk of your riding time is going to be spent, and the 650MT can be best described as ‘adventure capable’ – it’s heavily biased towards the bitumen. You just have to decide how much off-road use the bike will see, and set it up accordingly.
On the road you are getting a bike that feels so much better than its price tag. I guess the only question is how the 650MT will pull up with 20, 30 or 40,000km on the clock. Time will tell.
The handling is smooth and stable with confidence-inspiring feel. The styling, beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, of course, but I reckon this bike looks the part. And so many features, like solid panniers, ABS, even engine maps. All things found on more expensive bikes.
Not so keen
To get the handling right there were compromises, and it looks like one of those meant my knees felt like they were up around my ears at times! And those 300mm twin-disc brakes – I reckon CFMoto needs to look at the components to get some better bite happening.
If I had my time again
The main thing I would change is the tyres on the CFMoto.
But here’s the ultimate validation of this trip: I loved it so much that I went and bought my own bike to do more off-road riding. There’s no chance of losing your licence in the bush and there’s always a challenge.
By Matt O’Connell