Get used to it. Chinese-made bikes are high-quality, tech-savvy and amazing bang for buck. And CFMoto’s new 450SR is just the beginning
The LAMS market is bursting at the seams with bikes to throw your hard-earned at. If a sporty learner bike is your thing, the CFMoto 450SR will definitely tick some boxes.
A ground-up build by the experienced Chinese manufacturer, the engineers wanted to show their potential to create not just a sporty bike, but a trackday-capable, smile-inducing package that can also handle the rigours of day-to-day commuting.
The 450SR certainly looks the business. The wind tunnel-developed fairings and winglets give it a MotoGP racebike look, and it looks fast parked on the sidestand. An inverted fork, a quality M40 Brembo front caliper, sticky track-spec tyres and an aggressive stance give an indication that the 450SR means business as well as just looking the part.
The “More fun” and “Play to win” stickers on the fairings give it a little bit of street cred. A sticker up under the tail sections says “CF400-G” and the big ’40’ graphic on the side fairings give a hint that the 450SR may have been going to be a 400cc early in its development, but the stickers have somehow found their way on to the finished 450cc product.
The water-cooled 450cc parallel-twin donk nestles in a chromoly frame. It features a 270-degree crank for a big-bang firing configuration and a balancer shaft to suppress any unwanted vibrations. Forged pistons and split connecting rods are used for reliability and longevity for racetrack speeds.
Thanks to the big-bang firing order, the 450SR sounds really good and a healthy note is emitted from the standard exhaust.
One of the bikes was fitted with an aftermarket muffler and it sounded grouse. Power output is in the ballpark of its competitors at 34.5kW (46.9hp) at 10,000rpm. Torque is a decent 39.3Nm at 7750rpm. The bike weighs in at 179kg ready to ride, so this puts the power-to-weight ratio just under the 200kW/tonne limit for LAMS eligibility.
A bonza inclusion is the full-colour, five-inch TFT dash. It looks fantastic and shows all the required info and then some. It even has a gear indicator and an adjustable shift warning.
A bonus inclusion is CFMoto’s clever T-Box (see sidebar) that allows full phone connectivity via an app at no extra cost or subscription. The dash is controlled by a simple four-button setup on the left switchblock and is very easy to operate – especially in the dark as the switches are all back-lit. The screen is nice and bright making it easy to see even when the sun is shining on it.
Clicking on the ignition sets the dashboard into a cool graphic show of the bike before settling to the main screen.
As keen as a bean, I got the 450SR out onto the track and I’m glad I didn’t muck about. I got about six laps of the Murray Valley Training Centre before the rain arrived. It was enough time to work out which way the track went, warm up the fresh tyres and get my knee down on both sides. To jump on a brand-new bike and get straight up to speed shows just how user friendly the 450SR is. I felt comfortable on the bike immediately and set about enjoying its playfulness.
Tipping into corners is effortless and apexes are hit with precision lap after lap, even when the pace increases. On the 450SR there is no suspension adjustment other than rear preload, so there isn’t much chance of getting lost in bike set-up. After the first stint, I removed the hero knobs off the footpegs and adjusted my gear lever up higher for comfort. That was all I needed.
As the rest of the morning was spent in the rain, I went about cutting lap after lap and getting a feel for the bike in the slippery conditions. The CST Adreno tyres are referred to by CFMoto as a “semi slick” and performed well enough in my short dry stint, but once the heavens opened it was a different story.
The tyres were at their limit fairly quickly in the wet and wouldn’t allow me to really up the pace like some more all-weather tyres would. I could feel them beginning to slide through the fork and chassis which gave me enough time to correct my inputs before things got too far out of hand, so I can’t complain on that front.
With smooth throttle application and gentle braking I really got a feel for the bike and I couldn’t wipe the smile from my dial. While they may look super cool, I can’t say the winglets had any effect on the bike’s composure. I weigh 100kg, and when I tilted my head to the side the bike changed direction, and if I leant forward it loaded the front up more than the wings ever could at 140km/h at the end of the short straight.
The FCC slipper clutch works perfectly, as expected, and I had no chattery moments from the rear-end as I banged down the gears and mashed the brakes. The clutch lever would have to be the lightest I’ve ever used on a bike, which is great for commuting and novice riders.
Both levers are span adjustable, so getting the levers where you want them is no drama. The gear lever can be switched from race pattern to road pattern with couple of basic tools and a cold beverage if you’re that way inclined.
A quickshifter would be a cool addition for track riding, but for under $8k ride away we can’t have it all. The Brembo M40 front brake and 320mm disc are perfectly matched to the weight and speed of the bike; I could grab a handful of brake with confidence lap after lap with zero brake fade. I did have one moment where the ABS had turned itself off after I did a burnout for the camera – that certainly got my attention quick smart at the end of the main straight!
However, when the front began to lock, I could feel it immediately allowing me to ease off the brake for a moment and run a little wide into the corner and continue on my way. Turning the bike off and back on allowed the ABS to reset itself and perform flawlessly for the rest of the day – certainly a trap for young hoons, but not a deal breaker for most.
The 449.9cc engine loves to rev, even past its peak power output. It sings a pretty mean tune, so that only encouraged me to rev it more. The throttle connection is something I have struggled with on previous CFMoto bikes I have ridden, but on the 450SR the throttle is precise and power delivery is seamless. It is quite refreshing to not muck about with ride modes and traction control settings and just enjoy linking up the corner entries, apexes and exits on the track.
Out on the road the 450SR gets the job done with minimal fuss. The suspension damping and spring rates are sufficient even without adjustment to play with. The linkage-style rear suspension is a rising rate setup, so while being able to smooth out smaller bumps it can also absorb bigger bumps without unsettling the bike as much as a direct-mount shock like some of the competition use. The suspension is on the sportier side and some may find it a little firm, but I think it’s a good compromise between track and road riding. The seat is comfortable and there is minimal weight on wrists while cruising thanks to the ’bar risers.
The 450SR is quite small, but the CFMoto engineers have put some effort into making the bike quite roomy for its size, and the screen offers a little bit of protection out on the highway. The gearing allows cruising speeds well above the legal speed limit, and there is enough torque to pull away from a stop in second gear without burning out the clutch.
The fuel consumption readout on the dash indicated an average consumption of 6.1L/100km after riding at the track and 50km on the road, for a range of a bit over 200km from the 14-litre tank. But I would not be counting that as an accurate consumption figure, as the bike had 1km on the odometer as I left the pits – hardly run in – and track riding uses more fuel than road riding. CFMoto claims an average of 4.5L/100km.
CFMoto has been making steady progress and is gaining traction on improving quality and ownership experience.
With dealership numbers increasing and a three-year unlimited-kilometre warranty (if serviced by a CFMoto dealer, two if not) there is added confidence that a 450SR will stand the test of time. The build quality looks to have improved over previous CFMoto machines, where stickers came unstuck and there were machining errors, etc. Most of the graphics look to be under a clear coat which will stop them peeling off, but the rim stickers look vulnerable.
Highly regarded components have been used like the Brembo brakes, Bosch fuel injection and Continental ABS. The lighting is all LED, which is much more reliable than incandescent lighting, and the daytime running lights look super trick as you start the bike – and the theme continues with the TFT dashboard. Overall, I think CFMoto has nailed the design. It really is a great looking bike.
So, who is the CFMoto 450SR for? Obviously novice riders, especially those who have built up some confidence on smaller-capacity or older bikes looking to upgrade to something capable of trackdays and commuting. And the 450SR is definitely friendly enough for first time riders to start out on.
But experienced riders can also get in on the fun on the track. The 450SR would be perfectly suited for someone dipping their toe into track riding without wanting to risk damaging a much more valuable bike.
Especially when you take into consideration that a lot of the tracks available to ride on these days are smaller than Sydney Motorsport Park and the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.
Examples are littered around the country, and include Pheasant Wood, Luddenham Raceway, Broadford and Murray Valley Training Centre, which are more suited to smaller-capacity bikes which can be just as much fun as big bikes – with a lot less risk.
Overall, I think CFMoto has kicked a goal with the 450SR. It is streets ahead of the previous efforts in terms of build quality and is no doubt a forerunner to the sort of calibre of motorcycle we’re going to see from China during the next
Words David Watt + Photography Fstyle Photo