Thursday, May 9


UNIQUE.  It is a word that is terribly overused, but not as badly as ‘awesome’, you know.  But if we were to use one word to sum up the newest touring bike to hit the New Zealand market, that would be it: unique.

There is no other new bike currently available it mimics, or can be compared with.  Take a look – full fairing, enclosed bodywork and integral panniers.  And the price?  $9990.

Yes, that’s right.  For around the same money as a street legal DR-Z400E Suzuki or Hyosung GT650R, (or a bit more than a DR650 traillie), you can have a touring bike with factory-fitted panniers.

This is the second CFMoto 650 we have come into contact with.  The first was the 650NK, which is featured in the May 2013 edition of Kiwi Rider magazine.

Essentially, the 650TR is the naked bike with a full suit of clothes so by all means read the test on the 650 NK in the May KR.

When we first clapped eyes on the CFMoto 650TR, there were a couple of styling elements that reminded us of bigger touring bikes from the 1980s, which is no bad thing.  The fairing-mounted mirrors are very similar to the ‘pods’ fitted to the BMW K100RS when it was launched in 1983, and copied by Ducati with its first Paso three years later.  Just like the BMW ones, the mirror pods on the CFMoto 650TR pop off their mounts when given a decent whack.  They then hang from the indicator wires.  The intention is to make them more crash-proof, and also prevent the fairing getting broken by an impact to the mirrors.  And just like the BMW ones, they can be popped back onto their mounts if you should knock one loose threading your way through traffic.

Then there are the horizontal winglets, or “shark fins” as ace snapper Osborne calls them, mounted on each side of the fairing.  These are reminiscent of the winglets fitted to the Honda ST1100 Pan European, and are still a feature of the current ST1300 V4.

However, rather than the 326 kg curb weight of the Honda, or the 250 kg of the old BMW, the 650 TR scales in at 220 kg with its fuel tank full.  That may seem a bit on the porky side but the only time you notice it is when lifting it up off its sidestand.  The bike leans over a little more than most bikes:  it is almost as if CFMoto lifted the TR version by fitting slightly longer suspension, as well as a taller seat.  Certainly the swing-arm on the TR has more downslope than on the 650 NK.

The seat is higher than the 650NK – no doubt to provide more seat to foot-rest space, something appreciated when spending all day in the saddle.  Yes, you could tour New Zealand quite happily on the CFMoto 650TR.  There’s generous space in the panniers and if you really need more space, you could fit a tank bag or a top-box.  There’s a mounting plate for one behind the pillion seat.  Plus there are storage boxes recessed into the fairing liner.

At the price, the CFMoto 650TR is around the same money as an upper-end scooter but with its twin panniers, has more storage space for carrying more gear than any of the under-seat scooter pods.  So you could commute to work, with briefcase in one pannier and gym bag in the other during the week and at weekends, stow clothing etc. and hit the open road.

Did we say there was good storage space 
in  the  panniers?  Check it out.
Just as Rodney O’Connor noted in his KR test of the CFMoto 650NK, the 650TR can be flicked in and out of corners, or into roundabouts, with ease.  Once banked over, there is no difficulty keeping the 650 twin on the chosen line.  There is nothing light and flighty about the steering, but neither is it heavy.  Just right.

Suspension performance is fine.  The rear is a little firm but it has been set-up for two-up travel.  We never had the opportunity to try it will a passenger though.

When we got the bike it had less than 50 kilometres on the odometer but despite being new and tight, the transmission shifted easily with no big clunks or notchiness. 

Fuel consumption from the first tank of fuel worked out at 5.3 l/100 km, which is just 18.82 km/litre over a mixture of 50, 70 and 100 km/h roads.  The specifications say the tank holds 17.5 litres, but it doesn’t.  Pay attention to the fuel guage.  When it gets down to one bar, start looking for a fuel stop.  There is no trip-meter, so you need to record the odometer reading at each fill up, subtract the previous reading and then work out the fuel burn.  We almost ran the tank dry and only made it to the fill-up by dabbing the front brakes to make the fuel slosh around to the pump’s pick-up.  It spluttered out a couple of times but we got it rolling, only to have it cough out on the forecourt.  It took 15.99 litres to brim the tank and it had covered 301 km.

We would predict this would improve somewhat once the engine has a few thousand kilometres on it.

What else?  Oh yes, while the 650TR may not have a trip-meter or a centre-stand, it does have adjustable span brake and clutch hand levers, which means you can tailor the levers for most hand sizes.  A nice touch on a budget-priced bike.

One of the great features of the CFMoto 650TR is that it is quite happy to trundle along suburban streets at 50 km/h, with fourth gear the best choice for this.  It will also sit happily on the open road speed limit in sixth, the 650cc liquid-cooled, DOHC parallel twin turning 4400 rpm.  Snap the throttle open and it quickly runs to 120 and beyond in very little time.

The fairing works well to keep wind blast off the upper body up to 100 km/h but beyond that the wind pressure on chest and helmet increases.  This is another way to let you know the speed is creeping up.  In less oppressive environments, you will need to make sure your ear plugs are fitted once speed gets interesting as you will have the same sort of wind around your helmet as on a naked bike.

Doubtless there will be more to say about the CFMoto 650TR once we have spent a bit more time on it, but from our initial observations, it looks an extremely good sub $10K package.