Friday, May 2


The CFMOTO 650TKs that made the trans-continental crossing of Australia, covering 10,200km in six days...

There is no doubt the Australians do things a little differently.  The expression “bigger than Texas” is more than apt for the wide brown land that is New Zealand’s West Island.  With a smaller population than California in a land area 18 times greater1, there is little wonder that when you get beyond the coastal fringes you can ride a long way without seeing anyone.  Not only that, but if your fuel tank is too small, you aren’t going to make the next gas station.

For many Aussies, Dorothy MacKellar’s poem “My Country” published in 1908 embodies all that they hold dear about their large sun-baked rock:

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me!

For decades there have been Australians who love exploring their ‘wide brown land’ by motorcycle and there is a small, hard-core who think nothing of knocking over a couple of thousand kilometres in a weekend to see some mates. 

When Kawasaki released the 1400 GTR in Australia in 2007, well known magazine editor Peter ‘The Bear’ Thoeming came up with the idea of riding the bike from the furthest eastern part of the continent Cape Byron) to the western most point (Denham, WA) and back to seriously check its trans-continental capabilities.

Kawasaki Australia agreed to supply a bike so the challenge was on.

As ‘The Bear’ explains:  “So at the time I asked the late and sadly missed ‘Davo’ Jones, the founder of the FarRiders, to take one and ride it across Australia and back.  Just to prove that it really was a “trans-continental” bike.  Well, he did and it was.  The bike proved itself glowingly, and Davo bought one.”

What Jones did was ride the Kawasaki coast to coast, and back, a distance of 10,200km, in six days.

Fast forward to late 2013 when importer Mojo Motorcycles releases the CFMOTO 650TK in Australia.  We had already told Thoeming what good thing it was, (click here for our first take) and after sampling one at the Aussie launch, ‘The Bear’ wondered if it wasn’t time to mount a fresh trans-continental sortie, using the Chinese-built machine.

Mojo Motorcycles came on board and supplied not one, but two CFMOTO 650TKs so two riders could make the attempt.

The men chosen for the assignment were Karl Pirchmoser and Craig Harcombe two FarRiders also active in the Iron Butt Association and who have experience on bikes of different sizes.

Karl Pirchmoser and Craig Harcombe at Kimba.  Note the extra fuel on the back of the bikes.

Just to make things interesting, the two CFMOTO 650s were handed over to the two men at the CFMoto dealer in Dubbo.  From there they had to knock over 850km just to get to the starting point…

The two men then made the epic trip across Australia and back on the two CFMOTO 650s, one of which was a LAMS-approved model.  They carried additional fuel to enable them to complete some of the long uninhabited stretches and after six days were back at Cape Byron with 10,200km passing under the Chinese bike’s wheels.

Think about that for a moment.  Ten thousand kilometres in six days means they averaged 1700 kilometres each day.  That is almost like riding from Cape Reinga to Bluff in a day, then doing the return journey the next day, then back again, and so forth for six days.

Definitely not for the faint-hearted or the ill-prepared.

Despite hitting a kangaroo in the night, knocking it down and killing it then enduring a wild ride in the aftermath, Karl Pirchmoser stopped, inspected the bike and apart from a lot of blood and guts dripping off it, it was completely unscathed.
The two men also had some ‘fun’ passing road-trains, as Karl describes: “the 650TK has ample power to punch past them safely; the wind shear has minimal impact except on fuel economy as we push the bikes past the long road trains.  The rider is often subjected to contrasting air movement – often you are leaning one way counteracting the gusting winds, then as you pass the semi-trailer the bike is dragged into a neutral or opposite direction and when you pass the semi the bike has to be quickly leaned into the wind again, otherwise you find yourself on the edge of the road on the left-hand side of the highway.  This can be really hard work…” he wrote in his log.

For an idea of how motorists sometimes get this wrong, click here

“I am riding a LAMS-approved bike and find it has more than enough power and torque to satisfy the need of any long distance rider even though I have both panniers fully loaded and carrying ten litres of fuel on the rear rack.  I find the posture on the TK excellent; slightly leaning forward, no back strain and the ergonomics of all controls suit me,” Karl continued.

“Exhilarating, fantastic fun, the bikes were exiting to ride, this was certainly a ride I would not forget…”  he wrote, and as they rode through eastern NSW on the return leg, he noted: “I'm feeling a little down as I realise the pilgrimage is coming to an end. I really don't want it to stop.  The bike is an absolute pleasure to ride.”

And in conclusion he offered this: “What a bike; the CFMOTO 650TK is responsive, reliable and a comfortable bike that would suit anyone requiring a long distance tourer.  It proved capable of easily chewing up over 10,200 kilometres in less than six days.  This was the most enjoyable and memorable ride I had done!

For his part, Craig Harcombe, who had been pretty much anti-Chinese motorcycles before setting out, recorded that he was “really impressed with the bike; the motor, the frame, suspension were all great.“

He added:  “While riding it you pretty much forgot it was a 650.  It did everything I asked of it in whatever gear it was in at the time.  It's a really, really good touring bike and fun to ride in the twisty bits too. The CFMOTO 650TK proved itself as a capable tourer and it worked more than others.“

The Aussies are learning what we told you in last May:

1,   California:  423,970 km²
Population: 22.68 million
Australia:  7,692,024 km²
Population:  38.04 million