We did a 2,000 mile ‘long-weekend’ test on one of these 70bhp 650 parallel twins about 18 months ago and you can read the full review here, but for 2015 there have been some updates that we thought we’d investigate and we were interested to know what long-term, mid-winter, ownership would be like. For the last month the CFMoto 650TR has been the Overland runaround and daily life with the machine has thrown up some interesting observations, not least that the fasteners haven’t all rusted!
But first, the updates. In themselves they may not be much but they do improve this Chinese-built bike and the astounding price remains the same. I’m not even sure that within our new globalised world, it’s worth saying ‘Chinese-built’ as most of the Japanese manufacturers have Chinese plants now, but this is a wholly-owned Chinese manufacturer so in essence the buck stops there.
So first up, as this is designed and marketed as a ready-to-go touring machine it was remarkable that the older model didn’t have either a time clock or a trip meter. Both of these are now present and operate from a single button mounted in the fairing ‘fascia’ to the left of the whole clock assembly. They are a simple inclusion that now makes the bike a much more realistic proposition for travel or for commuting, as sadly there is still no low fuel warning light. The 8-bar digital fuel gauge just disappears when fuel is low and then a barely visible, but hugely significant, small black fuel pump symbol flashes. Now at least with the trip meter you have something to check when you suddenly notice the situation.
Safe tank range is anywhere between 120 and 160 miles depending on use, but I haven’t pushed it further than that, just to check. Sorry. The lower figure is when I’ve been in a rush and completed over 90 miles at a continuous three-figure pace, so that’s hardly indicative. Surprisingly though, with a mix of short commuting, motorway, A and B road use, the last 1,500 miles have seen the CFMoto650 use fuel at an overall average of 51.9mpg. Consider too, that the luggage is already built in so you generally don’t need to make it less streamlined when you pack for your trip, and that is suddenly a wholly realistic travelling figure.
Another update is the fitment of a 12V power take-off conveniently positioned inside the left-hand fairing. I don’t actually have any heated clothing and have never used a satnav on a bike so I’m not in a position to pass judgement on its use, but it has a waterproof cover and seems to be in a good place.
The factory haven’t chosen to offer heated grips as an option, but they’ve given those built-in side opening panniers a re-think. Alas they still haven’t made them removable. What they have done is add extra clasps to each side to ensure the boxes keep their shape when fully (over)loaded and to ensure they definitely remain waterproof in use, which they do. The separate on-top locking mechanism hasn’t improved and doesn’t fill me with confidence for longevity though. There’s something unpleasant about the plastic quality of the handle.
It’s similar to the rather ‘cheap’ sensation I get when I use either the locking or easy-access pannier pockets. These are a terrific idea and very convenient for bungees, a small map, spare dry gloves, Werthers Originals etc it’s just they feel a bit nasty to use. But this is nit-picking because this bike still retails and just under £5,000 and there are deals to be had in dealers, so that’s an awful lot of machine that is ready to go touring straight out of the box. (NOTE that for summer 2015 that price has been reduced to an unbelievable £3700)
The fairing remains terrific, buffet-free and quiet, enabling those sustained three-figure speeds, and although the engine is very happy at that, the whole bike is more stable at an indicated 80/90mph. So if it’s a pan European jaunt or the daily commute, everything’s here.
But the centre stand still isn’t. In part this is due to the design of the stubby exhaust which has a lot of silencing equipment tucked in underneath, but I still think they should try to get this sorted as I’ve tried to lube the chain a couple of times and just got bored, not least because the panniers aren’t removable and the chain runs the same side as the sidestand, so is exceptionally difficult to access. The lack of centre stand really is a black mark when you want to travel.
Apart from the addition of Continental Road Attack 2 tyres as standard equipment now, that is the end of the updates list. The suspension feels a little more crude and choppy than the old model but I’m yet to ascertain whether the spec or supplier of the suspension has changed.
There is still no ABS, nor ABS option. There are no other rider aids and thus theoretically, no extra stuff to go wrong, which really appeals to me. Practically, I’ve discovered that the headlights, both dip and full beam are separately adjustable and easily so, via a knurled nut; mechanical. That’s something else I like, so if you do add an extra load it takes seconds to sort out.
In excessively wet weather the headlight full beam comes on, whether the lights themselves are even switched on. It seems that the left-hand switchgear may be filling up with water and causing the problem so I hope it gets sorted, because having to mess around with silicone or grease on a new bike is disappointing. Interestingly, it’s a problem I’ve suffered with two previous Italian bikes. With them everyone told me it was a characterful foible. I can’t help thinking the ‘made in China’ moniker might mean opinion will be more damning of the CFMoto 650TR which is misplaced but typical.