I tried not to wash this long-term test bike throughout the winter and all but the gear lever and a couple of the fasteners have remained untarnished, so it’s made of better material than many bikes on the market – and it’s £3,800! That’s one in the eye for the naysayers. Another thumbs up is the way it’ll cruise all day at whatever you ask and always return around 50mpg. And yet it doesn’t crash terribly well. After a hit and run (it was parked) the stick-out wings took the impact very well, but the footpeg also met terra firma. And broke off.
That’s not ideal for an overland travel bike, which is a shame as so much else works so well: The engine remains tractible and has plenty of mid-range grunt right where you need it to tour; it has only used about 200ml of oil in 8,000 miles and the fairing is really effective, permitting easy motorway miles when you have to.
Other things are a bit give and take: Although the updated locking mechanism on the luggage is more robust and ensures there’s no unexpected opening, it remains a bit of a faff to use. And while the boxes themselves are (almost) watertight, they are fixed to the bike and CFMoto don’t supply inner bags, which for the designed shape, really is an oversight. The fairing pockets though – one lockable – are brilliant in shape, positioning and size.
The whole bike handles admirably in normal conditions and the standard-issue Continental Road Attack 2 tyres are very good, but the suspension has a rather ‘wooden’ crudity to it that’s hard to pin down to one thing. That said, you rapidly get used to the set-up and spending even £500 on suspension mods for both ends would still make this an incredibly cheap bike. Remember that if you pay full retail (summer 2015) that’s only £3,800, and a far cry from the £9000 the Honda 700 Deauville had reached before it was recently axed from the range. I can’t think of another touring-ready middleweight on the market and certainly not for under 4 grand. Did I mention the price?
Given my thoughts above about suspension mods, I’d like to posit something you may think odd. Lower spec tyres might improve the handling. If you’re really ‘pressing on,’ as I was recently in Spain on hot sticky tarmac, the bike has a tendency to weave and get a little tied in knots. This can be unnerving but I hasten to add this is when riding hard enough to scrub the foot-pegs. While still on the Iberian I had to change the rear tyre (perhaps unsurprisingly) at 6,000 miles and couldn’t find a Continental to suit but sourced an old Michelin. This mis-matched pair improved things markedly and here’s what may be happening: The terrific grip offered by the Continental Road attack 2 tyres overpowers the chassis and by permitting almost imperceptible slip, the whole response is improved. I mention this because the earlier incarnation of this bike (2013) came with CST (Chen Shing Tyre) and my notes from the time don’t mention this weave. Just a thought.
The chain has just recently stretched beyond use (a lowly 8,500 miles) but again sourcing a quality replacement shouldn’t be an issue. Perhaps I shouldn’t make allowances but it’s £3,800. Interestingly, the really neat toolkit doesn’t include spanners to adjust the chain! The only overt failure I’ve experienced thus far is brake judder due to warped discs (quickly replaced) and water inside one of the rear indicator lenses as well as the previously mentioned light switch issue.
So, snapped off footpeg aside, would I buy one? Well it really is decision time because I’m considering buying this one and that doesn’t happen all that often. I’ll let you know.