CFMoto Middleweights – 650NK and 650TR – the Coming Competition?

CFMoto 650NK - middleweight from China

CFMoto 650NK - middleweight from China

Kawasaki ER-6n - maybe a little design inspiration?

Kawasaki ER-6n - maybe a little design inspiration?

CFMoto is introducing a couple of new middleweight motorcycles, the 650NK and 650TR. These could be a sign of things to come, bargain priced middleweight motorcycles with good performance and decent quality from mainland China, new competition for established companies in a sector they dominate at a pricepoint that could cause big changes in the market. Some might point to the 650NK and then the Kawasaki ER-6n and say it's easy to keep prices low when someone else did the design work and you just "borrow" it, but that seems to be the way some companies and countries do business and it isn't the first time it's happened, not the first country to do so, either.

CFMoto V5CFMoto of Hangzhou, China, has been building smaller displacement motorcycles, scooters and 4 wheelers for years. You may be familiar with some of their motorcycles, especially the CVT equipped 250cc V3 and V5 sold in the US under both the CFMoto and Qlink name. You wouldn't mistake them for anything other than what they were, but CFMoto, like so many other Chinese companies, is moving upmarket and the 650NK and TR are their first shot at it.

CFMoto 650TR

CFMoto 650TR

One of our readers pointed me to these bikes and to an article in Cycle News from several months back, where Alan Cathcart tested the 650NK in Australia where it's evidently already available. He wrote quite a glowing review and seemed to think these are the real deal. Since I have neither seen nor ridden one, I can't say, but I have no reason to doubt his word, and if accurate, they may sell very well and be the first of a coming wave.

Both the 650NK and 650TR are powered by a 70 horsepower 650cc parallel twin with a 6 speed transmission. There's nothing exotic in the technology, but what they want is competence and quality at a bargain price and at somewhere around $6000 (based on Australian prices), they may have accomplished their goal. They will not be available in the US until November of this year and the price has not been officially announced so things may still change.

It will be interesting to see the reception these bikes receive from buyers. If they start to move, some companies in Japan may have to recalibrate their offerings. Interesting.

Big tip of the hat to CW for sending the info for this article!

Link: CFMoto

Related: Japan’s Motorcycle Wars

Comments

  1. Pat says

    It’s also easier to keep the price down when the bikes are being built by student protesters and their families in “re-education camps”

    • k decamp says

      you do realize what decade this is right?why not back a Chinese bike?it is the least they deserve after the Hell we have put them through in the last 100 years.i say bring it on….if they can bring the Chinese philosophy out in cycle form we will be in for a treat!!

  2. todd says

    Typically this segment from the major manufacturers is built in China already. The only difference is brand identity. I’m familiar with the CFMoto name because a rep gave me a hat at an event years ago, otherwise they have a long road ahead of them to gain recognition and acceptance. Honda has already positioned themselves to fight these new brands with the $6999 NC700X as has and will be Triumph, BMW, Suzuki, Kawasaki, etc, etc. People will have to like the new CFMoto’s an awful lot to pass up Honda’s reputation and dealer network (and perceived build quality) just to save $1000.

    All the best of luck to them. Maybe someone will field a few in WERA’s lightweight twins racing events. That should help if they do well.

    -todd

  3. mark444 says

    I hope their “build quality” is alot better than the flood of cheap chinese scooters/minibikes/go-karts. Check your local Craigslist………search under “scooters”, and see how many have less than 1,000 miles on them and need “TLC” (i.e. mechanical repairs)………..for dirt cheap (compared to the Jap versions). As one has said……….”It’s all how a product is “perceived” to be, not if it really is good or not”.

  4. says

    At one time we said the same thing about the Japanese cars. ” tiny little pieces of junk, who will drive those “… and guess what.
    The Chinese will get their quality before we know it and if other companies want to keep up this is their chance to get a running start.

    • Richard Gozinya says

      Part of why the Japanese did what they did required the Big 3 to do what they did. Detroit let quality fall, while the Japanese worked tirelessly to build better products. Right now, Japan, at least as far as motorcycles go, seems to be pulling a bit of a Detroit, while Europe is making the gains.

      That naked is going to have to compete with Triumph, Ducati, and KTM, something I just don’t see ending well for CFMoto.

      • kevin says

        “That naked is going to have to compete with Triumph, Ducati, and KTM, something I just don’t see ending well for CFMoto.”

        Price point.

    • Richard Gozinya says

      Honda does, with the NT700V. Aprilia’s got the Mana 850 GT, which more or less fits in that category too. BMW’s got the F800ST, and I’m sure there’s others out there as well.

      CFMoto’s not breaking any new ground, and quality of product remains to be seen.

      • Chaz says

        Honda does import the Deauville/NT700V, but the base price in the U.S. is $11,199.00. I personally have never seen one, including at a Honda dealer, probably because the BMW is a better buy. There is a huge difference in price that this bike could exploit.

  5. B50 JIm says

    I’d have to see one in person — the Chinese scooters and 250 cc twins I’ve seen look fine from 20 feet, but up close they have a definite hardware-store appearance. The Chinese do learn quickly, however, and I don’t doubt they’ll offer good bikes at lower cost than the competition. And besides, your only other choice of a “Commie bike” is a Ural.

    But I wonder how well they’ll understand that half of operating a motorcycle business is service? They can’t simply flood the market with bikes and expect customers to accept indifferent warranty service, long waits for parts, ineffective recall response and poorly trained personnel. It took Honda a few years to learn, and the English never fully did learn until Triumph’s resurrection.

    But that middlewieght sport tourer IS a tasty-looking piece. If CFMoto builds it to world quality standards, it will be a solid competitor.

  6. Bigshankhank says

    I kind of like the naked one, sort of a KTM Duke-esque appearance to it. Having owned two Qlink GY6 scooters I can say that with a little elbow grease right from the get go, and some patience to work out the bugs in the first 1000 miles or so they turned out to be rather reliable little scoots. And these were ’05 models, I have to think that in that time since CFMoto has learned at least a little more about quality.
    I welcome competition to the establishment, I like these bikes.

  7. bbartcadia says

    China’s communist society routinely thumbs its nose at trade laws, patent and copy rights of other countries. Until greedy merchants stop selling their junk in the US or our government prohibits the importation they will continue. The bikes won’t be coming home with me for any price.

    • john says

      They don’t need to sell a single d* bike in America. North America is a pathetic market for motorcycles compared to just about any country in Asia.

  8. Josh says

    The 650TR is a pretty good looking bike if you ask me. It looks heaps better than the China stuff on the market 5 years ago. And 5 years before that, all we got were crap scooters.. 5 years prior to that again, I don’t think any Chinese vehicles were widely sold in the US or Europe. Seems they’re making pretty good progress then..

    • JSH says

      Chinese vehicles are widely sold in the US, they just don’t have Chinese names on the tank. US, EU, Japanese, and Korean companies have been outsourcing to China for years. It started with parts and has progressed to entire motorcycles and ATV’s. The Chinese can build a quality product or a cheap and disposable product. It simply depends on what the customer asks for.

      Major OEM’s insist on quality product because their name brand is on the tank and their reputation is at stake. Fly by night importers buy the cheapest crap they can and then change their name for the next shipment. This is why the general public is more aware of the crap coming out of China but not the quality product.

  9. Tin Man says

    With their government backing they will dump bikes into every market they can gain access to, just like the Japanese did in the 70s. Our Greedy consumers will look the other way from child labor, polution and forced labor camps to buy the cheapest products and proclaim their rights to buy what they want as they ship our money out of the country until we join the 3rd world economy.

    • says

      Hate to point this out, but the keyboard you typed that message with was built under the same conditions.
      I’m a huge human rights advocate. It is my greatest cause and concern. But honestly there does a point where you just can’t avoid some things without going around naked with no possessions. Sadly purchasing such goods just can not be avoided in our world today. And though I think it important that these conditions are pointed out, talked about, and governments and companies pressured to change, there is simply no way to avoid it all together.
      Even with US companies, pieces may be outsourced, or the company themselves have less than appropriate behavior both here or abroad. (a certain popular soda comes to mind supporting death squads for union busting abroad) anyway, I’m here to enjoy the bikes, so…sorry to have rambled on that.

  10. todd says

    Well, it’s sad. If we want anything American made that is remotely like these bikes we’re left with the Motus at $31-37k. Not that the Motus is a sad bike, on the contrary, it’s beautiful and, hopefully, better built than these. We just need more options.

    At least a large portion of the money from the sale of the CFMoto will go towards a few, American companies. Likely, at these prices, (and judging by Cleveland Cycle Werks 14,000 sales in it’s first two years) there may be quite a few sales.

    -todd

    • says

      On the walk up the hill tonite, I saw my very first CCW Misfit in person.

      Here’s to them keeping it going, getting that Cleveland plant going and building something with at least 500ccs for me to straddle.

      • Jim Kunselman says

        To CWJ,
        As a native-born Cleveland guy, there’s nothing I want more than to see Cleveland Cycle Werks grow and succeed. I hear that they have a 450cc bike ready for release, getting closer to your straddle requirement, but I’d love to see a small bore v-twin in their line-up. Something in a 500-to-750cc range, manufactured right here.
        In fact, I think Paule Crowe should introduce them to Aniket Vardhan (if it hasn’t happened yet).

  11. says

    hum..

    as said before, both the Japanese and the Korean went through that phase of “doubtful quality products”. It took about 30 years to the Japanese to make an image, 15 years to the Koreans, and (I hope) that the Chinese will take about 5 years to prove the worthiness of their motor products.

    So far, there are Chinese-built brand products, such as the Loncin engine used on the G 650GS (with BMW quality standards), Apple products, Brazilian “Suzuki” 125cc motorbikes and whatsoever. However, “chinese Branded” products still haven´t shown what they are worth. Chinese motorcycles sold here fall to pieces quickly, and the Chinese cars that are coming around aren´t that reliable. For example, I took a test drive on a Chery A3 (called Cielo here) and I didn´t feel much confidence on its reliability (it looked like the gear knob would fall off on my hands). JAC Motors cars are selling a lot here, but with some reports of body corrosion and other problems.

    There were rumors that Jialing would sell the JH600 with 300cc prices around here, but they are saying that for nearly five years, so far, nothing.

    Oh, I like the looks of this 650TR, if it is proved reliable, I sure would buy one.

  12. joe says

    I guess when you can copy someone else’s designs without spending millions of dollars and many man hours developing your own product, you have a massive advantage. With reverse engineering and a couple of cosmetic changes they can avoid patent law’s and flood the market with bargain basement products. This is happening with just about every product you look at. Honda almost dominated the small petrol powered commercial machinery market with its engines. Now they have been mostly replaced with Chinese knock off’s. This is not like the Japanese or Koreans when they entered the market. China has more cheap labour and factory output than most of the world combined. Maybe in ten years everyone will be riding Chinese motorcycle, but how will we pay for them if our own manufacturing jobs and economies are almost nonexistent.

  13. Honyock says

    It’s very interesting that the new players enter the market with middleweight twins. Korea’s Hyosung tried very hard to sell a knockoff of the SV650, naked and faired, with a 3 year warranty. Unfortunately, the shop selling them went belly up in less than a year, making the warranty kinda moot. They also emphasized that the Hyosung was $1000 less expensive while failing to mention that it was 100 pounds heavier. The market seems to have deemed them Not Ready For Prime Time. If these models don’t compare well with the Kaw ER and her sister the Ninja 650, they won’t get any traction either.

    • says

      “the shop”?

      Hyosung is still in business in the US as far as I can tell. The “knockoff sv650″ you mention had a completely different frame from the Suzuki. Most of their sales came from the 250 version far as I know….which basically shared a frame with the GS500.

      ps: Suzuki used Hyosung to build engine parts.

    • Wave says

      I see loads of Hyosungs around in South Australia. They’ve been popular here for years, as they’re cheap and the 650cc model is legal to ride on a learner’s licence. I haven’t heard anything bad about them.

  14. navek says

    the sport tourer looks very nicely styled but for me to part with $6K there would have to be a serious dealer network. I would not buy an Aprillia, Moto Guzzi or Benelli because they have a poor to non existant dealer network close to where I live, not because the bikes are bad. A guy on a small capacity touring forum that I read has a Lifan clone GY5 (?) with 40,000 miles on it. He had to tighten things up initially and swop a few things ie battery, chain but the core bike has fared very well and has never let him down. It is like owning a bike in the 1930′s/40′s 50′s the owners had to carry out a lot of the maintenance!

  15. somedudeonthenet says

    Scoff at this Chinese knock-off of a Japanese bike, point out the trade laws, etc. Would you ride this bike? In the U.S.A? In Australia? The U.K.? Everyone involved with the creation of this bike wants a paycheck, and if you buy it, they will keep building it. How much brand loyalty do you have to reject the competitors?

  16. G says

    I would doubt the price of any bike in australia for 6000$, hyosungs are more than 8000$,

    • Mark in Sydney says

      My experience is that Oz is an expensive motorcycle market, both new and used (e.g. a VFR800 Interceptor goes here for $15k new as opposed to around $10.5k in the States). These CFMoto puppies are very inexpensive

      http://www.650nk.com.au/

      If you look at the spec page, they are listed at $5990 plus on-road-costs. I can’t say that I have noticed too many tooling around the city, but then I haven’t checked the city parking lots recently. I suspect they would make an excellent commuter.

  17. Hooligan says

    The dark satanic mills (remember the last industrial revolution?) of current China may be considered servitude and monetary slavery. But the idea that the factories churning out motorbikes by the million are forced labour camps is a little far fetched.

  18. B50 Jim says

    China’s industrial situation is much like America’s in the early 20th century, contributing to the growth of a consuming middle class that is seeing its purchasing power growing, and which is demanding products to spend its money on. As in this country, the process is rife with upheaval and problems, but on the whole, the average Chinese consumer’s lot is improving drastically. Considering that the mass of Chinese lived in feudal poverty and suffered periodic famines just three generations ago, they have made impressive gains. They have a long way to go and will never reach Western levels under what amounts to a benign police state (benign, that is, as long as everyone keeps their mouth shut and stays in line), but they are the up-and-coming world consuming powerhouse. This all depends upon a relatively stable world economy, which right now isn’t a sure thing.

    No matter what, we live in a world market, and products from nearly all nations will find their way to consumers wherever there is a demand, protectionism notwithstanding. Even with that, if riders want Chinese bikes, they will get them. Sure, the Chinese are “cheating” with a manipulated currency and import restrictions, but we still buy their stuff. If American consumers had at the outset refused to buy “Made in China”, the world would not now be flooded with Chinese products. But price trumped nationalism, and here we are. We can’t go back, but I believe American manufacturers can beat the Chinese at their own game — the boys at CCW are showing the way by building good, attractive bikes that riders actually want, at reasonable prices (how ’bout a 500, then a 650?). It costs far less to ship from Cleveland than Bejing. And “Made in America” still has power to move products. CCW has to let consumers know that their purchase dollars are staying in this country, benefiting Americans.

    • Goat Kamal says

      Actually CCW’s engines are built in China last I looked. And if I recall correctly many of their american-made parts are “off-road use only”. This was not, as one would expect, that the production costs and quality of the U.S.-made parts are a problem, but liability. Apparently once the U.S. Companies CCW was attempting to source from found out that the parts were for motorcycles, they would not produce the parts. Painful.

    • Goat Kamal says

      … and no negativity aimed at CCW. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they rolled some profits back into the company to buy their own danged tooling and build the bits and bikes themselves.

  19. Tin Man says

    CCW assembles bikes in Cleveland, They are manufactured in China. Thus the majority of the bikes price goes overseas. Putting together Knock Down Kits is cheap and easy, its the manufacturing that costs money and adds the value. It may be a lost cause but I will continue to TRY and buy American when I can. The USA can not thrive without making things, The Germans seem to be one of the few people who understand this and thus they have the least debt and strongest economy among industrial nations.

    • B50 Jim says

      I’m hoping that once they get the factory rolling and start selling enough bikes, they can begin building more components here. It’s devilishly difficult to do but not impossible. Certainly they want to, but the realities of start-up manufacturing dictate they source components wherever they can. I’ll be watching them — hoping for a success story.

  20. whylie says

    It looks as though bikes will soon be added to the disposable product list, along with almost everything else made in china.

  21. fraz1 says

    Well the young guy next door has a CFMoto 650nk. He’s been doing a 120kilometre round commute every day for 3 months nothing wrong so far.As for it being a er6n knockoff we parked it next to one at the kawa shop and even the dealer said it was noticibly different.Yes style wise it did appear similar. We did what all riders should do with an unknown make and went over it with the spanners before it’s first long ride.We changed the oil and filter as well. I have ridden it a few times and after sorting out the suspension and changing the brake fluid it goes and stops very nicely.He’s about to get the 10k service done and all up he’s happy with his new ride.

  22. says

    the CF moto actually is a good bike. We tried it and ridden it in China. But the built quality and assembly quality is not yet according the Japanese standards. The biggest problem with the Chinese factories is the assembly and the quality of it. Another problem with this kind of Chinese manufacturers that want to go up market is that they do not understand or do not see the difference in the built quality of a cf moto and a real Kawasaki. But they want to price their product almost accordingly to their Japanese counter part. And this where is goes wrong. The cf moto just isn’t a competitive proposition. It is too expensive.

  23. Major Tom says

    Funnily enough, here in the UK, the weekly bike paper Motor Cycle News reviewed the CF Moto this week.

    Their review was hardly “glowing,” I suppose that being down to the fact that they cater more for the enthusiast as opposed to the commuter.

    To take a quote which pretty well sums up their article; “It’s taut enough, steers OK and the brakes are adequate, but none of it is inspiring… there’s none of the class of the ER-6.”

    This misses the most important point, which is that it does a job and it is cheap, certainly when compared to the ER-6N upon which a lot of it is based, about £1500 ($2300 at time of writing). For some people that’s all they want. A friend of mine ( a self confessed non-petrolhead) summed this up by his decision to buy a brand new Korean car under a 5 year warranty rather than a second hand european car, purely for ease of mind. The enthusiast may scoff, but it’s the rest of the market who will decide.

    There is of course the supposed Ruskin quote to consider in this matter:
    “There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that person’s lawful prey.”

    As an aside, it’s funny how any comment on production in the “Mystic East” always comes round to CCW; rather like the articles on home made motorbikes always have comments about the Britten….

  24. Marvin says

    To me it also looks a little like the yamaha XJ6. Does the TR have a totally different frame?

  25. kevin says

    “My experience is that Oz is an expensive motorcycle market…”

    The same goes for cars. I thought the relatively strong U.S. dollar and weak Aussie dollar was the cause but now that the situation has reversed the prices haven’t come down.

    Methinks the Aussies impose higher taxes on cars and motorcycles and tariffs on non domestic manufacturers.

  26. Kevin says

    Yes, China CAN build a quality product, when the brand requires it. But i have yet to see when a Chinese branded product has maintained quality. So, I will remain skeptical of this product.
    Of course you can also bring up the labor conditions, neglect for patents, etc.
    To me, the reason to buy a motorcycle is passion. Commuting is dangerous and boring. Motorcycles are all about taking them out for a fun ride. If the reason I buy a bike is the passion for riding, I would much rather buy from a manufacturer that builds bikes because it is their passion. That (as well as quality) is why I would much rather buy a Motus, Buell, KTM or Ducati over even a Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha or Suzuki. The jap companies are generally driven by profit, not passion, and i would put the Chinese a notch below them as 120% driven by profit. That is not the type of business I want to buy my passion from, even if they can match the quality.

  27. stopcommunism says

    Im sure these bikes are garbage…for all the reasons exhaustfully explained already.
    We are worried about supporting commies, but look at D.C.
    We are on the verge of being there ourselves, and we keep buying foreign!
    Until American companies start putting out quality product at a affordable, to the (lower)middle class, then stuff like this will be imported, bought up, and dumped.

    Is there an american bike being produced right now that you would consider buying under 10k?
    Hell is there an american bike you’d consider buying at all?

    im a poor(ish), late 20′s sport bike rider…and that’s my 2cents

  28. Cobalt says

    I have a Chinese motorcycle and other than some dry-rot hoses, it’s been pretty good to me. I’m amazed at how fast the designs are evolving. Yeah, they’re probably just copied from Japanese bikes, but I think that it’s a little unfair to say that they’re total rip-offs when one motorcycle is bound to look like another.

    My motorcycle has all kinds of gaudy decals, but I’d easily mistake something like this for a Japanese bike: http://i01.i.aliimg.com/img/pb/871/908/462/462908871_264.jpg

    • todd says

      That’s a really nice looking bike! Is it a 125 or 250? I need to look that up and see if they’re available in California.

      -todd

  29. UKinOZ says

    I bought a CFMoto 650NK last month, traded up from Hyosung 250GTR, main reason was to get away from sports bike, and a bit more power.

    I think you probably need to know the market for these bikes in Australia, they are for learners, what’s know as LAMS approved, I have been riding for about 18 months, I am still restricted on what bikes I can legally ride.

    As for the bike, it’s a great ride, so ease to handle, the power is there, if not a bit jerky, maybe that’s my exp. but I find I have to use clutch more, smoother release than hyosung, also the gear shift is a bit more deliberate than the hyosung, lift/press harder.

    Quality wise, not sure yet, the exhaust shroud fell off, not good, but all covered under warranty, first service due soon, so will keep you posted.

    Reason for purchase, price, performance, styling and most important learner approved.

  30. says

    My partner and I have just ridden the 650 TR over 12,000 kilometers on the China leg of our round the world expedition (incl. 5000 meters up on the Tibetan Plateau) . We rode From South Africa to UK on KTM 990 Adventures. The story and the technical review is at our website… http://www.bigbiketrip.net. I have owned 31 motorcycles in my life and ridden well over 80 other ones since 1976. This is a good bike and excellent value for money. I was pleasantly surprised. In summary, the positives are engine, suspension, balance, handling, style, and instrument panel … Negatives are quality of mirrors, switches, service interval and the seat could be a bit more comfortable.

  31. phil says

    I bought the 650nk second edition. With $5k change in my pocket over a Japanese bike and 250kms into the run in period I am happy. The knockers will never like something they do not understand, but with shops that have been open for 20+ years selling them, and 2yr unlimited km warranty it is a good deal. I’ll report back with any updates after the run in.