The CFMOTO 700CL-X’s styling is defined as neo-retro, similar to Honda’s CB650R. The base-model CL-X would be the most at home in commuting and around-town riding.

The CFMOTO 700CL-X’s styling is defined as neo-retro, similar to Honda’s CB650R. The base-model CL-X would be the most at home in commuting and around-town riding. (CFMOTO/)

Ups

  • KYB adjustable fork
  • Powerful 693cc parallel-twin engine
  • One-click cruise control

Downs

  • Awkward 18/17-inch staggered wheel fitment on base model
  • Cable-operated slipper clutch
  • Questionable exhaust and overall header design

Verdict

In a market dominated by Japanese, Euro, and American-made motorcycles, CFMOTO is tearing down age-old stereotypes of poor manufacturing and performance from Chinese competitors with models like the 700CL-X and 700CL-X Sport.

The 700CL-X Sport is the more performance-oriented model in the 700CL-X lineup. CFMOTO describes the bike as “a street-smart motorcycle with a stripped-down, muscular look and attitude to match.”

The 700CL-X Sport is the more performance-oriented model in the 700CL-X lineup. CFMOTO describes the bike as “a street-smart motorcycle with a stripped-down, muscular look and attitude to match.” (CFMOTO/)

Overview

For two decades, CFMOTO has been a driving force in the Chinese ATV and side-by-side market, targeting machines from the Japanese Big Four, European, and American manufacturers. In 2007, the company opened its US-based headquarters in Plymouth, Minnesota, poised to take the American market by storm. For 2022, the company entered the moto market, releasing a seven-model lineup to appeal to various riders.

The company’s flagship bike, the 700CL-X, is impressive for the price, claiming performance that rivals far more expensive and acclaimed motorcycles. The 700CL-X and CL-X Sport feature the same powerplant and chassis, including a powerful liquid-cooled 693cc parallel-twin engine, trellis frame, fully adjustable KYB fork, and a single link-mounted KYB monotube shock.

A powerful liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine, a well-spec’d and sorted chassis, and a price point designed to pique rider interest all combine to make CFMOTO’s flagship motorcycle a potential force in the US market.

The 700CL-X runs a staggered 18/17-inch wheel combo, compared to the Sport’s even 17-inchers, and standard bars for a more upright seating position.

The 700CL-X runs a staggered 18/17-inch wheel combo, compared to the Sport’s even 17-inchers, and standard bars for a more upright seating position. (CFMOTO/)

Updates for 2022

This is CFMOTO’s first iteration of the 700CL-X.

Pricing and Variants

CFMOTO offers the 700CL-X in two separate models, base and Sport. Both models are reasonably priced and well-spec’d naked motos, with the base the more affordable of the two, coming in at $6,499 compared to the Sport’s $6,999 price tag. The 700CL-X is loaded with vintage scrambler-inspired styling, while the Sport pulls inspiration from classic cafe racers.

The base model runs staggered 18/17-inch wheels, compared to the Sport’s even 17-inchers, and standard bars for a comfortable upright seating position. By contrast, the Sport is equipped with cafe-racer clip-ons for a low-slung seating position and sportier riding feel.

The price difference doesn’t involve mere styling changes, however. The base model is outfitted with J.Juan brakes front and rear, including a 320mm single disc, four-piston front setup and a 260mm single disc, two-piston rear; the Sport features Brembo Stylema calipers at either end, using 300mm dual disc rotors up front and 260mm dual disc rotors at the rear. The Brembo brake setup is more than capable of stopping the 700 CL-X Sport quickly, though as we discovered on our initial test ride, some may find the brakes to be a bit touchy and difficult to manage compared to the J.Juan’s on the base-model bike.

As for colors, the base receives Coal Gray or Twilight Blue options, while the Sport is available in Velocity Gray or Nebula White.

The 700CL-X is available in two colorways, Twilight Blue and Coal Gray. MSRP is $6,499, and the bike comes with a two-year manufacturer warranty.

The 700CL-X is available in two colorways, Twilight Blue and Coal Gray. MSRP is $6,499, and the bike comes with a two-year manufacturer warranty. (CFMOTO/)

Competition

CFMOTO’s 700CL-X models are engineered to be direct competitors to established and far more expensive naked competitors from the Japanese Big Four and European manufacturers. That said, the middleweight naked class is chock-full of solid competition.

Competition includes the Suzuki SV650 ($7,399), Yamaha MT-07 ($7,899), Kawasaki Z650 ($7,749), Triumph Trident ($8,395), and Aprilia Tuono 660 ($10,499).

The Ducati Scrambler lineup is also comparable, at least on a non-cost basis; other manufacturers like Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha have cafe-styled options that should be considered, such as the Honda CB650R ($9,299), Kawasaki Z650RS ($9,099), and Yamaha XSR700 ($8,799).

The 700CL-X and CL-X Sport feature the same powerplant, a 693cc liquid-cooled DOHC parallel twin producing a claimed 74 hp and 47.9 lb.-ft. of torque.

The 700CL-X and CL-X Sport feature the same powerplant, a 693cc liquid-cooled DOHC parallel twin producing a claimed 74 hp and 47.9 lb.-ft. of torque. (CFMOTO/)

Powertrain: Engine, Transmission, and Performance

The 700CL-X and 700CL-X Sport share a 693cc DOHC liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine producing a claimed 74 hp and 47.9 lb.-ft. of torque. Power is routed through a six-speed, CF-SC slipper-clutch transmission.

The engine is smooth and responsive, and while not equipped with a hydraulic clutch like some higher-priced bikes in its class, the classic, cable-driven clutch is extremely light and performs well in nearly all conditions.

On the street, power delivery is linear up to 8,500 rpm, while the engine will happily rev higher in track-style situations, incidentally where we initially tested the 700CL-X models.

The 700CL-X Sport separates itself from the base model with a range of styling and performance upgrades. Notice the sporty tailsection and clip-on handlebars for a more aggressive riding triangle.

The 700CL-X Sport separates itself from the base model with a range of styling and performance upgrades. Notice the sporty tailsection and clip-on handlebars for a more aggressive riding triangle. (CFMOTO/)

Handling

Both 700CL-X models use a KYB 41mm fully adjustable front fork and fully adjustable, link-mounted KYB monotube rear shock. The suspension provides an excellent balance of comfort and performance fresh out of the box. With some additional preload, both models handle well enough for aggressive riding. The base model’s Pirelli MT 60 RS rubber is more than enough for the bike in all riding conditions, while the Sport’s Maxxis MA-ST2 tires provide even more grip for sportier riding.

The 700CL-X Sport (right) gets a massive upgrade in the braking department, with Brembo Stylema calipers biting dual 300mm discs. Base model (left) runs a J.Juan caliper and single 320mm disc up front.

The 700CL-X Sport (right) gets a massive upgrade in the braking department, with Brembo Stylema calipers biting dual 300mm discs. Base model (left) runs a J.Juan caliper and single 320mm disc up front. (CFMOTO/)

Brakes

The 700 CL-X series of bikes are equipped with more-than-adequate brakes for their class, with the base model sporting a J.Juan 330mm single disc and four-piston caliper up front. Rear brake package is a 260mm single disc with two-piston caliper. The Sport’s dual discs and four-piston Brembo setup are an obvious upgrade, and work with a dual-piston, dual-disc rear setup to offer more braking performance.

Oddly enough, the Sport’s brakes suffered more critiques from our test riders due to questionable hot-lap performance and inconsistent brake feel. Both bikes are outfitted with Continental ABS, which performs adequately in dry and wet conditions.

Fuel Economy

There is no Cycle World recorded fuel economy data.

Ergonomics: Comfort and Utility

With comfortable peg positioning and a 31.5-inch seat height, both models feature relatively comfortable ergonomics well suited for both sport riding and weekend touring. The base model’s standard handlebar makes for a more upright seating position when compared to the Sport’s clip-ons, giving the base model a slight edge in comfort.

More differences between the 700CL-X (left) and 700CL-X Sport (right). Notice the bar-end mirrors on the Sport, versus the traditional mirror setup base model. All 700CL-X models come with an LED headlight, taillights, auto-canceling turn signals, stylized daytime running lights, and a center-mounted gauge.

More differences between the 700CL-X (left) and 700CL-X Sport (right). Notice the bar-end mirrors on the Sport, versus the traditional mirror setup base model. All 700CL-X models come with an LED headlight, taillights, auto-canceling turn signals, stylized daytime running lights, and a center-mounted gauge. (CFMOTO/)

Electronics

The CFMOTO 700CL-X series features retro-style digital displays, dual riding modes, one-click cruise control, self-canceling turn signals, and ABS as standard equipment. However, the bike’s ABS cannot be turned off, potentially damping the fun of especially spirited riding sessions.

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

CFMOTO includes a two-year factory warranty on every 700CL-X and CL-X Sport.

Quality

The CFMOTO 700CL-X is an impressive bike with quality manufacturing and fabrication; welds are clean and uniform, the muffler assembly is premium, and the digital display is bright and clear.

2022 CFMOTO 700CL-X and 700CL-X Sport Claimed Specifications

MSRP: $6,499/$6,999
Engine: 693cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled parallel twin; 4 valves/cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 83.0 x 64.0mm
Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/chain
Fuel Delivery: Bosch EFI w/ ride-by-wire throttle
Clutch: Wet, multiplate slipper; cable actuated
Frame: Tubular steel w/ aluminum alloy swingarm
Front Suspension: 41mm inverted fork, compression, rebound and preload adjustable; 5.9 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Monoshock, rebound and preload adjustable; 5.9 in. travel
Front Brake: Radial-mounted 4-piston J.Juan caliper, 320mm disc w/ ABS (base) / 4-piston Brembo Stylema calipers, dual 300mm discs w/ ABS (Sport)
Rear Brake: 2-piston floating J.Juan caliper, 260mm disc w/ ABS (base) / radial-mounted 2-piston Brembo caliper, 260mm disc w/ ABS (Sport)
Wheels, Front/Rear: Aluminum alloy; 18 x 3.5 in.; 17 x 4.5 in. (base) / 17 x 3.5 in.; 17 x 4.5 in. (Sport)
Tires, Front/Rear: 110/80R-18; 180/55R-17 (base) / 120/70R-17; 180/55R-17 (Sport)
Rake/Trail: 24.5°/4.3 in.
Wheelbase: 56.5 in.
Ground Clearance: 6.3 in.
Seat Height: 31.5 in.
Fuel Capacity: 3.4 gal.
Claimed Wet Weight: 432 lb. (base) / 451 lb. (Sport)
Contact: CFMOTOusa.com
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