CFMoto 650TK – First Ride Review

The CFMoto 650TK. (Photography by Stephen Piper)
The CFMoto 650TK. (Photography by Stephen Piper)

The Chinese motorcycle industry’s long march into the global marketplace with a range of full-size models aimed at Western customers finally got under way four years ago with the parallel-twin CFMoto 650NK. An unashamed reinterpretation of the Kawasaki ER6n, with comparable performance but a 45-percent lower retail price, this was the first “proper” bike with an engine larger than 250cc to emerge from the world’s largest motorcycle industry.

Shortly afterward, CFMoto brought a CFMoto 650TK tourer to the USA, which retailed for $6,999 for the 2013 and 2014 model years. So far the bike has not returned for 2015, but the 650NK is still available, and it’s worth reporting on our recent ride in Australia on a 650TK as the bike is likely to reappear in the U.S. at any time.

The CFMoto 650TK fully faired hard-luggage junior bagger is powered by the same 83 x 60mm DOHC parallel-twin 649cc eight-valve motor as found in the 650NK, with a 180-degree crankshaft, chain camdrive and a gear-driven counterbalancer to smooth out the vibes. Its Italian-sourced fuel injection package comes from Ducati Energia, with twin 38mm ITT throttle bodies and Magneti Marelli injectors, while the 6-speed transmission features a Japanese-developed FCC oil-bath clutch. Producing 69.73 horsepower at 8,500 rpm, with maximum torque of 45.72 lb-ft at 7,000 revs, this compact motor sits in a tubular-steel diamond frame carrying non-adjustable KYB/Kayaba suspension, with a 41mm fork and cantilever rear shock. But that can’t even be adjusted for spring preload to take account of a passenger, or a full load in the non-detachable but lockable dual panniers, which offer 60 litres of storage and are surprisingly waterproof.

A 375-mile tour of the Victorian Goldfields northwest of Melbourne, Australia, delivered a proper evaluation of the 650TK’s touring pretensions. The whole motorcycle has an air of substance about it that’s quite out of kilter with its former price tag. The substantial mirrors give an excellent view behind, as well as protect your hands—my leather gloves didn’t get damp in any of the successive springtime showers I rode through. Equally, the non-adjustable screen gave good protection in the rain, as just the right height for a six-footer offering no undue turbulence.

The 650TK’s cast aluminium pullback handlebar is ideally positioned, delivering a comfortable, straight-backed stance, though the 31.3-inch seat height means that anyone much taller will probably feel cramped. But the low seat makes the 650TK ideal for female riders, for amongst its target customer groups that include touring tyros in search of an accessible and user friendly mount, CFMoto markets the model new as a Hers tourer to go with His BMW R 1200 RT or Harley Road King. Makes sense.

The 650TK’s comfortable seat has zero vibration thanks to the engine’s well-weighted counterbalancer and hefty balance weights in the handlebar ends. The twin 300mm front discs gripped by twin-piston calipers work pretty well for budget brakes, especially when using their small 225mm rear counterpart to slow a bike weighing 485 pounds wet. ABS isn’t an option yet, but will be available for 2016 to comply with Euro 4, but the brakes worked well in the wet, too, as did the CST tyres—made by the company in the process of purchasing Pirelli. But it helps to use engine braking to slow from high speeds, which even in the absence of a slipper clutch you can do without chattering the rear tire.

CFMoto’s lusty-sounding 650cc twin-cylinder motor has eager performance, with a distinctive syncopated lilt emanating from the 2-1 exhaust silencer tucked in low down on the right. With the enclosed bodywork there isn’t the same deep, throaty roar from the air intakes as you get on its 650NK naked sister, but for a middleweight twin the 650TK still sounds undeniably muscular. The parallel-twin engine is torquey, free revving and smooth, pulling pretty strongly with zero transmission snatch from 2,500 rpm on part throttle. There’s a completely linear build of power all the way to the 10,800 rpm revlimiter, although it picks up revs a little faster from 7,000 rpm upwards, when there’s an extra spurt of engine acceleration that you wouldn’t characterise as a step in the powerband. The 650TK is a model of rideability, and a key factor in this is the flawless Japanese-quality gearshift and clutch action. This will be an ideal mount for beginners, provided they can handle the width of the panniers, or female riders who may not have the strength to manhandle (womanhandle?) a bike that isn’t as perfectly balanced as this CFMoto tourer.

Paint depth and overall finish of the 650TK are pretty good, probably the equal of a budget-priced bike made in Italy, though the plastic switchgear still seems a little low-rent, and the metal castings’ brightwork finish isn’t very…bright. There are two useful pockets in the fairing either side of the handlebars, with the lid of the one on the left lockable, if a little flimsy—locking it would be a deterrent against a casual thief, not a determined one. The one on the right is deep enough to give space for a folded map, and while there’s room to clamp a GPS to the center of the handlebar, there’s no socket to power it from—an omission CFMoto should remedy on a bike with touring pretensions.

The CFMoto 650TK is as capable, practical and pleasing as any motorcycle costing twice the price, with half the looks. Just how well it’ll wear the passage of time has yet to be proven, but since it’s seemingly as well manufactured as its 650NK sister, this may indeed be that long-awaited Chinese-made touring bike that’ll make the breakthrough in Western markets—if in fact CFMoto choses to bring it back. In the meantime there’s the 650NK. At last a Chinese manufacturer seemingly more interested in quality than price, has developed a pair of functionally excellent products providing exceptional value for the money, which are crisply styled and deliver dynamically. And these are just the first of several such models that CFMoto is planning to introduce on the same 650cc parallel-twin platform, as part of the Chinese company’s far-sighted strategy. Everyone comes out ahead this time around—but especially CFMoto’s customers, because its latest 650TK model is an awful lot of motorcycle for the money.

To learn more about the CFMoto company, CLICK HERE.

 

The CFMoto 650TK.
The CFMoto 650TK.

CFMOTO 650TK Specifications

Website: cfmoto-us.com

Engine Type: Liquid-cooled DOHC 8-valve parallel-twin with 180-degree crankshaft, chain camshaft drive, and single gear-driven counterbalancer

Dimensions: 83 x 60mm

Capacity: 649.30cc

Power output: 69.73 bhp at 8,500 rpm (at crankshaft)

Maximum torque: 45.72 lb-ft at 7,000 rpm

Compression ratio: 11.3:1

Engine management: EFI electronic fuel injection with Ducati Energia ECU, 2 x 38mm ITT throttle bodies, and single Magneti Marelli injector per cylinder

Gearbox: 6-speed with gear primary drive

Clutch: Multiplate wet

Chassis: Tubular-steel diamond frame employing engine as fully-stressed member

Suspension, Front: 41mm KYB/Kayaba telescopic fork

Rear: Extruded steel swingarm with tubular bracing and KYB/Kayaba cantilever monoshock

Wheelbase: 55.7 in.

Wet Weight: 485 lbs.

Brakes, Front: 2 x 300mm steel discs with twin-piston calipers

Rear: 1 x 225mm single disc with single-piston caliper

Wheels/tires, Front: 120/70ZR17 CST Radial on 3.50 in. cast aluminium wheel

Rear: 160/60ZR17 CST Radial on 4.50 in. cast aluminium wheel

Seat height: 31.3 in.

Fuel capacity: 4.6 gals.

Manufacturer: CFMoto Power Co. Ltd., Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Did you MEAN “can’t even be adjusted for preload”?
    That seems ridiculously spartan. I would think preload adjustment, at the least, is a necessity.

  2. The 650TK reviewed for this article sounds to me like it is a first generation model (manufactured late 2011 through 2012). In early 2013 CFMoto made some changes to the 650TK or 650TR as it is labelled in other markets including mainland China.

    Based on the reviewers comments, it seems the 650TK tested is an older model, perhaps old stock manufactured circa 2012?

    Differences from the first generation 650TK include the instrument cluster which was redesigned to include both a clock and tripometer (trip-meter) both of which were glaring omissions on the first generation model. Further amendments in CF650 models manufactured latter half of 2013 (2014 models) included a longer side stand, 12v accessory plug which can be found on the LHS top fairing panel (beside fuel tank) on the 650TK. The air duct plastic ‘grill’ on the sides of the LHS and RHS fairing were also redesigned.

    In mid 2014 CFMoto also added ABS firstly on the 650NK and then the 650TR, notwithstanding the 150NK (prevously labelled the ‘Nighthawk’ model was trhe first CFMoto model to incorporate the (Kiska design) ABS.

    There is also a mistake in the review in regards to the rear suspension. It is adjustable, however because the rear monoshock does not come with a remote adjustment it requires the adjustment to be made on the aft end of the monoshock itself, which requires removal of the right hand side cover(s) using an Allen key.

  3. The bike looks like it would make a good daily driver and more. Like many bikes before it, the aftermarket will be there for exhausts, seats, rear fender kits, brake upgrades, suspension components, and more…at this price point, this is more bike than most would expect.

  4. I have the 2013 650 tk model had a flashing light on dash since new when the mechanic finally found it the warranty had run out. while waiting for result from cf motor somehow the ecu went and now of course I have to pay at least a cool $1000 to repair .The bike has only 10000 klm on the clock and to me that is not much . I thought I would give the company a go but after this I would not them reconmend to anyone stay away buy Japanise

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