Following our brief fling with the 650GT sports tourer, we’ve come to recognize why CFMoto has a solid reputation for affordable big bikes. Ample performance, rich features, and a reasonable price point are the keys for this Chinese brand. Now, we get to see for ourselves if it can get this formula right in a more premium package.
Meet the 700 CL-X Heritage—CFMoto’s newest and prettiest offering yet. It has the style of a high-end scrambler down, but can its performance, quality, and features back up its looks? Find out in our review below.
While CFMoto’s other bikes look sharp and alien-esque, the CL-X totally leans into the neo-retro scrambler/naked bike aesthetic. The bike’s stance is undeniably macho, thanks to a muscular tank that has been integrated into the frame instead of just being placed on top of it. Wide scrambler-appropriate tires that hint at off-road capability, a clean-cut tail, a tire hugger-mounted plate and turn signal assembly, and a wide handlebar round out the scrambler image.
The ‘X’ theme that the bike has going on is apparent at first sight, and is visible in the side mirror housing, badging, taillight, and even on the engine. The X-shaped DRL is the most obvious execution of the theme, and it’s a hit-or-miss kind of thing. It certainly took me a while to warm up to it. Copious amounts of X shapes aside, the CL-X is a looker, with its neo-retro style, premium-looking alcantara seat, gold inverted fork, and air intakes that flank either side of the beefy tank.
Reinforcing the CL-X’s position as a competitor to Japanese and Italian bikes, riders have pulled up next to me at a stoplight to comment on the bike’s dashing looks and how much it resembles bikes like the Yamaha XSR700, Honda CB650R, and Ducati Scrambler.
Upon first looking at the CL-X’s seat, you’ll notice two things. First is the accessible seat height, thanks to the scooped shape. The bike isn’t too wide in between the legs, either, so shorter riders will have an easy time getting one or both feet completely flat on the ground at a stop.
Second, there’s the the grippy alcantara seat material with its premium and plush look. Take the bike for a long ride, however, and you’ll feel that the seat could use more cushioning. Another seat-related gripe is with the passenger accommodations. Passenger foot pegs are sturdy and well-placed, but the seat is severely lacking in space. Taking an adult-sized passenger isn’t a good idea, unless the two of you want to smoosh together really tight.
Little nitpicks aside, the CL-X’s saddle is a pretty nice place to be, with a neutral riding position that’s easy on the wrists and back, a wide handlebar that allows good leverage, and tolerable engine heat.
This bike’s beating heart is its 693cc DOHC twin-cylinder engine. Peak power for this parallel-twin is a healthy 73.7hp at 8,500rpm, while a maximum of 68 Nm of torque can be found at 6,500rpm. As these numbers suggest, the CL-X is a very capable middleweight motorcycle.
In Sport mode, I had no problem keeping pace with 600cc-class supersport bikes on a mildly spirited expressway cruise. While the CL-X doesn’t quite have the top speed capabilities of a bike with full fairings, more cylinders, and a higher rev ceiling, it has more than enough torque for fun out on the open road and overtakes at highway speeds.
In Eco mode, the ride-by-wire throttle’s response is delayed and the bike becomes a bit more reasonable for puttering around in traffic. This riding mode is ideal for slippery situations, commuting, and riders new to big bikes. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot more fun leaving the bike in Sport mode.
Shifting is easy, thanks to a slipper clutch paired to the six-speed manual transmission. What isn’t so easy is finding neutral from first gear, which might be an issue specific to the demo unit I was lent.
Ride and handling
As suggested by the fully-adjustable inverted front fork and rear monoshock, this middleweight handles very well. Cornering is a pleasure with the combination of sharp suspension, 196kg curb weight, and sticky Pirelli rubber. Speaking of rubber, the MT60 RS tires mounted on the 18-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels are more than just for show when it comes to off-road use. I took the CL-X out on some light dirt and gravel roads, and the bike never felt out of its element even when going over dips and bumps.
Braking is taken care of by a dual-channel ABS-equipped J.Juan setup with single rotors front and back. Brake performance in the front is very good; it performs similarly to a twin-rotor setup. The rear, however, isn’t quite as good as it requires more pressure than usual to perform sufficiently on low-speed maneuvers where dragging the rear brake is essential.
Through an easy-to-read display in a single pod, the rider has access to the tachometer, speedometer, clock, trip meters, gear position, fuel gauge, and more. Unlike the 650GT’s display that automatically switches to night mode in dark conditions, the CL-X’s only has one setting, which is bright enough to read in the dark. The headlight and daytime running lights have to be manually turned on during the day, but the lights come on automatically in dark conditions.
Standout features include cruise control that can be set through handlebar-mounted controls, self-canceling turn signals, a hazard switch, lean angle sensor, side stand sensor, and adjustable levers.
The CL-X is a great demonstration of how competitive CFMoto has become in the big bike market. It’s got great performance, high-end features, head-turning looks, and good build quality all at a very tempting price of just P369,800.
While this bike poses a concerning threat to its competitors, it’s great news for today’s riders who are now spoiled for choice when it comes to reasonably priced bikes that don’t compromise on performance and features.
Specifications: 2021 CFMoto 700 CL-X Heritage
Engine: 693cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Power: 73.7hp at 8,500rpm
Torque: 68Nm at 6,500rpm
Seat height: 31.4 inches
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